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“He said, 'In all mercy he hoped so.'
"They will begin upon your extravagant school system. Now, look at these books—what is the use of them? Do they do a particle of good ?
“Let them,” said he, 'cut off what else they please_let them even cat off the whole tax besides, but the books we must have.'
“He then told me, that the books had done his neighborhood more good, and had produced a greater change in the habits of families, than any other means of improvement which had ever been brought to bear upon the people.”
And so it will be in Wisconsin. The people will never grumble at the School Library Tax, if the money is only wisely expended. The tax will be light-one cent on every bundred dollars, or twenty-five cents on every $2,500, of taxable property.
Such was the interest of Horace Mann in the subject, when requested to give an expression as to the value of Town School Libraries for Wis. consin, that though ill, he said he must write a word of good cheer, as he held the plan to be worth many more times than his life. George B. Em. erson, with the zeal of a true philanthropist, urged upon our Legislature the speedy adoption of such a system. “I congratulate you and the State," writes Henry Barnard, “ that your Legislature has enabled you to inaugur. ate a true library policy-altogther in advance, in its practical bearings and completeness, in time of any yet attempted." !It is, indeed, an advance upon the efforts of our sister States, all things considered; for taking the three States which have adopted the township system, Wisconsin will raise more money by nearly one quarter than Michigan, besides having the advantage of the State purchasing the books, instead of the Township Boards, as is done in Michigan; it is in advance of Ohio, whose Library Fund is provided by imposing the tenth of a mill tax, while ours is raised by the tenth of a mill tax, and one tenth of the School Fund Income; and it is in advance of Indiana, not in the amount of tax raised, but in the permanency of the system, for in Indiana the Library Law is enacted to be in force only two years, and then has to pass the ordeal of securing & two years' renewal, and thus is subjected to the danger of overthrow by the caprice of the people, or through the mismanagement of those having it in charge. Our Wisconsin Library Law is in advance of all others in providing a copy of all State Laws, Journals, and Documents, substantially bound, for each School Library.
It is a noble and beceficent law, and will, I doubt not, yet be regarded, when fully known, and its benefits begin to be realized, as the most important educational measure ever inaugurated in Wisconsin. I confess to
cherishing no ordinary feelings of hope and pleasure in view of the unspeakable good that must inevitably result from a judicious expenditure, every twenty-five years, of fully one million of dollars in books to scatter among our people—not less than a million and a quarter of volumes of the choicest literature of "the age; and I envy not the man who can not partake of this feeling of hope and joy, in view of the prospective progress and happiness of his race.
LYMAN C. DRAPER. MADISON, Wis., April 4th, 1859.
Supt. of Pub. Instruction.
OPINIONS, ETC., FROM THE OFFICE OF THE STATE SUPERINTENDENT.
Q. If the alteration of a district is decided upon by the State Superintendent, is his decision thereon so final and conclusive as to prevent the Town Superintendent from ever after making any alteration ?
A. TI decision of the State Superintendent is final and conclusive only under the circumstances of the appeal; and under different circumstances the Town Superintendent may alter the limits of a district, although its limits may have been heretofore fixed in the decision of an appeal. In the decision of an appeal, all the circumstances of population, wealth, location of roads, etc., are taken into account, and whenever these are materially changed, the Town Superintendent might not be strictly governed by the former decision.
Q. In case of an alteration of two districts, in which the corporate property is very unequal, can there be no division of property, so as to reim. burse those who may have paid largely in one district, and who are set into another district where they will immediately be called upon to pay another heavy tax?
A. The law only provides for a division of properly where a new dis trict is formed, either in whole or in part, from an old one possessing property, This law seems frequently to work injustice, and Town Superintendents ought to take all such facts into due consideration before proceeding to alter the limits of districts.
Q. Can the Superintendent of one town add territory to a joint district without the concurrence of the other superintendents ?
A. A district may be altered in two ways; by adding to its territory or taking from it. And in either case the law provides that such alteration shall be made by the Superintendents of such adjoining towns.
Q. Will an alteration affect the apportionment if made before the Annual Report, but taking effect afterward ?
A. That will depend upon the Report. If the Report included the part set off, the apportionment must be divided in a proper proportion; but if the Report did not so include it, the public money would not be divided. In all such cases the decision should be treated as null and void until the time when it goes into effect. This will avoid any confusion.
Q. Can a Town Superintendent be removed by the State Superintendent?
A. We know of no authority for removing a Town Officer by the State Superintendent. The statates declare a vacancy in certain cases, for instance, during absence or inability. Nor is there any thing in the law distinctly authorizing the Board to remove an officer for neglect of duty, but the decision of the State Superintendent, following the spirit of the law, is a sufficient guide as to the course of an appeal in such cases.
Q. Can the district vote to dismiss a qualified teacher, and compel the Board so to do?
A. The law expressly guards against any such proceeding. If a teacher has been regularly hired, he can not be dismissed by the district, nor by the Board, except he be paid wages for the full time for which he was hired. If the Board select a poor teacher, the only way the district can dismiss him, is by having his certificate annulled after proper re-examination. Districts should, therefore, be extremely careful to select competent and impartial officers.
Q. If complaints are made against a teacher, can the Town Superinten. dent notice them or not as he sees fit?
A. If complaints are properly lodged, the Town Superintendent must give a copy of the charges, and appoint a time and place for giving them & hearing, and act according to his best judgment in the premises.
Q. Can the Town Superintendent teach school in his town, provided he has a certificate from his predecessor ?
A. The Town Superintendent can not qualify himself, but there is no legal objection to his teaching so long as his certificate from his predecessor holds good, but no longer. Still, it is never advisable, as he is chosen to be the guardian and overseer of the schools in the town. Any exclasive engagement, in any one school will, of course, so occupy his time as to seriously interfere with a proper visitation and inspection of other
schools, besides being liable to beget a feeling of jealousy, and complaints of unfairness. There may be cases where it may seem absolutely necessary for the Town Superintendent to teach, but unless it is under a pressing necossity, the precedent should not be established.
Q. If the decision of the Town Superintendent is plainly illegal, is it binding if not appealed from?
A. Certainly. It is not to be presumed that the Town Superintendent would make a decision, knowingly, which is illegal, and the law holds all his decisions legal until reversed by the State Superintendent. The remedy of appeal is held to be sufficient against any injustice in the decision of a Town Superintendent, or in the action of a district meeting.
Q. Can the Town Treasurer use the School Tax to pay the State Tax?
A. He can not. Upon settlement the money paid to the Town Superintendent and the delinquent list must precisely balance the Assessment Roll. There is no reason why the School Tax should be thus infringed upon. The statute makes it the duty of the Town Treasurer to pay over the full amount of the school money as soon as collected.
Q. In case a district or a Town Officer refuses to carry out a decision of the State Superintendent, what course must be taken to enforce it?
A. The writ of Mandamus. An action can not be brought in court. If the question is upon the payment of money, a suit can not be brought to recover it, upon the decision of the State Superintendent, but the proper remedy is to proceed by mandamus. The law by making the decisions of the State Superintendent “ final and conclusive,” confers upon that officer sole jurisdiction, and no appeal lies from his decisions to any court of law.
Q. Can a District Treasurer refuse to pay a regularly drawn order on the Treasury ?
A. Not if there is money in the treasury? He can not go behind & regular order to test its legality or propriety. If there is any error, the order is a sufficient voucher for him.
Q. In case, by a mistake in the Report, a district draws more money than it is entitled to, what shall be done with it?
A. Under such circumstances, when the mistake was unintentional, it is advisable for the Town Superintendent to remit the overplus to the State Treasurer, stating the reasons, to be added to the principal of the School Fund. If the false return was wilfully made, it will be the duty of the Town Superintendent to enforce section 92 of the School Law, Compiled from the records of the Department, by
8. H. CARPENTER, Assistant State Supt. of Public Instruction.
The Legislature has authorized the purchase of 600 copies of Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, for completing the supply to the deficient districts of the State. Over 400 applications are already on file. Let the Town Superintendents make application without delay for such districts in their respective towns as have not been already supplied, making affidavit to the same. No applications should be made for a joint district, unless the school-house is located in the town of the Town Superintendent applying for the same.
Particular directions should be given how to forward the dictionaries applied for-they can not, as some imagine, be sent by mail; and the cost of conveyance must be paid by the towne entitled to them.
LYMAN O. DRAPER,
Supt. of Pub. Instruction.
TO TOWN SUPERINTENDENTS.
Section 76, chapter 23 of the Revised Statutes, which permits Town Superintendents, in their discretion, to set apart a sum, not exceeding ten per cent. of the gross amount of the school money apportioned to the several school districts in their respective towns, has been repealed by the passage of the new Town School Library Law. This new law, from the nature of the case, can not go into effect until next year.
S. H. CARPENTER, Assistant State Superintendent.
Dr. Charles Mackay, the song-writer, and Colonel Hiram Fuller, formerly editor of the Evening Mirror, in New York, are about to establish an Anglo-American newspaper in London. One issue will inform the English people of what is happening in America, and the other will apprise Americans of what is going on in England.