Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- December 31, 1879German in the Public Schools (Letter to the editor)
To the Editor of the Illinois Staats-Zeitung:
I would like to submit two phases about German instruction in our schools.
1) The first point involves the recent statement made in your paper by Mr. Delany, a member of the school board. He declared in your paper, as well as in other publications, that he would never favor abolition of German language instruction and was opposed only to the employment of three special teachers, or so-called superintendents for German, singing, and drawing. I do not intend to argue particularly with Mr. Delany, as he only recently became affiliated with the school board and therefore has not been in a position to become fully conversant with all the details.
I admit, it is not the duty of the superintendent of German instruction 2personally to teach the children. It is his duty, however, to supervise instruction and to guide the younger teachers, since we do not have a normal school anymore and our young personnel lacks experience. Furthermore, the superintendent must examine the pupils at least every two months; he prepares the material, adapting it to the various schools, and yet must arrange it in such a manner that pupils who are transferred to another district school can readily continue their studies; he must also appraise the relative value of instruction material, prepare the monthly and annual reports, and find suitable substitutes whenever a teacher is sick. He also examines the applicants who wish to become teachers and, after accepting them, supervises their activities and gives advice when the occasion arises.
Briefly, he bears the same responsibility to his teaching staff as the principal of a school does to the English teachers, with one additional disadvantage: The superintendent of the special branches must visit every school regardless 3of inclement weather, whereas the principal of a school need not leave the building. To dismiss the superintendent would be equivalent to discharging the principal of every school and leaving matters to the discretion of the school teachers, most of whom are young. All who might favor the abolishment of the superintendents, should consider that this would be the entering wedge whereby German instruction would soon disintegrate. It is a fact, that every attack on German language instruction during the last years was preceded by attempts to abolish the superintendency. If that position is shelved, the rest will follow-quickly.
2) We believe that it is timely to give official figures about German instruction. In the month of November, 1879 for instance, according to the report submitted to the school board by Superintendent Doty, we find that 35,454 pupils attended the four lower grades and 8,801 pupils were in the upper four grades. Total attendance was 44,255.
German instruction is limited to four grades in eighteen of our schools. These eighteen schools have 5,737 pupils of the grammar classification. We 4append a list so that facts may be easily visualized:
Name of School Number of Grammar Pupils Children Studying Grammar Franklin 552 272 Kinzie 312 111 North Clark Street 156 70 Lincoln 287 93 Newberry 198 119 Ogden 398 133 Calumet 157 125 Cottage Grove 267 57 Haven 267 64 Moseley 485 147 Brown 690 125 Carpenter 189 40 Dore 333 171 King 277 106 Scannon 240 76 Skinner 423 49 Washington 273 26 Wells 233 61 5,737 1,845
We have another restriction: A resolution of the school board provided that German shall not be taught in any grade unless at least twenty pupils apply. In most of the schools, particularly in the eighth grade, there are usually less than twenty pupils in all. As a result of that resolution passed by the school board another 921 pupils were deprived of an opportunity to learn German, so that only 4,816 pupils have a chance to study German--not 50,000, as our opponents declare! And of these 4,816, only 1,845 take German instruction!
This is an accurate report! And now we ask if this is not a favorable indication (?) considering the difficulties confronting the teachers who labor while6
a veritable sword of Damocles is suspended over their heads. It is really surprising that the Germans have not asked to have the language study included in every school. The parents of 150 children who attend the Pickard School (and this also applies to the Foster School), asked the school board to include German instruction but to no avail! As a result, the Pickard School has practically no attendance, while the neighboring parochial and private schools, which teach German, are crowded--and in these institutions there is no free tuition!
In regard to the value of language instruction, your valued paper has treated the subject so thoroughly, and in such a masterly manner, that no more can be added. I was only concerned in disproving the aforesaid two assertions.
I A 1 b, I A 2 b
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