Public Exercises 567
regard to this he had a fullness of view of a complete system of public
education from primary school to university which has not yet been
realized. Prefacing this part of his address with the statement that
North Carolina, unlike many of her sister States, had avoided
financial bankruptcy, he made the following apology for the
establishment of the common schools:
The establishment of a Literary Fund for the support of what are called common
schools is a measure intimately connected with the prosperity of our political
institutions. Intelligence, diffused among the mass of people, is a safeguard to the
State. In a government like ours, where every man has a voice in the selection of
rulers, it is important that each individual be furnished with education sufficient to
enable him to form a correct opinion of the duties that as a citizen he owes to the
public. As the State is to reap the benefit, so it is reasonable that the State should
provide the means of instruction.
But is a common school education all that is needed? Or are they only entitled to
the public bounty, who confine their education to elementary branches? Or can a
system of common schools be maintained if the higher branches are neglected? If
the State will support a system of common schools, is she less bound to provide
teachers than to provide the means of teaching? What will the common schools be
without competent teachers, and where are the teachers to be obtained unless means
are provided for preparing them? The common school system is worth nothing
without the intermediate or high school. The intermediate, or high school, will
accomplish little without the college, or the university. Each has an influence upon
the other, and all must flourish together, if they flourish at all.
In making provision for common schools, the work has been but half done. To
begin with common schools and think to make them successful without providing-
for higher institutions, is as preposterous as to require a plantation to be conducted
without the requisite labor and tools. flow are our schools to be supplied with
teachers, and how are our colleges to be filled with students unless intermediate, or
high schools are established? And how can it be expected that men from the
colleges will become teachers in the high schools unless means beyond the payment
of tuition, be provided for the support and furnishing of such institutions? Hitherto
this class of intermediate or high schools, has been left entirely without public
patronage. This department of education has been given up to individual enterprise,
and the consequence is that we have scarcely an institution of this character which
can hope for anything beyond an ephemeral existence. No
Previous Page Next Page