Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

this would mean doubling a State appropriation without increasing the burden on the local taxpayers. Such a grant from the Federal department could only be secured, you remember, by making an equal appropriation from State funds available for educational purposes. In order to meet this condition the tendency would be to devote to "Americanization” money needed more urgently perhaps for other phases of education in that particular State or locality. Actually this provision would result in a compelling or controlling influence over the States by the Federal department, even though, technically, it does not posit administrative control. Such influence would control the expenditures, not only of Federal funds, but actually of State funds as well.

V

We must have equalization of educational opportunity. Education of its citizenry is of prime importance in a democracy, and is the concern of the Nation as a whole. Moreover, the Nation is under obligation to see that all its citizens have an equal opportunity for education. Therefore, to this end, all the wealth of the Nation must be taxed for educational purposes irrespective of State boundaries.

"Equalization of educational opportunity in the name of democracy” is such a high-sounding phrase that it is difficult to resist its appeal. We have already discussed the meaning of equality" as the corner stone of our democracy, and have come to the conclusion that it is not synonymous with “identity." Nor do we believe that “educational opportunity” and “per capita expenditure for schooling" are synonymous terms. Witness the present situation in New York City! Nor is the money-incentive the most effective way of arousing interest in education, or of stirring local energy to action. Even less likely would this be the case, when perhaps a large percentage of per capita expenditure would come from the National Treasury rather than from local sources.

The corollary of equalization of educational opportunity” is “equalization of tax burden."

This, too, sounds like a plausible aim for a democratic government. The clinching argument seems to be that the uneducated are free to go froi State to State, and therefore, Massachusetts, for example, for her own protection, must see to it that the citizens of Georgia have an education equal to that of her own sons.

Has "State sovereignty” then become an empty phrase? Has the time come for the United States to rush headlong into paternalistic socialism? Let us remember that the Republic was founded on the basic principle of the “concrete universal”-an indestructible Union of indestructible sovereign States. And it is too soon for us to forget that the paternalistic socialism of the Hohenzollern led to the most pernicious and all-pervading autocracy—ultimately to the downfall of Germany and the spiritual ruin of the German people. That way madness lies.

As matter of fact, this proposal to “equalize the tax burden” would actually mean an abrogation of State rights, taxation without representation, and a disregard of property rights. For example, New York taxpayers would be helping to pay Alabama's bills, even though New York had no voice in deciding how or for what purposes such funds should be expended. Or California would be helping to pay Pennsylvania's bills, even though, as we have seen, the citizens of Pennsylvania are quite able (though apparently unwilling) to meet their own educational liabilities.

VI

Local responsibility must be fostered by limiting Federal subsidies to those States able and willing to make equal appropriations from State funds for the same purpose.

The desire to foster local responsibility by providing funds on a “50–50" basis may prove a boomerang. As already suggested, under such a scheme the Federal Government would virtually dictate to the various States for what purposes large sums of the local tax levy should be expended. Instead of local responsibility, such a plan would rather foster local servility to the Federal department of education and would tend to weaken the intelligent and disinterested exercise of local responsibility and initiative.

Secondly, if the “50-50” idea were carried into effect along with the other provisions of the bill, the result in some cases would be either to increase the present discrepancies between the educational opportunities now enjoyed by the children of the various States (so far as opportunity may be measured by financial outlay), or the taxyayers and legislators of the wealthier or more enlightened States would take into account the prospective Federal grants and would fail to make annual increases in their own educational budgets to provide for the increasing needs of the State. To illustrate: The money for paying and training teachers is to be allotted in proportion to the number of children of school age and of teachers at present employed within a given State. On both counts New York State, for instance, would rank high. She would therefore receive a large share of the Federal funds available for these purposes. On the other hand, New York State also ranks high in the money now spent for educational purposes. The Federal grants, by swelling her coffers would, therefore, either increase the advantage which New York children now enjoy over, say, the children of Mississippi; or--the even more disastrous alternative—when making up the State educational budget New York taxpayers and legislators might take into account the prospective Federal grants and reduce their own tax rate accordingly. Under this latter alternative the tendency might be toward "equality,' to be sure, but it would be an equality of dead mediocrity. It would tend to lower, rather than to raise, the educational standards of the State receiving Federal funds.

VII

Centralization is highly desirable to remove the waste and duplication of effort now caused by the multiplicity of educational boards and bureaus. Such centralization in a single department does not involve Federal control, as is feared by the opponents of the bill. Indeed, the National Education Association has gone on record as emphatically opposed to such unified control, and the bill itself explicitly provides against it.

The sections (3, 4, 6) of the bill referring to this proposed centralization are too indefinite to provide adequate ground for discussion. No mention is made in the bill of the particular bureaus and boards to be consolidated, except in the case of the present Bureau of Education. It is not even clear whether the proponents of the plan contemplate or advise the amalgamation within the new department of the various Federal agencies concerned with the vocational rehabilitation of soldiers, or with other forms of educational service in connection with national defense. In fact, no authoritative list has been presented of Federal agencies engaged in educational activities, which might coneicvably come within the provisions of the bill. To estimate their accumulated appropriations at $200,000,000 is probably not an exaggeration. The absorption by the proposed new department of education of any particular now independent -bureau is to be left to the discretion of Congress. (Here again is to be noted ample opportunity for political maneuvering.) The time which would probably be required to effect such a consolidation has also been variously, estimated from one to several years. In any case, it seems clear that several of the now independent bureaus would resist such consolidation on the ground that their special interests would be submerged in such a top-heavy bureaucratic organization,

The main storm of the argument has centered about the question of Federal supervision and control. Both the proponents and the opponents of the bill protest vehemently against any such control, and yet the specter still looms large. The fact is that the original draft of the bill explicitly provided for direct Federal supervision of certain State educational activities. It seems fair to assume, therefore, that this was the intention of those who first framed the

In view of widespread protest, clauses were later inserted specifically providing for State autonomy in the administration of Federal grants. Even this has not silenced critics, for, they claim, the power to grant money implies and will inevitably lead to control. Their position seems to be strengthened when they hear supporters of the bill urging its passage because it will provide an effective national system of education," and a “national educational policy, and when Professor Strayer, of Teachers' College, declares in support of the measure that the bill “will make for the realization of a more efficient system of public education," and that "we have lacked in our National Government the voice of one whose obligation it was to think and to act for the safety and for the development of our democracy through the creation and maintenance of a truly democratic system of education.” Presumably the proposed secretary of education would be such a "one." Further confusion arises when we read the following resolution passed in 1919 by the National Education Association: “We advocate the enactment of the following measures as fundamental beginnings of a national program in education: (1) The Smith-Towner bill (an earlier draft of the present educational bill); (2) an act providing for a year of compulsory civic, physical, and vocational training under the proposed department of education" This resolution obviously implies interference and dictation in local educational affairs by the proposed Federal department of education. If these are the fundamental beginnings of a national program in education," what might the end be?

measure.

It is to be borne in mind that the original framers and spiritual sponsors of the bill were authorized representatives of the National Education Association. In fact, the association still officially refers to the measure as our education bill," and' is making most earnest and persistent efforts to effect its early passage through Congress. It seems fair to assume therefore that the policy of the National Education Association in regard to a national educational program fairly represents the educational theory which the bill would tend eventually to put into practice.

As already noted, the bill as now presented specifically stipulates (section 13) that the secretary of the department shall exercise no control over local educational activities, except as provided for in the bill (sections 9, 12, 13, 14, 16). It is therefore urged that that objection has been removed "in black and white,' and it is unfair to continue criticism on that score. Unfortunately, it is not so easy to eradicate the danger, by a mere stroke of the pen. Centralized Federal control is not a question of motive or intention. The fundamental question is, What is logically implied in Federal subsidy of local educational activities? Even though the bill explicitly forbids such control, those States that want Federal financial aid will tend to follow Federal policies. The power of money is undeniable. That power may be attractive, as well as coercive. As already suggested, the promise of Federal funds might easily induce State legislators to divert State taxes to any one or more of the special channels stipulated, whereas in reality local needs might call for quite a different disposition of State funds.

The only alternative to Federal control seems to be no Federal control of funds, for the expenditure of which Federal authorities are legally and morally responsible to the taxpayers. For Congress to authorize the distribution of vast sums of money among the various States, without at the same time providing for direct supervision and responsible control by the department making such distribution, can hardly be defended as a wise and sound financial policy. Even assuming that a secretary of the department were to be appointed who would consent to place himself in the anomalous position of disbursing Federal funds without control, such a situation could not long endure. It seems inevitable control would be tacitly recognized and exercised, or that either that central. Congress would later be appealed to, explicitly to grant such control as a necessary corollary to such heavy financial responsibility. Moreover, if there is to be no supervision or control, no formulation of educational policies to guide the distribution of the proposed appropriation of $100,000,000; if the conditions of such distribution are to be rigidly fixed by statute, and the new secretary is not to be allowed to exercise any discretion or discrimination, will the office be more than a central distributing bureau of Federal funds? Wherein would the creation of such an office “increase the dignity and prestige of educational matters in the eyes of the American people”? How much of the appropriation of $500,000 to cover administrative expenses, etc., would be needed to make such automatic distribution? Is there no other Government agency already in existence that could properly be called up to administer funds under such restricted conditions. The other function-of investigation and reporting on various educational matters-is now being performed by the Bureau of Education at Washington. It is not clear why the proposed new department would be able to carry on the nvestigation work any more effectively than the present bureau.

SUMMARY OF OBJECTIONS

1. The education bill will not be a panacea for existing defects in education. Rather, it threatens to postpone indefinitely a possible cure of present ills by smothering local initiative and responsibility in the matter of our public schools.

2. It will create a centralized bureaucracy at Washington, with its tendency to deadening overorganization, overstandardization, and red tape."

3. Such an organization, with an initial appropriation of $500,000 for administration, will prove a fruitful hotbed of petty office seekers. It is not unreasonable to surmise that even the political complexion of the secretary, as a member of the President's official family, will change with each new administration, and with him will change the policies of the department.

4. Lack of sound financial policy (1) in estimating the amounts required for the various purposes, and (2) in disbursing the funds appropriated, opens the way for political corruption and waste of our national resources.

5. Vast as are the present financial provisions of the bill, it seems highly probable that, from year to year, Congress will undoubtedly be pressed to increase its appropriations for this or that specified or general purpose. This, in turn, will necessitate a corresponding increase in State appropriations, which will be virtually controlled by the Federal department. Under such circumstances, the recurrent opportunities for “lobbying” and “political bargaining” are beyond measure.

ő. This $100,000,000 plus, raised by Federal taxation, is to be spent either under the direction, supervision, and control of Federal authorities, who are responsible to the people for such expenditure, or, there is to be no such control. Whichever horn of the dilema you choose, there danger lies.

7. In spirit and practice, if not in the letter, this bill would tend to undermine one of the foundation rocks of our National Government. We refer, of course, to State sovereignty. Furthermore, it will actually involve taxation without representation, as well as an invasion of individual property rights by the Federal Government.

8. Instead of "equalizing educational opportunity", the bill would actually tend to increase the present discrepancies between the several States in the matter of funds expended for educational purposes.

9. In any case, the advisability of "equalizing educational opportunity” is open to serious question from the point of view of national welfare.

10. Finally, the bill, if enacted, would be the entering wedge of paternalistic socialism in educational affairs, which is directly contrary to the political philosophy of the founders of the Republic and antagonistic to our tradition of individual independence and local self-government.

LUCY SHEPARD CRAWFORD, Ph. D. SWEET BRIAR COLLEGE, Virginia.

The CHAIRMAN. I have a letter here which was written by Congressman Andrew, of Massachusetts, in reply to a letter addressed to him, which I think it would be well to put into the record, if there is no objection.

Mr. TUCKER. I have seen that letter. (The matter referred to is as follows:) (The following letter_was addressed on May 24, 1922, by Congressman A. Piatt Andrew, to Mrs. F. P. Bagley, a member of the national committee for a department of education, in reply to an inquiry from that committee as to whether he would aid in securing the passage of the Towner-Sterling bill. The letter was published in several newspapers in Massachusetts and is here reprinted by kind permission of Colonel Andrew.)

MY DEAR MRS. BAGLEY: I have your letter asking my “frank opinion” of the Towner-Sterling bill, and inclosing a circular containing arguments in defense of that measure. I have read this circular, as I have many other documents for and against the bill, and am bound to say that I am more than ever convinced of the validity of the position which i took in our discussion at Salem Willows last summer.

Subsequent reading and correspondence has confirmed my belief that the most distinguished educators of the country are most unanimously opposed to the Towner-Sterling bill, even in its revised form. I refer to such recognized leaders as President Emeritus Eliot, President Lowell, and Dean Briggs, of Harvard, as well as Dr. Alexander Inglis, director of the Harvard Graduate School of Education; President Hibben and Dean West, of Princeton; President Butler, of Columbia; President Goodnow, of Johns Hopkins; former President Hadley, of Yale; President Sills, of Bowdoin; as well as such distinguished heads of State universities as President Kinley of the University of Illinois; President Jessup, of the University of Iowa; Dean Sutton, of the University of Texas--all of whom, with many others whom I might name, seriously disapprove of the bill. I should be inclined to consult with an oculist before having an operation performed on my eyes, and I should certainly consult with an experienced farmer, if I had in mind to invest money in farming. Similarly, before espousing a plan to invest a vast amount of Government money in an experiment in education, it would seem wise to weigh carefully the opinions of educational experts; and the fact that such experts in this case are substantially agreed in opposing the Towner-Sterling bill would seem of itself a powerful argument against it.

You state in your circular that the Towner-Sterling bill has two essentials : First, a department of education with a secretary in the President's Cabinet. Second, it provides Federal aid in education.

As a general proposition, the multiplication of Cabinet officers is open to question. An essential, if not the main purpose of the Cabinet is to serve as an advisory council to the President in framing the broad lines of policy of his administration. In order to function helpfully and efficiently in this capacity, the Cabinet should be small in number and composed only of men of the first rank in ability and experience. The creation of new departments in the past has not only made the Cabinet somewhat unwieldy in proportions, but it has distinctly lowered the caliber of Cabinet membership. Since men of the first rank can seldom be found for other than departments of the first rank, on this account, if on no other, I should hesitate to indorse any proposal to increase the number of minor Cabinet officials.

A secretary of education would be appointed for only four years. Ho would have to be of the political party of the President then in power. If we are to believe the advocates of the Towner-Sterling bill, and if we are to accept the revised text of section 13 as literally meaning what it states, the secretary of education would “exercise no authority” over "education within the States," which means that he would have neither power of supervision over, nor authority to raise and enforce standards of education anywhere in the United States. Certainly such a position would not appeal to any of the great educational leaders of the country. The creation of the position would mean one more Cabinet officer of secondary capacity, who probably would be appointed as the result of political or geographical pressure.

Moreover, if this were the case, if the man appointed was "in politics" and was a politician of the second or third rank, would not the inevitable result, as our Government actually works, be to put education into politics? Would it not open another field, added to the post offices, internal revenue, and prohibition enforcement services, in which Congressmen and Senators alike would seek to find opportunities to reward those who had helped them in their campaigns? Would it not also be natural to expect that books, pamphlets, posters, and circular letters containing information and suggestions with a party bias would be regularly distributed by the department to every public school and State institution of learning in the country? It is because of such deplorable possibilities, hordering, in my opinion, upon probabilities, that I am seriously distrustful of any and every plan to establish a department of education with a secretary in the Cabinet.

You name as a second essential feature of the Towner-Sterling bill, Federal aid in education. Every good American believes it is as much a government's duty to provide schools and to encourage education as it is to provide a police force and to discourage crime; but it is quite another question as to the agency of government which is to perform these duties. Our American tradition is based upon a fairly clear delimitation of the respective functions of the Federal, State, and municipal Governments. The Federal Government is charged with matters that are essentially national and which can not be well looked after by the States, such as the Army and Navy, the monetary system, post offices, the regulation of foreign and domestic trade. The State governments look after activities that are not of an interstate character, on the one hand, and that can not be properly handled by counties or towns or municipalities, on the other. The smaller governmental units look after local matters. The school system seems to me essentially a matter to be handled by the localities, with such cooperation from the States as will provide higher and technical education not possible to small communities. It is in this way that our publicschool system has developed. It is through such agencies that it can develop still further in the future, with a flexible and free adaptation to local needs.

Our system of government is very fortunately differentiated from that of European countries with monarchial and military traditions, in that it is not highly centralized, but is a Federal or federated Government based essentially upon the principle of home rule. In that fact lies the source and the assurance of the freedom that we cherish, of which we are justly proud, and which we are bound to safeguard and transmit to the future. I can see, therefore, no force in the argument that our Federal Government ought to assume such functions as the supervision of education because the central governments of other nations have done so. Our form of government, our traditions, our political theories are essentially different from theirs.

« ForrigeFortsett »