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I think that we have got to think not once or twice, but many times, before we take any steps forward. But I think it is true, is it not, that constantly we have to make a choice between the less important and the more important, and the reason I am here for this bill is that I think it is of such great importance that the lesser, more academic reasons must be laid aside.
Now, my first reason that I am for this bill is on account of the great extent of our country. We have over 100,000,000 people from every race under the sun, and we cover 3,000,000 square miles of territory.
The other thing is that we have never realized until lately, and most of us do not realize it yet, our educational situation. I shall never forget how shocked I was at the discovery that while Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Finland have practically no illiteracy whatever, less than 1 per cent, and Noway, Sweden, Scotland, England, and Ireland have only a little more, the United States has 6 per cent of illiteracy.
Secretary Lane estimated the annual loss to the United States from illiteracy at $826,000,000 a year. This was after careful calculation, when he was in the Department of the Interior.
The Director of the Bureau of Mines states that the removal of illiteracy among miners, who are mostly foreigners, would save annually 1,000 lives and 150,000 injuries. One-half of all the industrial accidents are due to inability to understand danger warnings. True economy certainly would suggest that a step forward in the banishment of illiteracy is of the greatest importance.
You will be told also about our school system; I had always supposed, and boasted when I have been in other countries, that every child in the United States had a fair chance for an education in this country. That is the boast of our public schools. But now what do we find? We find that in nearly every State in the Union there are thousands of children of school age who have practically no educational opportunity, and from the Federal census we learn that in 1920 1,400,000 children of school age did not attend a school of any type from September until January.
My subject for you is Americanization. In 1920- there were 16,784,299 people in the United States, one or both of whose parents were foreign born. There are millions who can not read or write in any language, or speak the English tongue: You know, and I know, by actual Observation, that in every American city there are other foreign cities, great segregated districts, where no word of English is spoken, and where every nationality leads the life and carries on the traditions of the home country, as far from our American life as if they had never taken a ship across the Atlantic. According to the plan of the bill, Americanization is not going to be always a problem in this country. It plans, if I read its provisions correctly, to wipe this out in about 10 years.
Now, you are asking all the time, why not let the States do it? I am going to answer that so far as Americanization is concerned, just cross that question right off the list, because already the Federal Government is doing it. Think of the immigrant emerging from the steerage and landing on our shores. It is the Federal Government which gives him his certificate of arrival and opens the gate of the receiving station through which he emerges to America. When he wishes to become a citizen, his first papers are given him by the Federal authorities under the Department of Labor. Somewhere between the time when he has his first papers and the time when he has his second papers, he must do two things; he must learn English and he must learn something about our Constitution and about our Government and our history. Here is where the Federal Government has already called for the assistance of the State, and we have now the system which is under the Department of Labor, in which the States and the Federal Government are working together, the Federal Government directing the citizenship work, and the public school system carrying on the work.
You say, "If this is all established, why then the Sterling-Reed bill?” The reason is that we have got the plan, but we have not got the means or the material for carrying it out. It is just as if I said, “Why, here, I have a plan for a house; I have been to an architect and I have the plans,' and then I feel perfectly contented and felt satisfied, although I had not bought any brick or timber, and had not any workmen, and had not any money with which to build. Now, I have not got a house, have I ?
I want to take this question a little concretely to my own State of Massachusetts. Here we have been having a drive for a number of years, and I am proud and happy to say that I have been a part of it and have done the best I could to help it along. In that State we have a total population of 3,852,000. Roughly speaking, two-thirds of our population is either foreign-born of of foreign-born parentage. Our American people, our natives, are only one-third of the total. We have out of these millions, 30,000 foreign born now learning English in our public schools. Up to 1918 we had only 3,000, but we have been making a tremendous drive, and we have worked up to that. But on the citizenship end, out of 450,000 aliens that we have in the State of Massachusetts, we have only 1,061 in the public schools learning citizenship and the necessary things to become naturalized.
Mr. HOLADAY. I did not get that last statement. How many did you say you have there?
Mrs. BAGLEY. We have 450,000 aliens in Massachusetts, and we have about 30,000 in the schools learning English; but we have only a little over 1,000 who are studying citizenship under the system established by the Government, which is true of public schools. The day before I left I talked with Doctor Mahoney, who is the head of our Americanization service in Massachusetts and who has just published, under the Department of the Interior, a bulletin on Americanization, and he tells me that there are only six or seven States that are doing anything at all, practcially along this line, and only here and there in the United States one with as good work as we are doing in Massachusetts.
Mr. Doughton. I understood the speaker to say that they have now 30,000 foreign-born children
Mrs. BAGLEY. Not children.
Mr. Fenn. These are mostly adults that you are speaking of, are they not?
Mrs. BagLEY. Americanization does not concern children. Americanization concerns those who are over 14 years old.
Mr. DougHTON. They are not attending the same schools, then, that your home-born people attend; they are attending separate schools?
Mrs. BAGLEY. Oh, no; our foreign born—that is the beauty of it; they all go to the same schools.
Mr. FENN. The adults attend the same schools also ?
Mrs. BAGLEY. The adults attend schools of a different type. Sometimes they go to the evening schools; but Doctor Mahoney in his bulletin shows that our best schools are not evening schools; they are Saturday schools, and they are schools gathered in different ways, but they are not the old-fashioned evening schools.
Mr. Doughton. Are these evening schools supported by the State, or are they private schools ?
Doctor STRAYER. The evening schools are supported by the State. The schools I am talking about are all supported by the State.
Mr. FENN. Are not some of your private schools supported by the municipalities?
Doctor STRAYER. Yes; some of them are. The reason that we have shot forward so in our work in Massachusetts is because we have a new law which offers to reimburse, for any municipality, half of what is spent for Americanization, and it is so that the State is paying half and the place itself is spending half:
Mr. HOLADAY. May I ask what this Americanization work consists of, outside of and different from the ordinary school work?
Mrs. Bagley. In the first place, we have to teach the foreign born English, and that is a very difficult thing to do. You may think it is an easy thing to do, and we used to think that it was, and we used to think that any old antiquated teacher that was not good enough to teach anybody else, was good enough to teach the foreign born the English language. We now know that was a complete failure, and we are now developing the same type of teaching English that you yourselves would have now if you were going to learn French. It is the conversational method. That is a part of it.
Then the other part is to know certain things about the Constitution and about our history, and what we are trying to do is to decide upon what we shall expect of a foreign-born man; how much we shall expect him to know about our country, and our form of Government.
Mr. HOLADAY. In this serious situation that you have, have you ever considered the question of restricting immigration or stopping it entirely for a period of time?
Mrs. BAGLEY. That is another question, and of course there is no one of us who has not considered it. I suppose I can not speak for Massachusetts at all, I can only speak for myself, but I hope there may be restriction of immigration.
Mr. FENN. There is a restriction of immigration now. What effect has the restrictive immigration bill passed at the last Congress had in restricting the number of these foreign-born people who desire education in Massachusetts ? Has that been taken into consideration at all?
Mrs. BAGLEY. Yes.
Mr. FENN. I see these figures are given here; I see there is an appropriation of $7,500,000 for Americanization.
Mrs. BAGLEY. Yes.
Mrs. BAGLEY. You must remember that our population stays foreign born generation after generation.
Mr. FENN. Yes; but it was being added to year after year before the restrictive immigration bill was passed. I live in a state that has as large a foreign-born population as yours has, perhaps more in proportion to the size of the population of the State. What I wanted to ask you is, what is this figure of $7,500,000 for Americanization based on?
Mrs. BAGLEY. I understand your question now. That is based on the number of foreign born in the State, and they allow, I think, 55.5 cents for foreign-born person for education--for Americanization.
Mr. FENN. When these foreign born are educated, the necessity for further appropriation ceases, does it not?
Mrs. BAGLEY. Yes; and the Americanization problem in our State would, if we could have the allotment, work out in about 10 years, and we would not have any, and we would not have any appropriation for it—would not need it.
Mr. FENN. Yes.
Mr. HOLADAY. This is based on the supposition that no more would come in?
Mrs. BAGLEY. Well, no; not wholly. That is based on the supposition that by that time we would have done the greater part, the bulk, of our big work, and would have things so organized that the Staté could take care of what few came in from then on. Now, I want to give you one or two more things.
Mr. REED. I want to ask you one question. I assume that your observations have been the same as my own. I have been intensely interested in Americanization in large industrial towns for the last seven or eight years and perhaps longer. Is it not a fact from your observation that the adult foreigner is absolutely hungry for and aspires to get an education if you furnish the facilities?
Mrs. BAGLEY. There is absolutely no question about it?
Mr. REED. That he desires to learn our language and our ideals and to be an American?
Mrs. BAGLEY. Yes; and everything helps him. If he knows the language he is worth more, he can earn more; and not only that, but he is shut out from certain lines of occupation if he is not an American citizen. And I want to go one step further than that, and say that even these little foreign-born mothers that you think do not want to know English, they do want to know English. I know that, because I went out and recruited right out of the tenement houses women who did not speak English and did not write, and were really what you might call illiterate, I got them together, and I have never known such appreciation. They came and brought their babies. They held their babies in one arm and learned to write with the other; they stuck right by all through the year. There is no question whatever that the foreign-born people want to know English.
Mr. Bacon. It requires more, though, than a knowledge of the English language, to make a good citizen, does it not?
Mrs. BAGLEY. It requires more than that, and of course it is going to be a very difficult thing to prepare those women for citizenship. That is a big work, and it has not yet been fully developed. It is one of the great opportunities, I think, of the organizations of this
country, to take hold of that and see that the foreign-born women are prepared for citizenship.
I want to give you just one or two more things. We have one city. Fall River, which has the largest percentage of foreign born in proportion to its population of any city in the United States, 86 per cent either foreign born or of foreign-born parentage.
New Bedford, another Massachusetts city, has the largest percentage of illiterates in proportion to its population of any city of its size in the country.
We are pretty hot about Americanization in Massachusetts. The other day the Loyal Legion passed a resolution that all aliens and immigrants between the ages of 10 and 60 admitted as residents shall acquire a knowledge of speaking, reading, and writing the English language within two years after landing or be deported. Well, now, in Massachusetts, where we have tried hard, we might as well say to these men, “Jump up to the top of an eight-story building," as to tell them to become citizens when we have not given them the means to do so.
Mr. FENN. That resolution was passed by the Loyal Legion?
Mrs. BAGLEY. Oh, no. We realize the danger of great unassimilated masses. Hon. James M. Beck, Solicitor General of the Department of Justice, is authority for this, that there are now published in this country 57 radical papers which are printed in 26 languages; and what is more significant, 352 are printed in foreign countries and sent here. It is believed their joint circulation in this country is not less than 1,000,000 issues a day. This is a big question and a national question. I am going to let those who follow me take up the need of regarding it as such from their own points of view, but I do believe that nobody will deny that so far as Americanization goes it is absolutely a national question, and I believe that if this bill passes we shall establish the public schools and the community center idea which goes with it in such a way as will really enable our foreign born to get acquainted with us; and I believe when they do they will like us; and I believe when we get acquainted with them we will like them; and I hope you will help this bill along and that we shall be able to get this great constructive measure into operation.
Mr. REED. Mr. Chairman, I have some very interesting charts and documents here which Miss Williams has asked to have go into the record. Personally I am interested. They represent a lot of carefully prepared information, and I would like to move, Mr. Chairman, that they go into the record. These charts can be reduced and put in, and statements that Miss Williams will read?
The CHAIRMAN. Oh, yes; there is no objection.
Miss WILLIAMS. I should like to call the attention of this committee to this book, The Nation and The Schools, written under the joint authorship of Dr. J. A. H. Keith, president of the State Normal School, Indiana, Pa., and Doctor Bagley, of Columbia University. A copy of this book has been sent to each member of the committee, and it ought to be on your desks to-day with a letter calling attention to it. It contains à discussion of the whole policy of a