An Illustrated history & description Of Schools in the 18th & 19th Centurys.

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The District Schools
bution among the districts there was no responsibil­ity to the town for its expenditure.
Yet it is to be noted that the Massachusetts law of 1789 required supervision. This supervising was done by a committee that usually included the ministers of the gospel and the selectmen in their capacity as town officials. They were obliged to visit and inspect the schools at least once in six months and inquire into the regulation, discipline, and proficiency of the scholars. Their visitations were very formal and solemn affairs. The whole delegation, composed of the community's chief priests and elders — sometimes to the number of more than twenty — went in stately procession to the schools in turn. They heard the classes read in the primer, Psalter, Testament, etc., examined the writ­ing and ciphering books, and addressed the children in short speeches of the customary school-committee style. Just before departing, they entered on the school records their testimony to the good behavior and proficiency of the pupils, and the fidelity of the master. " The school may be said to flourish like the palm tree " is the way one such visitation closed its commendation in the records of old Nicholas Pike's school at Newburyport.
Supervision waned as time went on, until nearly all real power in the affairs of each local district was vested in the prudential committeeman. This indi­vidual received no pay and little honor, and there was seldom any rivalry for the position. It went to the man who was willing to serve, and had ability enough to look after the repairs of the building
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