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Austin's Hawaiian weekly. [volume] (Honolulu [Hawaii]) 1899-190?, June 17, 1899, Image 14

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85047152/1899-06-17/ed-1/seq-14/

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Crisis in American Education.
In a recent article Mr. E. A.
Wintlship very pertinently puts the
difficulties encountered in popular
education in America where the
educational system must depend
upon the whims of the common peo
ple for support. He says :
Whatever form the educational
crisis may take, the issue will be
whether all children shall get the
most out of the public schools, or
whether interested parties will get
something at the expense of the
This will determine whether
there are to be scientific education
al experts in leadership or bosses,
political or otherwise. An educa
tional boss is but one removed from
his political stepfather.
A scientific educational expert is
a long way from the "fool reform
er," the crank theorist. Such an
expert thinks the schools are for
the greatest good to the greatest
number of children, and not an ex
periment station for the glory of
the self-styled expert.
No legislation will accomplish
the enthronement of the ideal ex
pert. No bill can be framed that
will make or meet the crisis. It is
interesting to watch the raising of
microbes. It is a process of elimi
nation. With comparative ease a
student in the laboratory raises the
microbes of a common boil and of
typhoid fever, but the most patient
and highly specialized experts of
the world have been at work for
years in trying to raise the cancer
microbe, and recently only has any
one reached a condition of elimina
tion through which he dared to
suggest that this most vicious mi
crobe had been set apart. The
whole scientific and medical world
is singing praises to the man who
has at last found the most elusive
of microbic criminals.
The raising of a crisis is of much
the same nature. England's great
municipal reformer was in this
country when Seth Low and others
were trying to make a campaign to
divorce municipal administration
from national politics, and our re
formers sought his aid. He had to
decline to speak on the subject,
since in England he was waging a
campaign for municipal reform by
making national politics responsi
ble for city administration. There
is never a crisis until that stage is
passed. In reform you are always
changing the issue, and whatever
you get you wish you had some
thing else.
Here are a few of the reforms
which the best citizens are trying
to secure in different parts of the
country in the last decade of the
Appointing instead of electing
school boards.
Electing instead of appointing
school boards.
A smaller board.
A larger board.
A shorter term of service.
A longer term of service.
Appointment of the board by the
Appointment by the judges.
Appointment by a special com
mission. Giving the school board more
control of the finances.
Taking from the board some of
its financial power.
Nearly every one of these "re
forms" has been accomplished
somewhere, and about as soon as
it is accomplished the same general
class of people begin to reform
back again. Just now we have en
tered upon a new class of reforms
which are liable to repeat the ex
periences of the past unless a crisis
is made.
What we need to know is what
are the fundamental conditions
under which a crisis can be made.
1 do not hesitate to say that it is
wholly a question of placing the
system from bottom to top on a
scientific educational expert basis,
and this will necessitate the entire
overthrow of every phase of
bossism, political and professional.
Any reform that leaves this crisis
unmade and unmet is a mere make
shift. We may, however, eliminate
other microbic influences by this
process, and thus prepare the way
lor raising the crisis all by itself
by and by.
America is a condition and not a
theory. The schools are strictly
American in condition as well as
theory, and through this fact the
crisis must be studied. This ne
cessitates asking a few questions
and studying them seriously.
Can we remove educational
affairs from the people and still
have the people pay the bills ? Can
we take from the city government
all voice and vote regarding the
schools and still have their financial
championship? Can we take from
the school board all voice and vote
regarding teachers and school
buildings and retain the active sup
port of that body ? We cannot an
swer these questions off-hand.
They must be considered with
great care. It has been the theory
of the distinctively American
champions that each of these
questions must be answered in the
negative, and yet every reform has
been conducted upon the basis that
each can be answered affirmatively.
Every reform that has failed thus
far has come from the fact that the
reformers have answered each of
these questions affirmatively and
the people negatively. This shows
how complicated the affair really
is, and the treatment must be ex
haustive and heroic. There is no
cause to fear for the final outcome
of the schools or of America. If the
world is to evolve a higher civiliza
tion and a nobler manhood, it must
be done within our borders. If po
litical, social, and religious evolu
tions fail here, they fail forever,
apparently. By unsuspected
means, as well as at an unanticipa
ted moment, every step in Ameri
can progress has come.
We cannot by violence or neg
lect thwart the purpose of destiny,
but we may increase the cost to
owrselves and the world by our
ignorance or willfulness. Had we
chosen to liberate the slave by any
means just and equitable to master
and man, we should have saved a
multitude of lives and vast treasure.
We could delay, but we could not
thwart the purpose of destiny. We
may postpone the evolution of the
better school, but we cannot per
manently prevent its coming.
The school is a part of the gen
eral American life. It is in it and
of it , and cannot be divorced. It is
not a thing apart from the national
household, but is a part of the do
mestic economy, affected by the
general spirit and prosperity.
Each one of us is bound to make
the little circle in which he lives
better and happier. Each one of
us is bound to see that out of that
small circle the widest good may
flow. Each one of us may have
fixed in his mind the thought that
out of a single household may flow
the influence that shall stimulate
the whole commonwealth and the
whole civilized world. Dean
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