The Rules and Instructions that must be Observed
for the Proper Running and Regulation of the Schools
to be established in this City of Saint Augustine,
By order and at the expense of his Majesty the King, drawn up in
conformity with the stated Royal Edict, and at the behest of his Excellency,
Seror Don Vicente Manuel de Zespedes, brigadier in the Royal Armies,
governor and commander general of Saint Augustine, and approved by
Don Thomas Hassett, curate, vicar, and ecclesiastical authority of this city
and province, December 25, 1786.
[East Florida Papers, Library of Congress, Bundle 41 B4, Reel 16].
1. In accordance with his Majesty's pious intentions, no teacher shall
obtain a post as instructor unless first passing an examination, and
gaining the approval of the civil and religious authorities. Teachers
will duly observe the rules and other regulations and resolutions
that their superiors, civil and religious, communicate to them for the
better advancement of their students.
2. The schools will be designated as primary and secondary. The
primary school will only admit children ready for spelling, or those
that have some additional learning, up to the point where they are
ready for instruction in writing. After that, they shall pass from
primary to secondary school, where they will be taught to write and
to do math, and will perfect their reading skills. Only children of this
grade will be admitted to secondary school, unless the authorities
determine on a different policy.
3. His Majesty having allocated salaries to teachers sufficient to
sustain them with a satisfactory income, no teacher is allowed to
request any kind of compensation from parents for teaching their
4. Every year at Easter time, the teachers will draw up a list of all the
children living in the parish, as noted in the census, noting down
their ages, where they live, etc. After this, the teachers will request
that parents send their children to the appropriate school. And if
children do not attend, either because their parents are neglecting
to send them, or from laziness and indifference on the part of the
children themselves, the teacher will inform the parish priest, who
will decide on the appropriate course of action. The teacher will
follow the same procedure when a student misses school and has
a poor excuse.
5. School will open throughout the year at seven o'clock in the
morning and at two o'clock in the afternoon. Students are never to
be dismissed from morning lessons before twelve o'clock noon. In
winter time, afternoon sessions will end at sunset. The rest of the
year, they may end one half hour before sunset.
6. Each morning and each afternoon, upon entering school, the
children will greet their teachers respectfully, and will also greet the
other students, and each one, having hung up his hat in its place,
will take his seat quietly. After making the sign of the Cross in the
name of the Holy Trinity, they will turn to the book or paper of their
7. At the school each teacher will keep a roll book, or ledger, of the
children under his charge, and using this he will call roll at eight
o'clock every morning, and at a quarter past two every afternoon,
designating each student by his first and last name. And if a
student is absent during roll, the teacher should send one or two
boys to the house of that student's parents, to find out why he is
absent, and to bring him to school when it is necessary.
Punishment of delinquent students will rest with the teacher, based
on the reason given for their absence.
8. Teachers should be fair-minded when reprimanding or disciplining
children. And since some will respond best to a lecture on morals,
others to corporal punishment, the teachers will take particular care
to know the temper and nature of each student. They will never
shout out oaths or make fun of a student, or make any comments
about his parents or relatives; and they will not allow students to
insult one another or their families, either in school or out of it. The
teacher should treat all students like good Christians, with charity
9. The students will come to class in the mornings and afternoons as
neat in appearance as possible, with their hair combed, their faces
and hands washed, and their feet clean (if they come without
shoes). Teachers will not keep students at school when they have
a contagious illness, such as the itch (chicken pox), or other
sickness. They will dismiss them from class, after first letting their
parents know, so they will not be offended that the student must
miss school while convalescing.
10. The schools will be cleaned by the students at least once a week,
and the teacher will assign a sufficient number of students to do it,
without making any distinctions among them, beginning with the
first class through the last, so that each in turn takes part in this
11. No student will leave school even in case of necessity without the
express permission of the teacher. And so that no more than one
may be away at a time, the teacher will, when granting permission,
give him a ruler (which the teacher will keep at his table or desk for
this purpose), and will not give any other student permission to
leave until the first has returned with the ruler. The amount of time
the student is away will be checked by means of a pendulum hung
from the ceiling of the room. The student will set this pendulum in
motion when he leaves, and the teacher will note if the pendulum is
still swinging when the student comes back.
12. The school will be divided into different classes with separate
seating, according to the abilities and advancement of the pupils.
The foremost or best student in each class will get a title, and the
best overall student will be called the Emperor of the School, each
one keeping his title unless overtaken by someone more deserving.
13. At the beginning of each month there will be a general examination
before the parish priest and the teachers, measuring the progress
made by the students in reading, writing, arithmetic, religious
doctrine, etc., during the previous month. Based on his
achievements, each student will be assigned to the seat or position
he has earned, and will keep it until the next exam. Those who
earned titles for outstanding performance in the previous month
may be awarded them again, if they merit it. And if they do not,
they must give up their place and take the one they earned.
14. Students receiving instruction in the alphabet, spelling, and reading,
will do four lessons per day with the teacher, two in the morning
and two in the afternoon. The teacher will also instruct them in
Christian doctrine, prayers, and litanies, morning and afternoon,
according to custom. With great care and thoroughness, the
teacher will encourage clear and distinct enunciation, and
comprehension of reading, observing commas, semicolons, etc.,
(and will do this himself not through some other person). The
teacher of the secondary school will follow the same method in
instructing students to write, with the exception that these students
will do two lessons per day, during the morning and afternoon. The
teacher will show them how to position their hands and grasp the
quill, and when they are finished with their copying work will correct
and instruct them in their mistakes.
15. Students learning arithmetic, or math, will solve two problems per
day, will write one or two assignments, and read two lessons, and
in the afternoon will receive a session on religious doctrine. The
teacher will never promote them from one thing to another until they
are well instructed in what they have in hand, their mistakes being
pointed out and corrected, as was noted in the previous rule.
16. The teacher of the secondary school will make sure that his
students learn the arithmetic tables by heart. To prevent this from
interfering with lessons at school, they should take the tables home
and memorize them in the evening, giving an account of their work
to the teacher the following morning. And in the afternoon,
whenever the boys studying reading are not occupied with it, the
teacher may assign parts of Father Flaure's Historical Catechism,
or some other author, for them to memorize in the evening,
matching the amount of work to their abilities, so they will not be
idle at home.
17. The teachers will instruct their students in how to assist at the
Mass, and will name in turn two of their students to assist the priest
on Sunday and high holy days in performance of the divine rites,
and also on Saturday evenings, and during the evening prayers of
all the feast days throughout the year, or whenever there is a
congregation of parishioners at the church.
18. On evenings when there is a procession of the Rosary from the
church through the streets, the teachers will attend it with their
respective students, no exceptions or excuses being allowed, and
will take great pains that their pupils behave themselves
respectfully and with devotion.
19. Teachers will attend the services for Salve on Saturdays and
Vespers on Sundays with their students, and also on other Holy
Days, and on those days when the Gospel is read.
20. Whenever God may please to call one of the students to judgment,
the teachers with their students will attend the funeral procession,
and when necessary four of the students will serve as bearers to
carry the remains to the cemetery.
21. All students, from the age of seven years up, will receive
Confession in the presence of their teachers on the four fast-days
of the year, and teachers will advise their respective classes a day
or two beforehand, so that the students have time to make a proper
examination of conscience. The teacher will instruct them,
according to their age, on how to prepare for Confession, relating
how they must take care to confess all their sins, omitting nothing
from negligence or for other reasons, and reminding them that the
sacrament requires that they be truly sorry for their sins; and giving
the same guidance to those who will be receiving the sacrament of
the Holy Eucharist. And the students will go to Confession in three
groups, each teacher assigning a portion of his students to each
group, so that on the stated fast days they will be able to go to the
Church efficiently and then return to school.
22. The teacher will endeavor to obtain the most instructive books for
the students' lessons, and will not allow pupils to speak any
language except Spanish in school.
23. In going and coming from their houses to the school, pupils should
always ask most humbly for their parents' blessing, and whenever
they meet their elders in the streets, they should greet them
24. Upon leaving school, the students will go directly home, and will not
dillydally in the streets, shouting or committing other mischief.
25. Any blacks or mulattoes attending school will be seated together in
a separate section by the door, but with respect to their spiritual
and temporal education, the teachers will minister to them with the
same justice given to all the students.
26. The teachers should post in their respective schools a copy of
these rules, so that everyone will be aware of their provisions, and
will duly observe them, as his Majesty the King desires.