Confessions of Three School Superintendents
I AM superintendent of schools in a New England city, and have been in my present position a number of years. I held a similar position in another city for a considerable time. These experiences, with my previous experiences as a principal, have made me acquainted with school boards and school management. No man can be superintendent of schools for a number of years without seeing mistakes that he himself and other superintendents make, nor without desiring various changes in the public school system. Some confessions concerning school committees, teachers, courses of study, and superintendents I wish to make, in the hope that thoughtful men may ponder these things, and use their influence to effect some much-needed changes.
The majority of every school board consists of honorable, high-minded men, anxious for the good of the schools. Among more than two hundred men under whom I have served I have formed a large number of warm friendships, and to most of them I have been indebted for strong support; yet I have never had a school committee a majority of whose members could be relied upon to vote always for what they believed to be the interests of the schools, regardless of “ pulls.”
“ Pulls ” affect chiefly two matters, — the selection of textbooks and the appointment of teachers.
As to textbooks a great many members of my school committees have always voted conscientiously. Of books whose sale is not large, — high school books, reference books, supplementary reading, — the selections have usually been made on the recommendation of myself and the teachers who are to use the books. The case is entirely different with books whose sale is large and profitable, such as readers, arithmetics, geographies, grammars, copy-books, and spelling-books. The rival publishers’ agents divide the committee into two or three hostile camps, and arouse an anxiety on the part of many of the school committee for the success of their side only less intense than the agents themselves feel.
I have learned to keep out of book fights. I hasten to profess neutrality and to maintain a dignified reserve on the question, even to the extent of displeasing my friends who really desire my advice as to which is the best book. Doubtless this confession will read to some like the words of a coward. But why should a superintendent ruin his chances of success in things more vital to the schools than the use of this or that arithmetic ?
I am on good terms with book agents. I find them always genial and well informed. It is a pleasure to chat with them, but it will not do to make them any promises.
The larger book houses employ two kinds of agents : the skirmishers and the beaters-up of the bush, and the men who do the heavy work when the crisis comes. The latter usually keep away from me. If they meet me, they hasten to say that “they respect my position, and will be careful not to involve me in the struggle.”
My school committee at the present time is of considerable size, and is managed by a very few men who have made an alliance offensive and defensive for all school purposes. Probably the citizens generally do not understand this, but it is known to all the school committee, and acquiesced in by all. A few chafe under it, — some because they do not belong to the ring, and others because they see the thorough selfishness of the management; but no one rebels. The managers mean to have good schools ; they are far-seeing men, to whom a definite policy can be presented with the certainty that it will be comprehended, and the probability that it will be approved unless it will affect unfavorably some of their friends.
“ Working for one’s friends,” in itself a praiseworthy thing and accounted by politicians the highest virtue, is the bane of the schools. The average committee man looks at all questions from this point of view, “ How will it affect me and my friends ? ” not, “ How will it affect the schools ? ” The man who can get upon a school committee is the man who is most in earnest to help his friends. This man is usually a politician or one who aspires to political influence. The man next to him in evil influence is likely to be the pastor of a church, for whose members and their sons and daughters he must do what he can to find places or to maintain them in their places. The politician is looking for him, and quickly offers his aid. The good clergyman, in return for the aid of the politician in securing a place for A, “who is a worthy case,”agrees to vote for B, of whom he knows little, and as to whom he shuts his eyes if the revelations are likely to trouble his conscience. Then there is the doctor who feels under obligations to his patients, or to those for whom his patients request his favor.
The best members of a school committee are lawyers and business men who handle large enterprises. These men are more independent than others, and have broader views. A scheme of instruction or a plan of management will be considered by them on its merits, and not solely with reference to its effect on certain individuals.
What use in talking to a man about some plan for improving the teaching force of a city, when the main query in his mind is, “ How will this affect my chances of getting teachers appointed, or how will it serve my other interests ?” This personal question and the combinations made to effect its satisfactory answer are what is meant by “ school politics.”
In twenty years of school teaching and superintending I have not known any school question to be decided by Democrats or Republicans as such. I have read and heard that such influences have affected other superintendents, but they have never affected me.
So far as the appointment and retention of teachers are concerned, the whole foundation of evil is broadly covered by this unblushing declaration of a San Francisco school director : —
“ I was brought up in this town, and of course have a certain number of friends who want and expect positions. Each director appoints his own friends and relatives, and their names are never questioned by the elementary committee, nor by the full board when it meets to elect candidates. That is a courtesy which is extended by every director to each of his fellow directors, — the minority, of course, excepted.”
My own experience is that school committee men act upon the same principle in New England as in California, though they are less outspoken about it.
The appointment of teachers is as well managed as are other city appointments. The poor get relief, the streets are laid out, the police are selected, not on the sole basis of the best service to the public, but, in many cases, on the plan of every man getting as much for his neighborhood or his friends as possible. An alderman who cannot get work on the streets or in the parks for his constituents, who has small influence in securing places on the police force or in the fire department, will have small chance of reëlection, in many wards.
A remedy for the evils connected with appointments must be found in a change of public sentiment. “ Public office is a public trust,” and not a “private snap.” A generation of schoolchildren must be trained to right views on such questions. The schools must share in the general moral uplift; yea, more, they must stand apart from ordinary municipal departments as something to be managed on a higher moral plane.
The evil influence of the appointment of teachers by means of “ pulls ” does not appear so much in the character of the persons appointed as it does in the demoralization of the body of teachers. It removes a strong incentive to personal improvement. If appointments depend on “ pulls,” so may promotions and transfers. Each teacher feels secure in her position as long as she has a friend who has influence, or who is on friendly terms with some one who has it. It has several times happened to me that teachers who have been admonished of some neglect, mistake, or inefficiency have gone to their friends for protection, instead of avoiding danger by trying to do better.
I would not, however, leave the false impression that dealing with teachers who fail in their work and depend upon influence to keep their positions is one of the chief troubles of a superintendent. His greatest difficulty with teachers is with those — and their name is legion — who are conscientious and painstaking, anxious to do well, always doing their best, and yet from lack of vigor and adaptation failing to become efficient. A superintendent, even if he have the heart to dismiss such teachers, will rarely find either his committee or the public supporting his action ; for no one but himself realizes how schools suffer from such teachers.
While making “ confessions,” I must not neglect to confess that when myself a teacher, I always tried to get the poorest third of each class to do all the work laid down in the course of study. This was a constant struggle, and always a partial failure. The very poorest were dropped to the grade below, or left behind at the class promotion ; while many, with much sighing on their part and urging on my part, often by grace and not by right, obtained promotion. When I became a superintendent the same plan was continued for a time, as I then knew no better way.
Such struggle and partial accomplishment are not the right processes for intellectual development, and through them the moral nature receives much harm. Perhaps the results to the most capable pupils are quite as damaging as to the poorest ones. Tied down to those inferior in speed, they have fretted at the slow progress, if they were ambitious ; or they have grown indifferent, disposed to dillydallying, if they quietly accepted the conditions. Their loss includes not merely the failure to gain what might have been gained, but also the habit of half-hearted effort. More and more I sympathize with bright pupils, for our public schools often fail to meet their needs and give them inspiration.
The remedy for these evils is not far to seek. Make the course of study for the slower, weaker pupils, and let the brighter ones go faster or take additional work. In the primary and lower grammar grades, the first of these alternatives is the correct one ; in the higher grammar grades and in the high school, additional work in a heavier course is the proper remedy. The bright pupils ought to work as hard as the dull ones. The teacher of the bright division ought to work as hard as the teacher of the slower division, — in the one case in laying out more work, in the other in seeking simpler explanations.
The superintendent is less secure in his position than the humblest teacher. In all the large towns in New England, whatever their nominal term, teachers have practically life tenure of office. They need but to do their duty, and only their duty, to hold their positions past the days of their most efficient service. Whatever may have happened outside my range of observation, within it I have never known a teacher to lose a position that he deserved to retain.
The superintendent must stand the shocks. He is the victim of the political overturns. He must defend all the teachers unjustly assailed, making their cause his own. Protecting a teacher in her control of her school may bring him into collision with an irate and influential citizen. All general failures and most special ones are laid at his door.
If the superintendent amounts to much, he will be found in the way of the plans of unscrupulous persons and their selfish interests. If he amounts to little, he will be accused of inefficiency and lack of backbone. The superintendent who loses his place is often superior to him who retains his place. The fact of holding or losing one’s place is no proof of real merit.
The superintendencies in the small towns are more difficult to fill than those in the large towns. The duties are more multifarious, tempests arise on smaller provocations, there is more gossip, and one or two citizens are more likely to control the fate of the superintendent. A man who remains several years at his post in a small town, and is respected by all citizens as a sincere and capable official who is making excellent schools, may with safety and profit be transferred to take the place of a superintendent in a large town who is never heard from as accomplishing anything either by action or by inhibition.
The superintendent in a large town is less under watch and ward. He can differentiate his system and try experiments without incurring expense or distracting the teachers. He has a better opportunity for intellectual and professional growth. He can concentrate his efforts on the professional rather than on the business side of his work, and become an expert whose judgment carries weight in all educational matters.
But in any place, small or large, that superintendent will in the long run be most secure who stands honestly, decidedly, and yet courteously, for right methods, good teachers, and fair dealing.
As in most communities in the South and West, the prevailing sentiment regarding schools and school-teaching here where I serve is that the schoolroom is a very proper place to pension indigent gentlewomen. Teaching is regarded as a dignified calling for anybody in indigent circumstances who is unable to do any other work. This is generally the kind of application one hears : “ I have a young friend who has been through the high school, whose father is dead, and who is obliged to support her mother. She is a nice girl and a good girl, and I want you to help me get her a school.”
“ Has she any preparation for teaching ? Has she ever attended a normal school, or studied with reference to teaching ? ”
“ Oh no, but I think she will make you a good teacher, and I want you to give her a trial.”
Such an argument does not convince the superintendent, but it is very persuasive with kind-hearted members of the board of education. So they supplement the request that the young lady may have a fair trial at the examination. “ Be easy on her for her father’s sake.”
Upon one occasion I made a report to the board of education, in which I took strong ground in favor of allowing only those to teach in our public schools who had a normal training or who were experienced teachers. The president of the board met me afterward and remarked that the report was excellent in theory, but in these degenerate times it was impracticable.
Since then some of my theories in regard to teachers have changed. I have found very fine teaching power in some young women who never saw the inside of a normal school, and whose record for scholarship in our local high schools was not the best. They had that unexaminable, indefinable power of controlling, interesting, and instructing children that seems to be an endowment. No normal school can give this ability, and no lack of normal school training can take it away. The best that a normal school can do is to develop the teaching talent and direct the teaching power, so that the born teacher will not waste time in learning her own strength by practicing on her pupils.
We must come to this proposition in our town and in other towns, namely, that a teacher can be discovered only by her teaching, and the best examination possible is a trial in the schoolroom. Given a young woman who appears to have all the requisites, — a good education, good health, and a fair knowledge of what the demands of the schoolroom are, — and the only true way to proceed is to give her three months, or longer if advisable, as a trial. She will then show what she can do, and I do not believe that a satisfactory test can be made in any other way.
I have two cases in point. Several years ago a young woman came to me for a school, and as I talked with her I made up my mind that she would not be a good teacher. She became a candidate before the board for a position, however, and her friends were active. I could do nothing but consent “to give her a trial,” though I looked upon the trial as likely to be a failure, and I so expressed myself. To my utmost surprise, the young woman walked into the schoolroom, took up the reins of management, showed pluck and ingenuity, read all the books she could get hold of, and at the end of three years was the leading teacher of her grade in the city. To-day her grade work is the model for younger teachers, who love to see “ how easily she manages.”
On the other hand, I observed in a rural school a young woman who I thought was the very person I needed for a certain kind of work in the city schools. I made it my business to see the board of education, and guaranteed the excellence of her work. I staked my reputation as a superintendent on her ability to teach. The board consented, and I sent for the young woman and told her of my recommendations. To my chagrin, she seemed lost from the day she began. She never saw the difference between an ungraded rural school of thirty pupils and a graded school of fifty pupils. Her previous training had ruined her for other work, and she did not get control of the situation. She struggled on for three years, and then she left the profession for the better field of matrimony.
One of the most perplexing problems that ever confronted a superintendent is what to do with an old, poor, and thoroughly inefficient teacher. I have such a problem before me now. On one side there are the pupils, who are poorly taught and badly disciplined. Their time is practically wasted, and the people say it is a shame to keep such a person upon the teaching corps. The taxpayers also complain that the board ought to have the courage to discharge the aged and incompetent teacher; but this complaint is made in a very quiet and confidential way. On the other side is the fact that the old lady has served the board thirty years, has been a faithful teacher, is now old and poor, and to discharge her means the poorhouse for her and several dependents. There is absolutely nobody to take care of her. Should we discharge her, the very persons who say that she ought to be dismissed would rise up and declare it was an outrage to put an old servant out. The very parents who say their children are learning nothing would sign a paper declaring they were perfectly satisfied, and the superintendent would be regarded as a heartless wretch, and the board of education as a soulless corporation. The law says we cannot pension her, and so we are now quietly awaiting the time when, having served her day and several generations of children, she will be called to her deserved rest. Perhaps, after all, this is best. We are but human, and one case out of nearly two hundred will not seriously affect us.
Sometimes, indeed many times, the people themselves are the source of our troubles. Theoretically, public opinion controls all public institutions. But this acts directly in some instances, and indirectly in other instances. In all the cases above mentioned the action was indirect, in that it had to exert itself first upon the members of the board. But now I come to speak of the direct contact of the public and the schools. Let me cite an illustration. The board decided to introduce physical culture in the schools, and for that purpose employed a young lady from a distance who knew her business thoroughly. She prepared some blank forms of inquiry about the physical tendencies of the pupils, and gave each one a copy to be filled out at home. The director wanted a diagnosis of each child, in order to inform herself and the grade teacher of any physical defect, such as heart disease, tendency to headache, dizziness, and the like. This was a reasonable request, but it raised a storm in town. Not more than one parent in ten would send in a report, and from those who responded we had an amusing lot of answers. One man wrote across the blank, “None of this for me. Give my boy more reading and arithmetic.” Another one said his boy’s indigestion was “very good.” In response to the query, “ Are the shoulders even ? ” one man said, “ The right shoulder is, but the left shoulder is a little off.” The ancillary expansion of the children varied from nothing to one hundred inches. In short, the replies were worthless, and a good scheme was abandoned because the public would not stand such “ nonsense.”
Some time ago tardiness had proved to be a great nuisance, and we resolved to stop it, if we could, by closing the doors to all tardy pupils. We resolved to send them back to their homes to get a written excuse stating the reason for their being late. We hoped in this way to reduce the tardiness from five per cent to one per cent of the attendance. We thought that an allowance of one per cent was reasonable. The order was published, announcements were duly made to the pupils, and the fun began. The very first day that notes were required a dozen pupils were sent home, and did not return that day. The next day they came with insulting notes from their parents to the effect that our rules were tyrannical and illegal. One parent wrote, “ My son was tardy because he was late; the reason therefor is none of your business.” Others were of like import. One man went to the president of the board and gave the school system a sound rating for its rigidity; the same man had said, a few months before, that the laxity of discipline was a disgrace. The board, however, stood by its rules, and tardiness has almost disappeared.
I have found, in my experience of fifteen years, that some people will abuse any school official who stands up for what is best, but that the public will always respect him for it. Everybody likes a strong government, and has a contempt for a weak one. If one wants to have an easy time and a poor school system, he need only let things go in any fashion, and he and his schools will sleepily drift into general contempt. If he wants to have a hard time and a good school system, let him bare his front to the storm of criticism and abuse, and he and his schools will surely win their way to general respect.
My experience as superintendent of schools has been chiefly in two cities, each having a population of more than fifty thousand. In character and general municipal life these cities may be said to be polar opposites. In one there is a high degree of general intelligence, a good public spirit, a pure city government, and the schools are absolutely free from those various adverse influences which are the bane of public schools in so many cities. The school board is composed of a high class of citizens, and the people are loyal to the schools. In the other city there was, a dozen years ago, when I knew it, an exceedingly low grade of intelligence, a low moral tone, an indifference to schools and to education in general, and the board was composed of men the majority of whom were ignorant, and some of them, it was well known, were corrupt. I believe that, during the two years and a half of my work there, I met with nearly all the most embarrassing conditions under which a school superintendent is ever called to work.
In this city the board consisted of fifty-two members, — four from each of thirteen wards. Since I left it, enough wards have been created to make the membership of the board sixty-four. The members were nominated and elected by wards, each ward voting only for its own representatives. The meetings of the board suggested meetings of the state legislature, and there were the caucusing, the “ log-rolling,” and the partisanship of a political convention whenever questions of importance came up. There was a sprinkling of intelligent men, enough to constitute an efficient board ; the rest of the members were men who could not speak grammatically, and some of them were known in the community as men of low morals, who were not fit to come in contact either with women teachers or with children in the schools. I remember that one night at eleven o’clock I saw the president of the board leaning against a tree at the curbstone, so intoxicated that a fellow member of the board, who happened to be with him, had to lead him home. This was not an unusual occurrence ; he was known as a very dissipated man at the time he was elected president. He had the support of a majority of the members until his conduct in the meetings of the board became a public scandal. The low moral tone of the board was felt throughout the schools. Teachers depended on favoritism and political “ pulls,” instead of on merit, for promotion, and some were kept in their positions who were not only incompetent, but also of objectionable character. The principal of one of the high schools was known to be untruthful, absolutely untrustworthy in money matters, and an unprincipled man generally; yet he had the support of a majority of the board for a number of years.
By a provision of the city charter the board consisted of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats ; but instead of becoming non-partisan under this arrangement, it became bi-partisan. No teachers not residents of the city could be elected to positions in the schools below the high schools, and nearly all the teachers in the high schools were residents. The appointments were almost entirely made through favoritism. Political affiliations, church associations, and business relations between the friends of applicants and members of the board determined appointments to schools. The term “ politics ” as applied to school affairs is not always clearly understood. No question is raised as to the political party to which a teacher belongs or with which he sympathizes ; the only question is whether his appointment will procure the political influence of his friends at the next election. It ought to be said that church influence is often more embarrassing to a superintendent than politics, and I have myself been hampered by deacons and pastors in my efforts to do the best thing for the schools. In the city above referred to there was a woman at the head of one of the high schools who was personally a very estimable woman, but who was entirely incompetent. The reason why she could not be removed was not political. The pastor of one of the leading churches and one of the judges of the superior court objected so strongly to her removal that the board were afraid to take the step. Ministers, through a mistaken sympathy, often allow themselves to indorse incompetent teachers, and so help to block the way for better things in the schools. In fact, a recommendation of a teacher by her pastor seldom has any weight whatever. I usually throw such documents into the waste-paper basket when applicants send them to me, unless I am personally acquainted with the minister and know that he is competent to form a critical judgment of a teacher’s work. I have made confession of a professional secret which it may do no serious harm to divulge.
In the same city, where houses were erected by the school board and all contracts pertaining to the schools were awarded by the board, there was a temptation for a certain class of men to seek election to the board who could not be tempted into the public “ service ” by any desire to advance the public interest. Some of them secured appointments upon the building committee. It was well known that bids for contracts were opened before all bids were handed in. and “pointers” were given to late bidders. Some of these men were constantly found on the textbook committee, and agents of publishing houses had to meet them on ground sufficiently low to reach their official good will. In a certain book contest, one young, inexperienced agent told me he gave one member of the committee money to take a trip to the seashore. To gain the good will of another, he said he accompanied him not only to saloons, but to worse places. He lost the contest, and was afterward discharged by the publisher whom he represented. In this contest, another publisher employed a special agent who was a politician, and was willing to resort to means which the regular agent could not be asked to employ. Much has been said about corruption in the relations between publishing houses and school boards. My observation has been that it all depends on the moral character of the board. Publishers will not resort to means lower than is absolutely necessary to obtain trade, and I have known some to refuse to have anything to do with book contests because of the dishonesty of the textbook committee. The agents of most of our publishing houses are college-bred men, high-minded, and are willing to put their business on as high a plane as school boards will permit them. In short, where school boards are pure, the textbook business is honorably conducted.
The first thing to do, therefore, to elevate and improve the public schools is to secure a higher grade of people to serve on school boards. The public schools of Chicago are a more important trust to administer than Chicago University ; likewise, the public schools of Philadelphia and of New York are more important trusts to administer than either the University of Pennsylvania or Columbia University ; and yet who would be willing to say that even a majority of the members of any school board which these cities have ever had would be suitable persons to elect as members of the boards of trustees of these institutions? Fortunately, there are always a few men of eminent worth and good ability on these boards, but they seldom constitute a majority. A reform cannot be brought about by moral force alone. Legislation is necessary. The school systems of most of our cities require a thorough reconstruction.
In the first place, the size of school boards must be reduced. The number should rarely exceed one member for every ten thousand of population, except in very small cities. In the large cities the number should be made considerably less than this. Such reduction in numbers will be made possible, however, only by reducing the work now done gratuitously by members, and giving it into the hands of paid expert agents who are to work under the general supervision of the board. At present, members of school boards are obliged to spend a very considerable portion of their time in attending to details which can be managed much more efficiently by paid experts. Business men of unusual ability, and of large business interests of their own to look after, cannot afford to accept positions on a school board under existing conditions. The only way to secure the services of such men is to relieve the boards of official details, and to require of them only the direction of the general policy and work of the schools.
In the second place, all ward representations in school boards should be abolished. Every member should be a “ member at large ” and should represent the whole city. When members are elected by wards, the local ward politician dictates the election. A “clean” ward will send a good man; a ward in which the lower element is concentrated almost invariably elects a man who is not suitable for such a position. The ward politicians, controlling the ward elections, control later the official acts of members thus elected. Hence this system of election is a source of political corruption of the school board, and through it of the schools. Nomination from wards and election at large produce better results, for the whole city has a voice at the polls in determining who shall represent each ward. But this method of election is also objectionable, because in the business wards of cities of even moderate size it is often impossible to find a single resident who is a suitable person to serve on a school board.
There is no one method of selecting a school board that is best for all cities. In some cities the local conditions are such that appointment by the mayor is the best method ; in others, like Philadelphia, appointment by the judges of the courts seems to be fairly satisfactory. In the majority of cities, however, election by popular ballot is undoubtedly the best method.
In the third place, there should be an entire separation between the educational part and the business part of the administration of the public school system in our large cities. There should be an agent for the business department and a superintendent of instruction for the educational department, each of whom should be directly responsible to the board.
In the fourth place, the educational department should be intrusted more largely than it has been to the superintendent of instruction. I fail to see a good reason why there should be a committee of the board called “ Committee on Course of Study.” The making of a course of study is the work of an educational expert. The more intelligent a school committee, the more the members shrink from such a responsibility. Yet in some of our larger cities the superintendent is barely consulted when the course of study is to be revised. I see little occasion, also, for a committee on textbooks. Textbooks should be selected by the superintendent after free consultation with the teachers who are to use them.
There must be more concentration of responsibility, and consequently of anthority, in the administration of school affairs. There is probably no other public official, of equal ability, intelligence, and character, who has so little real legal authority as a superintendent of schools. The mayor of a city, as a rule, has no more ability, and usually has less education, than the superintendent of schools, and yet he has very much more authority. Likewise the judges of our courts, with a life tenure, have immensely more power than men who are their equals and are engaged in superintending public schools. “ One man power ” becomes dangerous only when it is not linked with “one man responsibility.”
In the fifth place, where the school board is elected directly by the people, and is therefore directly responsible to the people, it ought to be financially independent of the rest of the city government. It ought to have charge not only of the schools and the teachers, but also of the schoolhouses and the janitors. The city council ought to have no authority to determine how much money is to be spent on schools and school buildings. This is the only solution of the embarrassing problem of securing sufficient school room for the school population of our large cities. Cities like New York, Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Chicago fail to build sclioolhouses fast enough to keep pace with the growth of population, not because they cannot afford it or because the taxpayers are unwilling to be taxed more heavily for such a purpose, but because the politicians in the city government want the money for other purposes.
In the sixth place, I wish there might be an ordinance in every city providing that any person who has been a member of the school board shall be ineligible to any other city office for two or three years after his term of office on the school board expires. In this way, political favors done while on the school board could not at once be returned in some other form, and a position on the school board could not be made so directly as at present a stepping-stone into some “ higher ” municipal office. There are no doubt legal, and in some states possibly constitutional difficulties in the way of enacting such an ordinance, but it would go far toward eliminating ambitious politicians from school boards.
Finally, I desire to say that I have the good fortune to live in a city in which the schools are absolutely free from political influence and from every other adverse influence ; a city in which there has been no such thing as a contest over textbooks for at least ten years, in which it takes from five to ten minutes to vote out an inferior book and vote in a better one, when a change seems desirable; a city in which there is no demand for “ home talent ” that leads to a system of inbreeding which is the curse of many school systems, but in which teachers are employed who come from any part of the country, the only questions asked being such as relate to their qualifications and efficiency, The superintendent has all the freedom and power which any one can desire, and is held, as he should be, strictly responsible for results.