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THE APPOINTMENT OF TEACHERS., Issue 7939, 21 June 1889
THE APPOINTMENT OF TEACHERS.
The following is a detailed report of the discussion that took place at yesterday’s meeting of the Education Board on Mr M'Kenzie’s motion:— Mr M'Kexzie said that his motion was as follows:—“So as to prevent injustice to applicants for positions in the service of the Board, that the resolutions of the Board passed on the 20th of March re the appointment of teachers and curtailing the number of applicants to be forwarded to committees be revoked.’’ In speaking to the motion he would be as brief as possible, especially as he knew that anything he might say would not convince some members of the Board. Mr Jago, for instance—anything that ho (the speaker) might say would not have any effect with that gentleman, or convince him if he was not already convinced in that direction. Mr Jago had intimated as much at a previous meeting of the Board, lie might anticipate also with regard to his friend Mr Mucgrcgor. That gentleman would doubtless say that he (the speaker) originally seconded his motion making the change that ho now wished to upset, but in seconding that motion he had done so because he thought its effect would be to get over the friction that had existed between school committees and the Board. Since the change had been made, however, he had become convinced that the Board had made a mistake in the matter, and that the friction formerly existing between the school committees anol the Board was only going to be intensified. He was not going to accuse any member of that Board of partiality as regards the appointment of teachers, but they had facts notwithstanding to show that It was within the power of the Board to boycott any candidate for a position by not forwarding bis or her name to the school committee. Why, he would ask, should they reduce the status of committees and take away their interest in the cduca cational system by the resolution they had adopted with regard to appoint ments. There was no subject in which teachers were so much interested as this all-important question of appointments, and there was no question in which the committees themselves were so interested. Now he thought there could be not the slightest doubt in the mind of the Board, from the active part that committees had taken in these matters at the request of the Outram School Committee, JJiat a great deal of dissatisfaction existed now, and would continue to exist unless matters were rectified. He, himself, could assure the Board that he bad never communicated with a single committee on the subject. The letters that had been sent to him had been sent through the action of the Outram School Committee in the matter. He, however, was convinced from what happened at two previous meetings that the Board had taken a wrong step, which they ought now to rectify. From the fact that eighty-one committees had passed a resolution in favor of his motion, and only ono against it, it was evident that a great deal of dissatisfaction existed with the pre-
-..cut method of appointing teachers, and he was convinced that if his motion was not carried now it would te' carried before long, because members of ihe Board would find that the present system would not work.
The Hon. T. Dick seconded the motion without comment.
Mr Fraek said when the Original motion cams up dealing with the appointment of teftchers he was decidedly opposed to making any alteration, because ho thought that the older arrangement had existed so long that a certain amount of friction did occur between committees and the Board ; but when he saw the resolution was likely to be carried, ho moved an amendment that tho names of five teachers bo substituted for three. The amendment was lost and the motion carried. Vie, however, did not think under tho existing circumstances that the new system had had such a fair trial as to warrant tho Board in making such ?. radical change as going back to the old system. He noticed that at the annual meeting of householders not a word was said against the present system, and he did not think that the letters from all those committees would have been sent if it had not been for the Outram Committee. He had decided to vote against Mr M'Kenzie's motion, but he thought it would be better to alter tho number of names sent down to committees to five, as it would be a modification of the arrangement which would tend to give general satisfaction.
Mr M.WTtßeooe said tho discussion on the regulations now proposed to be rescinded was held in Committee, and ttas therefore not reported in the Press, but he thought uf the action of the Board was put in its proper light—in tho light of the discussion held at the Board—that the greater part of the opposition to the change would disappear. He would now first of ail refer to the law on this subject of appointments, as a great deal had been said lately as fro the relative rights and privileges of the Board and Committees. According to the Education Act, nothing could be clearer than that the appointment of teachers was the function of the Board, and this talk about rights and privileges, he thought, was entirely out of place. He did not look upon it as a privilege nor in the light of a right. He I roked upon it as a matter of statutory duty imposed upon tho Board by Act of Parliament, and anyone familiar with the Act would know that the particular part of the Act which dealt with this subject referred to the “powers and duties” of Boards and to the “powers and duties” of school committees. There was nothing whatever about rights and privileges. Now, if this duty of appointing teachers was one imposed upon the Board—and of that there could be no doubt—it seemed to him that such duty was the most important one that the Board had to perform. It was a matter upon which the success or failure of the whole system of education in this province depended more than upon any other function the Board had to discharge. The Board had not, to his mind, for years past been discharging its duty in the manner which was contemplated by the Act, For years past, ho understood, the Hoard had simply—or almost nearly—been registering tho appointments made by the committees. That, he submitted, was not making the appointments us they were bound by the Act to do. How the practice arose lie had endeavored to ascertain by looking up the records of the Board, and the latest resolution lie could find on tho subject was embodied in a report of a committee of the Board, adopted as far back ■as I Sib, after the passing of the Act. lie found that there was then a misunderstanding on this subject between that Education Hoard and the then Dunedin School Committee, which at that time was a committee for tho whole of Dunedin. A committee of the Board was appointed to confer with a committee of the Dunedin School Committee, and the report submitted by the Board’s Committee was that of Donald Reid, John Shand, and Horace Bastings. Now he would point out that according to this report, which was adopted, tho idea was that the Board should make a selection from the applicants for appointments, and that in making these appointments the Board should be guided by two main considerations—firstly, that those candidates who were considered most eligible, and secondly, that those most deserving of promotion, should bo recommended to the committees. Now, he did not know how long that practice was acted upon, but it had evidently ceased to be acted upon some years ago; for during several years the Board had been in the habit of sending down to committees a very large number of names of applicants—sometimes as many as thirty-eight—and it was not an uncommon thing to send fifteen or sixteen names. Obviously the Board had abandoned its good intention of sending down only the names of those whom it considered most eligible and deserving of promotion. The whole system of appointing teachers bad apparently become one of haphazard. How it arose members would probably be able to conclude for themselves. His own conclusion was that tho Board bad simply drifted or lapsed into this system, or want of system, because it was probably too much trouble to carry out the system which they intended to—viz., to send committees the names of teachers most eligible and moat deserving of promotion. The arguments that Mr M‘Kenzie had used in favor of reverting to ■what had been the practice of the Board for many years would certainly not convince those who had considered the matter. They had heard a great deal of the rights and privileges in this matter, and committees had been invited by one particular committee to resist the motion of the Board in doDarting from the practice of sending down nearly all the names of applicants, as it was an infringement of their rights and privileges, As he had already said, he did not admit that any such rights and privileges as were claimed by committees existed, but that was a small consideration if the system was one which would ensure the efficiency of the education system. He was not there for the purpose of enlarging the rights and privileges of the Board, nor for curtailing those of committees.—(Hear, hear.) Nothing was farther from his intention, because lie admitted tho force of one of Mr M'Kenzie’s arguments, that it was desirable to maintain as lively as possible the interest of school committees in educational matters.—(Hear, hoar.) Ho admitted also that the duties east upon committees by the Education Act were somewhat of an inferior nature, but that was tho fault of the Act, and the Board had nothing at all to do with that. The questions for the Board were these: “What is our duty under the Education Act ? Have we been discharging that duty ? If not, why should vve not now attempt to discharge that duty ?” When he previously supported the regulations proposed to be rescinded, he did not view the regulations in the light of interference with committees at all. Hesupportedthembocausehethought it would save trouble to the committees, and he also considered that if the Board made a selection they would come nearer to securing the best men to the best positions. He was sure now that a great deal of the uneasiness on the subject would disappear if committees were only convinced that the change which the Board were attempting to make was in the interests of education, and for the benefit of teachers, and not with the object of curtailing tho powers and privileges of committees. As to the question whether the appointment of teachers should be undertaken by the Board or by the committees, he had ]ust a few words to say. The Education Board was in a better position to discharge this duty of making appointments than committees could possibly be. He said Education Boards in general, and in saying that he claimed no superiority in himself or in any members of the Board individually, but he simply said that the Board, as an Education Board, had informational its command which committees had not, and it was in an infinitely better position to deal properly, fairly, and satisfactorily with the whole subject than school committees could be. He had no hesitation in saying that, but he did not say it in disparagement of school committees. Another reason why the Board was in a better position to discharge this duty was that its appointments were more open to public criticism—both of tho Dress and of school committees. The Board must, Uiorcfore, have a greater sense of responsibility in 'WHng with appointments than committees; and further, the Board wasrespon-
sible for the general interests of cduealiou in the educational district, whereas cornilflUecs were merely responsible ter tVfo interests of education in thei'i* otefi particular districts. He went on to refer to the practice of button holing, which the regulations previously adopted tended to put a stop to. This practice was one of tho worst features in the whole system of appointing teachers, because there could bo no doubt but that the appointments were largely influenced by button-holing. He mentioned this subject for the purpose of pointing out that it was impossible for committees to take any effective precaution against the evil, but tho Board was in a better position to cope with it. The Board was anxious to prevent this evil by passing the regulations he had referred to. It had been said that the Board was as open to button-holing and other influences as were committees, (Hear, hear.) That was not true, because it was not possible for committees to lay down any regulations on the subject, but it was possible for the Board to take that course, and it had shown its determination to put this practice to an end by passing these regulations. He went on to refer to an alleged injustice to applicants applying for appointments whose names were not sent down to the committees, and stated that he could very well understand why one whose name was not sent down should consider an injustice had been done him. He contended that not so much injustice, if any, would be done under the now system as under the old. He believed that the origin of all this matter was explained by the circular which had I con issued by the Outram .School Committee. —(Hear, hear.) If there was an injustice at all it was apt to be an injustice to those teachers who would not stoop to the button-holing which had been going on for years past under the old system. —(Hear, hear.) There were teachers in the service (some of the very best teachers) who would not use any influence with tho committees beyond placing their merits before them. There were also teachers in the Board’s service who were located in out-of-the-way districts who were handicapped under the old system, who had not an opportunity of button-holing, and if there was any injustice to consider that was where it was apt to come in. Under the new system the Board would have an opportunity of doing justice to these teachers. —(Hear, hear.) Mr M'Kenzie had, he thought, been overhasty in taking action concerning the rescinding of the resolution. Ho might have waited until the new system had had a fair trial, and if he had done that ho (the speaker) thought that difficulties would not have arisen. The Outram circular was issued after Mr M'Kenzie’s notice to move this resolution had been given, and it was a pity the system was not given a fair trial. He thought the regulations would result so satisfactorily that the Board would find in the end that they were justified in their action.—(Hear, hear.) Tho logical outcome of Mr M'Kenzie’s arguments was that the Board was not fit to do its duty. If that was tho case with the Board in the matter of making appointments, the natural conclusion of Mr M'Kenzie’s assertions was that the Board should resign in a body.
Mr M'Kenzie : Hear, hear. Mr M'Gkecdk said that under the Act that was clearly their duty. If they were not lit for their duty Mr M'Kenzie and the rest should resign and make way for men who wcie lit. These committees had asked them to send down the names of all candidates ; hut what would he the result'' I’erpetual friction all round. The new system, if allowed to get a proper trial, would woik smoothly.—(Applause.) Mr h’l (.ton said that the Board in sending down the names of candidates to school committees distinctly approved of every name it sent down for selection, and considered every such namc_ eligible for the position. He would remind the Board that they had no power to prevent an altogether unsuitable man from making an application—a man unsuitable on account of his private character, or something of that sort. Having said that much, he would say something ns to the whole origin of the trouble. Some three months ago the Board decided to carry the resolution dealing with the appointment of teachers, and subsequently in making a selection for a school committee at Kelso two names were selected and a third name was proposed to be sent down ; and that tnird name was proposed by his friend who was now bringing this motion rescinding the resolution. He (the speaker) moved another name, not being aware who the person was at all except from the records that were in the Education Office. The person whose name his friend wanted sent down was sent down, and the person whose name he (Mr Fulton) wanted sent was not sent. It was only after he had arrived home that he was notified of the gentleman who had been sent and that he was aware who the gentleman was who lost the position. He said so far as he was aware the Board usually selected names that were considered the most eligible, and he assumed on this occasion that they had done so. He then found that this person was the son of the man who was notifying. That was the origin of the whole matter. On another occasion a certain person was wanted to be appointed for a certain school, and his name was not sent down. His friend Mr M'Kenzie was very anxious that he should be appointed, and being very much annoyed about the matter he moved this motion rescinding tho resolution. The speaker added that, as showing the absurdity of the old system, he might cite an instance when the Board sent down to a committee the names of no less than fortytwo candidates for one position. Mr Green said ho had an amendment to propose, as follows—" (1) That preparatory to the appointment of a teacher, the Board shall make a selection of not more than three from the candidates for such appointment, and number them in their order of merit. (2) The Board shall consult the School Committee by forwarding to them for consideration the names of all tho eligible candidates, together with copies of all certificates and testimonials submitted by the candidates, and by inviting the Committee to recommend one of the said candidates for the appointment. (M) No communication with regard to the appointment of a teacher shall bcTicld between tho officers of the Board and any candidate, teacher, school committee, or member of committee, or other party excepting by letter, and all Midi letters shall bo deemed to lie official letters and registered accordingly. (1) No candidate for an appointment shall communicate, directly or indirectly, with a member of the Board regarding an appointment.” After discussion as to the chairman’s power to receive this amendment, tho Chairman" said he would receive one from Mr Green to the effect that the word “awarded ” bo inserted instead of “revoked,” but this found no seconder.
Mr Dick intimated his intention of supporting the motion, saying that as a matter of justice to the teachers he held that the old system was bettor than the new. Mr Jaho said that in speaking to the motion he would first like to make a reply on a matter personal to himself. Mr M'Kenzie had said that he (the speaker) had at a previous meeting intimated that he would not take any notice of anything that he (Mr M'Kenzie) might say; but the reason for that intimation was perfectly well known by Mr M'Kenzie and by the Board. It was because Mr M'Kenzie had, in the speaker’s opinion, when discussing certain matters at the previous meeting, endeavored not to deal with facts and arguments, but to discover the motives which had actuated other members in the action that they took. He trusted that members, instead of attributing to others unworthy and dishonorable motivesfortheiraction, would rathergivoeach other credit for the best and purest motives in what they did.—(Hear, hear.) Coming to the question before the meeting, he would say that, if the question was one of the relative rights and privileges of committees as against the boards, he would bo disposed very largely to yield to committees in this matter; but he did not think tho question presented that point at all. What he thought was more involved in this question was the status of teachers.—(Hear, hear.) Ho wanted to recognise that tho teachers in this district wore the employes of the Board ; that they had adistinct and direct relationship to tho Board, and that they were not merely tho appointees of the committees. If the Board recognised that fact, then he thought they ought to continue to do ao they lately had done. With regard to the many letters from committees received in
of Mr M'Kcnzic’s motion, lie thought that an expression of opinion from the teachers, could such ho got, would he much more important. He had been out of town when the present regulations were adopted, and though he did not regard them as perfect they were a move in the right direction. It was possible that the mode of selection, of which Mr Dick had complained, was not perfect and might he amended. If Mr Green’s proposed amendments were before the Board ho would be prepared to fully consider them, Mr Died had raid there was no difference in the principle on which the Board had formerly acted and that on which the new regulations were based. That might bo true, but there was an important difference in the application of the principle. It was claimed that the continuation of the new method of appointment would lead to great injustice being done to the teachers. He believed to the contrary, and supported the present method solely in the interest of tho teacherc ns being designed and calculated to secure for them justice and fair consideration. If ho had been a member of a school committee now, ns he was some time ago, and these new regulations had been adopted, he should have said; “ What a relief. I am exceedingly grateful to the Education Board for having adopted these regulations to relieve the members of committees from the great annoyance, the great inconvenience, the great anxiety, and the great responsibility which was laid upon their shoulders under the old system.” It was a matter of exceeding annoyance and vexation when any vacancy occurred in the school for which ho was a member of committee. No sooner was a vacancy announced than from “ early morn till dewy eve” he was pestered by “ the sisters, cousins, and aunts ” of candidates coming to urge tho claims of this or that candidate. And his own was not an exceptional experience, Everybody knew that this was a universal practice. And it was a practice which he objected to, and those who had to adopt it felt its humiliation. His experience and observation had led him to tho conclusion that tho method by which to secure justice to the teachers, by which to secure good faithful service to the Board, by which to duly reward industry and enthusiasm, good conduct, and good sei vice, was by continuing to adopt some such method as they had recently adopted in the matter of appointments.—(Hear, hear.) He could not conceive how it was possible for an injustice to arise under the new system rather than under the old. At all events the new system was fairer than the former one. They knew that injustice was done under tho former system, but they did not know yet that injustice was being done under the present system. No injustice had been complained of except in the matter of the Kelso appointment, and that aro;e, as Mr Fulton had said, because the name of a candidate proposed by Mr M'Kenzie had been sent to the Committee instead of another who hoped to be appointed. If he was rightly informed, the resolution adopted by the Outram Committee had been written by the disappointed candidate, and his father was a member of that Committee. With regard to the prevalence of “buttonholing,” lie had reason to believe that members of tho Board itself . had felt it to lie their duty, in the interest of education, and to secure tho appoint ment of the best teachers, to go down and canvass members of committees in support of certain candidates. When they came to that pass it was high time some measures were adopted to stop the admitted evil. He Imped the Board would not stultify itself by revoking the resolution adopted three months ago in connection with the appointment of teachers, l)r ihsiAii 1 said he intended to vote against the motion, but he would not occupy time in simply repeating the arguments and views so well expressed by previous speakers. Mr M'Kenzie having replied, the motion was put to the meeting, and lost by 0 votes to 2, only the mover and seconder voting for it.
THE APPOINTMENT OF TEACHERS., Issue 7939, 21 June 1889
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