The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1890. DISFRANCHISEMENT OF SCHOOLMASTERS.
Auckland appears to be a perfect hot-bed for the growth of social and political reforms or upheavals. The latest reform deals with the relations of schoolmasters to the Education Boards and to the State. The State lias hitherto made nd exception as to the right of schoolmasters 1 to take part in political meetings; but the Auckland Education Board are made of sterner swiff, and have passed a resolution disapproving of these electors taking any active part in election matters. In addition to this, a schoolmaster has been censured for the heinous crime of speaking at election meetings; and it has been made abundanty clear that henceforward if Auckland schoolmasters wish to retain their appointments they must steer clear of politics. This is the first step in the direction of disfranchising a large body of intelligent electors; but what the object of the movement is no one, except members of the Auckland Education Board can tell. Why a schoolmaster should not be allowed the same privilege as any other elector to air his political opinions we are at a loss to conceive. It cannot be that he is not intelligent enough to do so, and it cannot be that in doing so the cause of State education is likely to suffer. General elections and byelections are not of so frequent occurrence in New Zealand that schoolmasters can fritter their time away in attending to these matters to the neglect of children who have been placed in their charge. Neither can it be supposed that a schoolmaster's mind will become so regulated that he will have no political opinions at all; on the contrary, being, in the majority of eases, a most intelligent man, he is likely to hold most intelligent opinions on matters political, and also be able to give intelligible expression to them. It may be, of course, when airing his political convictions, the schoolmaster will run against the pet political hobbies of some member of the Education Board, and incur the displeasure of his superiors; but in this respect the State teacher is in much the same position as the employe* of a private person or a private firm—his courage in making public his political convictions may cost him hisbillet. Thelatter result is likely, judging from appearances, to follow any future offences of this nature in Auckland, and the only way in which an Auckland schoolmaster will now be able to make known his views will be by meekly and humbly keeping his lips closed, and dropping his voting-paper into the ballot-box. Fortunately the secrecy surrounding this proceeding protects the voter from any personal loss; and though a few interesed politicians who have secured seats upon Education Boards may close the mouths of State teachers they cannot close the ballotbox. We question, however, the right of the Auckland Education Board or any other Board to take any step whatever in the matter. Any interference with the liberty of free exercise of franchise privileges does not rest with any corporate body other than the people's direct representatives, and theAuckland Education Board, we think, have stepped beyond their depth in this matter. At all events, Aye hope that Auckland is the only place in New Zealand where such a proceeding will find' favor as the practical disfraiichisenienb of a large number of fche most intelligent electors of the colony. We trust that attention will be called to this matter in Parliament, and that a circular will, in the meantime, be issued from the Education Department calling the attention of Education Boards to the fact that it is notiu the interests of good government that any subordinate body should place an obstacle in the way of the private freedom of school teachers to act, or think, or vote as they please during the ensuing and all other elections.