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SCHOOL COMMITTEES' CONFERENCE., Issue 7937, 19 June 1889
SCHOOL COMMITTEES' CONFERENCE.
The Dunedin and Suburban School Committees' Conference met last evening, the following delegates being present:—High street, Messrs B. Isaac (chairman) and Mercer; Union Btreet, Messrs J. L. Gillies and M'Laren; Arthur street, Mr Sligo; George street, Messrs M. Cohen and Simpson ; Kaikorai, Messrs Duncan and Wilkinson ; Anderson Bay, Rev. A. Cameron and Mr White; Caversham, Mr Rutherford Sandymount, Messrs Riddell and Macgregor; Northeast Valley, Mr I, Green; Kensington, Messrs Cole and Trevena; Portobello, Messrs M'Cartney and Winchester. Apologies were received on behalf of Mr S. Myers (North-cast Vulley), and Messrs Hogg and Rossbotham (Leith Valley). CORRESPONDENCE. Mr J. Allen, M.H.R., wrote stating that it would give him great pleasure to urge on the Government the necessity of introducing legislation to give effect to the reform advocated by the Conference in the Education Act. The appointment of Messrs John M'Cartney and W. T. Winchester as delegates of the Portobollo Committee, and of Messrs Hogg and Rossbotham, of the Leith Valley Committee, was notified. APPOINTMENT OF TEACHERS. The Caversham Committee forwarded the following resolution:—"That this Committee request the Executive of the Dunedin and Suburban School Commitees' Conference to call, before the next meeting of the Education Board, a meeting of the Conference, to consider Mr M'Kenzie's motion to have the Board's resolutions of 20th March re the appointment of teachers rescinded." Mr Rutherford, in moving "That this Conference adopt the above resolution and forward it to the Education Board," said he looked on it as a fundamental principle of the administration of our education scheme that the fullest play should bo given to local self-government, and that carrying that principle into effect would do more than anything else to obtain successful management of our public schools. From time to time attempts had been made in certain quarters to rob the local committees of what had been termed their privileges, until these were so shorn that many committees regarded themselves as little more than school cleaners. He had no desire to make an attack on the Board; on the contrary, he thought kindly of that body. But he thought the latest move was a step in the wrong direction, and it would be better for all parties if the Board reverted to their old position. Ho had the greatest respect, as an individual, for the gentleman who had moved the Board to this course, but thought when ho got a little better versed in the ways of that body ho would come to the conclusion that a fake step had been taken. It was not the first time that men had been returned to the Board who had kicked away the ladder by which they had risen. He contended that committees were in a better position than the Board to judge of the local requirements of the district; and, as the greatest measure of responsibility rested with them, it stood to reason that they would be jealously careful in the great majority of cases of making the best selection possible, if they were not unduly restricted in their choice. It was notorious that iu a great many instances appointments had been made through personal interest, and he instanced the experience of his own district as bearing out that assertion. His contention simply was that the Committee should have the freest choice of candidates who possessed the qualifications for the appointment to be made. The resolution did not exactly go the length it might have done, but he thought the object desired would be attained by its adoption. Mr Ckaki seconded.
Mr Si.hjo supported the resolution, and in doing so was consulting tho Board'd welfare as well aa that of committees. If the Board's recent resolutions went into operation a considerable amount of harm would bo done, because a feeling would arise in the popular mind that the three candidates whose names were sent down were favored for personal reasons. The point was in what manner were the Board to "consult" thocommittecs. Tho Board could revert to the ulalus Quo, send down all the names, or send down only one. Either cours? would bo equally within tho law. The far better plan, in hi 3 opinion, would be to send down tho names of all qualified persous. That would give to the teachers a much better chat co of fair play. There was now an idea abroad that many teachers were debarred from making progress in their profession unless they wore favored, and this feeling unquestionably created a sense of injustice. He had thought that the Board might assist committees, when sending down tho names (f qualified candidates, by indicating by means of numbers the order of merit that the candidates stood in. He hoped that the Board would reconsider their decision.
Mr Gillies confessed that the arguments that had been adduced in support of the resolution were very much the arguments that he would use against its being carried. The Board, who represented the whole district, had advantages in obtaining information regarding the success of the touchers and tho status they were entitled to hold far above those which any individual committee could command. Tho Education Act provided distinctly that the Board had the appointing of the teachers, and had a right to consult tho committees, and as long as they confined themselves to that tho committees, in passing what practically amounted to a vote of censuro on the Board, were going* beyond the position that they ought to maintain uuder the Act. He strongly defended country committees, who Hhowed a great deal more prudence and energy in carrying out their functions than many town committees, and in exercising their right of selecting a teacher showed a degreo of judgment that compared favorably with town committees. Unfortunately the Board had allowed tho school committees to gain the idea that thoy had a right to make tho appointments. That state of things had come about from the fact that until recently tho Board had never risen to the position they were legally entitled to occupy. The efforts of the school committees should bo directed towards altering the law instead of casting mud at the Education Board. (Mr Euthejrfokd : No one is casting mud at them.) The Board were simply carrying out the provisions of the Act ; if these were wrong let committees lose no time in agitating for their amendment, He repeated that the Board had access to information which committees could not get, and as in his opinion the Board were the proper persona to make appointments, he Bhould oppose the motion. Mr M'Caatxey supported the motion, and said that under the present system a man who had got into grief with the inspectors or with the secretary of the Education Board was quietly shelved for ever. Mr Wilkinson thought that the position of the Board at present must be a very painful one for the members, for the almost unanimous opinion of the committees was that the action they had taken was a mistake. He did not think it would be any disgrace to tho Board to retrace their steps. All eligible candidates should have the chance of appointment, and it was almost self-evident that injustice would be done to deserviug applicants. Good men aspiring to new appointments might find their names kept back from some trifling cause, and never know the reason. Were committees willing to be deprived of their highest privilege ? In the Kaikorai lately the Board had sent down all eligible men, and a splendid list it was ; all men of the highest standing, and their names tabulated almost in the order of merit. That was the plan that should be followed. Had the practice followed in the past worked badly ? What was the need for this reform 5 He gave the mover credit for endeavoring to do good, but he wanted experience. It was the duty of the Conference to adopt a mild resolution on the subject. Mr J. White supported Mr Gillies's view of the matter, and considered that the recent regulations of the Board should be adhered to. If the number of names to be sent down to committees were limited to three a boon would be conferred on committees, who would bo relieved from a most objectionable form of button-holing. Too often it was a question of a teacher finding how he could get most friends on a committee, and appeals were made to the latter, not on account of the applicant's merits, but
on behalf of his sister or some deserving member of his family, (Mr Sliqo : You can atop that without shutting down the number?.) Well, he (Mr White) would be very glad indeed if it could be stopped in some way. Who were to select all the eligible candidates? (Mr Si.ir.O: The Board.) Certainly; and the Board were in a position so say who were these persons. He hoped that the Conference would support the Board, and negative the resolution. Mr Riddle supported the motion. Hiß Committee on a recent oc oeion had been in favor of sanding back the three names forwarded by the Board, ou the ground that they knew that all qualified persons had not had their names forwarded. He instanced what had happened at the Port lately, and said it was known there weeks before the appointment was made who would get it. That certainly looked like favoritism. The Rev. A. Cameron said it might be assumed, from the tone of the discussion, that the members of the Board were hostile to the best interests of education in this grovinee, but ho was sure that such was not the case. The Board must necessarily be better informed than committees as to the qualifications of teachers, as they had to consult the inspectors. (A Voice : So can the committees.) Yes ; but not in the same way that the Board could. Mr Sligo : Chairmen and members of committees can go to the inspectors and consult them. He believed that appointments should be in the hands of the Board, who were less under the influence of "buttonholera"; and that the interests of education would be better served by a course that the Board's recent resolutions aimed at. Mr M'Caktney said that if he were afforded another opportunity of speaking he could give the Conference some interesting information about button-holing,
Mr P. Duncan moved as an amendment—- " That the Board be recommended to amend the resolution as to the appointment of teachers by striking out the limitation of three names sent down to committees, and resolve to send down in future tho names of the five most eligible candidates." He urged the Conference to accept some compromise. It seemed to him that the Board in passing their recent regulations had taken that extreme step in the desire to bring al out a system which would ultimately work good. If five names of qualified persons had been sent down, ho thought the experiment would have given general satisfaction. Clearly, the privilege of appointment belonged to the Board, and the Board alone, after consulting committees. The law was explicit on that point, and Mr Gillies had stated the position fairly when he said that the Board were only now rising to the position they occupied under tho Act. Why had they done so ? There was no desire to cut away any of the so-called privileges of committees, but because it had been found that the interests of education called on them to make a halt; because a system had grown up that was fast becoming iniquitous. If button-holing went on now, how much had it gone on before ? Tho regulations were a step in the right direction, as they aimed at getting rid of that, and systematizing the appointments of teachers, which would ensure justice to the profession. He had been informed that Mr M'Kenziewas one of the prime movers in this reform. Why had he so soon fallen away ? (Mr Slico : He has been better informed since.) The reform had not been given a fair trial. Committees would ultimately have cause to thank the Board for their action, and the Conference should aid the latter in an honest endeavor to systematise the appointments.
Mr M'Laren seconded the amendment, which expressed tho views of the Union street Committee. If the Baard reduced the number to five it would be better for the teachers themselves. There could not be & more humiliating position than the latter to have to canvass members of committees, and he knew young women, eligible in every respect, who had lost the chance of appointment rather than resort to such a practice.
Mr Slh;o claimed that Mr Gillies and other speakers who sided with him were at heart more with the rest of the Conference than they had cared to admit. Tho present system would encourage more "bnttonholiug " than the old one did. Mr Cohen expected the chairman of his Committee to express their mind ou this matter, because he did uot wholly agree with them. He had favored the Board's regulations, conceiving that they would be administered in an equitable spirit, and that " button-holing" was to be severely frowned down. But it had transpired that the names of tho most eligible candidates had not in all cases been sent down, and there was a feeling abroad that a teacher's chance of promotion did not depend altogether on merit. He would hail the time when teachers would be graded according to length of service and merit, and it would be impossible for a teacher to apply for a post that his qualifications did not entitle him to. The statement had been made that the "office "was responsible for some recent appointments, but ho had been assured on excellent authority that neither the "office" nor the inspectors had been consulted in the remotest degree. Tho Board alone was responsible. If " buttonholing " were censurable on tho part of teachers, it was doubly so on the part of members of tho Board, and committees should resent the introduction of that kind of influence. If the Board eubmitted to the test of the ballot the claims of all candidates who were eligible for a vacancy, there could be no ground of complaint under the existing regulation ; but if tho prevailing impression that injustice was being done was not removed, tho teaching staff of the district would suffer materially. The Chairman claimed that the members of committees had as much opportunity of obtaining information with regard to the qualifications of candidates as the members of the Board had, and the members of committees must have more interest in tho appointment of tho teachers of their schools than tho Board had. He was perfectly satisfied that the committees could legally resist the action of the Board in sending down three names to tho committees. He was satisfied that the committees were masters of the situation, and if they exercised their advantage constitutionally cculd make tho Board do what was light. The amendment was lost by 11 votes to 7, and the motion was then put and carried. APPOINTMENT OF PUPIL TEACHERS. The following communication from the Sandymount School Committee was read : We, the Sand i mount School Csraraitteo, havo considered the present method of appointing pupil teachers, and havo arrived at the following con-c!u-ion : Tlr't we, together with all fimilar country schoolß, suffer an injustice from the present method of appointing pupil teachers, iu that we had tho right to hive, instead of a mistresn, a pupil teacher and a sewing mißtress; but that we, in the intcttots of education, had resigned that right and allowed a mißtreas to be appointed instead, thus excluding ourselves from (ho local privilrge of training pupil teachors in our own district. In this way we havo provided an outlet for teachers trained in larger schools without having received any compensating privilege. Now, let it bo distinctly understood that wo do not want anything beyond simple justico, the justice of allowing our children to compete in this part of the publio Bervico. We, therefore, propose that the Conference here assembled recommend to the Education Board tho following method of selecting candidates as pupilteachers :—That a competitive examination be held annually, and that tho pupils highest on tho list be held eligible for appointmont in preference to nil others. Mr Riddell gave notice to move at next meeting the resolution proposed by the Committee.
SCHOOL COMMITTEES' CONFERENCE., Issue 7937, 19 June 1889
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