Dr. Hoose's Answer to the Local School Board—The "Strained Relations" All On One Side.
The Cortland Democrat, Friday, June 12, 1891.
The following letter requesting Dr. Hoose to resign the office of principal of the Normal School explains itself:
Cortland, N. Y., June 2, 1891.
DR. JAMES H. HOOSE,
Principal of the State Normal and Training School, Cortland, N. Y.
SIR:—I respectfully beg leave to inform you that at a meeting of the Local Board of the State Normal and Training School at Cortland, N. Y., held last evening, the following resolutions were adopted, viz :—
Resolved, That in the opinion of this Board the strained relations which have existed for some time past between Dr. James H. Hoose and the majority of the Local Board of the State Normal and Training School at Cortland, and which have grown steadily more intense, and the lack of confidence, constant friction, and impossibility of harmonious and friendly action resulting therefrom, make it desirable, for the interest of the school that there should be a change in its principalship.
Resolved, That Dr. Hoose be requested to transmit his resignation to the Secretary of this Board on or before the 8th day of the present month—such resignation to take effect at the close of the present term.
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Board serve a copy of these resolutions on Dr. Hoose and also forward a copy of the same to the Superintendent of Public Instruction with a statement of the vote thereon.
That the action of the Board was as follows: Messrs. Clark, Fitzgerald, Duffey, Squires, Wickwire and Suggett voted for said resolutions, Mr. Smith voted against the same and Mr. Brewer was absent, he having been notified but did not attend.
I am, very respectfully,
JOHN W. SUGGETT, Secretary.
DR. HOOSE'S ANSWER.
CORTLAND, N. Y., June 8, 1891.
Local Board, Cortland Normal and Training School.
I respectfully submit my answer to your communication of June 2, 1891.
I. I take positive exceptions to the implications made in the document that the principal is the party to the "strained relations." His portion of the relations has never been strained, is not so now, and he has never been instrumental in causing such relations. On the other hand, he has been always of the disposition to discharge with alacrity and with cheerfulness any and all duties resting upon him or laid upon him from any source. I ask for an investigation into my acts as principal of the school, in order to show if I have been remiss in my duty, or disloyal in any act, or an obstructionist in any manner. I ask that which the school statutes give to any public school teacher—the right to be heard before a proper tribunal.
II. Laws of 1866, chap. 466, section 3 (relating to normal schools) contains this explicit provision: "It shall be the duty of such board to make and establish and from time to time to alter and amend such rules and regulations for the government of such schools under their charge respectively, as they shall deem best, which shall be subject to the approval of the Superintendent of Public Instruction."
When the school opened in 1869, the principles of governing the school were carefully discussed by the board and myself, and then approved by Superintendent Weaver, as required by law. I have been scrupulously careful to keep within the letter and the spirit of the regulations established under the law. The board held a meeting May 26, 1888, at which the two appointees of December, 1887, were present. The committees of the board were reorganized; and the "majority" appointed to the membership of the committees—thus setting aside the hitherto established custom by which the president of the board had appointed its committees. At this meeting, the board adopted some new rules to govern the school, without consulting Judge Duell, then president of the board, or the principal of the school, in regard to the nature and scope of the regulations by which the school had been so successfully governed from 1869 down to that time. Finding, at the opening of the term in the following September (1888), that the board had taken no action to submit these new rules of government to the Superintendent, and these rules not being valid under the law until approved (as Legislative bills are not laws until approved by the Governor), the principal sent them to Superintendent Draper, September 22, 1888, in order to omit on his part no formality to harmonize his administration to the acts of the board. The Superintendent replied October 2, not approving them. These new rules contained provisions that would have "worked an infringement of the prerogatives of the principal." In this same letter the Superintendent reaffirmed the early established division of responsibilities as follows: "The board is charged with the management of the business affairs of the school; and the principal is charged with the management of the professional affairs of the school."
In June, 1888, soon after the May meeting, the principal found suddenly an unusual restlessness and aggressiveness existing among some students regarding the government of the school. These students claimed that they were acting under the authority of certain members of the board. The principal had not been notified of this authorization. He explained to those members the custom involved in the case. After discussion, the matter was referred, June 16, to the Superintendent who reapproved June 18, the regulation which had been practically nullified in the manner stated above. June 29, 1889, the board passed without consulting him another new rule to govern the action of the principal. Finding, as in the case of the rules voted May 26, 1888, that the rule had not been transmitted to the Superintendent for action the principal sent it to him on September
2, 1889, and under date of September 12, the new rule was not approved. It would have been impossible to carry out in practice the provisions of this new rule.
These cases illustrate the manner and the spirit in which the "majority of the board'' have proceeded to establish "strained relations" between themselves on the one hand, and the statute and the principal on the other.
III. Feeling that in course of time the attitude exhibited towards the explicit provisions of the law (stated in II) might affect the school in time, I consulted the Superintendent on the situation in the spring of 1889. He said to me to go on steadily and judiciously with the school, he wished me to continue where I was; the school was prospering. Since then as before, I have acted always loyally under the instructions of my superior officers. I have always been prompt to counsel in order that there might be a free conference and an entire concert of action between the members of the Board and the principal—a course essential to the best interests of the school. I have studiously pursued those lines which should indicate that the past was forever past with me and that the present alone was duty. I have extended a cordial welcome to all the appointees to membership in the board; I have invited them to make suggestions to improve the efficiency of the school.
In order that I should spare no pains to put our school on the most successful basis, and at the same time put my administration in the fullest harmony with the supervising officers, I submitted October 27, 1888, to the Superintendent for his review, a comprehensive outline of the internal, or professional, organization of this school. He answered, November 13, 1888: "I have nothing but words of commendation to say in reply thereto. It seems to me that the plan is full, comprehensive, and well adapted to efficient and progressive work."
In striking contrast to this thoughtful examination and cordial approval by the Superintendent, is the fact that this "majority" of six have made no suggestions "for the interest of the school," except this one—that I resign my position on June 8, 1891.
IV. Rumors have reached me from time to time that trouble arising out of the school issues of 1880-2, might be precipitated suddenly upon the present existing state of things. Trusting to the promises and assurances made by the appointees of 1887 and 1890 to the Superintendent and his advisers, and to the repeated assurances made to me in person by Superintendent Draper that there should be no revival of past issues, that the school should not be disturbed, and that no harm to me would be permitted, and supposing that I was working in harmony with the board, I gave no thought to these rumors of impending evil. I was the more confident that the existing peaceful relations in the school would not be disturbed, from the well known policy advocated by the Superintendent that only merit and justice should guide school affairs, that schools should be kept entirely out of personal interests and partisan politics, for "every good citizen desires that it should be so, and will insist upon its being so." All these circumstances assured and prompted me to continue my diligence and fidelity to the board and to the Superintendent in order to join devotedly with them in all purposes that should add prosperity and usefulness to the school.
V. It is a very significant and suggestive fact that this activity of the "majority" has come conspicuously and suddenly to the front since the death, in February, 1891, of Hon. R. H. Duell, the late president of the board. This vacancy has not been filled, Mr. Henry Brewer, the only surviving member of the original board, is feeble and not able to attend the meetings of the board. The board thus consists of but seven effective members, instead of nine, the historical number. Hence six against one (Mr. R. B. Smith) exhibits a majority of fictitious proportions.
VI. My resignation, given under the demands of your resolution, would be a confession by me that I have been remiss in my duties; that I have been disloyal to the board; that I have been cherishing ill will towards others; that I concede "strained relations" toward the "majority." I plead guilty to no one of these indictments. Fair minded men, inspired solely to promote the welfare for a noble cause, find no "impossibility of harmonious and friendly action;" they readily adjust differences of views, misapprehensions of facts, and misconceptions of the spirit of action.
VII. Finally: In common with the public view, I regard this sudden movement upon me as being nothing but a reopening of issues which have been treated by myself and by the public as forever buried. The indictment by the board charges nothing against me touching the success of the school. The resolution says that my resignation is requested for the interest of the school;" the present condition of the school is of itself a sufficient answer to this statement; the present class of Normal students is the largest graduating class in the history of the institution. The resolution does not question the harmony and confidence which exist between the Superintendent and the principal, between the associate teachers in the faculty and the principal, between the students and the principal, between the profession and the principal, and between the public and the principal.
It is a small matter what shall happen to me personally in this precipitate turn of events. But it is not a small matter what shall become of my history as an educator and as a man who loves his profession, who believes in the rights of merit, who believes in the dignity of the teacher's calling. I believe in the power of the school to preserve and perpetuate the integrity of the institutions of our country; I believe in the nobility and the sacred rights of the teacher, I believe justice is due to devotion, merit, and success in the teacher.
My past educational life is history. It is a source of great satisfaction to me to know that my educational career has been honored by the counsels and the confidence of such men as Hon. Henry S. Randall, Dr. Frederick Hyde, Hon. R. Holland Duell, who were associated with men of like character in establishing and organizing this school.
There are hundreds of graduates and thousands of undergraduates of our school, whose eyes are upon this event. I have walked daily in and out before these young men and young women, since the school opened March 3, 1869, and have exhorted them to be honest and courageous in all walks in life and to be reliable in character; and reliability is to me unstained truth, unimpeachable rectitude, and invincible course in defending and maintaining right against wrong. I shall never consciously dishonor my family, my history, my students, my friends my profession, my fellow teachers in the Normal schools of the State and in the general fraternity, by any halting act of mine when I am contending for a great principle, as I am in this case.
I most respectfully but firmly refuse to resign the principalship of the Cortland Normal school.
J. H. HOOSE, Principal.
The Local Board of the State Normal School held a meeting last Monday evening and declared the principalship of the school vacant by a vote of 6 to 1. By the same vote the board decided to request the Superintendent of Public Instruction to appoint Francis J. Cheney, Ph. D., of Albany, to the position. Dr. Cheney is a graduate of Syracuse University and is State Inspector of Teachers Classes under the board of Regents and is also president of the Association of Principals of New York State schools. He is a member of the Methodist church and is 43 years of age. For several years he was principal of the school at Dryden, where he is favorably known and respected.
THE QUESTION AT ISSUE.
The question at issue is not between Dr. Hoose and the Local Board. Neither is the question of personal friendship for Dr. Hoose involved. The future success and efficiency of the Normal School in this place, is above and beyond all other considerations and is the paramount question to be discussed.
If Dr. Hoose's management of the school had been a failure, then the Local Board would be perfectly justified in asking for his dismissal, and even his warmest friends could find no fault with their action in the premises. But the school under his management has been an immense success, in every respect. Its reputation as an educational institution stands in the front rank and it cannot be denied that Dr. Hoose is entitled to most of the credit for its high standing.
What has the Local Board done towards making the school the success that it is? Absolutely nothing. Without a practical, executive officer at its head, it would undoubtedly have proved anything but a great success. There are plenty of competent teachers to be found in the land, but there are few good principals. The two seldom travel together. The accomplished scholar very rarely has practical ideas of affairs and as an executive officer he is almost always a failure. Why not let well enough alone?
The board cannot hope to secure the services of a better man and why should they desire to take the chances of a failure. It is easy enough to tear down a structure that takes years of time and toil to erect.
The DEMOCRAT never has been an admirer of Dr. Hoose personally, and has on several occasions felt called upon to criticise his methods quite severely, but his management of the school for the past six or eight years, has been so excellent, that his most bitter enemy could find little if anything to complain of and very much to commend. The DEMOCRAT believes that the high standing of the school demands his retention, and in this belief it is supported by at least nine out of ten of the taxpayers and citizens of the village.
There ought to be no such thing as "strained relations" existing between Dr. Hoose and the Local Board, but if such relations exist, it is of no consequence so far as the people are concerned. Even if the relations were broken altogether, the public ought not to suffer thereby. Let the principal manage his part of the school while the members of the Local Board attend strictly to the work that comes within their province and all will be well. There is very little labor devolving upon the Local Board, but there is [sic] oceans of hard work to be done by the principal, if he does his duty. There are hundreds of citizens in this place, who can do the work of the Local Board without suffering from "strained relations," but there are few men in the state that can fill the place of Dr. Hoose satisfactorily to all.
Dr. James H. Hoose, Canada School Journal, 1880: https://books.google.com/books?id=AZFSX6Dt9pEC&pg=PA150-IA7&lpg=PA150-IA7&dq=James+H.+Hoose,+first+principal+of+State+Normal+School,+Cortland,+N.Y.&source=bl&ots=my1O1bVFfj&sig=utLzNxWS8vuW-wKSfTckDSW-7FY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiusdfeh-LJAhUJi4MKHTHeAPYQ6AEIKTAE#v=onepage&q=James%20H.%20Hoose%2C%20first%20principal%20of%20State%20Normal%20School%2C%20Cortland%2C%20N.Y.&f=false