‘School Children Rebel Against Goose Step’ by Rose Baron from Labor Defender. Vol. 3 No. 12. December, 1928.

Red Salute to Harry Eisman, Bernard Kaplan and the rest of the Young Pioneers at Junior High School No. 61 in the Bronx. Rose Baron, then an editor of Labor Defender and District Secretary of the I.L.D. for New York, reports.

‘School Children Rebel Against Goose Step’ by Rose Baron from Labor Defender. Vol. 3 No. 12. December, 1928.

“I intend calling in the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars to help me exterminate the Young Pioneers from this school”.

Daily Worker. November 3, 1928.

This statement was made by a so-called “intellectual leader,” a high school principal, Edward R. Maguire, head of Junior High School No. 61, New York City. Thus did he openly express his determination to use fascist methods in persecuting all members of the Young Pioneers, Communist children’s organization, at his school.

What has been the crime of the Young Pioneers? The members of this organization have distributed leaflets, and their school paper, “The Young Spark”, seeking to open the eyes of the working class children at this school to the real conditions surrounding them and calling on them to organize against the capitalist propaganda that is instilled into them at school. And this is indeed a crime in the eyes of the master class and its faithful servants.

It is not for nothing that the capitalist class of this country maintains schools where millions of children receive “free” education. It is not for nothing that the capitalist class compels these children to acquire this “free” loyalty to the capitalist class, education in acceptance of its ideals; education in complete submission to every form of exploitation and brutality used by the capitalist “free” education.

It is not surprising therefore that the Young Pioneers should be persecuted in the schools. At Junior High School 61, two of its leading members, Harry Eisman and Bernard Kaplan, have been singled out to serve as object lessons for any other working class children who dare to defend the interests of their class.

Daily Worker. May 5, 1925.

Last May 1st, Eisman was arrested for distributing leaflets urging the children to stay away from school on the holiday of the International proletariat. At that time Principal Maguire sought to have Eisman deported by the immigration authorities. The New York Section of the International Labor Defense furnished bail for the militant young fighter and finally secured the dismissal of the case.

The Young Pioneers at the school continued to be insulted and persecuted, but this persecution did not take an acute form until October 22nd. On that day Maguire attacked the Pioneers in a speech in the school auditorium. Eisman raised his hand to reply but was ignored. He spoke despite this effort to gag him and as a result, he was sent home and told to bring his older brother to go with him to the district superintendent.

The following day “The Young Spark:” the school paper of the Pioneers was distributed at the school. For this “crime” Eisman, Bernard Kaplan, Jeannette Rubin, Nathan Singer and Daniel Metliz were taken to Maguire’s office. After many threats the children were sent back to their classrooms. Undaunted, they distributed “The Young Spark” again next day. They were sent home and told to bring their parents. All the children were ultimately taken back with the exception of Eisman and Kaplan who were indefinitely suspended. Maguire tried to force Kaplan to make a statement repudiating the Young Pioneers and promising to stop distributing “The Young Spark,” but despite the principal’s threats, the young militant refused to turn traitor.

On October 29th Jacques Buitenkant, attorney for the New York Section of the I.L.D., went to see Maguire in reference to the two Pioneers. It was then that, after abusing Buitenkant, the Workers (Communist) Party and the Young Pioneers, Maguire made his threat to call in the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also admitted that he was playing the role of an open provocateur as he had reported Eisman to the police department and the immigration authorities.

On November 2nd, a protest meeting was held by pupils of Junior High School No. 61, at which both Eisman and Kaplan spoke. Police attempted to arrest members of the Workers (Communist) Party who opened the hall, but the protest of the pupils stopped them. Several teachers were sent by Maguire to spy on the meeting.

Rose Baron.

On November 7th Harry Eisman was called to a hearing before District Superintendent Joseph H. Wade. Kaplan was not admitted to this hearing, only Eisman, his older brother, Buitenkant and Maguire being present. The hearing revealed a new piece of strategy on the part of Maguire. He had evidently been “tipped off” that persecution of children because of membership in an organization might offend liberal devotees of “free speech”, and so he charged that Eisman and Kaplan had been impudent to their teachers and disrupted classes.

Maguire completely monopolized this “hearing” and no one was permitted to speak in defense of the Pioneers. Maguire followed this exhibition with the suspension of two more Young Pioneers, Nathan Singer and Louis Goldberg, the next day.

The capitalist press has, of course, snatched upon these cases as choice morsels. Headlines about a “red menace” in the schools have been appearing and strenuous efforts have been made to whitewash the school authorities.

The fate of the suspended Pioneers at this writing is still in the hands of Dr. O’Shea of the Board of Education. The International Labor Defense is waging a vigorous fight to force the re-instatement of all those suspended and is demanding the cessation of all persecutions of members of the Young Pioneers.

Labor Defender was published monthly from 1926 until 1937 by the International Labor Defense (ILD), a Workers Party of America, and later Communist Party-led, non-partisan defense organization founded by James Cannon and William Haywood while in Moscow, 1925 to support prisoners of the class war, victims of racism and imperialism, and the struggle against fascism. It included, poetry, letters from prisoners, and was heavily illustrated with photos, images, and cartoons. Labor Defender was the central organ of the Scottsboro and Sacco and Vanzetti defense campaigns. Editors included T. J. O’ Flaherty, Max Shactman, Karl Reeve, J. Louis Engdahl, William L. Patterson, Sasha Small, and Sender Garlin.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/labordefender/1928/v03n12-dec-1928-LD.pdf

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