Teacher Feeds Hungry Pupils; Loses Position
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Teacher Feeds Hungry Pupils; Loses Position

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A soft heart has no place in the public school system of the greatest city in the world.

Miss Sylvia Ettinger, a qualified but unemployed school teacher who had been serving in the temporary post of lunchroom supervisor at Public School 36, Brooklyn, today is convinced of it.

A package of red tape, Miss Ettinger who is now more jobless than ever because she didn’t realize it before, is more to the point than a kindly heart.

Miss Ettinger, it was revealed yesterday, couldn’t turn hungry school children away from the lunch room when they came without food tickets. The children, she knew, were needy. They were underweight. They were suffering from malnutrition. To these facts neighborhood doctors had already testified. The names, she knew, had already been sent to the office of George Chatfield, director of school lunchrooms, who would send them tickets.


But the tickets hadn’t arrived for these children yet. Nevertheless, tickets or no tickets, they were hungry. And, together with the children fortunate enough to hold tickets, they came to the lunchroom where Miss Ettinger was in charge. They were hungry. They wanted food.

So Miss Ettinger forgot about the red tape. She fed the children. And she was fired. On August 3 that was, according to a report of the Associated Office and Professional Emergency Employees organization, which charges that she is but one of several relief workers dismissed by the Board of Education officials in a campaign against its members.

Inefficiency and insubordination. These were the reasons given for the dismissal by Mr. Chatfield in a report to Robert Dixon of the Works Division of the Public Welfare Department.

“She gave food to any child who came along and when some children came who held food tickets, there was nothing left,” Mr. Dixon explained.

This charge Miss Ettinger does not deny. She explains as follows:


“My record shows 223 children for whom lunch tickets were provided and who reported for lunch. I also allowed other needy children to eat because I felt that their physical condition warranted free lunches.”

Alexander Taylor, executive secretary of the AOPEE, has laid the entire case before Frederick I. Daniels, State Relief Administrator.

In the meantime, the neighborhood is up in arms against the dismissal. Parents and pupils have formed a protest committee and have asked the Board of Education at its next meeting to explain the abrupt discharge of Miss Ettinger.

P. S. 23 is at 251 Stagg street, near Bushwick avenue, Brooklyn. The dismissed teacher, who is twenty-three and a graduate of Hunter College, lives nearby. She is on the 1932 list of qualified but unemployed teacher.

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