A Status Report from the Superintendent
I beg leave to report that I was first elected county superintendent of common schools of Own county Kentucky in 1890, and served until 1894. The first time I visited the schools after going into office I found about thirty school houses without even a home-made desk or a puncheon against the wall for the children to write on; I found about thirty other houses with such rough, awkward, uncomfortable and inconvenient desks as to be almost useless; I found the children sitting on the puncheon seats of a hundred years ago, or upon rough seats made of the roughest of lumber, just as it came from the saw. In 1891 and 1892 I had about sixty houses furnished with patent desks, about twenty new ones built, and as many more repaired. Of course I was defeated for re-election, but was again elected in 1897.
As far as houses, desks and apparatus is concerned, I think that my county stands in the front rank; also I believe that we have as many able teachers in this county; but neither this county nor any other county can rise very high unless the present method of selecting teachers is changed. As long as Mr. Smith marshals his kindred and friends to elect him trustee in order that his son may teachthe school; Mr. Jones that his daughter may teach; or Mr. Somebody else that the daughter or son of somebody else may teach; so long as the welfare of the teacher is considered and not that of the children, so long will our school system fail to grow.
We ought to have a public school for eight or nine months in the year, and we ought to have better pay for the teachers for the sake of the children. Our present way of selecting teachers should be done away with; any other method will be an improvement over the present method. The county board of examiners should have the power to refuse to grant certificates to incompetent teachers, no matter how good their reputation or how highly they may be educated.
In the county, local taxation is a rank failure. The public money should all come from the State and should be nearly double the present amount. Whatever the time shall come that the poorest district in the State shall draw $300 per annum, the term extended to eight or nine months each year. the teacher can see in that at least a living, and will devote his leisure hours to study instead of being compelled to supplement his salary by working at hard labor seven months out of twelve. In a word, we should have more money, longer terms of school, more stringent examinations, a better method of selecting teachers,a nd a law that will enable the county superintendent to have new school houses built when necessary.
Legislative document number 5. The Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Kentucky, for the Two years beginning July 1, 1899 and ending June 30, 1901, H. V. McChesney, Superintendent of Public Instruction.