From the Watauga Democrat, reprinted from the Chadbourne Messenger, December 6, 1900
The time is drawing near for the opening of the fall and winter term of public schools and the matter of employing teachers is a subject that should be carefully considered.
The free school system is highly commendable, if conducted on the right plane. By it many an intelligent poor boy and girl have attained a sufficient education to successfully combat with the affairs of daily life. We know of many people today how have had no educational advantage except public schools, that are making successes in the several vocations of life.
But while the system has done a power of good, it has been seriously abused. It is the misfortune of some districts to have directors or committeemen, who for the lack of interest in education, or an improper conception of employing teachers, render the system a failure. School teaching is a science acquired by cash, good tutors, hard study and experience. In some parts of the country the impression prevails that any person who can pass an examination and get a certificate is a duly qualified teacher. This, of course, is a necessary requisite, but it is simply the first step in pedagogy. Successive steps are obtained by persistent study of educational literature and actual experience in the school room. The successful teacher must keep up with the times, and to do this he is at a large expensive, financially, physically and mentally. In view of the “cheap John” plan persisted in by some committeemen in employing teachers, what encouragement is there in thorough preparation for the profession? It is simply driving good teachers out of the business and leaving the field to “school keepers” who can be hired cheap, and who, by the way, might be worth the price of their salary on the farm, or in a crop of turpentine boxes.
Cheap teachers are the most expensive teachers. A two months school, taught by a teacher who is worth a good salary, is much more beneficial than a six months school taught by a poor teacher who doesn’t earn a small salary.
We are living in an enlightened age and if we would have our children fully prepared for the conditions that will be ushered in by the dawn of the 20th century, we must see to it that they have the advantages of good schools, for here it is that they are prepared for the walks of life. If we would have good schools, we must have good teachers, and to have good teachers, we must pay them salaries that will justify them in preparing for the duties of the profession.