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education of journalists in America, and published in the Journal of Education, in which he simply classifies everybody opposed to this bill as an enemy of the public school. That, gentlemen, is incorrect. We are, if anything, the best friends the public school has, and as such we appear here.
I thank you, gentlemen.
Mr. REED. Do any of the members of the committee wish to ask any questions?
Mr. 'HOLADAY. Mr. Zorn, I wish you would point out the provisions in this bill that would interfere with your church schools.
Mr. ZORN. I may say that later speakers will touch that point. I am merely here to state our position with reference to education in general. I am not giving any arguments pro and con with reference to the bill. As you probably noticed, I did not bring out any of those points.
Mr. HOLADAY. All right. Mr. WENCHEL. Mr. Zorn just wanted to outline and emphasize why we are here.
The next speaker that we would like to have heard is the Rev. John C. Baur, of Fort Wayne, Ind.
STATEMENT OF REV. JOHN C. BAUR, FORT WAYNE, IND.
Mr. BAUR. Mr. Chairman, members of this committee, it is my privilege and desire to explain to you, in the name of the many Lutheran people whom we represent, why we are opposed to the Sterling-Reed education bill.
We wish to be entirely frank. As Lutherans we are opposed to this measure principally because we believe that it is potentially a menace to private and church schools. We hope to be able to persuade you that our fears are justified, and thus effectually also to settle the question as to why the private and church school people are opposed to this measure. We are not sure that a sufficiently clear and explicit answer has heretofore been given to this very important question.
In order that you may better understand our viewpoint, we wish at the very outset to draw your attention to the fact that the Federal Government has heretofore practically kept itself out of the business of educating. As a result of this policy, the Federal Government has been able to remain wisely and benevolently neutral in all matters relating to education, particularly to educational ideals.
Throughout the Nation opinions differ widely, and I might also say, uncompromisingly, on the question of what constitutes an ideal education. Some believe one thing; others hold fast to something else. A great multitude of people, for instance, earnestly and sincerely believe that the ideal education may be had only in public elementary and higher schools. Many others, however, believe just as fervently and sincerely that the private school provides an ideal education, particularly for some children, or that the ideal in education is more nearly attained in a church school, which, unlike the public schools, is able to give instruction in religion and to provide à religious motive for the entire training of the pupils committed to
The mere fact that opinions differ widely on these and kindred buestions will hardly be denied.
There exists, then, a great controversy over the question, what constitutes an ideal education and where may such an education be had? This we hold is quite natural; for education is not a fixed science like mathematics, and, what is more, it never will be. Education belongs in the category of things concerning which, as in religion, there will never be entire harmony and unanimity. And let us add here that attempts to enforce unanimity and uniformity in education should not be made any more than with respect to religion.
Now, by practically keeping itself out of the business of education the Federal Government has, as stated, succeeded heretofore in remaining entirely neutral on controversial educational questions. This has been, we would like to repeat, decidedly a wise policy, and this policy has been pursued for the very best interests, so we believe, of the whole Nation; and we are firmly convinced that the Federal Government will be able to serve the cause of education-the whole cause of education generally—best by keeping out of the business of educating, which means practically by keeping away from educational controversies. For if, as has been repeatedly asserted, it is true that proper education of the youth is of vital concern and importance to the Nation--and we believe it is then the Federal Government can do itself and the entire Nation no better service than by keeping severely aloof from all controversies over education and educational systems, and by doing nothing that will hinder or prevent such controversies from being carried on unhampered and unchecked. For it is an axiom that progress comes from the clashing of diverging opinions and convictions. And let us insert there that it is entirely fallacious, so we believe, to argue that because a matter is of vital concern to the Nation that therefore the Government must take hold of it. If that were true, this Government would be compelled to provide religion for its people.
Many things are vitally important, in fact, indispensable, to the well-being of the people and of the State, but a real, self-reliant, energetic, and independent people take care of these themselves, without going to the Government for aid. Religion is one of these things. Education comes very near being one of these things. And let us also here bear in mind that when a matter has to do with the inner man, the Government—especially the Central Governmentshould be very chary about taking a hand in it, and when it takes a hand in it, it should be very particular about the manner in which it does it. Only well-proven inability on the part of the people to take care of certain things themselves, and indisputable demonstration that its lack will work harm to the Commonwealth, or, as in public education, the utter inability of the smaller governmental unit, which lies closer to the people, to handle matters, could possibly excuse even the slightest interference by the central authority. The central authority may well afford at all times to counsel and advise; but it should let it go at that.
Let us at this point, and in order to justify our premises, draw your attention to the incontrovertible fact that the Sterling-Reed bill proposes that the Federal Government shall forsake its lofty and neutral position in educational matters, inasmuch as it essays to put the Federal Government definitely into the business of education; not of education as such, but of public education, both elementary and higher. It proposes that the Federal Government shall, by spending possibly $100,000,000 annually-possibly also many times more than thatfor the first time in the history of this country officially become a partisan of education in public institutions. For it is, of course, conceded that the Federal Government can not, and that it should not, ever support private institutions.
Is there any one who can claim that the Federal Government will continue to feel as neutral toward all legitimate experiments in education as it does now, once it begins to support the States' taxsupported systems? Is it likely that the Federal Government will fail to become a partisan for and a protagonist of the public school systems of the States as against all other schools when it begins to support them as heavily as this bill proposes? And are we, who believe that the ideal education is permeated by the spirit of religion, and are those who support secular private schools for the sake of other ideals, not justified in fearing that when the Federal Government has committed itself to one of a number of educational ideals, it may, and probably will, in many ways, and in the course of time, become dangerously hostile to all education that is not of the taxsupported type?
These fears are by no means unfounded. They are based on many and varied harassing experiences that we have had in our dealings with the several State governments. It is an open secret that many States are waging a ceaseless and a relentless war of attrition on all but tax-supported schools. The most refined chicanery is at times heartlessly proposed and resorted to in an effort to discourage and to destroy the schools of such as honestly believe that there are vital elements in education which the Government can not possibly supply in its schools.
Oregon methods are not the methods we fear most.
In view of these experiences in the several States, is there any wonder that we look askance at this attempt to line the Federal Government up to education in the public schools, especially when we see that some of the most active proponents of this measure have of late also been actively engaged in a number of States to establish a State monopoly in education?
We are satisfied, perfectly satisfied, to have local governmental units and the States themselves provide public schools in the interest of the public welfare. The very practical and potent argument that vast numbers of our people would unfortunately remain illiterate, and that the public's interests would suffer severely, if these units did not provide public schools, has settled that question satisfactorily, and I think forever. The several State school systems were born of practically a compelling necessity, and, I think I may say here, not really of any inherent and original right on the part of the State to claim education as one of its primary functions.
But that sole evil is by no means an argument for putting the Federal Government jointly with the States into the business of educating. Granting for the sake of argument that the statistics which have no doubt been presented to you by the proponents of this bill are correct, and that they do clearly and unmistakably disclose serious and deplorable deficiencies in the public school systems of this country, as well as other deplorable conditions among the people generally, does it not seem proper that additional facts and
figures covering the phenomenal rise and growth as well as the increasing efficiency of the public-school systems throughout the country in the matter of wiping out illiteracy and other evils should also have been fairly prepared and presented to this committee? We hold that only absolute proof of poverty and inability on the part of certain States to provide sufficient education themselves and that, so we contend, has not been presented—could possible properly persuade the Federal Government to render State aid in the matter of education, and even then it would be very doubtful if the Federal Government should ever do more than assist certain poverty-stricken States, if there are any such. Furthermore, in our humble opinion, the confession of poverty and the plea for outside help should come from the States themselves.
It has been said that the Federal Government's interest in education would be greatly expanded and increased by the enactment of the Sterling-Reed bill into law. This, gentlemen, we do not believe. In fact, we believe the contrary. We believe that the Federal Government's interest in education generally, in all educationthat is to say, in the progress of every reasonable and legitimate experiment in education, both public and private—will be narrowed down to an official interest in public education only, when once this measure has been enacted into law; and not even the most ardent advocate of public education will want to claim that public education and education are entirely the same.
We believe that a Bureau of Education in Washington—possibly a reorganized Bureau of Education-which continually casts its eye over the whole field of education, domestic and foreign, public and private, and which retains a benevolently neutral interest in all phases and ideals of both elementary and higher education, and which does not, by supporting one system or ideal, practically foster and prefer one against the other, and which is able, therefore, impartially to recognize the good in all, will in the long run best serve the great and general cause of education in this country, and in so far as the Government's interest in education—and we do not deny that-is dictated by reasonable self-interest, the cause of this country itself will be served best by such a liberal policy.
This bill should, in our humble opinion, have been labeled “A bill to create a department of public education.” Everybody would then readily recognize it as a measure which proposes to make the Federal Government a confessed and very practical and, we believe, a dangerous partisan in education. We feel that if this bill had been thus properly labeled, there would have been no need for showing that it is potentially a menace to private schools of all types. Its menace to education privately conducted would then at once have become apparent to all.
We plead, gentlemen, for those whom we represent, as well as for many who believe just as we do and feel as we do, but are not represented here, and will probably never be represented here in person, that you allow this proposed measure to die.
Mr. REED. Are there any questions that any members of the committee wish to ask?
Mr. ALLEN. I would like to ask a question.
Doctor, you have been very fair, I consider, in your treatment of the question.
Mr. BAUR. Thank you.
Mr. ALLEN. Is it not one of the highest essentials of our Government? Mr. BAUR. I will say this, as I think I have emphasized in my
talk: That education is of vital importance to the welfare of our people and of the Nation. I would not say that because education is of such vital importance to the welfare of our people that therefore education must of necessity in all cases become a governmental function. I think I tried to bring that out at one point in my talk.
Mr. ALLEN. Of course your denomination, like many other Protestant denominations, has denominational schools, has it not!
Mr. BAUR. Yes, sir.
Mr. ALLEN. Now, can you find anywhere in this bill that this would prevent or hinder your denomination or your people in having private schools!
Mr. BAUR. I think I have tried to bring out in my talk-and that was the essential point in my argument—that this measure proposes to take the Federal Government away from its neutral attitude, as I have chosen to call it, in education, and make of it a partisan in education; and I think the natural consequence of that, in the long run, will be that it will become a menace to private schools of all kinds.
Mr. ALLEN. Your denomination, as many other and perhaps all other denominations, tries to the best advantage to educate your people?
Mr. BAUR. Yes, sir.
Mr. ALLEN. Now, there are some people that do not have a denomination, and who lack that help and assistance?
Mr. BAUR. Yes, sir.
Mr. ALLEN. If the States, in cooperation with the Federal Government, could bring about the education and Christianization of these people--and I desire to state that education is a forerunner to Christianity-I say, if the Federal Government could lend a hand in performing that service for the people who perhaps otherwise might never receive an education, or might never see the light of Christianity, would that not be proper?
Mr. BAUR. I would rather say that education generally is a consequence of the spreading
of Christianity; and I would like to say that education should at all times, in our Government as it is constituted, remain the interest of those governmental units that lie closest to the people, namely, the interests of the States and of the local school units. As I have tried to point out in my talk, we are absolutely in accord with these governmental units taking up education and fostering it, and nobody has ever found Lutherans opposing public schools conducted by local units and by the States.
In fact, we are very much for having the public schools made as efficient as possible; also because, as Mr. Zorn has previously pointed out, a quarter of a million of our own boys and girls are attending those schools. We do believe that the States and the local units should have an interest in education, as they do, but that the Federal Government should not, except in the instances enumerated in my talk, take a hand in education, for the welfare, in the long run, of education itself.