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Emery, of Oxford county, chairman, and Rov. William T. Savage, of Aroostook county, clerk. It appearing that, at the conventions in the counties of Lincoln and Washington, a majority of the towns in those counties were not represented, and that therefore two vacancies existed in the board, the Hon. Benjamin Randall, of Bath, and Aaron Hayden, Esq., of Eastport, were elected to fill those vacancies, having been recommended by the conventions of the counties respectively in which they reside. The board, in farther pursuance of the statute, proceeded to the election of a secretary, and made choice, unanimously, of William G. Crosby, Esq., of Belfast, to fill that office, who, having signified his acceptance, was qualified, and entered upon the discharge of its duties.
Having spent several days in discussing the various topics connected with the system of public school education in this state, particularly those mentioned in the statute by which we were constituted; having communicated freely to each other our views upon these topics, and the information which we respectively possessed on the state of public school education in the several localities where we reside; and having examined, as accurately as our means would permit, the ground set apart for our labors, we proceeded to assign the consideration of the various topics connected with the subject to committees of the board. We also requested the secretary of the board to prepare and issue to the various school committees, throughout the state, blank forms of returns, containing such inquiries touching the present state of the public schools as would be likely to obtain the information which seemed at that time most needed. We also requested him to prepare a plan, in detail, for teachers' institutes, to be held in the several counties of the state, together with an estimate of the expense necessarily attending them, to be laid before the legislature.
The first session of the board terminated on the twenty-first day of December, 1816; the first Wednesday of May having been assigned for the next meeting.
Pursuant to this assignment, the board assembled at Augusta on Wednesday, the fifth of May, 1847, and, a quorum being present, proceeded to the despatch of business, Mr. Savage having resigned the office of clerk, Mr. Drinkwater, of Hancock county, was elected to that office. The several committees having reported upon the subjects assigned to them, and their reports having been fully discussed by the board, resolves, contaiping the results of their deliberations, and the opinions of the board, so far as they could be so expressed, were passed. The secretary of the board, having taken measures to comply with our request relative to obtaining information of the condition of public schools in the state, having prepared a plan for the establishment of teachers' institutes, and having attended the meetings and taken part in the discussions of the board, made his report, containing the result of his investigations and his views, together with those of the board, so far as they coincide with his own, upon the various subjects discussed. This report, having received our unanimous approbation, is herewith transmitted ; and we most earnestly recommend to the legislature the passage of laws in accordance with his suggestions, and the appro
priation of the sums necessary to carry into successful operation the measures in that report advised.
We do not intend, in this report, to go over the ground so fully and ably occupied by the secretary, but shall content ourselves with bringing to the notice of the legislature such matters as seem to us of immediate importance, and more properly within our province.
We cannot doubt, for a moment, that the act “to establish a board of education ” was intended to evince, on the part of the legislature, a determination to do all that might seem necessary or expedient for the thorough and radical improvement of the system of public school education in this state.
The act was not the result of a temporary excitement, expending its force in the creation of a body whose duty is to inquire and report what ought to be done, without the expectation, on the part of those who passed the act, that their successors would do those things which the information thus obtained should show to be necessary, to make the system what the honor of the state, the welfare of the coming generations, and the stability of our free institutions require that it should be. On the contrary, we believe that act was produced by the settled conviction, forced upon the minds of all thinking men, that, in the numerous objects of material importance, which, from the peculiar position of this as a newlysettled and growing state, had engrossed our attention, an institution, which our forefathers justly considered as only second in importance to the institutions of religion, had been suffered to fall into decay, and had ceased to exert that happy influence upon the minds and hearts
of the people which of right belonged to it, without which all the elements of material prosperity were in vain scattered in rich profusion around us; that while, by our academies and colleges, the children of those who, in the distribution of this world's goods, had received a competency or an abundance, were obtaining the incalculable advantages of a thorough education, the children of the people,—those who were so soon to hold in their hands the destiny of the country,—those on whom the state must depend for its defense in war, its prosperity in peace,-were suffered to grow up, if not in absolute ignorance, yet with such slender means of improving the mind and heart, that prudent men might well tremble, when they thought how soon our destinies must be committed to their hands. Under this conviction the first step was taken, that, after a thorough investigation of the evils to be remedied, future legislatures might apply the remedies where they should seem to be most needed.
While we feel highly honored that so sublime a work has been assigned to us, we cannot but deeply feel the difficulty and the delicacy of the task of originating and suggesting measures to restore the institution committed to our care to its former vigor and efficiency. Having, however, accepted the offices to which we were elected, we cannot forget that we have thereby become the sworn trustees of the rights and destiny of those who now, indeed, cannot speak for themselves, but whom the fastcoming future will place in a position to call us to a strict account. Under the deep impression of this responsibility, we must plainly, though respectfully, state to the
authorities of the state our opinion of the duties which now devolve upon them. The existence of this board, and, indeed, the whole system of public education, is in the hands of the legislature. They can by their breath destroy both. But, if they mean that the board shall continue and be efficient, and that the system shall exist and be improved, they cannot do otherwise than enact those laws, and make those appropriations, without which any real and permanent improvement is impossible.
The first subject which demands the attention of the legislature is the appropriation of the permanent school fund in accordance with the spirit of the legislation by which it was created. This fund amounts now to nearly the sum of eighty-six thousand dollars. It has been for many years accumulating, during which time the state has had the use of it, without accounting for a cent of interest. Justice requires that the arrears of interest be accounted for. But, if the legislature are not prepared to do this now, let them at least put it at interest, and appropriate the future income to the improvement of common schools. This may be done by setting apart the amount in stock of the United States of which the state is owner. If, however, the state prefers to be itself the debtor of the schools, let them set aside annually an amount equal to the interest of this fund, and apply it to their benefit. The statute by which the fund was created provides, that the income shall be divided among the towns according to population. We believe that, for the present at least, the legislature would be complying with the spirit of the law, and confer a greater benefit on common schools, by applying this income to