The Ballot and The Schools
By MRS. HELEN L. GRENFELL,
Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction for Colorado.
Women have always had school
suffrage in Colorado. The fact has
acted as a preventive of the nomination of obnoxious persons. Judge
Louis W. Cunningham of Colorado
"In Colorado City, from 1883 to
1893, there were six mayors who were
saloonkeepers. During two or three
years there were three saloonkeepers
in the council; and for one year we
had a mayor, and three councilmen
who lived on the woes of others. Since
1894, when women came to their own
there has never been a saloonkeeper
elected to any office in Colorado City.
Women have always had a vote at
school elections in this state, and, as
a consequence, while saloon men were
on the city council, not one ever served on a school board in our town."
What is true in Colorado City is
true, with hardly an exception,
throughout the state. It is alleged that
the voting woman forgets the welfare
of her children. Statistics are not
thrilling, but they are convincing.
Nothing tells the location of our
hearts more surely than the figures
of the tax list. According to age and
long establishment, the thirteen original colonies should lead the United
States in the educational procession.
Let us consider the per capita expenditure of the total population, for the
education of their young folks in
Massachusetts, $4.96; New Hampshire,
Rhode Island, $3.79;
Connecticut, $ 3 .72; New York, $5.00;
New Jersey, $3.51; Maryland, $2.12; Pennsylvania, $3.52; Virginia, $1.07;
Delaware, $2.46; North Carolina, 66 cents;
Georgia, 97 cents.,
Over against these let us set the
$5.08 spent by Colorado, the highest
amount spent for educational purposes by any state in the Union. These
figures are from the report of the
commissioner of education, William T. Harris, for 1901-02.
But it may be urged that school
suffrage is sufficient, and that full-
suffrage has not assisted the Colorado
woman in extending the scope of her
educational work. No one who is acquainted with the facts will say this.
With the school franchise only, women found it -up-hill work to inaugurate reforms along educational lines..
They formed association and founded
"free kindergartens," kept up by
philanthropic people, fairs, bazaars and the various means used by women everywhere.
In the spring of 1893, the year
when the vote was to be taken on the
suffrage question in November, for
the first time, the annual school election
held in May became a burning
question throughout the state.
Thousands of votes were polled where
there had been tens and fifties.
The women proved past a per-adventure
they would vote. In Denver they, for the first time, elected a woman (Mrs. Ione T. Hanna) to the school board.
The issue was to make the
kindergarten a part of the public school system.
The powers that were bowed to the inevitable. Today the kindergarten is firmly established in many districts throughout the state, and many are being started as rapidly as finances permit.
The next progressive step
was the erection of a
manual training high school in Denver, and manual training departments have
been added to a number of schools throughout the state.
Instead of thinking loss of their
homes, women began to consider
them more carefully and sought to
bring into these close corporations
something of the scientific spirit of
the age. Chairs of domestic economy
were established in the state agricul-
tural college and the state normal
school, and the professor of domestic
economy in the former has been twice
president of the Colorado Suffrage association. The interest in the old-
fashioned womanly arts has increased
instead of diminishing. There is hardly a state where the school population is increasing so rapidly. It has
gained 25 per cent in five years. Colorado's compulsory education laws
are said to be the best in existence
anywhere. There is no difference
made in teachers' salaries on account
After twenty years' experience in
school work, I can say that our school
boards are absolutely non-political,
and party affiliation is never considered in the appointment of teachers.
Whilst our teachers are citizens, taking part in public affairs, voting and
often attending primaries and conventions, I have never heard of a
teacher being dismissed or appointed
because she was a republican or democrat, nor of a member of a school
board being elected because he belonged to this or that party. Generally, both parties are represented on
the same board. Sometimes a board
principally democratic is found in republican communities, and vice versa.
Our teachers are free to vote according to their own consciences. I have
seen or heard more party politics in
school matters in one block in Albany,
Buffalo or Philadelphia than in the
103,92 5 square miles of Colorado soil.
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