SCHOOL COMMITTEES’ CONFERENCE.
The School Committees’ Conference met last evening, the following delegates being present High street, Messrs Isaac (chairman) and Mercer ; George street, Mr Cohen ; Arthur street, Messrs Burt and Sligo; Macandrew road, Messrs Hogg and Dodds Kensington, Messrs Caffin and Allan ; Forbury, Messrs Bellett and Ross ; North-east Valley, Messrs I. Green and Myers ; Kaikorai, Messrs Duncan and Moir ; Anderson Bay, Mr J. White; Ravensbourne, Messrs Bell and Barclay; Mornington, Mr Frapwell; Sandymount, Messrs Riddell and Macgregor,
The Rev. A. Cameren (Anderson Bay) wrote apologising for non-attendance, and suggesting that the Conference should apply for a copy of any proposed Education Bill, to be supplied to each committee In the district, so that eommittees might have an opportunity of considering its provisions. VACANCY ON COMMITTEE. The Chairman said that Mr Price not having been re-elected a member of the Committee for his school district, his place on the Standing Committee had become vacant. M r Duncan was elected to the vacancy, THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS, The Conference again took up the consideration of the question of school holidays. The Chairman said that the High street School Committee had instructed their delegates to vote for six weeks* holiday at midsummer and one week at midwinter, with the ordinary holidays at the discretion of the Committee. Mr Burt said there could only be a difference of opinion regarding the winter and summer holidays.—(Bear.) He thought that three days were too little at winter and four weeks were too little in summer. He would not like to see less than a week at winter and five weeks in summer.
Mr Cohen said, as representing George street, he felt bound to support the decision arrived at by a majority of the householders in his district, though he had disagreed with that decision. To test the feeling of the Conference he moved—" That the following holidays be observed for this year Anniversary Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, the Queen’s Birthday, the Prince of Wales’s Birthday, St. Andrew’s Day, the second afternoon, of the A. and P. show, the Exhibition opening day, a week at midwinter, and four weeks at midsummer,” In reference to the midwinter holidays he explained that the Executive of the Conference had, as directed last year, had a conference with the Board’s inspectors, the result of which was that the latter had agreed to advance their examinations of the City schools, so as to get rid of the complaint that those examinations trenched too closely on the vacation. That understanding was being given effect to as far as possible this year. It was desirable, if possible, to assimilate the midwinter vacation with the annual meeting of the Educational Institute and with the University vacation ; and if the Conference voted in favor of tho midwinter vacation the Executive of the Conference would take action with the object of bringing that assimilation about.
Mr Sligo was inclined to support the programme of the Kensington, Forbury, and Macandrew road Committees, who had all agreed to strike out the midwinter holidays. He understood, however, that the meeting of the Educational Institute was held during midwinter, and for that reason he was prepared to support a week’s holiday. Mr Barclay said he was in hopes that the matter would not be decided that night, because the Ravensbourpe Committee hadl not yet discussed it.
'Mr Caffin said that the Kensington Committee had decided—unwisely, he thought—that there should be no holidays at mid winter, and he must vote accordingly. It having been agreed to discuss the holidays seriatim, Mr Sligo moved—“ That a week’s holidays be allowed at midwinter, in the same week this year as the meeting of the Educational Institute is held.” Mr Mercer seconded the motion.
Mr Frapwell stated that the Mornington Committee had not yet considered the question, and if there had been any expression of opinion from the meeting of householders, it was that the delegates should try to secure uniformity of action in respect to the holidays. He would support tbs motion.
Mr Bbllett said ho was in the . same position as the Ravens bourne Committee,
having no definite instructions from bis C °M™Cohbn said he was authorised to state that the inspectors intended topushonthe examinations in town, and , year they would allow a fortnight to elapse after the midwinter holidays before they entered on the examination of the suburban " C The 8 motion was carried by 13 votes to 2, Messrs Hogg and Dodds being the dissenCoiikn moved, and Mr Mora seconded —“That the holidays at midsummer be four weeks.” , , Mr Sligo thought that four weeks were too few. They had been having six weeks sometimes six weeks and three days—and to take away two weeks straight away would be felt us a grievance by the teachers and especially by the scholars. Ho would prefer that the Conference fix the time as not exceeding five clear weeks, and he moved accordingly. , Mr Frapwell, in seconding the amendment, pointed out that there were a good many pupil-teachers who had to attend examinations during the midsummer holiMr White said he would prefer that Mr Sligo should let the holidays stand at six weeks, which were quite little enough for children at midsummer. Mr Sligo looked on the week in which the schools broke up as a lost one, and upon that in which the schools resumed also as a lost week. . , .... The Chairman was of opinion that six weeks’ clear holidays were not too much. The teachers were anything but drones, as some people seemed to imagine, but were hard worked throughout the year; they were in rooms where children were breathing all kinds of breaths-(laughter)-and where the ventilation was bad. > t Mr Mtebs strongly supported Mr White s views. The children and teachers alike would be benefited by an extended term. Mr Ross said that the school committees on the Flat had practically fixed, as far as their schools were concerned, that the breaking-up should occur not earlier than the third Friday in December, and that the schools should resume not later than the third Tuesday in January. That was quite sufficient to meet all practical purposes. The amendment was carried by 13 votes to 2, and thus became the substantive motion. , „ ~ Mr White moved, and Mr Mercer seconded, as a further amendment f the holidays at midsummer shall not exceed six weeks.” ' Mr Sligo pointed out that there were so little between the amendment and the motion that the motion might be accepted. It was only a difference between five clear weeks and six weeks, one of which was broken. He claimed to be a friend of the teachers, but could not agree that they were so terribly hard worked as the chairman had made out, and was sure there was a general feeling that too many holidays were allowed during the year. For the amendment seven voted, and against it eleven, and the motion was then put and carried unanimously. It was then agreed, without dissent, that the other holidays the committees represented at the Conference agree to observe should be Anniversary Day, Good iriday, Easter Monday, Queen’s Birthday, Prince of Wales’s Birthdav, St. Andrew’s Day, the second afternoon of the Agricultural and Pastoral Society’s show, and the opening day of the New Zealand Exhibition. THE EDUCATION ACT.
A letter was received fiom the Government intimating that it was not intended to introduce this session a Bill to amend the Education Act. .... n Mr M. Cohen moved— That this Conference learns with regret that the Government have decided not to fulfil the promise of the late Minister of Education to introduce an amending Education Bill this session, and expresses the hope that Ministers will'be able to see their way to introduce a measure this year to give effect to the principal recommendations by this Conference in the direction of amending the administrative machinery of the existing Act.” As this would probably be the last occasion on which he would have an opportunity of addressing the Conference for some time he wished to express the keen disappointment he felt at the want of success that had attended the efforts of the Conference in getting the amendments which their experience of the working of the Act had shown to be absolutely needed. For over four years the Conference had made representations to the authorities, and had had the satisfaction of seeing the principal of these recommendations endorsed year after year by the Representative Chamber. Last year their hopes in this direction had been crushed by the action of the Legislative Council. Now the leaders of the defeated last year's Franchise Bill had stated explicitly that their reason for throwing it out was that they considered that a measure of such importance should he introduced by the Government, and because a pledge had been given by the Minister of Education that an Amending Bill would be brought in by the Government next (this) session. Now it seemed from the letter read that evening that the Government d id not propose to move in the matter, and another year would pass away without the reforms urged by this Conference and similar bodies being adopted. He believed that if the Government passed a measure abolishing the cumulative vote, defining with something like clearness those who were entitled to vote, ordering pre-nomination, and providing for some other matters repeatedly agreed to by the Conference, much of the friction in educational matters that had prevailed in the past would be removed and educational matters generally be greatly improved. Mr White seconded. The Chairman did not agree with the proposed abolition of the cumulative vote, and considered that those in favor of single voting wers asking others to give up a privilege. They should consider well before they gave up that great constitutional privilege which had for a number of years resulted in a moat satisfactory representation on the school committees. He thought that under the cumulative system as good a representation was obtained as under any system of single voting. It seemed to him absurd that they should do away with the principle by which they had all been elected: the men who had been returned under it in the past were as representative and as intelligent as could be got under any other plan. On looking around him he thought that the intellectual powers of the members present at this meeting, who had been returned by the cumulative vote, would compare favorably with the men who found Boats on our municipal or Parliamentary institutions. It seemed to him peculiar how they were always ready to abolish privileges which were so extremely liberal in themselves. For instance, they had been anxious to abolish provincial Institutions, and they had done so at a great, losß.heconsidered, to the ProvmceofOtago.fNo) In consequence of him referring to that matter, some might think that he was trenching on a political matter, but he might say that he wished to refrain from entering into any political fend ; at the same time, he thought It was only right to allude in passing to the abolition of the provinces as a warning against the grave mistake, in his opinion, of aomg away with the cumulative vote, whieh he felt certain was a privilege which had worked extremely well in the election of scheol committees as ■ a whole. The Conference had not approved •f the abolition of the cumulative vote. Mr Cohen would not like the chairman a statement to go unchallenged. He had not the Conference’s minutes by him, but he would undertake to prove that the Conference had on all occasions condemned the cumulative vote- He was also satisfied that public opinion In every district represented fn that Conference w*» adverse to the continuance of the system, Mr Sligo said that while ha agreed with the motion, he felt it right to say that he was one of those people who were not at all sorry to see that Mr Fisher s Bill was not ll’iely to bo introduced, as there were alterations contemplated in that Bill with which he believed the great majority of people who were interested In education wovftd not agree. He hoped that if Mr Fisher introduced his Bill it would receive a a hort shrift, though he hoped a measure would be introduced by the government to secure the ameudnowxts ,contempla,tqd »n Mr Cohen’s motion.
The motion was put and carried unanim<Onlithe motion of Mr Oaffin, seconded by Mr Sligo, the following resolution was also unanimously adopted ; Conference’s Committee urge upon the Otago members of the House of Representatives the urgent necessity which exists for the repeal of the clauses in the Education Act which relate to the election of school committees by the system known as the cumulative vote, which has utterly failed to attain the ends tor which it was initiated, and is productive of much dissatisfaction and even scandal.” PUPIL-TEACHERS. Mr Riddle said that there was one matter ho should like to bring forward, and that was with regard to the appointment of pupil-teachers. Ho contended that the appointments were not made in the way that they should be, as the method adopted excluded country pupil-teachers. There was also a grievance in town with regard to the matter. He thought the examinations should be open to the whole of Otago. Mr Caffin suggested that Mr Riddle should draft a resolution with reference to the matter, to be submitted to the next meeting. Mr Riddle said he would do so. THE CLERKSHIP. Mr Cohen stated that in consequence of a change of residence he would have to retire from the School Committee he at present represented, and therefore would not be able to act as secretary of the Conference, His sympathies, however, were with the Conference, and he would continue to do all that he could in its interests. The Chairman suggested that some one should move that Mr Cohen be requested to hold the position of secretary temporarily.— (Hear, hear.) Mr Cohen : I will act as you request, but George street must have their proper delegates. I cannot represent a committee of which I am not a member. APPOINTMENT OF TEACHERS. In reply to a question as to whether he had received any reply from the Education Board with reference to the Board forwardiug to committees the names of three candidates for appointments, the Clerk said his letter had inadvertently been mislaid by him, but would be laid before the Board at their next meeting, when the matter was to come up for reconsideration. The meeting then terminated.
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SCHOOL COMMITTEES’ CONFERENCE., Evening Star, Issue 7909, 17 May 1889
SCHOOL COMMITTEES’ CONFERENCE. Evening Star, Issue 7909, 17 May 1889
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