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APPOINTMENT OF TEACHERS., Issue 7942, 25 June 1889
APPOINTMENT OF TEACHERS.
TO THE EDITOR. Sir, —The most valuable of all our institutions is our colonial system of education. Our public schools give our children a training by which they can learn the discoveries of those who search after knowledge and can possess the thoughts of the best minds of all time, thus qualifying them when they grow up to take au intelligent share in the government of the country of which they will be, citizens. Besides this, a universal aud common education furnishes the grand plank of social justice by which the children of the rich and poor may join in the struggle for existence oa somewhat equal terms. I repeat that our system of education is our most valuable institution, aud every man m the colony should guard its efficient administration.
On the qualifications of the teaching staff the successful management of a school very much depends. Who should select the members of this stall' ? The answer is easy : those who have children depending on the teaching they receive, who are interested m the prosperity of the school, who know its local peculiarities, who pride themselves in making it efficient—in'a word, local committee elected annually by the district where the school is. This has practically been the way in which the teaching stall of Otago schools has been appointed for a very long time, and has with very few exceptions given great satisfaction to the public as well as to the teachers. In this respect the Education Act was administered on the sound principle of local self-government, which alone is capable of giving a democratic community satisfaction. But the body known as the Otago Education Board found, by the aid of a lawyer who had iiecn elected one of its members, that (first) it was by law the duty of the Board to appoint the teachers, and (second) that the Board had more information about the teachers, and were therefore better qualified than the local Committee to make the appointments. With regard to the legal reason, it appears to me that as we have for many years been acting as if the words “the Board shall appoint” meant the same as many such legal phrases expressing the duty of “ Her Majesty the Queen,” or of “His Excellency the Governor Ministers really make the appointments, while “Queen and Governor” formally assent; so local committees made appointments, and the Education Board, as the medium through which salaries were paid, formally registered the appointments—surely there was no breach of the law in the Education Board continuing to so interpret the words “ the Board shall appoint.” As the members of the Board avoid giving us what they understand by the clause which provides for a consultation with the committees, we may infer that they understand nothing by it, and intend to ignore it altogether. Their regulation to send down one, two, and never more than three names, is an autocratical sham, under
which there will be an increased amount of “friction” between them and the committees. But the “ Board has more information as to the qualifications of teachers than committees have.” There may_ be a grain of truth in this ; but unless the information is got from the “deserving” persons who are at present neglected by “ buttonholing,” or through some influential friend of a candidate speaking a word on his behalf, the Board must get its superior knowledge from its officials, and the substantial part of such information could be easily conveyed to the committees. Indeed, if the best information should qualify one person to make the appointments, they should all he made not by the Board but by its secretary. What will be the fate of the large number of young highly-qualified teachers whom we have trained at great expense ? With committees they have a constant chance of appointment—they may fail to-day with one body, but to-morrow they may succeed with another. But unless they gain the favor of the allwise Central Board they will be in a hopeless position—will have to follow some other calling, or go to instruct the youth of another education district whore centralism is not rampant. It is pitiful to listen to the miseries some committeemen have endured through “ button-holing.” Some people rather prefer to see candidates for a position that they have a voice in filling up. There is a key to character in the eye and a facial expression which many have the faculty of reading. Those who truly and uprightly seek the best man for the school with which they are connected will never bo led astray by buttonholing ; and those who suffer from it can easily end their misery by retiring from a position for which their artificial character unfits them.
I feel certain that, if those wise men who have “ risen to the occasion ” and turned the Education Board into a central autocracy had avowed their principles when they were candidates, they would never have been elected to fill their present position. If they doubt this let them resign and stand for c -election, They will then get a lesson wh'ch. they well deserve. Some members think that committees will become used to andgsubmit to being deprived of their highest
unction, and one which I maintain they are best qualified to perform. This is a mistake, which, no doubt, some will find out at the next election. —I am, etc,, Square. Dunedin, June 24.
APPOINTMENT OF TEACHERS., Issue 7942, 25 June 1889
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