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DIRTY SCHOOL HOUSES.

THE JANITOR AS FINANCIER.

From the “Brooklyn Eagle.”

As I go on my bookish rounds from school to school I accumulate a good deal of talk about this and that. It requires some care to decide how much of this is nobody's business. Sometimes mistakes are made and offense is taken at the quality of the gossip unloaded on the readers of these Sunday morning columns. The theme I exploit now is public property. It is of vital concern to all of us, as parents of children whom we want trained to be strong and healthy men and women, above all to be safe from danger of diseases due to dirt in school rooms. From what I have read in the "Eagle" last week and from the talk I have heard from school men who have read the same matter, this treatise on janitors is composed.

The care of school buildings has long been a leading topic with the persons now in power in this city. The Municipal Civil Service Commission took it up early in 1901. At that time sworn statements were required of all the janitors to show how many helpers and cleaners each one employed and how much he paid for the service. The commission heard testimony that the school buildings were in a filthy condition, and that the system of payment for cleaning, by giving the janitor a lump sum, out of which he could pay his help, keeping the residue himself, was a perpetual encouragement to make money by neglecting work. It passed rules requiring janitors to select their helpers from a civil service list. Thereupon the Janitors' Association secured the introduction of a bill at Albany, providing that janitors' helpers should be exempted from civil service regulations. George Austin was employed as counsel to push legislation. The bill passed both houses, but was vetoed by Governor Odell. A test case on the Civil Service Commission's power was made by the Janitors' Association in the case of Janitor Doyle of Public School No. 118, Brooklyn. By order of the commission Doyle's name was stricken from the payroll because he was alleged to have employed helpers not on the civil service list. The Janitors' Association, through Doyle, secured a writ of mandamus from Justice Gaynor to restore Doyle to the payroll. The opinion handed down by the judges who heard the arguments on this mandamus decided that the commission could not cause the janitor's name to be erased from the payroll, but it did not pass upon the question whether or not the helpers must be selected from the civil service list. The mandamus, nevertheless, seemed to put a damper for the time on the efforts of the commission to reform the janitor trouble.

The Janitor System Dates from the Long Ago.

To reform the cleaning service is no summer's day job. The present scheme of giving to janitors the distribution of patronage is a time honored institution, dating back to the most prosperous days of the trustee system. It originated in the time when Manhattan and Brooklyn were aggregations of small villages. When a school trustee went out of office or was changed from one school to another, all the painters, carpenters, plumbers, steamfitters and various repairers knew there would be no more work for them in the old school. The new man doled out the jobs to his own following of contractors. The janitors had a good deal of the same kind of power. Douglas Stewart, in an article he wrote for one of the magazines six or seven years ago, gave instances of janitorial thrift in requiring fees from contractors, and of good cash business carried on by the “Two Js”—the janitor and the junkman-in metal tops of radiators, etc. When the reform laws abolished the district trustees and removed from ward politics the power to fill the teaching positions no sweeping changes were made in the condition of the janitor. He still receives his salary on a basis of floor and sidewalk space. He is still the judge as to how many helpers he shall employ and who they shall be. If he has one of the large schools he receives from $3,000 to $5,000 a year. This makes him an important resident of the ward. He and the political leader can exchange favors. If the janitor could find positions for men who have appealed to the prominent citizen, the prominent citizen will be glad to render service by interceding with the committee on janitors in the school board, if any trouble ever comes up. The janitor lives in the district where the school is located. The principal lives where he pleases.

The janitor is at the building during longer hours. He knows the people. He is the most important man in the institution. If the janitor of a flat is It, the school janitor is IT. This is especially true in Manhattan. When school boys see him coming They say to one another: “Look out, here comes the owner.” In Brooklyn it is becoming the custom to apply the title “Doctor" to a school master; in Manhattan they save this for the janitor. In Brooklyn it is not uncommon for visitors to inquire for the principal; in Manhattan they ask for “the other man.” I remember when Public School No. 108, in Brooklyn, was opened. A great many visitors went to see it, for it was then, as now, remarkably better than the average school. Once when a party of strangers asked to see the school and was being shown through the building by the janitor the strangers said: “We want to see some class work.” “Oh," said he, “you want to see Mr. Stevens; he has charge of the educational department." These visitors still tell this story with great glee, for they come from a place where the principal, like the captain of a ship, directs the whole property. But this story falls flat in this locality, for we are so accustomed to New York conditions that we see nothing unusual in the janitor's reply. A new principal often tries to get the building cared for according to his own notions, but he soon finds the local standards of service so low and the authorities so indisposed to raise them that unless he is unusually, vigorous and long-winded he gives it up and protests only in the case of gross neglect. The janitorial side is too strong for him. The association, with its rules, its agreements, its committees and its influence, is stronger than most single principals in the system. At this writing the janitor of the Normal College is holding on to rooms that are in urgent demand for classes to relieve overcrowding, while the vapors from his cookery saturate the air so nearly to the dew point that an unexpected lowering of the temperature would precipitate upon the young misses a shower of onions and cabbage. Throughout the school system the feeling pervades that there is not power enough to require a janitor to do his work. Those who visit the schools say the rooms and hallways are dirty. When Dr. Joseph H. Raymond, of the Department of Health, conferred with the principals they told him the janitor service was bad and the system was rotten. They declared that it was a scandal of the schools that adults, less likely to litter up a place than children, had their public offices gone over by an army of cleaners and scrubbers every day, but that the schools where little ones are and which should be cleaned more frequently than any other kind of place, were notoriously neglected; that the method store Doyle to the payroll. The opinion handed down by the judges who heard the arguments on this mandamus decided that the commission could not cause the janitor's name to be erased from the payroll, but it did not pass upon the question whether or not the helpers must be selected from the civil service list. The mandamus, nevertheless, seemed to put a damper for the time on the efforts of the commission to reform the janitor trouble.

The Janitor System Dates from the Long Ago.

To reform the cleaning service is no summer's day job. The present scheme of giving to janitors the distribution of patronage is a time honored institution, dating back to the most prosperous days of the trustee system. It originated in the time when Manhattan and Brooklyn were aggregations of small villages. When a school trustee went out of office or was changed from one school to another, all the painters, carpenters, plumbers, steamfitters and various repairers knew there would be no more work for them in the old school. The new man doled out the jobs to his own following of contractors. The janitors had a good deal of the same kind of power. Douglas Stewart, in an article he wrote for one of the magazines six or seven years ago, gave instances of janitorial thrift in requiring fees from contractors, and of good cash business carried on by the “Two Js”—the janitor and the junkman-in metal tops of radiators, etc. When the reform laws abolished the district trustees and removed from ward politics the power to fill the teaching positions no sweeping changes were made in the condition of the janitor. He still receives his salary on a basis of floor and sidewalk space. He is still the judge as to how many helpers he shall employ and who they shall be. If he has one of the large schools he receives from $3,000 to $5,000 a year. This makes him an important resident of the ward. He and the political leader can exchange favors. If the janitor could find positions for men who have appealed to the prominent citizen, the prominent citizen will be glad to render service by interceding with the committee on janitors in the school board, if any trouble ever comes up. The janitor lives in the district where the school is located. The principal lives where he pleases.

The janitor is at the building during longer hours. He knows the people. He is the most important man in the institution. If the janitor of a flat is It, the school janitor is IT. This is especially true in Manhattan. When school boys see him coming ihey say to one another: “Look out, here comes the owner." In Brooklyn it is becoming the custom to apply the title “Doctor” to a school master; in Manhattan they save this for the janitor. In Brooklyn it is not uncommon for visitors to inquire for the principal; in Manhattan they ask for the other man." I remember when Public School No. 108, in Brooklyn, was opened. A great many visitors went to see it, for it was then, as now, remarkably better than the average school. Once when a party of strangers asked to see the school and was being shown through the building by the janitor the strangers said: "We want to see some class work.” “Oh,” said he, “you want to see Mr. Stevens; he has charge of the educational department." These visitors still tell this story with great glee, for they come from a place where the principal, like the captain of a ship, directs the whole property. But this story falls flat in this locality, for we are so accustomed to New York conditions that we see nothing unusual in the janitor's reply. A new principal often tries to get the building cared for according to his own notions, but he soon finds the local standards of service so low and the authorities so indisposed to raise them that unless he is unusually vigorous and long-winded he gives it up and protests only in the case of gross neglect. The janitorial side is too strong for him. The association, with its rules, its agreements, its committees and its influence, is stronger than most single principals in the system. At this writing the janitor of the Normal College is holding on to rooms that are in urgent demand for classes to relieve overcrowding, while the vapors from his cookery saturate the air so nearly to the dew point that an unexpected lowering of the temperature would precipitate upon the young misses a shower of onions and cabbage. Throughout the school system the feeling pervades that there is not power enough to require a janitor to do his work. Those who visit the schools say the rooms and hallways are dirty. When Dr. Joseph H. Raymond, of the Department of Health, conferred with the principals they told him the janitor service was bad and the system was rotten. They declared that it was a scandal of the schools that adults, less likely to litter up a place than children, had their public offices gone over by an army of cleaners and scrubbers every day, but that the schools where little ones are and which should be cleaned more frequently than any other kind of place, were notoriously neglected; that the method

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