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Even in the cities, where the salary increases have been the greatest, teachers' salaries have barely held their own against the increased cost of living.
In the rural communities the salaries of teachers are still pitifully inadequate. Data based upon a recent salary inquiry, sent to all rural communities of the country by the bureau of education, furnish evidence for the following statements:
1. Seventeen thousand teachers were reported as receiving annual salaries less than $500.
2. Approximately 40,000 teachers would have been reported as receiving less than $500 annual salary, if all rural communities had replied and their returns had been similar to those actually received.
3. In 10 States from 25 to 64 per cent of the teachers in rural communities receive salaries of less than $500 annually, and hundreds of teachers received an annual salary of less than $300.
Outlook not encouraging under present conditions.-Under such conditions it is unlikely that there will be a great increase in the number of men and women desiring to enter the teaching profession, or that the standard of their preparation will be appreciably raised. In fact there is some evidence to show that the standard of preparation is lower now than during the war. A recent study of the preparation of high-school teachers, who receive the best salaries of any of our public-school teachers, shows that the proportion of high-school teachers who were graduates of colleges in the school year ending 1921 was lower in every State in the Union except four than it was in the school year ending 1918.43
In the school year 1917-18, before the effects of the war upon our normal-school enrollment had been serious, there were approximately 25,000 graduates from. the normal schools of the United States each year." During the war there was a great decrease in the number of normal-school graduates. Only recently has the number of normal-school attendants returned to that of the pre-war figure. There is a very remote prospect that the number of normal-school graduates will, under present conditions, ever be anywhere near the demand for new teachers that comes every year.
The Federal Commissioner of Education estimated that the number of recruits needed in the rural schools of the country alone for the year 1918–19 was 130,000. It will be seen, therefore, that the number of normal-school graduates was but a small fraction of the number of new teachers needed every year. The Federal Commissioner of Education estimates that there was at annual turnover of more than one in three. If this holds true for 1921-22, it means that for the coming school year over 200,000 new teachers will be needed. Our teachertraining institutions will graduate less than a fourth of this number.
We now have the facts concerning the present and probable future status of the teaching personnel of the country.
We know that a return to “normal conditions” existing before the war means that thousands of our teachers will be lacking in maturity, experience, and training; that the teacher-training institutions of the country will turn out but a fraction of the new teachers needed each year; and that the wage paid thousands of the teachers of the country will be so low that there is little hope that a sufficient number of adequately endowed young people will offer themselves for training.
Eficient schools depend on trained teachers.-Along with these conditions let us realize that the effectiveness of all education is dependent upon the effectiveness of the teacher. The teacher occupies a crusial position in the educational situation. “She stands constantly on the frontier of childhood; she deals with weak, plastic, and variable children.”
It is not sufficient to pass a law that illiteracy is to be removed, or that the principles of our Government are to be taught to the new generation. Unless adequately prepared teachers are also provided no educational objective can be successfully attained. The fact that thousands of our children each year are being taught by teachers who but a year before graduated from the elementary school, and who, because of their immaturity, inexperience, and lack of training, are wholly unprepared for their work, should not be disregarded. Such a problem is a national problem. It is the duty of the country to take steps to remove this condition.
The Towner-Sterling bill takes the first step in the direction of providing wellqualified teachers for the public schools of the country in the following provisions:
4"Have teachers' salaries been increased?” Journal of the National Education Association, April, 1922, * The Journal of the National Education Association, April, 1922, p. 170. 46 “Statistics of normal schools," 1917–18 United States Bureau of Education Bulletin, 1919, No. 81.
"1. That in order to encourage the States in the preparation of teachers for public-school service, $15,000,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is authorized to be appropriated annually to provide and extend facilities for the improvement of teachers in service and for the more adequate preparation of prospective teachers, and to provide an increased number of trained and competent teachers by encouraging through the establishment of scholarships and otherwise a greater number of talented young persons to make adequate preparation for public-school service (H. R. 7, p. 10, lines 3–12).
“2. The said sum shall be apportioned to the States which qualify under the provisions of this act in the proportions which the number of public school teachers employed in teaching positions in the respective States bear to the total number of public school teachers so employed in the United States.” (Ibid., p. 10, lines 12–17.)
At the same time the initiative of the States in the preparation of the teachers is fully protected in the following clause:
“All funds apportioned to a State for the preparation of teachers for publicschool service shall be distributed and administered in accordance-with the laws of said State in like manner as the funds provided by State and local authorities for the same purpose, and the State and local educational authorities of said State shall determine the courses of study, plans, and methods for carrying out the purposes of this section within said State in accordance with the laws thereof.' (Ibid., p. 10, lines 20–25, and p. 11, lines 1 and 2.)
E. EQUALIZING EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY
Our forefathers early in our history laid down the broad general principle that “all men are created equal.” Abraham Lincoln expressed the hope that the time would come when our country would “guarantee to all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life.” How far we have fallen short in attaining this great ideal is familiar to all who are acquainted with the facts concerning the educational situation in the country. Let us note a few of the outstanding conditions illustrative of the point that the equality of opportunity theoretically guaranteed as a birthright to all Americans is, as yet, far from existing in reality.
First, let us consider the question from the point of view of the equality of opportunity that is furnished our native-born citizens to acquire sufficient education be be classed as "literate."
The accompanying table shows the percentage of illiteracy, divided as to rural or urban residence, in nine States selected to represent each geographic section of the country.
Percentage of illiterates in rural and urban communities—1920 census
This table shows that illiteracy among our native-born population is from two to eight times as great in the rural as in the urban communities. In the State of Louisiana, for example, among the white population, illiteracy is eight times as frequent in rural as in urban communities. Considering negroes, in the same State, there is twice as large a percentage of illiterates in the rural communities as in the urban. It is plain, therefore, that the illiteracy of the more than 3,000,000 native-born residents of the United States is primarily a rural problem, or more exactly, a rural school problem. Over 60 per cent of our illiterates are native born, and over 80 per cent of our illiterate native population are found in rural communities. The inequalities in our educational system represented by our ineffective rural schools may, therefore, be held principally responsible for the existence of our present illiteracy problem.
Many children deprived of educational opportunities.--The children of many States do not have an equal opportunity to acquire that most elemental educational attainment, the ability to read and write. Whether a child is to reach maturity possessing this fundamental educational attainment is in many States' largely a matter of chance. If he happens to be reared in a rural community, his chance of being an illiterate is, in some States, eight times as great as if he lived in a city during childhood.
The length of the school term maintained in the different local communities of any State is another good indication as to how near that State comes to providing equal educational opportunities for its children. It is obvious that any educational opportunity is dependent upon keeping the schools in session.
The table below shows the inequalities in the length of school terms maintained in different counties of Colorado as revealed by a recent study:
Length of school term-Colorado counties 47
School terms in Virginia--noncity schools 48
Days 167 151 141 133 98
5 months or less...
Number of schools maintain ing term
65 226 266 148
748 Conditions recently found in Kentucky are well summed up in the following quotation taken from a survey of Kentucky schools completed in 1921:
“The actual rural school term is approximately 113 days. This inadequate school term places rural children at a great disadvantage as compared with their less numerous contemporaries in city and graded districts. For example, in the graded and city school districts children have, as a rule, during the eight years of the elementary course a total of 72 months of schooling, whereas rural children have ordinarily only 48 months. Working under this handicap, county children must either do one-third more work in a given period than graded and city school children or take 12 instead of 8 years to complete the elementary-school program. Few rural children are able to remain in school so long, and few are able to do more in a given period than their graded school and city cousins. The result is that rural-school children are actually receiving on the average even less than two-thirds as much elementary education as graded and city school children." 49
Striking inequalities within States.-Variations in the quality of teachers provided in different communities of the same State are similarly striking. In Massachusetts, to select a State in which the support of the schools is provided
47 "Common-school finance in Colorado, and certain inferences of national import"; F. H. Swift, Journal of Educational Research, November, 1920, p. 746.
* “ Virginia public schools," report of Virginia education survey staff, p. 293.
principally by the local community, in the present school year the following inequalities exist in the compensation of teachers:
Massachusetts' average annual teachers' salaries 50 Over 100,000 population.
$1, 589 Villages and towns.
1 126 One-teacher rural schools
391 It must be considered that the child taught by a teacher who can be obtained for an annual salary of $391 is not receiving an opportunity equal to that received by the child taught by a teacher paid an annual salary of $1,589. Similar inequalities, greater or less, existed in every State in the Union in 1921–22.51
Equality of opportunity denied.—The conditions revealed by these tables indicate that equality of educational opportunity is a myth in many States. But in all these States at least some schooling is offered. The quotation given below for Arkansas shows that in that State no schooling whatsoever is being offered the children in many communities.
“In 1920, 120 Arkansas school districts levied no school tax at all. In 1921 something over 70 pursued the same policy. The average school year per county varied all the way from 8 to 3 months. Needless to say that multitudes of schools in the counties whose average was 3 months maintained schools for 1 month and many schools were not opened at all. In the best communities in Arkansas, schools frequently would close in December except for the fact that they were maintained by the proceeds of private subscriptions and tuition fees.
There are in Arkansas, 11 cities of 10,000 and over. In reply to an inquiry sent out in November, 1921, 4 of these 11 cities reported that their schools were in debt for maintenance the equivalent of one year's income or more. Six of the eleven replied that they charged tuition or raised money by other unusual means.52
These data are sufficient to show that children of the United States are not being given approximately equal educational opportunities. If there is no equality in such fundamental provisions as have been dealt with above, there can be no equality in less essential educational provisions.
There is a fundamental cause back of practically, every illustration of the lack of equality of educational opportunity found within a State. This is the lack of a sound basis of finance for our State public schools. In 1920, 78 per cent of the income for our public schools came from purely local sources.53 Furthermore, the percentage of school expenditures coming from local sources has been steadily increasing. 54
Schools supported principally by local communities.—Consequently in most States our schools are supported principally by the local community. Whether a school will be well supported is fundamentally dependent upon the ability of the local community to support it. That different communities vary enormously in ability to support their schools has been shown by numerous studies.
Below is given the result of a recent study made in Indiana:55
‘There is the sum of $22,086 of taxable property in one county for each person enumerated for school purposes as against $1,873 in another county, or $11.70 of taxables in the former county per each child enumerated for school purposes as against $1 in the latter county.
"There is such an unequal distribution of wealth in Indiana that some corporations are able to maintain their schools with a local tuition tax of 5 cents on each $100 of taxables, while other townships can not maintain their schools the minimum term upon a local tuition tax of 75 cents, the legal maximum. This condition requires one citizen of Indiana to bear a tax burden 15 times greater than that borne by another Indiana citizen for the education of his children.
It is little wonder under such a situation that the following conditions exist in this same State:56
“The school term in a few Indiana counties is 9 months; in some others it is 8 months; in most others 7 months; in many others 6 months; while in some townships it has been less than 120 days.
50 Journal of National Education Association, May, 1922, p. 216. 51 Ibid., p. 216.
52 Prof. Fletcher Harper Swift, University of Minnesota, quoted from communication to National Edu. cation Association, dated April 20, 1922.
53 Based on figures furnished by United States Bureau of Education (manuscript; not yet printed). 54 See table on page 55.
85 What is Needed to Advance Indiana's School System from 17th to 1st Place; pamphlet issued by Indiana Educational Campaign Committee.
There are thousands of Indiana boys and girls not within reasonable reach of a standard high school. Because of the financial condition of their parents, poor condition of roads and streams, and the scarcity of high schools in their counties, many of them may never hope to obtain a high-school education, while in other counties there is a high school within easy reach of every pupil so that he can attend school and remain at home with his parents.
"Is it any wonder that 90 per cent of the eighth-grade graduates in some counties enter the high school as against 18 per cent of the eighth-grade graduates in other counties?'
Another recent study made in Iowa shows that one city in order to support its schools must levy a tax of $15.08 on each $1,000, whereas another city in this State supports its schools on a tax of $1.30 on each $1,000 of taxable property. We also find that some cities in Iowa are spending as high as $125.80 a year for each pupil, whereas others spend as little as $37.95.
Similar conditions revealed by a study in Pennsylvania are given below:
Amount of money behind each child for school purpose, six Pennsylvania counties 57 Fulton.
$1, 260 Sullivan
2, 010 Clearfield.
2, 110 Lancaster..
5, 190 Northampton.
5, 320 Delaware..
7, 670 Some counties in Pennsylvania have over six times as much wealth to tax for school purposes as other counties according to this table. Similar inequalities between towns and districts within the same county may be found in Pennsylvania, with the resulting inequalities in the educational opportunity offered. 58
So long as such conditions exist there will never be equality of educational opportunities offered the children of the Nation. That there is no equality in educational opportunity is a matter of national concern, The Nation is the sufferer in a very real sense. Children reaching maturity illiterate and otherwise inadequately educated can not but be a handicap to the progress of the Nation. The situation is even more deserving of attention since under present conditions there is little hope of improvement. The part of the financial burden of supporting the schools that is being placed upon the purely local communities, as opposed to the county and State, is increasing. The table below shows this clearly.
Per cent of school revenue from
local taxes 59 1890
83 The provision of equal educational opportunities is fundamentally dependent on placing a smaller and smaller financial responsibility upon the local community within the State. Any means that will encourage the States to equalize educational opportunities within their borders should be welcomed.
Towner-Sterling bill equalizes educational opportunity.--The Towner-Sterling bill aims to bring this about in the following provisions:
"That in order to encourage the States to equalize educational opportunities $50,000,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is authorized to be appropriated annually to be used in public elementary and secondary schools for the partial payment of teachers' salaries, for providing better instruction and extended school terms, especially in rural schools and schools in sparsely settled localities
and otherwise providing, equally good educational oppotunities for the children of the several States." (H. Ř. 7, 67th Cong., sec. 9.)
Since unequal educational opportunities are known to exist in every State in the Union the following provision is contained in the bill:
“The said sum shall be apportioned to the States which qualify under the provisions of this act one-half in the proportions which the number of children
67 The Nation and the Schools, Keith and Bagley, p. 255. 68 Ibid., p. 259. 59 United States Bureau of Education: Bulletin, 1922, No. 6, p. 10, and Bulletin, 1922, No. 29, p. 25.