OUR public educational system is made up of a grammar and a high school

course, the latter consisting of a four years term of studies, devoted

in part, to a more thorough grounding in the essentials of education;

the other part--by far the more considerable, according to the

consensus of opinion--is expended on educational frills and vanities.

These "trimmings" are given gratis, the public bearing the burden of

which foots up to a very respectable total.

For a certain class of people--the people of means--this sort of a

thing has not many disadvantages; it is in a line with the future

occupation or profession of their offspring. But for the bulk of the

children who attend our free schools and on whose parents educational

taxes are levied, it has serious inconveniences, is not in line with

their future occupation or profession, is not only superfluous, but

detrimental. It is for them so much time lost--precious time, that were

better spent learning a trade or otherwise fitting themselves for their

life work. Herein therefore we discover a double extravagance: that of

parents who provide unwisely for their children's future and that of

the municipality which offers as popular an education that is anything

but popular, since only the few can enjoy it while all must bear the

burden alike.

There is much in getting a start in life, in beginning early; a delay

is often a handicap hard to overcome. With very few exceptions, our

children gain their livelihood with their hands and eyes and ears, and

not solely with their brains; they therefore require title most

practical education imaginable. They need intellectual tools to work

with, and not a smattering of science, botany, drawing and political

philosophy to forget as soon as possible. Pure culture studies are not

a practical gain for them, while the time consumed in pursuing these is

so much taken away from a thorough training in the essentials. Lectures

on science, elementary experiments in chemistry, kindergarten

instructions in water color painting, these are as much in their place

in the education of the average child as an ivory-handled gold pen in

the hand that wields the pick-ax.

A boy is better off learning a trade than cramming his head full of

culture fads; he is then doing something useful and profitable on which

the happiness and success of his life will depend. By the time his

companions have done dabbling in science and have come to the

conclusion that they are simply being shown how ignorant they are--not

a very consoling conclusion after all--he will have already laid the

foundation of his career and be earning enough to settle down in life.

He may not be able to talk on an infinity of subjects about which he

knows nothing at all, but he will be able to earn his own living, which

is something worth while.

If the free high school were more of a business school, people would

get better returns for their money. True, some would then be obliged to

pay for the expensive fads that would be done away with; but since they

alone enjoy these things, why should others be made to pay for them who

cannot enjoy them? Why should the poor be taxed to educate the rich?

Why not give the poor full value for their share of the burden? Why not

provide them with intellectual tools that suit their condition, just as

the rich are being provided for in the present system? The parochial

high school has, in several places we know of, been made to serve as a

protest against such evils and as an example that has already been

followed in more than one instance by the public schools. Intelligent

and energetic pastors, knowing full well the conditions and needs of

their people, offer the children a course in business methods as being

more suitable, more profitable and less extravagant than four years

spent in acquiring a smattering of what they will never possess

thoroughly and never need in their callings in life. It is better to

fill young minds with the useful than with the agreeable, when it is

impossible to furnish both. Results already bespeak the wisdom of this

plan and reflect no small honor on its originators.

Parents therefore should see to it that their children get the kind of

education they need, the kind that will serve them best in after life.

They should not allow the precious time of youth to be whiled' away in

trifles and vanities. Children have a right: to be educated in a manner

in keeping with their conditions in life, and it is criminal in parents

to neglect the real needs of their children while trying: to fit them

for positions they will never occupy.

In the meantime, let them protest against the extravagance of

educational enthusiasts and excessive State paternalism. Let them ask

that the burden of culture studies be put where it belongs, that is, on

the shoulders of those who are the sole beneficiaries; and that free

popular education be made popular, that is, for all, and not for an

elite of society. The public school system was called into existence to

do one work, namely, to educate the masses: it was never intended to

furnish a college education for the benefit of the rich men's sons at

the expense of the poor. As it stands to-day, it is an unadulterated