Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 369
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 369
 
right stand when the time comes, is as though one were to attempt to put all the law of the state into its constitution to make it more binding. The result would be hopeless congestion and general uselessness.
  It comes down to the teacher in the end, and there are ten thousand of them in our big city. 1 To them, too, a day of deliverance has come. Half the machine teaching, the wooden output of our public schools in the past, I believe was due to the practical isolation of the teachers between the tyranny of politics and the distrust of those who had good cause to fear the politician and his work. There was never a more saddening sight than that of the teachers standing together in an almost solid body to resist reform of the school system as an attack upon them. There was no pretence on their part that the schools did not need reform. They knew better. They fought for their places. Throughout the fight no word came from them of the children’s rights. They imagined that theirs were in danger, and they had no thought for anything else. We gathered then the ripe fruit of politics, and it will be a long while, I suppose, before we get the taste out of our mouths. But the grip of politics on
Note 1. On May 31, 1902, there were 10,036 class teachers in elementary schools in the Greater New York, exclusive of principals and the nonteaching staffs, and of the high school teachers. With these, the total number was 11,570, with a register of 445,964 pupils. [ back ]

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