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SCHOOL COMMITTEES.

BAST CHEISTCHUECH.

An ordinary meeting of the above School Committee took place last evening, and wa9 attended by Meesrs M. Sandstein (Chairman), J. '1 . .Smith, W. Parkes, and >' ' % ~*~ "-■•'*•" ! The Chairman reported what had been done in the construction of a well for a water eupply to the school, and his action was approved. A letter was'received from the Headmaster in reply to one from the Committee relating to corporal puniehment. Hie request, that the Second Master should be allowed to pnnish when he was in charge of the school in the Headmaster's absence, waa gianted on the motion of Mr Smith. The Headmaster's report stated that the average attendance was slightly below that of last month. Hβ aeked that the Board should be asked to eupply scientific appa- , ratus to the school. S The Committee adopted the report. The Education Board. Secretory wrote! -fcliafc tKe fuaixls at its <lisposaA pre-vesxted. it ducfcion in. expenses, the Board. had decided to make a reduction in the incidental allowance by £30 a year. It was decided to {reply that the Committee could not do without the money. The following letter was read from Mr C.P.lulbert:It is with great reluctance that I feel compelled to tender my resignation as a member of the East Chrietchurch bchool Committee. The receat attempt of the majority of the Committee to introduce religious instruction into the schools under their control is, in my opinion, illegal, and contrary to the letter and spirit of the Education Act, that the Committee were elected to administer, which opinion I expressed when the subject was brought before the Committee, and urged that the Act should first be amended in the direo? tion deaired, or, at any rateV the matter should be deferred until the annual meeting or householders, and as 1 do not feel diupoaed to share the responsibility of the said majority in what 1 consider a deliberate breach of the law, and object to coerce the masters and teachers of the school to commit an illegal act; and, further, I have no desire to continue to be associated with those who consider it their duty to act with such religious intolerance and disloyalty to their Chairman as to insult him on a public platform because he happened to be a Jew. One who accuses a late respected member and Chairman of the Committee with being , iimpertinenfc,becaueehhre r stated what was known to all the members of the Committee to be the truth, namely, that the teachers had refused to add to their other duties the imparting of religious' instruction during school nours. For these reasons I wish to retire from the Committee, and shall endeavor to justify my action to the b.oueeholders at .the next annual election of Committee*;

Mr Smith thought the statements contained in the letter were not entirely correct. There was no intention to introduce religious instruction into the schools. All the Committee wished to do. waa to introduce simple Bible reading outside of school hours. The letter, he thought, was written in a very disrespectful style, and he resented such dictatorial style as that shown in the letter. The Committee did not wish to force the matter, and the resolution could only be carried out if the teachers voluntarily undertook to assist by reading the Bible. Hβ would move—" That the resignation be accepted, and that the Committee regrets that Mr Hulbert should have deemed it neceß3ary to write such a letter." '

Mr Pabkes had much pleasure in seconding that resolution. Had Mr Huibert been present he would have answered it aa it deserved, because there were remarks in it reflecting upon himself. The letter was like Mr Hulbert exactly, and therefore he had great pleasure in seconding that the resignation be accepted. . The motion waa carried, as also was one accepting the resignation of Mr M. W. Green, who wrote that he was leaving Christchurch on the 11th met.

The Sbceetabt read the resolution, which was carried, and the amendment which was proposed at the public meeting held recently to consider the Bible in schools question. The Chaibman said that many who had spoken to him were of the opinion of Mr Hulbert, that the Committee were doing what was contrary to the Act. Aβ a great many School Committees might follow the example of this one, he had submitted the matter to his solicitors, Messw Joynt and Adams, and that opinion would be read.

The opinion after quotiag aad interpreting the clauses of the Education Act which touched the question in dispute, concluded as follows:—" We think that it cannot be doubted that the object of reading Scripture in the school is that the children may thereby learn it, so that it is nothing more nor less than teaching it to the children, and therefore the Bible and the Lord's Prayer being in no sense secular compositions, it ia very clear that neither of them can, consistently with the express provisions of the Act, be taught or read in the schools during the hours used for public purposes, and consequently that the resolution passed by the Committee aims directly at a violation of the provisions of the Act and is therefore illegal." The Chairman continued, that Mr Joynt had seen him since the opinion had been written, and had informed him that any schoolmaster or teacher reading or teaching the Bible or reading the Lord's Prayer in the , school would be violating the Act and liable to prosecution. The Bey. Mr Bond beld that the opinion enly dealt with the four hours prescribed by the Act. An hour outside these four could be utilised without violating the Act.

The Chaibkan ruled that the Committee had no such power. The Act said that there should be not less than four hours, and to make such provisions as the Committee was attempting to do was a clear breach of the Act. He had consulted with a gentleman who knew more about the working of the Act than anyone perhaps in the colony, and that was bis opinion. To be doubly sure, however, he consulted the solicitor, and that opinion had been read.

Mr Smith was of a different opinion to the opinion of the solicitors, because it assumed the Committee wanted to make arrangements for reading the Bible in school hours. The Committee wished to do nothing of the kind. The Committee had power to determine the length of time the children should bo taught over four hours. Ihey were now Leing taoght five hours. Ie was quite competent for the Committee to say that the hours should be four end a half for Secular teaching,

and the other half could be used for Bible reading. , „/.. Mr Pabkxs thought the people; <;luw a wrong impression. It wae'lwt religious teaching bat moral teaching! {winch }l wa» wished to introduce. He *ould mot*-- i " That a Committee of the Chairman, tbq Bey. Mr Bond end tfie moVer; km appointed to aeoertain which M the Inachvra were willing to take a part in reading the Biblev" The Chaikman ruled the motion out of order, and Mr Parkee disputed his ruling, which resulted in a discussion between these two oommitteemen. Mr Smith agreed that the Chairman was perfectly right in ruling the motion out of order, but in doing so he took the responsibility on hie own shoulders. The Chairman replied that he was perfeotly aware of that. He bad during the past given the Committee full scope in the matter, but now that he had eubmitted the resolution to a solicitor and obtained an opinion, he would rule by that opinion, and the question could go no further. Mr Smith said the Committee had nothing to do with Mr Joynt. He took no notice of the opinion. The Chairman had got it to assist him in the discharge of his duties, and the Committee must bow to bis ruling, but he took all the responsibility. The Sev. Mr Bond was in sympathy with the resolution, but the Chairman had acted according to his convictions, and he had a perfect right to do that. He (Mr Bond) differed from Mr Parkes in saying the teaching was merely moral. It was religious teaching, and had it been anything lees than that he would not have voted for it. Personally he waa willing to bow to the Chairman's ruling, because he believed that right throughout. Mr Sandstein had acted impartially, and was to be commended for the kindly spirit he had shown towards members throughout the discussion. The Chaieman pledged his honor as a man that were he convinced the action was lejgaljJhe JwooJd have assisted the Committee in every possible way. Mr Smith moved—"Thatthis discussion be postponed for the purposes of further inquiry." Mr Pabkes seconded the motion, which the Chairman ruled out of order. The Bey. Mr Bond remarked that the only remedy now was to move Parliament. . The Chairman replied that such was the position, and the debate closed. Messrs Farr and Jamieson were elected Committeemen to fill the two vacancies which existed. After passing accounts the Committee adjourned.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/CHP18850808.2.12

Bibliographic details

SCHOOL COMMITTEES., Press, Volume XLII, Issue 6205, 8 August 1885

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1,522

SCHOOL COMMITTEES. Press, Volume XLII, Issue 6205, 8 August 1885

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