Front Page Titles (by Subject) 148.: Election to School Boards  22 OCTOBER, 1870 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIX - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part II July 1869 - March 1873
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148.: Election to School Boards  22 OCTOBER, 1870 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIX - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part II July 1869 - March 1873 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIX - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part II July 1869 - March 1873, ed. John M. Robson and Bruce L. Kinzer (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988).
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Election to School Boards 
Beehive, 29 October, 1870, p. 580. Headed: “The Cumulative Vote and the London School Board.” Brief summary reports appeared on 24 October in the Pall Mall Gazette, the Daily News, and The Times. Writing to Edwin Chadwick on 29 October, 1870, Mill refers to “the general indifference to considerations of special qualification” for service on school boards, adding that the leaders of “the working classes do not seem to share this indifference: it was much complained of at a meeting of the Representative Reform Association last Saturday in which Odger, Mottershead, and Lloyd Jones took an active part; and the response was general to what I and others said of the bad quality of the instruction” (CW, Vol. XVII, p. 1770). The Saturday meeting of the Representative Reform Association was held in its rooms, 9 Buckingham Street, Strand, with Thomas Hare presiding. Hare opened the proceedings by outlining the conditions of the cumulative vote, which was to be used for the first time in the school board elections. He was followed by Mill.
mr. j.s. mill said that it was of very great importance that the ratepayers should exercise their best judgment in the selection they make of persons to constitute the new board of education. They should be particularly careful in putting on the board persons who had made the question of education their study, and who were well qualified in other necessary respects. Of course, those who were denominationalists and undenominationalists would most probably vote for candidates whom they might find to be of their own respective ways of thinking and believing, and this division of feeling could not, perhaps, be avoided. He did not want denominationalists to give up any of their peculiar desires, and he was equally willing to allow undenominationalists to take care of their interests as far as they can fairly do so. All he had to say on this point was that persons who were opposed to each other through religious motives ran into the danger of overlooking the most important part of the question so far as it affected the great body of the people—that is, the bringing within the reach of all classes and all communities alike, not alone the means of education such as we had had it up to the present, but the acquisition of an education of a greatly improved character. Education was really a subject which required a large amount of practical knowledge and experience, and it was of the first importance that there should be on those school boards men who had given their minds for some length of time to the study of the question. At the meetings lately held this had not been sufficiently attended to. (Hear, hear.) A good deal had been said in Parliament from time to time on the question of education; but he regretted to find that the quantity of education seemed to have been attended to more on those occasions than the quality (hear, hear). See what the Bishop of Manchester had said of the education we had in this country. The right reverend prelate said that of the education provided for the people of England, one-third of it was tolerably good, another one-third was passable, and the remaining one-third was as bad as no education at all.1 When such a man as the Bishop of Manchester made in public such an assertion as this of the education now given—and made it with, unfortunately, such good foundation—it behoved all who had an earnest desire to have the people of England properly educated, to see that the new School Board be composed of men who would be willing and able and determined to turn the Education Act of last session2 to the best possible account. In fact the question the electors had to decide was whether they would have a School Board which would improve the quality of the education hitherto given as well as provide all possible facilities for bringing that improved education within the reach of all (hear, hear). That was what had to be done. If any class of persons wished to elect a representative on account of that representative being of their way of religion and political thinking, let them by all means do so, but let them take care that that representative possessed also the all-important qualification of a matured knowledge of the particular question he should have to legislate upon. Provided the representatives were otherwise fitted, he thought it would be a wholesome and a useful thing to have the board composed of men of different areligiousa and political opinions. To accomplish to the full the great end for which the Education Act of last session was drawn up, the electors must bear these facts and probabilities in mind during the coming elections. It was well that an association like that which called the present meeting together should inform the public respecting the cumulative vote.3 He hoped the electors would make themselves thoroughly acquainted with its peculiarities, and take advantage of the power which it gave them to the fullest extent. It was not more schools which were required so much as good schools (hear, hear).
b[In the discussion,] Lloyd Jones said that some districts had been arranging for the election by dividing the candidates among the different sects. He did not complain of the proportions, but he thought this was the wrong way to go to work, for instead of being a battle of the citizens, the election would be a battle of the sects.]
Mr. Mill said that it was of importance that no one class should have preponderance in the Board, and it was rather a good thing that there should be several classes upon it.b
[A resolution was accepted unanimously that the Association should as soon as possible after the elections ascertain how much the cumulative vote had been used, and the “amount of electoral power that had been wasted through various unavoidable circumstances.” It was then moved that the Chair communicate with Forster to urge the fullest investigation of the working of the elections to the school board; Mill seconded, and another unanimous vote ensued. The meeting concluded with a vote of thanks to the Chair.]
[1 ]See No. 147, n5, for the background to this reference.
[2 ]33 & 34 Victoria, c. 75 (1870).
[a-a]PMG] B regions [printer’s error?]
[3 ]Provided for ibid., Schedule 2, Sect. 20.