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There is a place and a welcome here even for the much-abused bookagent. Here, indeed, should his wares be considered and criticised by those committees or persons having their subjects under consideration. Books! those best of servants and worst of masters! How much good; yet, how much harm they have done? At no other place can school appliances be exhibited and the opportunity afforded to present their claims to so great advantage to all concerned, and provision should be made to this end.
While it is right and beneficial to relieve and vary its proceedings with pleasing, entertaining and refined social functions, it is neither the duty nor the privilege of an educational association to make amusement or mere pleasure a leading incentive to attract numbers to its meetings. Such a course changes its entire character. When the educational is subordinated to the social function, it either becomes perfunctory or is lost sight of entirely. The foundation is destroyed and the structure falls in ruins. As well make the school a place for the pupils to have fun.
It is the purpose of the Maryland State Teachers' Association to strive towards this reality of work, and to that end a plan of reorganization is now in preparation. In order, however, that it may be even partly successful, it has three great needs--recognition, encouragement, aid.
Recognition-official recognition by the State as an integral part of its educational system, official recognition by county and municipal school boards by making such provision that their respective teachers' associations as well as their own body shall be fully represented by delegates to the association and by referring to its committees interrogatories and matters requiring professional investigation and opinion. Recognition by the teachers themselves, as a place to which each may bring the results of his observation in his own limited surroundings, with the assurance that they will be used according to their reality and merit; as a place where he may get not only similar contributions from his co-workers, thereby enlarging his range of vision, but also the carefully studied and well-digested conclusions based on special study of all such data from committees appointed for their special fitness to consider the matters referred to them.
Encouragement-of State and school officials by giving to the reports of our committees and their conclusions concerning professional matters due respect and weight according to their merits; by honoring and rewarding with such preferments and emoluments as may be those who, by their work in connection with the association, strive to advance the work of education ; and by denying official favor and countenance to those who do not endeavor to improve either their own work or the work of others. Encouragement from the press by resonable notice in its columns of our proceedings, acts, reports, accompanied by just and kind criticism, whether favorable or adverse, all tending to give us such standing and repute in the community as we may merit.
Aid—by advice, counsel, judgment from other spheres of activity. And most necessary to make our broader work possible and effective, we need financial aid.
The small salaries ôf teachers do not enable them to provide for the necessary working expenses of the association and its committees, the printing of circulars, proceedings and reports of committees, so as to have them in usable form. We cannot hope to obtain our ends without assistance in the shape of a small annual appropriation. We shall pray the State to give us this aid, and we earnestly seek your kind offices to that end.
The approach of the next Session of the General Assembly of Maryland of January, 1900, has doubtless caused many thoughtful members to examine the Public School System of the State, with the view of suggesting amendments for its improvement. It is to be expected that, as in the past, a conservative spirit will prevail. Among those who are best acquainted with the School Law and its actual operation throughout the State, it is held that in its general features the system is a good one, and well adapted to the needs of the public. It brings within the reach of every child the opportunity of cbtaining the elements of a good, practical education, and opens the door to the widest field for higher education. We are fortunate in having within the limits of our own State educational institutions that afford facilities unsurpassed elsewhere.
It will be remembered that our Public School System is the result of a gradual development through many years of thoughtful and able fostering in the light of the experience of our own and of our sister States. Improvements have usually been inaugurated by discussions among the school officers and teachers of the State, and accomplished by the respectful presentation of the conclusions so attained to the General Assembly through its committees. It has always been found that courteous attention and careful consideration have been given to such suggestions, and that the members of our Legislature have been willing to join in securing the benefit of whatever, in their wisdom, has been deemed for the public good. Committees of the Boards and Associations, composed of those actively engaged in public education, have been appointed, and will, in due time, wait upon the committees of the General Assembly.
From the sources of information of the State Board of Education it is believed that the public schools throughout the State continue to be well conducted, to be increasing in their good results, and to merit and receive the cordial good will and approbation of the public. Teachers' Institutes have been held in all the counties with good effect, and the appointment of a State Institute Conductor, under provision of law, has proved to be wise and beneficial.
The catalogue of the Maryland State Normal School shows the usual attendance from every county of the State and from Baltimore City, and its condition is best set forth by the following report, which was unanimously adopted by the State Board of Education, all its members being present, and ordered to be entered on its Journal of Proceedings:
"BALTIMORE, May 29th, 1899. "The committee appointed to visit and inspect the State Normal School and to examine into its methods of teaching and
into the general discipline and conduct of the school, begs leave to report that two of its members (undersigned) visited the school and examined thoroughly into its general conduct and discipline and into the methods of instruction in the various departments.
"The committee was exceedingly pleased with the methods of teaching, with the spirit displayed by the teachers and pupils, and with the superintendence, conduct and discipline. The committee confidently reports that the school, as conducted, merits the approval of the State Board of Education. One of the members of the committee was prevented by urgent business from accompanying the other members. (Signed)
"JOSEPH M. CUSHING,
"J. C. NICHOLSON." Whilst the Public School System in its general provisions is worthy of the high esteem in which it is held, yet it is believed that it may be improved in some particulars. The provisions of the statute law, and of the State By-Laws, enacted by authority of the law by the State Board of Education, make it possible for all the industrious and progressive teachers of good moral character to win for themselves professional certificates, good in any part of the State, and for life. It has thus been rendered possible for teaching in this State gradually to become, in fact, a profession. The laws should be so framed as to ensure to teachers who avail themselves of the opportunities above referred to a reasonable certainty of continued employment and promotion according to merit, and thus open up a safe career for lifework in the profession. The power of appointment of teachers, lodged in the District School Trustees, is limited to those who have obtained teachers' certificates as provided by existing law, and subject to the approval of the Board of County School Commissioners, but the power of removal of teachers is absolutely unlimited. Teachers may be removed by the Trustees, upon thirty days' notice, without assigning any cause, and no appeal is provided from such action. Such removals are, in fact, often made. This power is greater than that possessed by any other authority under the constitution and laws of the State, and should be altered by proper amendment. The high character, personal and professional, of our teachers, and the great importance and value of their services, cry aloud against their removal except for cause shown, and in favor of their right of appeal to the Board of County School Commissioners, and their right to be heard in defense.
It is gratifying that the number and efficiency of the high schools continue to increase. There should be a well equipped high school within reach of all who have completed the grammar school course, and existing laws amply provide therefor,
a county high school or a district high school. Local enterprise must aid the school officers in the establishment of the latter, but wherever such public spirit exists, the school officers will doubtless perform their duty in this regard.
The General Assembly of 1898 enacted in the General Appropriation Bill the following clause, viz: "For the erection of a building at Frostburg, Allegany County, to be known as State Normal School No. 2, the sum of twenty thousand dollars, and for the support of said school, when established, five thousand dollars annually; provided, that the people of the town of Frostburg furnish the ground for the site of said building, and deed the same to the State."
The authorities of the town of Frostburg petitioned the State Board of Education to cause said building to be erected, and said Board referred the matter to the Treasury Department of the State. The treasury officers, after consulting the AttorneyGeneral, decided to pay over the sums of money, so appropriated, to the State Board of Education, for the purpose indicated, and the twenty thousand dollars has been paid to the said Board. The town of Frostburg furnished the ground for the site of said building, the site having been selected as appropriate and suit. able by the State Board of Education from a number of lots offered, and it has been deeded to the State. The said Board has contracted for the erection, steam heating, plumbing and ventilation of said building. The increase in the cost of building materials rendered it impossible for the Board to secure responsible bids for said building, after twice advertising, within the appropriation; whereupon the County Commissioners of Allegany County offered to furnish the sum of five thousand dollars additional and look to the next General Assembly for reimbursement. The building is under roof, and its completion is expected by March ist, 1900.
Resolutions passed by the Association of School Commissioners of Maryland and by the State Teachers' Association, at their last meeting, express as the sense of those associations that “as the State debt is decreased, thereby rendering unnecessary part, or the whole, of the State tax to pay said debt, the State School tax should be proportionally increased.” It is universally desired by the school officers and the teachers that thus, without increasing the rate of the State tax, it may be possible for the school officers to increase the salaries of the teachers. It is acknowledged by all who voice public sentiment that teachers' salaries are inadequate, and it is earnestly hoped that the General Assembly will furnish the additional State aid indicated.
The same associations have also passed resolutions in favor of endeavoring to secure such action by the Congress of the United States as will result in the payment to the State of Maryland of its just and equitable share of the proceeds of the public lands for the benefit of public education in Maryland.
The General Assemby of Maryland in 1821 adopted an elaborate report, concluding with the following resolutions:
(1) Resolved, by the General Assembly of Maryland, That each of the United States has an equal right to participate in the benefit of the public lands-the common property of the union.
(2) Resolved, That the States in whose favor Congress has not made appropriations of land for the purposes of education are entitled to such appropriation as will correspond, in a just proportion, with those heretofore made in favor of the other States.
(3) Resolved, That his Excellency, the Governor, be requested to transmit copies of the foregoing report and resolutions to each of our Senators ‘and Representatives in Congress, with a request that they will lay the same before their respective houses, and use their endeavors to pro cure the passage of an act to carry into effect the just principle therein set forth.
(4) Resolved, That his Excellency, the Govervor, be also requested to transmit copies of the said report and resolutions to the Governors of the several States of the union, with a request that they will communi. cate the same to the Legislatures thereof, respectively, and solicit their co-operation.
The attempt thus made in 1821 to obtain the then long-delayed right of Maryland to her just share in “the common property of the Union' failed before Congress, and no such attempt has been made since. But recently similar claims have been made by other States, and the time is opportune for a renewal of our claim.
It is hoped that as the large associations beforementioned, entitled from the character of their membership to represent public opinion, have taken action in this extremely important matter, the General Assembly will take suitable action requesting our Senators and Representatives in Congress to endeavor to secure the necessary action by the Congress of the United States.
I beg to express again my profound appreciation of the courtesy and consideration extended to me by the State Board of Education, and by the school officers and teachers throughout the State.
E. B. PRETTYMAN, Secretary State Board of Education.