Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 355
Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 355
those studying overhead, I fancy that I can make out both the cause and the cure of the boy’s desperation. “We try to make our schools pleasant enough to hold the children,” wrote the Superintendent of Schools in Indianapolis to me once, and added that they had no truant problem worth bothering about. With the kindergarten and manual training firmly ingrafted upon the school course, as they are at last, and with it reaching out to enlist also the boy’s play through playground and vacation schools, I shall be willing to turn the boy who will not come in over to the reformatory. They will not need to build a new wing to the jail for his safekeeping.
  All ways lead to Rome. The reform in school building dates back, as does every other reform in New York, to the Mulberry Bend. It began there. The first school that departed from the soulless old tradition, to set beautiful pictures before the child’s mind as well as dry figures on the slate, was built there. At the time I wanted it to stand in the park, hoping so to hasten the laying out of that; but although the Small Parks law expressly permitted the erection on park property of buildings for “the instruction of the people,” the officials upon whom I pressed my scheme could not be made to understand that as including schools. Perhaps they were right. I catechised thirty-one Fourth Ward



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