« AnteriorContinuar »
city charter prescribes for the doing of public work; but, by patient attention to details, the results achieved ought to improve each year. The present board had, first of all, after its organization, to find out what repairs had to be made; and then it had to learn by experience the stumblingblocks in the way of prompt action,
I have little doubt that another year the results will be much better ; but the community must appreciate that at best it is a problem of the utmost difficulty. Some idea of the magnitude of the work is shown by the fact that the building committee of the board has passed upon 498 contracts during the current year. Of these, as many as 164 were for alterations and repairs. The number of sittings added this autumn, and to be added up to the ist of January, amount to 17,600. Buildings have been placed under contract which ought to supply, during 1903, about 33,000 tings. During 1904, at least 32,000, or more, sittings can be provided.
The use now being made of school buildings, for other purposes than the regular school work, is interesting. Vacation schools in Manhattan and the Bronx were availed of by 385,496 children; twelve evening play-centers, since January 1, by 560,136; roof playgrounds, in Manhattan and the Bronx, by 305,789. Under the authority of the board of education certain outside playgrounds have been conducted, and the following figures show the use made of them: Forty-one playgrounds in Manhattan and the Bronx were used by 725,058 children ; twenty in Brooklyn by 569,134; ten openair playgrounds and six piers by 418,309. In these figures, of course, the same child is counted every time that he was on the grounds. There are also baths in one school building, that have been largely used. It is clear, therefore, that the school buildings are beginning to play an important part in the life of the children, aside from their educational function.
In the conduct of public schools, as in every other occupation, the whole problem is to secure the right man for the particular piece of work to be done. Whenever a good principal is appointed, you have a good school; when a poor principal is appointed you have a poor school-precisely as a good teacher makes a good class, and a poor teacher a poor class. In a school system as large as that of the city of New York, there is, of course, great inequality in the schools, growing out of the difference in the personal equation. There are some schools in the city as fine as any to be found in the country; there are others that reflect the less fortunate conditions that have attached to them for many years. On the whole, however, it may be confidently said that the school system of New York has greatly improved during the last ten years, and that the tendency to improvement is still strong.
A higher standard of equipment for teaching is now demanded than formerly, and with it has come both a strong esprit de corps, and a fine ambition. It will always be possible to make improvements; but it may safely be said that the school system, as a whole, is something of which the city may be proud, and that it deserves the affectionate confidence which it so largely commands.
During its early existence the United States Military Academy, situated in the beautiful highlands of the Hudson, languished for want of proper appreciation; but for considerably more than half a century the West Point motto of Duty-Honor-Country, and the principles enunciated there, have served to make its standard of ethics the accepted code of the whole army and to fix permanently the magnificent type of soldier known as the American regular.
The foundation stones of the regular army standard are a firm and frank adherence to the principle of the superiority of civil law, a thoro knowledge of theory, and the highest grade of proficiency in the practical performance of every military duty. It is not enough that each one shall do the best he can, but that he shall know and do what is right. With these fixed principles and a systematic training of the annual accretions to its ranks, it is only necessary that the regular army shall be governed by well-considered laws and regulations, administered thru a proper military hierarchy, to enable it to keep alive the knowledge, traditions, and customs of war, so essential to the safe-guarding of the vast material interests of the Republic.
Arising from the practices and traditions of the British service it was long the custom in our regular army to give wide latitude to, and depend largely upon, drill sergeants, but with the evolution which caused military science to become
gradually more and more exact, the necessity for the higher education of officers became apparent.
It has long been the established practice at West Point to demand that every graduate shall be proficient in every subject; and carrying this practice out into the military service, it is there demanded that every officer shall be able not only to command according to his grade, but to instruct thoroly all those in the lower grades committed to his charge. It was the development of this idea which brought the officers and men of the regular army to such a state of individual perfection as to secure the highest respect of all foreign observers in the brief war with Spain.
Inasmuch as the service and post-graduate schools were not of sufficient capacity to enable all the young officers to obtain the benefits of those institutions, a system of lyceum instruction was established some twelve or fifteen years ago with a view to better fitting the officers generally for their professional duties. After a fair trial it was made evident to all those brought in close contact with the lyceum methods that their success depended too much upon the personality of the various commanding officers and that no uniformity of results could be expected from the continuance of that system. After a careful study of the entire subject the present Secretary of War, Mr. Elihu Root, decided to abandon the lyceum system and to establish a more comprehensive scheme, under which every officer entering the service will be required to establish his progressive fitness for the duties of the various grades and that this fitness shall be a matter of record.
There has long been established in the regular army a system of examinations for promotion which have no connection with the scheme of instruction and training recently inaugurated; but the legal machinery in connection with these examinations is expected to play an important part in ridding the service of any officer whose inefficiency may be developed in the progress of the general plan of education and training which has now been firmly engrafted on the army system and recognized by Congress.
The large influx of young men appointed from civil life,
from the ranks, and from volunteers with brief service in the war with Spain, makes it necessary that some methods of instruction shall be systematically carried out, not only to fit them for the grades to which they have been appointed, but to develop the capacity of each with a view to service in the higher grades.
The scheme of fitting officers for their duties recently inaugurated by the Secretary of War may be likened to the university plan of military education. The groundwork of the system begins with the officers' schools at all military posts. The scheme may be best comprehended by quoting from the order which established it:
THE SYSTEM OF INSTRUCTION
There shall be, besides the Military Academy at West Point, the following schools for the instruction of officers of the Army:
1. At each military post an officers' school for elementary instruction in theory and practice.
2. Special service schools:
(6) The Engineer School of Application, Washington Barracks, District of Columbia.
(c) The School of Submarine Defense, Fort Totten, New York.
(d) The School of Application for Cavalry and Field Artillery at Fort Riley, Kansas. (e) The Army Medical School, Washington, D. C.
It is intended that all lieutenants shall be thoroly and systematically grounded in all the elementary instruction, both theoretical and practical, involved in their ordinary work with the enlisted men, such as drill regulations, guard duty, target practice, the keeping of the company books, and the duties of the various staff and supply departments. They are also to learn military law, field engineering, military sketching, the duties of troops in campaign, minor tactics, and to acquire a general knowledge of methods, materials, and implements essential to successful military operations. It is recognized that the mere knowledge of theory is of little value to the army officer unless he has the power of practical application. For this reason it is provided that in the various schools officers shall be constantly brought in contact with the men and materials under conditions akin to those of war.
In general the scheme proposes that after all the officers have been trained at the various post schools for the duties of their grade, their relative merits shall be determined by competent boards of officers, and those who exhibit the most aptitude and intelligence will be reported to the War Department with a view to their detail in the General Service and Staff College for further instruction. It is intended that the officers who exhibit the greatest interest and proficiency in the theoretical and practical courses prescribed for the officers' schools at posts and in the General Service and Staff College shall be given, subsequently, the benefits of the War College course and shall have special consideration for employment in whatever duties their particular abilities may seem to justify.
The General Service and Staff College is not an entirely new institution, but is an enlargement and development of the Infantry and Cavalry School established at Fort Leavenworth under the personal direction of General Sherman many years ago. The regular army owes to this distinguished officer a debt of gratitude for the uniform encouragement which he gave to the theoretical and practical study of the military art in this country.
The rapid development of modern science, as applied to the art of war, caused the establishment some years ago of the various special-service schools which now form an important part of the general system, but they were so ill supplied with funds in the past as to fall short of their possible value. This may be fully explained by the statement that the great postgraduate school for cavalry and infantry officers was allowed only fifteen hundred dollars annually for all supplies, instruments, and materials.
The Artillery School established many years ago at Fort Monroe, Virginia, has for its object the special training of officers and gunners for the modern coast defenses; the intricate machinery of the modern high-power guns necessitates a special scientific training for the economical and proper management of this expensive arm of the service.
The Engineer School of Application embraces a postgraduate course for the honor graduates of West Point,, who