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membership, and either by law or the force of public opinion every member, or freeman, as he was called, must bo a member of the recognized church,' and thus voters in church meetings and voters in town meetings were the same persons, until tho religious test gave way to other qualification. It has been maintained that the town meeting was merely the restry meeting of the parish of the Anglican church adapted to Puritan needs in the American wilderness. But it must be remembered that there was more than one kind of parish in England at the time of the Puritan emigration to America. “For the purpose of civil government the term “parish' meant a district separate from tho ecclesiastical parish, from the 'lighway parislı,' and from the civil division called a township,” it being especially created in 1601 as a poorlaw parish. The lay business of the New England town was not a part of the ecclesiastical proceedings, but the ecclesiastical business was a part of the proceedings of the town meeting, which was a body politic sending representatives to a general court or legislature, which also considered ecclesiastical concerns. Into this town meeting, as has just been remarked, was also carried the-at that date-church duty of education, which thus became a civil instead of an ecclesiastical function as far as English America is concerned. Education in Europe in the age of the Reformation, says Francis Adams, “was not a civil but an ecclesiastical matter, and its aim was religious, not political."

The wisdom of endowing the local unit of civil administration with this formerly special function of thio ecclesiastical nnit is unimpeachable. As early as 1616 the English privy council and in 1633 Parliament had enacted that a school should be established in every parish (ecelesiastical) of Scotland, where practical, at the expenso of the parishioners, and in 1616 anthoritative supervision of the schools was placed in the hands of the presbyteries. The expenses of the schools were to be borno by tho landowners, though one-half of the rates might bo obtained by them from their tenants. But after a century or more of irreligious wrangling between the presbyteries, who directed, and the lairds, who paid for the education of the Scotch, the former appealed to the central government at London for pecuniary relief, while the English church, after incubating the matter for a centnry or more, gave birth to the will and tumultuous efforts of Boll and Lancaster,” parliamentary inquiries as to the misappropriation of “foundations” for elementary education, and finally after 1870 to a rapid series of acts which established a system noted for its peculiar manner of operation and general intricacy. In 1795 a bishop of the Anglican church, from his political place in the Honso of Lords, naively remarked, in answer to the demand that the law-making power should bo educated, that he did not know what the mass of the people in any country had to do with the laws but to obey them; which, according to him, is their raison d'être.

In America the spirit of the political government of schools has at length spread over the whole country. But as the environment changed in which tho idea was first applied it has frequently been inodified to suit changed conditions. In general this modification has been maule in one of two forms, one of which is called the school district system,” or more properly the school community system; the other the township system," or more properly the township school district system. The school district or community system seeins to have originated somewhat in this way. As the population of euch little nucleus of settlement spread itself ont from the center of the original “plantation," it early became convenient in Massachusetts and Connecticnt, at least, to allow neighboring families at a distance to form themselves into a school district, and this system so necessary in a growing agricultural community, such as Massachusetts was before the war of 1812, was adopteil after years of use6 as the State system by the act of 1789, and was not repealed until manufacturing had restored those concentrations of population which in the early colonial days had invited township control of school attairs. This originated the school district community, which is the form of public school management operated in the greater nunber of the States.

It is evident, however, that whatever form the exigencies of cach particular territorial or economic situation compelled or induced the people to adopt, the success of local self-government in school atiairs depends upon the willingness of the constituent individuals of the community to tax thems: Ives for the benefit of their children,

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i Palfrey, Vol. I, pp. 121, 172, 272.

2 Stubbs, Constitutional History of England, Vol. I. pp. 247-248, 5th cd.; also C. J. Elton, barrister at law, in Eney: Brit., 9th ed., article quoting act of 1866, regulating the interpretation of tho word *parish" in the statutes.

3 Elementary School Contest (in England), p. 20. This angertion of Mr. Adams is borne out by facts so familiar to students of the education of the people (popular education as it is called) in Europe, that further quotation or reference seems unnecessary, especially as the idea underlies the practical treatment of the theme in Europe during times past.

4 Cf. Historical Survey of Education in Scetland, by A. Tolman Smith, Rept. Comr. Ed., 1889-90, pp.

The public “poor schools" of Pennsylvania tried this cheap expedient with no direct results.
Martin, Evolution of Massachusetts Public School System, p. 92

and upon their willingness, at whatever cost, to deprive themselves of any immediate pecuniary benefits arising from the sale to others of their children's time or the personal monopolization of it at home; in general, the absence of a narrow or selfish spirit not only in the family but also in cominunity affairs; or, to say the same thing, in other words a spirit of reasonable emulation and conipromise. This desire, of course, is dependent on the value attached to education by the parent and in a measure upon the inclinations of the child. As it has been found that some communities are not always willing or able to tax themselves as highly as other and perhaps neighboring communities, a persevering attempt is being made to rectify what is considered to be not a necessity but a defect of the administration of our school systems. The question is largely dependent upon the economic condition of the locality and of the State; in other words, upon the unequal distribution of wealth and upon a general desire to distribute the highest bonefits to all, irrespective of the inability of some to pay for them.'

Other than the political and corporato side of the school community there is another which has reference to the territory over which its jurisdiction extends. In Massachusetts the early judicial and administrative relations of the towns were with the central authority called the General Court. For the purpose principally of judicial convenience, the New England colonies were at various times after 1643 divided into counties, the administrative and representative functions of the towns not being interfered with. Like the General Court of Massachusetts, the Houso of Burgesses (borough representatives) of Virginia was composed of members representing "hundreds and plantations,” but in 1634, when the population of Virginia bad increased to 5,000 and had spread itself over the land with the view of finding eligible tobacco fields, then shires or counties were created and the burgesses were thereafter returned as representatives of the counties. The community of Virginia was a series of plantations which were indistinguishable from one another inasmuch as tobacco culture gave them the same character by tending irresistibly to promote the constant expansion of the area of each plantation, which thus became in area a small principality containing a squire, his family, and their numerous servants-in short, the Latifundia of the later Roman Empire. In Virginia, therefore, the county is made the unit of administration which was under the jurisdiction of tho “cominissioners of the county court” + with a grand jury to move attention to defects in couuty administration. In the public lands of the West it is true that the blocks of land that were laid off into counties as they get a sprinkling of population are divided with mathematical regularity into squares of 36 square iniles called townships, but it is particularly necessary to note that the New England settlers of these squares of lands are careful to distinguish them fron real "towns” by calling them Congressional townships because tho survey of the original wildnerness was authorized by the act of Congress of 1786.


Although the law books insist that the school district is a quasi corporation, in almost every State the legislature has specitically made it or its executive body a boily corporate and in three States (Ohio, Illinois, and Kentucky") a bouly politic and corporate. The circumstance that has caused the law writers to uso the term “quasi corporation” seems to be the original formation of the district in Now England, where the district school probably was looked upon as au educational succursal or outlying post of the original “ town” school, tolerated as it were by reason of the distance that attendance at the village or “ town” school proper would require to be traveled. Thus when a neighborhood built its own school and formed itself into a body for managing its own school affairs without legislative sanction, as was originally in New England the case, it was called a quasi corporation to accommodate the fact to legal necessities.

As beyond doubt the school district is a body corporate, it remains to inquire if it be not as it exists to-day also a body politic. It is admitted at the ontset that it is a body established for a special purpose and that it is unrepresented as such in the State legislature. But on the other hand, it embraces all the inhabitants within a series of well-defined areas which together form the area of the State, and thongh in some cases it excludes nontaxpayers and in others it includes women, nevertheless practically its voters are the voters of the State. The particular fact, however, that goes to show that the school community is a body politic is the power it possesses

"No sooner had the towns taken the schoolhouses than the same people wbo, in the district meet. ings had resolutely opposed any improvements, came forward and demanded new houses in the district." (Martin, Erolution of Massachusetts l'ublic School Systom, p. 209.)

? Cooke, Virginia, p. 202, footnote.
3 Bruce, Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century.
• Doyle, English Colonies in America, Vol. I, p. 217.
In Oregon it has been decided that a school district is a public corporation. (2 Oreg., 306.)

of levying taxes, especially for purchasing sites and erecting buildings and its place in the adininistration of the affairs of the State so far as they relate to schocl affairs."

The corporate and political character of the school community having been shown, it remains to point out the several forms which it has assumed. The most widely disseminated form of the school community is the so-called “school district. In this system are found frequently a “school meeting” and always a school board of trustees or of directors, or of education, elected by the voters of the district, in whose hands is placed the administratior and the control of school affairs with the exception that teachers who have not received a certificate from a State or county authority may not, in the great majority of cases, bo employed, and the local taxation is not always entirely dependent upon the local will. Another characteristic is the changeableness of its boundaries, which may vary from year to year if certain legal provisions are complied with. Such a system as this may be called the district community system to distinguish it from another form of the district which has wholly or in practice inflexible boundaries such as tho school district whose boundaries are coterminons with those of the “Congressional township” (of 36 square miles) as in Indiana or in Alabama or with the boundaries of “towns as in New Hampshire or Massachusetts. Districts having these inflexible boundaries are usually said to have adopted the township system, but as each district or township has a board of education, trustees, or school committeemen to administer the school affairs of tho township, the difference between such a system and the district community system must be found in the larger extent of territory under its control and its connection with the other civil authority whose jurisdiction is confined within the same limits as its own.?

From the foregoing it would seem that there are in every State two systems of administration, one for civil and the other for school affairs, though in both the controlling powers are the same. These powers are (1) the voters (who in the district community system form the “district school meeting"), (2) the Siate legislature who, though elected by the voters, may not be considered as quite the voters themselves, and (3) tho boards of trustees, committeemen, or of education elected by each local community, whether district, town, township, or county, which wholly inaugurates and administers local school business, except where the district meeting is something more than a voting place. Occasiovally an exception is found. In the case of North Carolina the board of county commissioners (a "civil” authority) sits as a “county school board,” and in the city of Butfalo the common council administers the affairs of the city public schools, but these instances must be considered lightly. This isolation of the administration of school affairs is not an anomaly in the administration of English-speaking nations from time to time. England was divided into poor-law parishes, land-tax parishes, burial-acts parishes, and highway parishes, and eventually consolidated into the “civil parish, and in America the administration of poor laws through overseers of the poor in Massachusetts and New York, but not in the Southern States, presents an analogy.

The two forms of school districts which have been alluded to in the foregoing one as the school district community system, and the other as the district township or district county school system, as the case may be, are mainly distinguished from each other by their political, territorial, and financial relations to the civil authorities; and in investigating the nature of these differences it is advisable to speak first of the constituency, then of the area of the school district community, which apparently came into being about the middle of the eighteenth century, was legalized in Massachusetts in 1789, and was endowed with the power of taxing itself in 1800. If by way of illustration school township districts are spoken of, it will be understool that the constituency and area of such districts are not being treated of as

of Delaware it is interesting to note that each Catholic congregation or its vestrymen are made a body politic and corporate.

Mr. Martin, in History of the Massachusetts Public School System, in speaking of the evils of the district system, a system which sprang into existence spontaneously about the middle of the eighteenth century, remarks: “When the church atlairs had been given to the parish, the care of roads and the caro of schools to the district, there was little ieft for the town to do.

? Perhaps there is another characteristic feature that distinguishes the two forms of the district bystem usually pitted against each other as the “township versus the district system.” If this be the case tho import of the other characteristic is readily inferred from the following:

"The school committee (of Massachusetts towns) are an independent body, intrusted by law with large and important powers and duties; and, although every discretionary power is liable to abuse, against which no perfect safeguards can be provided, yet we (the supreme court of Massachusetts) are aware of no substantial reason for snpposing that the power of fixing teachers' salaries is more liablo to abuse by the school committee than by the city council." (Bachelder v. Salem, 4 Cushing, 603, as quoted in 98 Mass., 587.)

In Indiana the supreme conrt has used the following langnage regarding the power of a trustee of a school township: "The township trustee is clothed with almost autocratic powers in all school matters. The voters and taxpayers of the township have little, if, indeed, any, voice or part in the control in the details of educational affairs. So far as actual authority is concerned the trustee is the corporation, although in contenuplation of law it is otherwise." (Wallis v. Jolinson Tp., 75 Ind., 374; Buck. nell'0. Widner Tp., 73 Jud., 501.)

they are only the school side of the well defined “civil” political body and area which it is tho purpose of an increasing number of text-books to make understood.


The constituency of the school district community being in the great majority of cases specifically a body corporate for public school purposes, and as such ombracing within well-defined local territorial demarkations practically all the clectoral body of the State, it naturally follows that the qualifications for voting at a school meeting should be those required at an election for representatives in tho legislature. Such, in general, is the case, though from the school district being a territorial unit occasionally a provision is found reqniring a residenco within its boundaries of 30, 40, or 60, or even 150 days immediately preceding the election.

There are, however, two exceptions to the general statement that the qualifications required from the voter in the school district meeting or election are those required of the voter at general State and local elections. One of these is that in a number of States women are allowed to vote, a provision which enlarges the right of franchise, and the other is that a property holding or tax paying, or child-having (either as parent or guardian) qualification is exacted, which seemingly restricts the electorate, giving it a tinge of self-protection as though the property holders were afraid to permit their possessions to the rule of the majority. Certain provisions for the endowment of women with suffrage in connection with school affairs are worthy of note. In Kentucky “any widow having a child 6 to 20 years of age, and any widow or spinster having a ward between the ages of 6 and 20, may vote at a school district election." In Michigan and Connectiout no woman, though 21 years of ago, tho usual requisite, may be registered unless she can read in the English language. In New Jersey a woman can not vote for the election of members of district trustees, though she may vote upon all other school questions. The case of New Jersey is an apt illustration of the two bodies politic within the same territorial confines, for at a civil township election a woman can not be permitted to vote, while at a school district election (the school district being a township) sho is entitled to vote on all questions except for trustees, to which office, however, she is eligible.

The other occasional departure from the usual courso of bestowing the franchise in this country is well stated in the law of Idaho, which recites that “none but actual resident freeholders and heads of families of each school district shall voto at an election [for levying a tax].” That this provision where occuring may not necessarily be made to work any particular injustice may be attested by the character of the law of New York, where every person of full age residing in the district for thirty days next preceding any school district election may vote thereat if ho or she owns, hires, or leases real property in such district liable to taxation for school purposes, or is the parent or has the quasi custody of a child of school age baving attended the district school for eight weeks within the year last past, or who owns personal property assessed on the last preceding assessment roll of the town exceeding $50 exclusive of exemptions. Frequently the delinquent payer of school taxes is debarred from voting, and in some cases of deciding in regard to borrowing money for building, a mere plurality of votes will not carry tho measuro at issue.

There are characteristics in the organization of the school community of the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast States, Texas accepted, that mark those communities as an cxcoption. It is extremely doubtful if this phenomenon can be attributed to the social conditions existing in the Southern States which require the maintenance of two systems of public schools. But whatever be the explanation it seems legitimate to conclude that the school systems of the southeastern and southern coast are systems of State schools, while in Massachusetts, to take the most striking example, tho school system is a town[ship) system, though most freely directed by the legislature to carry out reforms or inaugurato innovations. Five Southern States have a county board as the real local school authority. In one of these (Florida) the county is divided into three districts, and a member of the board is elected from each; in another (Georgia) the grand jury choose the county board; in another (Mississippi) the county board is composed of a member from each supervisor's district appointed by the State superintendent, and in the fourth and fifth the county board is appointed by the governor. The other States of our southern coast have a county superintendent as the local school authority, who is appointed in Alabama and Virginia by tho State superintendent, and in South Carolina (under the old law) is elected by tho people. North Carolina has no county superintendent, and its schools are under tho authority of its "county commissioners," sitting as a “county board of education.” The more local or district authority, as far as it occurs, is appointed by the county anthority, except in Mississippi, where the “patrons”elect three district trustees, and in Virginia, where an electoral board, composed of the county judge, commonwealth attorney and county superintendont, elect the district boards for the school subdi. vision of the county.



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The “school district” as a part of tho earth's surface, is constituted on quite dif. ferent lines from the “Congressional township,” and even from the original towns” of New England. The area of a school district is a matter of convenienco determined by its inhabitants, and its boundaries, judging from the ever present and numerous provisions for changing them, aro readily manipulated. The school district is formed in one of three ways—either offhand by an authority of tho county, by petition to such authority by certain inhabitants of the district, and subsequent vote, and finally, by local organization and subsequent notification of tho county authority. When the legislature has fixed the boundaries of a district as coterminous with those of a "Congressional township,” as in Indiana and Alabama, or as coterminous with those of a “town," as in Now Hampshiro, the school district system is said, in common pedagogic parlance, to have been abolished and the town system to have been adopted; but the original fact that each school community had but one “district school” must not be allowed to obliterate, another fact that any given amount of territory called a school district may have more than one " district school” if thero aro pupils enough to warrant them. Nor must it be forgotten that, when the increase of population in a large district called for two schools in ono district, the case with which a school district could be formed naturally invited the formation of a new district from the old one, and conseq ntly a new set of officers was required in addition to the set already in existence. Tho effort to ininimize the distanco which the child would have to travel and the contrary evil of having two or more weak schools is apparent in the legislation of States having the district system. Even in the township school district system a deep stream to be crossed or a difficult road to be followed will sometimes make it necessary to carve out a district irrespective of township lines. The principle of the district system is that the school community immediately served should have charge of its school or schools; the principle of the township system is that a few persons should not have charge of the affairs of the school by which it is served, as it tends to foster petty local animosities, contrariness, and over economy. The school district meeting is the assemblage of a neighborhood, the township system or “school township district," as it is sometimes called, is the removal of such questions to a more varied assemblage or to a board. When the area of the school district is broadened so as to embrace a large county the assemblage of the school community is impossible and direct legislation by it is out of the question.

Before passing to the consideration of the formation of the two kinds of districts, the rather anomalous case of the State of New York must be noted. Tho subdivision of that State is done in a manner which distinguishes it at once from the town school system of New England, the district community system of both the Mississippi Valley and of New England, and the county system of the Southern States. The legislature has divided the State into school commissioner districts, and each school commissioner subdivides his school commissioner district into common school districts. There were, in 1894, 114 school commissioner districts in New York, each, on the average, containing 425 square miles, and 97 common school districts. But no city may be included in any school commissioner district. Each of these two classes of areas, excluding the city district class, is solely a school area, and although the functions of the school commissioner are probably the same as thoos of the county superintendent in the South and West, the school commissioner is not a county ofiicer.

FUNCTIONS. Under the two preceding sections the members and the area of the school district community has been spoken of; it yet remains to compare its functions with that of the school township district.

In many States the school meeting is a legislative institution as conclusive in its decisions, so far as untrammeled by the law, as it is regular in its assemblage. Its functions are (or may be): (1) In every case to elect the officers required by law to bo elected in order to supervise and accomplish the business of the school district; (2) to provide school accommodations; (3) in many cases to levy tax for the general support of schools, and (1) in some cases to decide questions regarding the administration of the schools of the district. In general, the duties of the ineeting are to elect officers, pass upon financial questions, fix the site of schoolhouses, and vote upon changing boundaries.

The school meeting” is not a feature of the township district system. In Massachusetts, for example, the town meeting elects the body that manages school atř'airs. In New Hampshire, however, where tho civil town and the school district towu are coterminous, there is a town meeting and also a school district meeting, which may be held between the 1st day of March and the 20th of April at the usual place at

See footuote 2 on p. 1460.

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