Office of Public Instruction – 1861

Washington Standard Olympia, W.T., December 10, 1861

To the Honorable the Legislature of the Territory of Washington

The act to create the office of Public Instruction makes it the duty of the Superintendent to collect all such information as may be deemed important in reference to common schools, especially the number of children; the number and quality of schools, the number of scholars in attendance; the amount paid for tuition, also, to collect information of the number of school houses, and the amount expended from year to year for the erection and repairing of school houses, and all other matters in reference to the operation and effect of the Common School system, and report annually to the Legislature . . . . .

My report, from the nature of the case, will be very unsatisfactory, from the fact that out Common School system is not yet matured, and the act to create county Superintendents does not make it their duty to report to this office. I have corresponded with all the county Superintendents during the year, requesting of them such information as desired by law. . . .

We have been enabled to visit a number of schools in the Territory, and we are gratified to notice the interest on the subject of education among the people.

Too much can hardly be said in favor of Popular Education. It dissipates the evils of ignorance, which are the greatest hindrances to the progress of our free institutions. It increases the productiveness of labor in all the industrial pursuits of civilized life. When its appliances are wisely arranged it always tends to diminish pauperism and crime, and to promote human happiness. Hence we would urge upon you the importance of developing our educational interests. . . .

We have about fifty three school houses in the Territory, and some of them are not worth so much as the name of a school house. The probable cost of these buildings will not amount to the sum of twenty-six thousand five hundred dollars.

As the country is yet new, and we have just begun to build out school-houses, we would suggest to the directors of school districts that when you build school-houses, do it well-make them large and comfortable. “The thing that is worth doing is worth doing well.” Let us prove this in every school-house we build-let each one be an ornaments to the district and to the Territory.

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