Monday, April 26, 2010

Growing in Knowledge(1)

One of the many concerns that our nation is facing is to make sure that there is a sufficient supply of well-educated and well-prepared teachers, to meet the increasing demands of the classroom.

It was not until a considerable time after the close of the Revolution that much interest was manifested in public education. In 1805 a society was formed which in 1808 took the name of "Free School Society of the City of New York." The first building which they erected was dedicated on the eleventh of December, 1809.The dedicatory address was given by De-Witt Clinton, who said " First Free School Building in New York." The purpose of the society was not "the founding of a single academy, but the establishment of schools."

Knowledge is defined (Oxford English Dictionary) variously as (i) expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject, (ii) what is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information or (iii) awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.

The term knowledge is also used to mean the confident understanding of a subject with the ability to use it for a specific purpose.

James Madison:
Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

John Adams:
The preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks is of more importance to the public than all the property of the rich men in the country.

The sentiment of the people of New York in favor of public instruction was early developed, and has been of constant, steady, and progressive growth. It has long since been fixed as a wise State policy. Even in its colonial condition some efforts were made in that direction; but when the State had come to be thoroughly organized, and its political status established one of the first of its deliberate acts was a provision made for the organization of a system of instruction for the young. The importance, as a measure of State, of the establishment of a system of common-school education was apparent to the mind of Gov. George Clinton, who, as early as 1792, called attention of the Legislature to it in his annual message.

In 1798, and before the expiration of the five years limited by the act, schools had been established in a majority of the then counties of the State, and about sixty thousand children during that year received public instruction. The legislation so happily inaugurated by Governor Clinton was further supported by subsequent executives and legislatures. Through the encouragement of Governors Jay and Tompkins in the early period of its history, and in later years of Governors Marcy, Seward, and others, all legislation needed to firmly esta blish and liberally sustain the system was from time to time secured.

In the year 1826 the various schools of this society, together with others which were in existence and not under its control, were united and directed under the management of a corporation called the "Public School Society." This organization gave a new impulse to the cause of popular education, and placed the whole system on a broader basis and infused new energy in all its operations. This society performed a most useful service to the State and to the cause of education during the period of its existence, and those who managed its affairs deserve high commendation for their disinterested public service.

The Board of Education was organized under an act of the Legislature, passed April 18th, 1842, which act extended to the city of New York the common-school system which prevailed in the other portions of the State, the schools under which were managed by officers elected by the people for the purpose. The Board of Education commenced its operations as soon as its measures could be perfected, and proceeded to erect school-houses and gather scholars for instruction.

Since the year 1853 and up to the present time, the public schools of New York have been under the control of this organization, called the "Board of Education," the members of which have been elected by the people, and during that period of time our school system has attained to its present great prosperity and usefulness. Under its care and management has been perfected a wise and judicious system of instruction; it has progressed and expanded and adapted itself to the improvements which have taken place in science and arts and the methods of instruction. The cause of education or its administration has not been stationary. It has steadily grown and increased in its means of usefulness.

Bibliography: History of New York City From the Discovery to the Present Day; Virtue & Yorston-New York 1872.

To contact:

No comments: