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THE POOR SCHOOL BOARDS' BILL. DURING the much closured debate on the Voluntary Schools Bill, complaints of un- fairness on the part of its promoters were generally met by the Dromise of a Bill for the relief of necessitous Board Schools—or more correctly, necessitous School Boards, the former being the effect of the latter- and the argument that too much was given to one class of schools, and nothing to the other class was answered by the statement that no one knew what the Government intended to do for the other class. Now, we do know, to some extent, although the details of the proposed bill are as yet a mystery. There is, however, one definite fact already divulged, and that is, that the sum of XI 10,000 is to be appropriated towards the relief of those School Boards, whose condition call for as- sistance. This is, as near as possible, one bbilling per head per child upon the average attendance at all the Board Schools of England and Wales. The Voluntary Schools got five shillings per head. This, therefore, is the Government's idea of doing justice between the Board and the Voluntary Schools. To the schools that are estab- lished avowedly to teach the doctrines of one denomination, and which are practically under the absolute control of the parson, or priest, five shillings per child is given. To the school, probably in the same district, and drawing its attendance from amongst the same class of people, but which is con- trolled by a popularly elected board, and in which the teaching is purely undenomina- tional, only one shilling is given. The relief, small as it is, is to be adjusted on a sort of a graduated sliding scale. The heavier the rate, the greater the grant, but it will not go beyond a total rate in aid of 16s. 6d. per head per child. A School Board which levies a rate of say 4d. will receive a grant of fourpence per child upon the average attendance. It will be placed in this form :—The prescribed limit in sec- tion 97 of the Act of 1870. is 7s. 6d. per child. Under the new Act, in School Boards where a fourpenny rate is levied, 7s. lOd. will be read instead of 7s. 6d. If there is a fivepenny rate, that sum will read 8s. 2d.; if a sixpenny rate, 8s. 6d. and so on, but in no case must the total go beyond the 16s. 6d. limit. It is therefore plain—if any- thing is plain in this confused statement of Sir John Gorst—that there will be a num- ber of Boards to which the bill will not provide the slightest relief. Board Schools, in the opinion of the Go- vernment are only one-fifth as good as Voluntary Schools, and therefore are to get but one-fifth of the 'plunder.' But even this inequality is not enough. From the manner in which the bill has been drafted, it is evident that the inhabitants of towns will be made to suffer for small country dis- tricts. The School Boards, to which the new grants will become applicable, are those where the rating value is low, such as sparsely populated agricultural districts. In towns and districts where there are hun- dreds of houses, and well developed places of business, the bill will not apply, because the rateable value is too high. In this connection, it is well to remember Mr. Chamberlain's reference to the • bottom- less purse' of the ratepayer. It is quite conceivable that Mr. Chamberlain does not suffer from the rates he has to pay, but to sneer at the bottomless purse' of his less fortunate fellow beings, especially since he has joined the party whose only object seems to be the emptying of those purses, is a proceeding that is not likely to be acceptable to them. It is bad enough to have to pay for things of which we do not approve; to support establishments in which we do not believe, whilst establishments which are directly under the ratepayers control are left comparatively unacknow- ledged does not appear to be in accordance with the tradations of good government, to say the least of it. We do not think that this measure, miserable as it is, is worth much powder and shot from the opposition. It will, at all event, serve one good purpose. It will show the country once more, what material the present Government is made of.




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