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Miss WILLIAMS. The next witness is a business man from Boston, Mr. A. Lincoln Filene, treasurer and general manager, Wm. Filene's Sons' Co., Boston, Mass.
STATEMENT OF MR. A. LINCOLN FILENE, TREASURER AND GEN
ERAL MANAGER, WM. FILENE'S SONS' CO., BOSTON, MASS.
Mr. FILENE. I feel, gentlemen and Mr. Chairman, a little bit lonesome. I am a business man, and I have this in the background of my mind at the present moment, that my lonesomeness is enhanced a bit from the fact that I come from a State which has neither a Senator nor a Congressman who is behind this bill. That may be a double handicap. I do not know if it is or not, but Massachusetts—and I am only saying this without personal allusions at all, because I am proud of my State, as any of you gentlemen are-I ought not to be expected to represent Massachusetts very much.
I would like to call attention to a few figures that might put a question in our minds as to whether Massachusetts is so much entitled to stand out as its lone star, as she was a few years ago, in 1920, the Sage Foundation, under Dr. Leonard Aires, who was among the most respected educational men in this country, and when he got through he found in 1919 that Massachusetts stood first, but when he got to 1918 Massachusetts stood ninth in rating. A little later, in 1920, in the United States Census report, the figures showed in taking the school ages of children that Massachusetts ranked first up to 13 years of age in children attending schools, but when it got to 14 or 15 Massachusetts was the forty-third State. When it got to the ages of 16 and 17, Massachusetts was the thirty-seventh, and when it got to 18 and 20 it was the twenty-seventh State.
Now, it might, if we were thoroughly unprejudiced in our viewpoint-we might consider that Massachusetts had not been entirely progressive in its educational standards and educational ideas of progress.
I want to touch, a moment later, if I may, on the business attitude, the attitude of the business men in Massachusetts, but first I should like to tell you why I have been interested in this question. I shall have to be a bit personal, because I do not want you gentlemen to think I am a theoretical philanthropist among the business group. You do not know me very well. I happen to be in a business that in 12 years has grown from handling about 900 employees to somewhat over 3,000, a business that grew from less than $5,000,000 to $25,000,000 plus, during those two years, and a business that as one of its owners, I think I might say, would be interested in taxes, as the taxes paid to the United States Government roll up into some hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, so you see I am not entirely a theoretical gentleman, although I may be a poor and lonely business man around here.
Now, in 1867 some of these gentlemen, who know education which I do not, tell me we did have a department of education that was a separate department of the Government, and about a year later, as Doctor MacCracken says, we lost that prestige, and we have been looking ever since to get it back. A question was asked about the fact that all these years we have been working, and I would like to call to Mr. Black's attention the fact that while the
particular thing has not been accomplished as yet, there is a great deal of progress during these last years in our educational standards and the conceptions of what the Government is doing for education. I may touch that later.
Mr. BLACK. You think the Illinois schools are better to-day than 20 years ago?
Mr. FILENE. I will let the schoolmasters answer the questions. I am just a business man.
Mr. BLACK. I never thought of that until you got here.
Mr. FILENE. I might answer wrongly. After these interested groups had been working during the last 5 or 10 years, particularly more intensively, some of the group came to me and asked if I would not try to get together the groups interested in the bill, and certain representative laymen and laywomen of the country, with the purpose that when the bill got up here this committee which I happen to be the chairman of could supply to the members of Congress of both Houses a picture of who really wanted this thing in this country, and I think at least there are one or two gentlemen around this table who know I am not looking for additional work. I have considerable to keep me out of mischief, but I thought it was my duty to do this.
I had no preconceived ideas, but I thought at least a business man might try to get these groups together and see what they expressed.
I would like the record to show who was represented in the Senate hearings: The National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of Labor, the National Committee for the Department of Education, the National Council of Women, the National Congress of Mothers and Parent Teacher Associations, the General Federation of Women's Clubs, the National League of Women Voters, the Supreme Council, Scottish Rite Free Masonry, Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, the International Council of Religious Education, the National Council of Jewish Women, the National Women's Christian Temperance Union, the American Association of University Women, the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, the General Grand Chapter Order of the Eastern Star, the National Women's Trade Union League, the National Board of the Young Women's Christian Association, the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the National Federation of Music Clubs250,000 members in that association, it is not so theoretical as it may sound—the American Library Association, the National Vocational Education Association, and the Woman's Relief Corps.
It struck me as a business man that when these national organizations which have been stated were in favor of a department of education, with a Cabinet officer there, ready to back this movement, after years and years of study, that if I could be of any assistance to them that I ought to be, and so with my little knowledge of education, although I have been serving some 17 years on the State board of Massachusetts most continuously, and have had something to do with educational matters in the administrative side, I felt, as I say, it was a duty I had, and I came forward to do it; and I did it because I felt that in Congress the real desire, which has been evident to me around this board to-day by you gentlemen in your earnestness to get the facts—I did it because I knew that if any disinterested group
of people could prove they were disinterested and only had one object in mind, to lay before you the information in one way or the other, as to whether the country really wanted this thing or not, that you would think then and not try to take the attitude that perhaps they were going ahead with selfish motives. That explains my place in this particular matter.
In order to add to that there are perhaps 100 or 150 typical individuals, citizens of the United States, that are a part of this national committee for a department of education, of which I happen to be the chairman. They are not all educators; I will mention quickly a few of the business men on this committee of which I am chairman: Perry Winslow Weidner; Michael H. Sullivan, chairman Boston finance committee; S. W. Straus, of New York, banker; Samuel A. Lewisohn, banker, New York; Henry R. King, merchant, Seattle, Wash.; William W. Hall, manufacturer, New York City; Frank S. Edmunds, lawyer and State representative, Philadelphia, manager of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.; Cleveland H. Dodge, merchant, of New York; George W. Coleman,
president of the Babson Institute; Franklin N. Brewer, manager Wanamaker's, Philadelphia; and Edward Bok, former editor of the Ladies' Home Journal, whom I think you know at this time.
Those are read off at random, to show you there are some hardheaded business men that do not think the country is going to pot if it helps education through a Federal aid bill. There is plenty of evidence, gentlemen, that Federal aid has been in existence long enough for you to know, if you look at it dispassionately, and I think you will—there is no record in the whole country where Federal aid to education is given, where any advantage has been taken, where it has not been of a decided advantage to the country, were given. The State of Massachusetts, for instance I have got the figure
the amount annually spent through Federal aid was $133,000 in the year 1921, but the State itself spent $687,000.
Mr. BLACK. What kind of aid?
Mr. FILENE. Vocational education. That is illustrative of the kind of advantage and the kind of control that has been so much voiced by some as earnestly as I voiced my opinion, and the answer is definite, and it can be traced to other States, as to whether there will be Federal control of education instead of Federal Government aid.
There are certain phases of this as a business man I ought to speak about. It seems to me so simple a fact that the time has come for us in this country to realize that education is pretty nearly as important as labor or commerce or agriculture, or war, or the Navy, or whatever else we may have in our Government. It seems to me it is pretty nearly time for us to recognize, in order to be educationally wise, the President should have sitting beside him in the Cabinet when budgets are brought up, and education and development of our business interests in this country, are discussed-a man, speaking solely in the terms of education. We have such a man in commerce, such a man in finance, such a man in labor, we have such a man in war and we have such a man in the navy. We have such a man in agriculture and in other ways. We certainly should have a voice in education. Education should be represented there just as well as any of these interests. That is all.
If there was any other reason for that, it seems to me we ought to accept the fact that we are not going to pot in this country if we create a cabinet officer of education.
Now I am only to try to get on the things a business man ought to talk about. We hear a great deal about why Massachusetts or New York or this State and that State should pay for the education down South. I made a statement the other day in the Senate hearing, and I think bears repeating here. I would like to tell a story about it, after I get through, which will not be a long one.
A. Lincoln Filene, treasurer and general manager William Filene's Sons' Co., Boston, Mass.: If Massachusetts could get the control of the business orders for its products in some of these Southern States—in which some gentlemen of the North are so afraid we will pay for part of their education-we could pay the whole education bill because we could educate them enough to create a demand for our products, and it would be a good business proposition. If you let people live in huts they do not wear clothes, and buy automobiles, and pianos, and victrolas. The more ignorant the population in any State, the less market you have for your merchandise.
Massachusetts is just as much interested to know that Mississippi has an educated population as to know that she has an educated population herself, because she has to take care of her industry and unless she gets an outlet for her merchandise she will be short of business.
I would like to tell you a story that happened during the war that illustrates that point, as well as I can tell you.
Am I taking too much time, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. FILENE. You shut me up when you want to. There was a very remote place in the South-I forget where it was—that a factory was needed for the producing of material, and the entire help were negroes.
The wage basis on which they were paid was so much larger than they had been used to, that they worked only two days in the week, and you could never get the negroes to come back the four days, and they could not produce an urgently needed article for the
What happened? A certain gentleman who owned that factory had what he thought was a kind of fool son, because the son said to him one day, “Leave that factory to me, and I will produce merchandise six days a week.” "How will you
do it?" "I will not tell you; if you leave it to me I will do it.” “Well," the father said. “I am losing money, so you might have your chance." So he let him go down, and the son shut up the factory and built a big wall around the entire factory so nobody could peep in, and nobody knew what was going on behind the fence. He put a notice on the outside that he would open it in two weeks. At the end of two weeks he opened it, and behind the fence there was a good store, and the store was supplied with everything that the negro liked to put on, high colored stockings, high colored shirt waists, nice underwear and high colored dresses and things, and he put them in the shop and opened the shop. The men came to work on Monday morning, and they did not stop on Tuesday or stop at all, and it was for just one reason. They wanted to buy some of the things they saw, so they worked six days in the week so as to be able to buy them with the wages they got. The factory never had a day short after that in war time because the people would not work. He created a demand for his merchandise right there.
You apply that to education and go down through some of the States, and you find people living from hand to mouth, and you find
they will not buy very much merchandise, but if you will do something which will cause the people to be ambitious you will find them buying more and more, and Massachusetts needs Mississippi and Alabama and Louisiana, and all the States, just as much as she needs her own State.' We will all agree to that as a good business proposition.
Let me further talk on this illiteracy. I listened to a gentleman who was quite a good level-headed fellow, who was making some survey of the migration of the negro from the South. The figures showed there were 800,000 negroes that migrated from the South in seven years, and the rate now, I understand, is about 100,000 a year. He figured out that in the short time, in 10 years, a comparatively short time, that about one-half of the Negro population would have moved North. During the war in Chicago there were 200,000 negroes; that is, that many came North to Chicago. We are told that they now have about the balance of power politically in the city. Now, it seems to me that illiteracy in the South has some bearing upon the interests of the State of Illinois, and particularly the city of Chicago, because there is nothing in our laws in this country that keeps a citizen in the State in which he is born, and if you let him migrate from city to city the United States Government is just as much-I am sure you will agree with me--is just as much interested as to whether he is ignorant when he goes from Mississippi to New York or Massachusetts, as he is ignorant anywhere else, so we are as a Nation interested in the literacy of our entire country.
Mr. BLACK. There is an article in the North American Review that bears you out on that.
Mr. FILENE. There is a statement that was made that the United States has the highest percentage of illiteracy among the nations, the 10 nations of advanced educational standards. The percentage of illiteracy in Germany is 0.2; Denmark, 0.2; Switzerland, 0.5; Netherlands, 0.6; Finland, 0.9; and Norway, 1; Sweden, 1; Scotland, 1; England, 8; and the United States, 6 per cent. Are business men interested in the illiteracy of this country? I say we are and I do not care if you are from Massachusetts, New York, or any other State of this country, you are as much interested, wherever it is, because they send you gentlemen here, and we are interested, the kind of fellows there are around this table, and when they come North and get the freedom of voting, wherever they go, you are the people they vote for.
Mr. BLACK. They came North among other things to get an education for their children?
Mr. FILENE. And to get good wages.
Mr. BLACK. This article that I spoke of in the North American Review stresses the fact that the Negro women want to go North so that the child might get a reasonable education?
Mr. FILENE. Is it not a fact, as a pure business proposition, that we are interested? Is it not a fact that you can not tell whether John Brown in the State of New York or California, may not be making his money in the cotton fields of the South, or the oil fields, if I may talk about oil, in Oklahoma. Is it not a fact that we may be interested in another State for the money investments we make? Therefore, is it not a fact that the United States Government, and every citizen, no matter where he lives, is interested in whatever happens in any