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It has been my privilege to have a part in various State meetings throughout the country, nearly every one of which, within this period, has indorsed this bill, has urged the importance, stressed the importance of the appropriations that are embodied in this bill for promoting the general welfare of this Republic through educational agencies as contemplated. This is the first conviction.
In the second place, I think I have had an opportunity to observe the need of thinking in nation-wide terms, rather than merely in local terms or even state-wide terms of education. It has been again and again brought to your attention that the school forces of the country strongly feel the need of local autonomy, of local direction, of local initiative, of local arrangement of the schools, and yet one can not go about the country without realizing that, while that is true and while every one of us subscribes to that conviction, there are conditions in the country that we did not have a generation ago, that we did not have when the country was young, in its beginnings, that make it advisable for the public good to think and plan somewhat in terms of the Nation rather than in terms of a State or a local district. State boundaries, for most purposes, have all but disappeared. Our people are exceedingly fluid; the rapid means of transportation and of communication, the rapid urban growth of this country, the fact that business in any one community is intimately related to conditions far removed from it and very much dependent upon conditions far removed from it-all of this suggests the importance of thinking of education, at least of certain of its aspects, from a nationwide standpoint.
In the early history of this country it was wholly a local affair and there was no aspect of education that made it necessary for one to think of education except in local terms; but now the problems that are aggravated by a lack of education, by a lack of intelligence, by a lack of literacy, by a lack of morality, by a lack of civic ideals in any one community may overnight almost become a serious problem for a part of the country far removed from it.
It just happens I live in Joliet and, until very recently, nobody in Joliet assumed he had anything to do personally or locally with conditions down in the South or Southwest; that the Mexican situation was in any way related to the local public welfare; that the Negro problem of the South was in any sense a problem which Joliet had to consider. But, as the Negro began to migrate in larger and larger numbers North, we began to find a situation in the local schools that made us concerned with what the South was wrestling with; as some thousands of Mexican laborers were brought up to the mills in our own community, we found we had some social situations made more complex, some educational situations made more complex, some weaknesses in our own local group that were brought there by the fact that our people are so fluid, that were made because there were weaknesses that had been far removed from us, but now are brought right into our homes, right into our cities, right to our doors. And so I think this experience of the last 15 months has helped me to feel the need of some central power, like our Federal Government, making a survey of conditions throughout the country and stimulating educational effort wherever it sees, in the light of its nation-wide interest, nation-wide survey, stimulation is actually needed; the need of giving that stimulus where it will do the most good for the country as a whole. That is one conviction.
In the next place, I think this experience of going about all the States, virtually, of the Union, has helped me to feel that which not all of us feel and certainly as I did not always feel, the great inequality of educational opportunity, the great inequality of ability on the part of various parts of the country to give the children of those several parts what the educational good of the general welfare calls for. You men, even though you may not be engaged primarily in educational Work, can not fail to know that there are great differences of ability on the part of various political groups within your own respective States to support the schools as they deserve to be supported for the public good. I do not think very many of our people in general understand how widespread these differences are. I have in mind two districts in the State of Illinois, adjacent to each other, two school districts, that are so unequal in their number of children and in the amount of taxable wealth per child in the two districts, respectively, that one of them is compelled to levy a tax rate upon its property forty times as high as the other one, in order to maintain schools that are not so good.
A recent survey of the schools of Indiana made it clear that there are numerous districts in the State that have more than ten times as much taxable wealth per child as other districts of the same State. Out in Wyoming a little while ago I heard the State superintendent say that there was one district in his State that had behind each child of school age $275 of taxable property only. There is another district in the State that has $325,000 worth of taxable property, assessed valuation, a ratio there of virtually 1,200 to 1. If one of those districts can maintain schools with reasonable ease, the other one in attempting to do a similar thing for its children would actually break its back in the attempt to give the children what they deserve. Now the time once was when we could say,
am not my brother's keeper; I am sorry for you in a given State or a given community, if you can not maintain the sort of schools the children ought to have, it is not any of my business. It is your misfortune. You are out of luck.” But to-day we can not say that. We do not need to be extreme idealists or anything of the sort to see we can not say that. We are bound up for good or ill in this country, for weal or woe, in spite of ourselves, all of the several parties of the country, and weakness in one place is a weakness for all of us, and that is what makes it clearer than it ever was before, as I have observed the conditions under which communities work in an effort to give the children the education they ought to have. It helped me to understand the fact that we need the help of a department of education. We need the prestige given to education that would come through having a man with a statesmanlike grasp of education, and its relationship to the general welfare, the citizenship of our country, the ideals of our country, sitting alongside the representatives of labor, commerce, agriculture, and these other great national interests as an adviser to the President. We need that and, in the second place, as I feel more strongly than ever the help that might come from Federal grants, safeguarded as this bill safeguards them against decay, the control that ought to be exercised by States and local communities.
We need the help through Federal grants in promoting and stimulating, as has been pointed out, and as is well known to be a historic fact, as has been true of the stimulus that comes from Federal grants, and has come over 100 years, over 50 years, and you stimulate the States to a maximum of effort along these several educational lines that are so closely related to our national welfare, as indicated in this bill; that is to say, whatever else education may do, whatever else may have been the aim of education, certainly we agree that illiteracy stands in the way of progress. It stands in the way of good citizenship, and if you think you help us to remove illiteracy from our midst, it has done us a national service. If we can lessen the amount; if we can lessen the amount of actual Americanism and promote the principles, ideals, and traditions of America at her best, if this bill helps to do that, it renders a national service. If this removes what has been found to be a national weakness on the side of limitations, from the standpoint of health, if can we do that service still, it is worthy of our greatest consideration; if we can do something through the agency, the agency provided in this bill for stimulating to a maximum, to the end that in several normal schools and teacher-training institutions throughout the State-it will make an appeal to the best that this country has in its high-school graduates, its rank and file of young men and women going out from high school—if we can draw upon the base, attract to these faculties through the stimulus of Federal aid somehow, the best trained men and women as instructors, that will be on a par in every way with those who teach in our colleges of agriculture and colleges of medicine, law, engineering, and elsewhere; if we make it possible to rapidly approach the standards of a well-trained teacher, with two years at least of training after high-school graduation for every child in America, then this bill ought to commend itself to the judgment of this body and to everybody, men and women in the Republic, as it seems to me.
I can not help feeling that what the bill does, that the provisions, both with respect-or, first of all, with respect to a national department of education, a secretary in the President's Cabinet, and with respect to a Federal appropriation that will stimulate it along the lines that are specified in the bill, will render a large service, and that eventually it is certain to do it, and it is because I believe in that, because I believe it will operate that way, and because I believe so strongly in the next place that there is nothing in the bill, and nothing in our history with respect to Federal support of education, and nothing in the history of other countries with respect to a ministry of education, that leads me to believe that there is danger of local autonomy being wrecked by Federal control, usurping the place that ought to be given or left to the local communities, it is because of that that I strongly believe in this bill and rejoice in the fact that it is having the support not only of the nucleus of this great army of 700,000 teachers in America, but having the active support of 15, 18, or 20 other national organizations that are standing with the teachers.
Mr. TUCKER. I would like to ask you a question to clear up the trouble in connection with this bill. I have been reading for six months a little book, The Nation, and I found it of great interest, and in it I find a great deal said about federalizing and nationalizing and standardizing the schools. What do you mean by “the federalizing of the schools" under this bill?
Doctor ENGLEMAN. I suppose to federalize would be to nationalize.
Mr. TUCKER. We all agree that the States alone have control of the education.
Doctor ENGLEMAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. ENGLEMAN. I suppose if schools are federalized, if I know what the term means, it will be when education becomes a Federal function rather than a state-wide function.
Mr. TUCKER. Exactly. Doctor ENGLEMAN. But I do not think there is anything in this bill that points in that direction.
Mr. TUCKER. I beg your pardon. As I understand, this book was written for the purpose of advancing this bill.
Doctor ENGLEMAN. I can not discuss that intelligently without having seen the book, of course, but I can say something about standardizing.
Mr. TUCKER. It is a very interesting book.
Doctor ENGLEMAN. I think there is a great difference between standardizing and making it absolutely uniform to the extent that the Federal Government puts its stamp of approval upon everything that is done, and everything is disregarded and ruled out of court that the Federal court does not have something to do with.
Mr. BLACK. How do you expect in this bill to cure the inequalities. that exist in the two adjoining districts in Illinois ?
Doctor ENGLEMAN. I use that instance only as an illustration of the fact that there are glaring inequalities in the first place within the State.
Mr. BLACK. There are glaring inequalities between the States, and does not this bill, by requiring a 50–50 arrangement with the State perpetuate that inequality?
Doctor ENGLEMAN. The removal of that inequality-I did not want to leave you thinking that I was wanting to appeal to the Federal Government. We remove that einequality. Here is my point: May I take one or two methods more to make this clear? In the first place, take any given local district, and we have got inequalities within a given city, great inequalities of wealth. Some places could support their own schools, and other places could not. We overcome the inequalities there by treating the whole group as a unit, and tax the whole district, the whole city, the rich and poor alike, and then putting the money where is it needed. The inequalities that exist within the State are overcome.
Mr. BLACK. Only by State-wide levies.
Doctor ENGLEMAN. Only by State-wide levies, rather than by wholly local support of the school. We tax the property of all of the State, and then we send it out and support the schools, wherever the children are found.
Mr. BLACK. Of course, you are not doing that.
Doctor ENGLEMAN. That is what we are doing more and more. The whole tendency throughout the country is to equalize the burden, and equalizing the opportunity within the State. If there is anything I have heard in favor of this-it is a discussion on the part of those acquainted with the local situation in different states to put more and more of the burden there, and therefore equalize more and more of the opportunity of the children-to put the burden upon the State.
Mr. BLACK. This is in line with that development.
Doctor ENGLEMAN. This is in line. If there are inequalities among the States, and there are, and they are comparable with inequalities in the State, and inequalities in the given State, in a State that can be partly overcome by a provision which we have in the bill, that will make it possible to give Federal support to those States that can not reach desirable standards and maintain the sort of decent schools that they recognize, as everybody recognizes as desirable as a standard
Mr. BLACK. Who will pass on that?
Doctor ENGLEMAN. I suppose the Federal secretary of education, aided by the advice and judgment that comes to him through a council, in which every State is represented, through its leading State officer, and in which every phase of education in every State is also represented, and in whichỉthe laity is represented by its most intelligent citizens on this national council, I suppose the national secretary, aided by such a council, would have something to do with that.
Mr. BLACK. Suppose there were 48 States pulling and hauling the Federal secretary for funds, and the total demands are greater than the appropriation made by the Federal Government. Who is going to say what State will get the funds and what State will not get the funds?
Doctor ENGLEMAN. All that is a situation that is not very likely to be realized. We might have that same sort of thing in any State, where there is a State fund set apart for equalizing educational opportunities.
Mr. BLACK. You can do it in the State by legislation. That is what we are trying to avoid. You can do it in the State by political control within the State. Here you have one side, a sovereignty offering funds to other sovereignties, with no control of the sovereignty to which it gives funds.
Doctor ENGLEMAN. I can not conceive a situation like that which would not be easily met by the secretary of education aided by such council.
Mr. BLACK. I am afraid you can not get away from the Federal control of education, once you start to give them money as a practical thing
Doctor ENGLEMAN. We have had Federal support.
Mr. BLACK. You would not object very much to Federal control, would you?
Doctor ENGLEMAN. I certainly would object to Federal control, but
Mr. BLACK. You would ?
Doctor ENGLEMAN. I would not object to Federal help, where it is most needed.
Mr. BLACK. You mean financial help?
Doctor ENGLEMAN. Exactly so; that is what this bill contemplates, in part.
Mr. REED. We have two more speakers.