Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/861

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841
EDITOR'S TABLE.

set apart its proportionate share, and that the same is expended by the trustees and paid by the supervisors of the towns according to law. He gives advice and direction to school officers, teachers, and inhabitants upon all questions arising under the school laws. He establishes rules and regulations concerning appeals, hears and decides all appeals involving school controversies, and his decision is final. He is charged with the general control and management of teachers' institutes in the various counties, is authorized to employ instructors for the institutes and to pay them, and to certify the accounts for expenses incurred by the School Commissioners in conducting the same. He is required to visit the institutes, and advise and direct concerning their proper management.

He makes appointments of State pupils to the institutions for the instruction of the deaf, dumb, and blind, and generally supervises the management of these institutions. He established rules and regulations concerning district-school libraries. He apportions among the counties the number of pupils in the! State Normal School to which each is entitled. He has charge of the Indian Schools, employs local agents to superintend them, and gives directions in regard to the erection and repairs of their school-houses. He is an ex-officio member of the Board of Regents and chairman of the Committee on Teachers' Classes in the Academies. He is also an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees of Cornell University, of Syracuse University, of the Idiot Asylum, and of the People's College, and chairman of the Executive Committee of the Albany State Normal School. He is also charged with the general supervision of the State Normal Schools at Brockport, Buffalo, Cortland, Fredonia, Geneseo, Oswego, and Potsdam. He receives and compiles the abstracts of the reports from all the school districts in the State. The salary of the Superintendent is five thousand dollars, and he has a deputy, and is allowed to employ a force of clerks, whose aggregate salaries shall not | exceed nine thousand dollars a year.

This is a very extensive list of duties and responsibilities to be intrusted to any one functionary by the self-governing people of a great State, especially on a subject so extensive and important, and we may add so domestic and social, as that of education. One would think that an intelligent and independent community would be somewhat scrupulous about parting with the control of its children in the matter of instruction, and would prefer to attend to that matter themselves, rather than to be much superintended by any distant officeholder who happens to be thrust into the position where he can regulate the schools of the State. But the Superintendent of Public Instruction is the head engineer of that vast political machine which has come to supersede all private agency in the formation of the minds and characters of the young so far as it is possible for schools to do it. We say "political machine," because the great work of carrying on primary education in this country is being steadily and rapidly swallowed up in the gulf of politics. Indeed, the fundamental reasons given for the existence of our common-school system, and avowedly the sole reasons for which it can be maintained, are political. It is freely admitted that the State has no other warrant for taking in hand the instruction of the young than to shape them as citizens in accordance with the political system we have adopted. As a consequence, the business of administering education is becoming a prominent part of politics, and appointments in all the best-paid positions are being more and more determined by the common influences of political manipulation and intrigue. The influence of this state of things upon teachers who are now all government office-holders is a chapter of the subject that can not be here dealt with, but is full of interest. Our object is now simply to call attention to a conspicuous illustration of the control of partisan politics over our whole system of State instruction.

No intelligent person will deny that the general subject of education is one of great complexity and great difficulty, and that to control it wisely and improve its practical methods is a task requiring much ability, long and profound devotion to its fundamental questions, and a wide and varied experience in educational work. But very few men