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A Plea For Pension's

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Tú the Editor. If we admit the justice of the claim o peace having victories as great as those ol war, then we must acknowledge the equity of the plea preferred, naniely, pensioning invalidated and superanuated teachers while in the service of our public echools, either by national or state enactment. We have heard much - there have been long pulls and strong pulls lately ; executive and senatorial eloquence used for and against the pensionjbills presented by those who fought to save their country in time of peril - who dared all and braved all, and in their decline should not feel the bitterness of national ingratitude. On these same principies we prefer a pension for the stay at-home soldiers - men and women - whose field of duty is the schoolroom, whose military tactics are but " to teach the young idea how to shoot." Since our governmant reste its arms upon the education of its youth, recognizes triumphant intellect as its best weapon against prejudice, ignorance and untoward influences; since it concedes that internal happiness and ezternal peace can only be procured at the price of universal knowledge; that the bases of our self-government are built upon these, and therefore, wisely, has set apart public domains, the proceeds of which go to créate public schools and to maiutain them, as its safest bulwarks for all time to come. Granting all these educational advantages to the low and high'-born alike, as its best legacy to its children, is it not, thee, about time that so paternal a government thinks also of the future of the mediums eoiployed to carry out these glorious designs ? Where begin to enumérate the necessities of such a claim? There are many and feasible reasons to be put forth for it, and the wonder is that no step in that direction has been made. It would hardly come from our teachers themselves who are no blatant demagogues, and perhaps, the last to arrógate to themselves the preferring even of just demands, whicb, until rightly understood, might appear presumptuous. Real merit is modest. We hear some objector claim that the government did its duty when it gave that young man or woman the where-with-all to take up the profession of teacher, that the state's obligation ceases when she promptly makes her monthly payments. But they did more for the West Pointer and the naval cadet who step into life positions with superior advantages. In both cases political foresight, self-protection as well as generous impulse, are the mainsprings of governmental action. Now, we have an army of thousands of teachers - male and female - in America, composed largely of the latter. Their merits of fitness vary, tbat is not our province here to decide. To some it is only a stepping-stone, perhaps an hiatus - until a better business venture turns up or until Prince Charming appears upon the scène and carries them off from their uncertain positions. The lady teacher does not receive the same salary as the male teacher, even when able to do the same work, or at least, rarely does, and the schedule is made up on quite a different basis. It certainly should not, for setting aside merit, she is in tlw majority here. Bat why is the position an uncertain one ? To angwer this we must remember that to a conscientious person there is no greater meDtal or physical strain than the one which the profession of teaching brings with it. It fascinates, it engrosses, but it also absorbs. The melding of mind - making a moral impress here, an intellectual one there, requires no mean artist. She must be up and about, inspecting all the inlying and outlying pickets along her line and not flag or weBry. This daughter of the intellectual regiment, while oa duty, must always be neatly and becomingly uniformed that is one essential element - be her salary what it may. Oftener than not she has some members of her family dependent upon her. She must procure books, periodicah, keep up with the topics of the times, besides the branches she teaches, for ajwellrounded pedagogue is not„one-sided. She is probably a church member, and lends support there. lier calling does and should give her a refinement of manner and taste which makes it necessary to live in a more expensive manner than she might if otherwise employed. It also makes her look upon life more seriously, gives her little time to desire to mingle in society, or to contract ties which are but natural to either sex. With the female teacher, marriage is considered rather a bar to appointment She feels independent of others, and thus it happens that we see the muchdisparaged, that dread monster, the " old maid " in the teachers' rank?, with all of the above obligations to meet on comparatively small pay. These enumerations might seem mere verbiage, if they were not meant to show that under these circumstances little can be saved. There are a favorite few who have good homes, and can use their earnings as they will ; they are in the minority. The time comes when the teacher falls by the wayside in this march of progress. It is not always with added years, either. The nerves are unstrung, debility, an educator's greatest foe, sets in while on duty in the army of lettere, with no arrearages or pension tolook to. Possibly a leave of absence is granted, but the salary ceases ; and unfortunately, money is the world's lever, and a vacation without means does one about as much good as seeing a waving wheat field when one is hune;ry and craves bread at once. Until these sheaves are garnered, milled, put to rise and baked, starvation has stopped the grinding at the Btomach. Our western stateslike all large bodies with healthy souls in them, do nobly as compared with some eaetern states in respect to salaries paid their teachers. If an instructor with a family depending upon him, break down after having given his best yearj to hig work, the case is able. For whoever heard of a rich teacher ! Yes, iL he left the ranks and applied bis wits to other branches - putting forth riclier foliage ihan the pedagogical one. But not if he kept marching on in the realm of the rule of tliree. He fought, was wounded and lelt to make the best of the situation on the field. It is true, these men and women were not drafted into service. They are volunteers and generally eclist with a patriotic warmth - more their credit - greater their claim upon a government, they, Atlas-like, help uphold in order and in progress. Whether these claims, which arejust and entitled to be heard and aoted upon, to be discussed and agitated, be state or government affairs, or both, is an after cons-ideration. When, at what age, for what causes, a teacher would be deserving of a pension, could no doubt be as easily ad j usted as is done ia the cises of our soldiere by the various examining boards. Merit and long service shouli stand vouchers in any case. Even Germany - niggardly as a rule in her payment of her teachers - pension those grown old in her service, as do other European countries. In fact, we see no reason why our pension agencies, whose business must have contracted as the widows of pension - ers remarried, their minors beoame of age, tbeir veteraos joined the silent majority in these last twenty years, why they could not become the distributing medium for this, our project. We should go further; we would like to see national homes erected where necessary to house those so unfortunate as to be left without one. Putting aside the real duty in the case ; not looking at it from the humanitarian stand-point, it has yet a greater one wh:cb a government so far seeing and noble as ours, should not lose sight of. It would insure the best and fittest talent for its school service. The teacher who could look forward to calm eventide - not harassed by what the night might bring to him and his family if he were diaabled and no longera bread-winuer, not expecting to be thrown aside as a sucked orange, would be happier in his or her life woik; more content to remain in it. Never a paying calling, as the world goes, it probably with rare exceptions, gives the least money for the greatest returns. Happily, pedagogues are too engrossed to be rapacious. The state owes them a living when their energies cease or when old age finds them still at their work, unless larger wages are paid, so that they can make provisions for these emergencies themselves. These tried servants of the government would then have time to be, what they always should be, its moral as wen as mental agents. Ihey wouid turn over to the state yearly crops of thinking men and women along with this higher education of latter days, who could not be influenced into anarchical, nihilistic or communistic movements at the beek of any fooi of a ring-leader who wished to raze down all hills; discontented, perchance, because nature threw up some earthworks and interfered with his plowiop. If civil service reform is no sham ; f it is what its projectors claimed for it, then here is a case in hand where it could be most aptly applied. The competittve branch has long been, but neither politics nor tidal changes, neither arbitrary rules nor favoritism should appoint or remove these scholastic soldiers. Merit and service alone should be the appointing powers, not influential friends nor social position, a consideration in itself. Even here party spirit has dared to enter. If you would keep the public schools undeflled, then along with the pension apply the provisión of civil service, which can remove for cause only. This great Republic can, least of all, afford to be ungrateful to her teachers, they who stand next to the parent in human relations, almost interchangeable terms. The public schools, the principies they uphold, make it poesible for the United States to carry out the poliey of good will toward all men - have made arbitration possible - have made the constant changes in our governmental affairs possible without the upheavals we see in gister Republics. For intellect rules our masses. We point to the teachers in our public schools as our standing army ; to our school children be our reserve corps. This our answer to these foreign potentates who are constantly laughing in their sleeves at our unprotected state. As long as they do their duty well, and the state towards them, no need of mobillizing every available male, of draining the fields and the workshops, of desolating homes, making women do man's work, impoverishing the land to keep up a defensive against some future enemy. Honesty of purpose and intellect need but few sentinels to stand guard over their movements. No cali for half a miilion strong men in soldier's livery while our public schools and public teachers stand watch at the outposts. And this, most worthy senators and congressmen, is our strongest argument in favor of a liberal pension to disabled or aged public teachers, irrespective of creed, color or sex. Self-interest will often stir a nation as well as an individua], and we maintain that it is to her interest to look well to the welfare of this división of her army. The wisdom of it must be apparent; the people's hearts, whose good impulses are usually to be found on the right sideof a question, will beat in unisón with this demand. Denver, Coiorado.


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