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with profit to themselves? In discussing this difficulty in a former paper the present writer, as a result of his personal experience in directing the reading of children, offered a suggestion which he now repeats: “ It is true that our great works of literature were written mainly for adults; but, by the exercise of a wise pedagogic judgment and a nice literary taste, it is possible so to adapt them by compression, expurgation, and pruning, as to be able in most cases to find in them a complete, continuous, and interesting narrative, virile and invigorating; abounding, if needs be, in romantic adventures, in startling experiences, and in thrilling incidents; containing all that is fascinating in trash without any of its deleterious qualities; in short, the only sound and wholesome reading matter for children." It is interesting to note that the present editor of the Atlantic Monthly, in discussing the problem from the point of view of a litterateur, has made practically the same suggestion, “Not literature made to order to suit certain states of the juvenile mind, but those parts of existing literature selected in a wise adjustment of means to end—that is the solution of the problem of gradation."
Within these limitations it is possible to apply the principle of grading to complete works of literature, so as to bring most of our literary masterpieces within the comprehension of children, and at the same time to avoid the petty and emasculating scheme of grading that has been the boast of more than one widely advertised series of readers. In this way it would be practicable, within reasonable limits, to give to children what are virtually entire works of an author, and thus do away with the mangling process which has heretofore been our only means of introducing school children to any specimens of real literature. “The continuous reading of a classic is in itself a liberal education ; the fragmentary reading of commonplace lessons in minor morals such as make up much of our reading books is a pitiful waste of growing mental powers. Even were our reading books composed of choice selections from the highest literature, they would still miss the
great advantage which follows upon the steady growth of acquaintance with a sustained piece of literary art."
With such a scheme of reading carried on in the schools under the direction of earnest and sympathetic teachers, our public schools will experience a new birth ; the growth of a broad and generous culture will be commenced and the foundations of a discriminating, national taste will be laid. Under these elevating influences there must come a greater reverence for authority, a nobler sentiment of obedience, and a quickening of the spiritual life of the people, always the truest inspiration of the purest patriotism, and without which no nation can long exist.
GEORGE E. HARDY. GRAMMAR SCHOOL No. 82,
New York City.
RECENT SCHOOL LEGISLATION IN THE
To write anything like a comprehensive or intelligent résamé of the legislative action of the different states in the field of education is clearly a task of peculiar difficulty. Many school laws are enacted each year which are of great local importance, but which may attract not the slightest notice beyond State borders. Each State has its own local conditions which obtain in no other State. Differences, social and economic in character, show themselves in divergences of institutional development, and this is especially true of the educational history of our American commonwealths. We cannot fairly interpret either the spirit or the expediency of statutes unless we know something about the conditions with which the statute-makers have to deal. Few, even of those whose word is authority on such matters, would profess accurate knowledge on the various points of individuality in each of the fifty school systems under which the educational interests of our States and Territories are administered. Hence it would be idle, even if space permitted, to present in these pages a digest of all recent school laws, many of which have an importance purely insular, so to speak, and often entirely incomprehensible to the outsider. My present purpose is merely to attempt to trace the trend of legislation of the past two years upon a few questions of interest to educationists throughout the country.
If a complete history of the finances of the American States shall ever be written, it is hardly too much to predict that its most interesting chapters will be those devoted to an exposition of the origin and development of the school tax and the school fund, not merely because these form the principal ele
ments in the fiscal problems of many States, but because it was in these American governments that public elementary education first claimed recognition in a treasury budget, and here that legislators were first called upon to administer funds raised for purely educational purposes.
That our older State governments have nearly all, at different times, seriously blundered in the management of this important trust is generally admitted. In the new States of the West we may now observe the founding of finance systems. The South, also, may be said to be in her day of educational beginnings. Will old errors be repeated under new conditions ? The question is one of profound interest to every American who thinks much on the future of his country, for great popu. lations in years to come may be affected by action taken now.
Since the passage of the Ordinance of 1787, the educational interests of our great Northwest have been very largely identified with public land policy. This is as true to-day of Washington and the Dakotas as it ever was of Ohio. Note the conditions under which these new governments begin their careers of statehood: In addition to the customary two sections of land-the sixteenth and the thirty-sixth-in each township, which are to be reserved as the basis of permanent school funds, they receive also five per cent. of the proceeds of all public land sales made by the government within their limits from the date of their entering the Union. Provisions for the management of these school lands are contained in the constitutions of the several States, supplemented by acts of the legislatures. A summary of the regulations adopted by North Dakota will show the tenor of all.
A board of university and school lands is created, consisting of the governor, the secretary of state, the attorney-general, the State auditor, and the superintendent of public instruction. (In Washington, the State school land commission includes only the secretary of state, the auditor, and the commissioner of public lands.) To this body is intrusted the sale or rental of all educational lands, and the investment of funds arising therefrom; but constitutional and statutory provisions closely
restrict the board in these transactions. Not more than onefourth of the school lands is to be sold within the first five years, and not more than one-half the remainder within ten years. The residue may be sold at any time after the expiration of the ten years. In each county, the superintendent of schools, the chairman of the county board of commissioners, and the county auditor (in Washington, the county commis. sioners only) together form a board for the appraisal of school lands. No land shall be sold for less than ten dollars an acre. The purchaser may pay one-fifth cash, and the remaining fourfifths at intervals of five, ten, fifteen, and twenty years, with interest at six per cent. payable annually in advance. The sales are to take place at county seats, by public auction, to the highest bidder. The most valuable lands are to be sold first. Coal lands may be leased, but never sold. (Washington requires only one-tenth cash on agricultural lands, but the whole must be paid within ten years. Lands near cities are to be platted into lots or blocks, and the terms of sale are, onefifth cash, and one-tenth of the balance annually thereafter. There is also special provision for the sale of growing timber.) If taxes are unpaid on lands thus sold, the contract of sale becomes null and void. All these provisions apply also to lands held in trust for the State university, the school of mines, the agricultural college, the reform school, the deaf and dumb asylum, and the State normal school. Under the terms of the law of 1890, tracts of land not exceeding in the aggregate 100,000 acres were to be offered for sale in North Dakota between April 15 and June 1, 1891.
North Dakota permits the moneys of her educational funds to be invested in national or State bonds, bonds of school corporations within the State, or first mortgages on farm lands in the State, not exceeding in amount one-third the actual value of any subdivision on which the same may be loaned, to be determined by the board of appraisers of school lands. Washington restricts such investments to national, State, county, and municipal bonds. (Constitution of Washington, Art. 16.)
Owing to the prevailing and growing practice of “ legisla