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The foreigner who would familiarize himself with the Prussian school system finds here the first serious obstacle; volumes of ministerial rescripts and official instructions are placed at his disposal, but there is no knowing how much of it all is a dead letter. And even a German is not quite sure

till he has the minister's word for it.

In Prussia, as in most of the German states, the control of the schools is exercised through governmental orders and instructions that proceed from the Department of Education. The government, however, is not absolute in its powers. Limits are set by the constitution of the Prussian state.

Frederick William I. first claimed the right of putting the schools under state control, and in 1794 Frederick William II. issued the Allgemeine Landrecht, the char

ter upon which are based all school ordinances The Basis of and regulations. Its most important articles

are as follows:

School Laws.

1. Schools and universities are state institutions charged with the instruction of youth in useful information and scientific knowledge.

2. Such institutions may be founded only with the knowledge and consent of the state.

3. All public schools and educational institutions are under the supervision of the state and are at all times subject to its examination and inspection.

4. No one shall be denied admission to the public schools on account of his religious belief.

5. Public-school children cannot be compelled to attend religious instruction at variance with their own creed.

6. Public schools designed to give instruction in the higher arts and sciences enjoy all the rights of corporate bodies.

7. These rights are vested in governmental boards in accordance with the existing school regulations of the district.

8. Boards appointed by the state are charged with the immediate direction and supervision of schools.

9. Where the appointment of teachers does not rest with

certain persons or corporations because of foundations or special privileges it belongs to the state.

10. Even where the immediate supervision of such schools or the appointment of teachers is left to certain private persons or corporations new teachers cannot be appointed, nor can any important change in organization or methods of instruction be made, without the knowledge and consent of the provincial school-boards.

11. Only persons of sufficient knowledge, good morals and sound judgment can be chosen for supervising officers.

12. Overseers must earnestly seek to dissuade young people from attempting intellectual work beyond their ability.

13. On the other hand they should encourage and support students of superior ability in the prosecution of their studies.

14. No native pupil shall be dismissed from a public school without a certificate signed by the teachers and school authorities showing the nature of his school work and his moral deportment.

15. Such a certificate shall be deemed an essential prerequisite for admission to the university.

16. The selection of the school which the child shall attend belongs primarily to the father, who is, however, to the extent of his ability, specially charged with the duty of securing for his child a religious training and a practical education.

17. Teachers of Gymnasien and other higher schools are considered officers of the state.

The Allgemeine Landrecht asserted, in vigorous and unequivocal terms, the authority of the state in all educational affairs. It was the first-fruits of the civic ideal; it meant the complete removal of the schools from clerical control and the restriction of private venture. The traditions of a thousand years were brushed aside with a stroke of the pen, but general acceptance of the spirit of the law was long delayed. It was the work of half a century to harmonize these principles with public opinion.

Recent Modifi


In 1850 it was decreed that "All religious organizations shall order and administer their own affairs independently [subject, of course, to the general laws of the state-a point made clear by special enactment in 1873], and shall remain in enjoyment of all their educational and charitable enterprises and foundations," and further that "Everyone is free to give instruction and to conduct educational institutions provided he first proves to the satisfaction of the proper state officials that he has the requisite moral, scientific and professional qualifications." So much is conceded to private venture, but at the same time it was affirmed that "Sufficient provision for the education of the young shall be made by means of public schools," and that All educational institutions, public and private, shall be under the supervision of authorities appointed by the state."

The national ideal was still further realized by the school laws of 1872, which provided that all private schools should be subject to regular and systematic inspection by state officials, the same as public schools. In effect the present regulations permit any licensed teacher to conduct a school, but the government through its inspectors will see to it that every such school maintains at least the minimum standard of the corresponding grade of public schools. The private or sectarian school may surpass the public school, but it dare not fall behind. Thus in all essential respects it is a part of the public school system save that it draws no support from public funds.

The central authority in Prussia, charged with the administration of the school system in accordance with these principles, is the Minister for Religious, Educational and Medicinal Affairs (Minister der geistlichen, Unterrichts- und Medicinal-Angelegenheiten).


He is a cabinet officer and responsible only to the crown; yet any deviation from the principles above mentioned would surely occasion factional controversy, if not parliamentary inquiry. The rule of precedent is binding. More than one

minister has lost his place for attempting reforms too much at variance with established customs. As the court of last resort, the minister's chief function is to hear and determine appeals from the decisions of lower departmental officers. The rescripts and decrees of the Minister of Education thus become the basis of school administration in all parts of the kingdom.

1. Department of Education.

The Minister.

The Minister of Education is dependent on the crown for his appointment and retention in office. He is usually a jurist by profession, a politician and diplomat by force of circumstances. He represents his department in the Prussian parliament, and introduces bills pertaining to its interests, for the enactment of which he is held, in a great measure, responsible; in fact the tenure of his office is often conditioned upon the passage of a bill on which the government has set its heart. His individual obligations are numerous. He has charge of the financial affairs of his own department; appoints, with the approval of the crown, counsellors and other officials; confers titles upon teachers, ratifies their appointments and makes promotions, except where this right has been granted to other authorities; and he is the court of final appeal in all matters connected with this branch of gov


The duties of the department as a whole cover a broad field. It controls examination requirements and the privileges dependent upon them in all schools; determines the course of study; regulates tuition fees; fixes the salaries and has charge of the pensioning and retiring of teachers.

Properly speaking, Prussia has no Minister of Education. The ministry has three general departments, one each for educational, ecclesiastical and medicinal affairs.

His Assistants. The Department of Education is presided over by an under secretary and two chief assistants (Direktoren), and on these officers, assisted by nineteen (in 1897) special counsellors (Vortragende Räte), devolves the general administration of the school system. And within the department

itself there are two main subdivisions. One has charge of the common schools, normal schools, high schools for girls, and institutions for the education of defective children; the other division has the supervision of higher education, chiefly in the universities and secondary schools.

The immediate administration and supervision of secondary-school affairs is intrusted to provincial school-boards (Provincial-Schulcollegien), thirteen in num

2. Provincial

ber, one in each of the provinces of East Prus- School-boards. sia, West Prussia, Brandenburg, Pomerania, Posen, Silesia, Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover, Westphalia, Hesse-Nassau, the Rhine Province, and the Hohenzollern Territory.


The President of the province (Ober-Präsident) is chairman ex officio of the board. Since he is a jurist and usually unfamiliar with pedagogical affairs, his place is generally taken by the governor of the district in which the provincial capital is located. The board is composed of from three to five trained inspectors, who are selected by the minister from a long list of prominent principals of secondary schools. They receive their appointment from the crown and hold office till retired in regular order. The senior member, who is chief administrative officer, generally directs gymnasial affairs, a second member has oversight of the Realschulen, and a third of the Volksschulen.

According to the instructions of 1817 the duties of the provincial board are prescribed as follows:

1. The supervision of all pedagogical matters appertaining to educational institutions.


2. Revision of plans and ordinances of schools and educational institutions.

3. Examination of new regulations, and the revision of those already in force (including disciplinary laws, etc.); also giving advice for rectifying manifest abuses and supplying apparent needs.

4. Examination of the text-books in use, and, with the

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