[ocr errors]

Mr. BLACK. Do you not think that there would be danger of compelling the enactment of a model compulsory school attendance law throughout the States at the suggestion of this Federal department of education ?

Doctor FINEGAN. We already have compulsory attendance laws in each State in the Union.

Mr. BLACK. I mean as to the form.

Doctor FINEGAN. No; I think not; but if there should be any such effort, those attempting to do so would have to come here and get authority from you and your associates in the Congress to get such a law.

Congress would have the opportunity to pass upon that question when it came before you. The question of school attendance is a very important one in this country. Last year every day that the public schools in this country were in session there were more than 5,000,000 boys and girls of school age, registered in the schools, who were out of school on an average every day.

Mr. FENN. Do you not think that if the proposed child labor amendment should become a part of the Constitution, it would cure that situation?

Doctor FINEGAN. Undoubtedly. The child labor amendment should go hand in hand with this effort to enforce school attendance. It would help greatly.

Mr. Fenn. As you know, it has already passed the House. Would not that have a great deal of effect upon the statement that you have just made that 5,000,000 school children were not attending school?

Doctor FINEGAN. Yes, sir; it would have some effect, but that in itself would not be sufficient. There should be all in the States compulsory attendance laws. It will be a hard piece of work to get all these children regularly in school even with child labor and compulsory attendance laws.

Mr. LOWREY. Have not nearly all of the States child labor laws, as well as compulsory school attendance laws ?

Mr. TUCKER. All except two, Utah and Wyoming, have child labor laws, and all of them have compulsory school attendance laws.

Mr. FENN. What I mean, if I may suggest, is that you could compel the States to enforce their own statutes by a national law.

Mr. TUCKER. I was going to ask Doctor Finegan about that when he got through.

Mr. FENN. Excuse me for interrupting you.

Doctor FINEGAN. That was not my thought at all, but the fact that the State law is upon the books, and the fact that in order for the States to participate in the funds to aid in the support of education they must enforce that law, would have a moral effect in bring-ing about the enforcement of the statute. There is not a more serious social problem facing the country to-day than nonattendance upon school of children between the ages of 7 and 14 years.

When the number of children out of school regularly every day is equal to the entire enrollment of all the children in the schools of New England, New York, and Pennsylvania combined, it becomes a question for very serious consideration on the part of the entire country. But let us pass on to a consideration of some of the purposes

for which funds may be allotted by the Federal Government, as, for instance, physical education and health, illiteracy, Americanization, and teacher training. The bill provides that $15,000,000 shall be


appropriated for that physical training and health. It also provides that there shall be $7,500,000 appropriated to aid in wiping out illiteracy in the country, and that a like amount shall be appropriated for the purpose of what is known as Americanization. I shall not take up your time in going over the details of the physical defects of children in attendance upon the public schools, because these have been recited to you time after time in these hearings. The result of the physical examinations by the Army to test the best of our young men from all parts of the country showed that 70 per cent of them did not possess the physical qualifications to enter. The importance of this subject and the vital interest of the Nation in it is so obvious that comment is unnecessary.

The question of wiping out illiteracy in this country was first taken up by President Grant, as probably many of you know. In one of his messages to Congress he took up that question and proposed an appropriation for the purpose of aiding the States in wiping out illiteracy. If the advice contained in that message had been followed, we would not be facing either the question of illiteracy or the question of Americanization to-day, because these problems would have been gradually taken care of during the last half century. It is said by opponents of this measure that these appropriations by the Federal Government gives the Government power and control over education. What are the real facts on this point and what power is conferred on the Federal Government in this respect? The bill vides that the money which is appropriated by Congress for these purposes shall be paid into the several State treasuries, and that the money shall be used for the development of the specific purposes for which it is appropriated in accordance with the statutes of the States. For instance, my State, Pennsylvania, would be entitled to a certain amount of Federal funds and such funds would be paid into the treasury of the State of Pennsylvania. Then the superintendent of public instruction of that State would have the expenditure of these funds for the specific purposes appropriated and in accordance with the laws and plans of that State. The funds for health work would be carried out in accordacne with the statutes and regulations of Pennsylvania and in accordance with the policy that the educational authorities of that State are authorized to put into operation.

There is no State in this country that has an adequate supply of properly trained teachers, nor is there a State which has a program established which contemplates an adequate supply of teachers in the future for its public schools. Of course, the great factor in a school is the teacher, and yet more than half of the teachers of this country are without adequate education, and they have had no professional training. Under this bill the Federal Government would not set up a system of teacher-training institutions. Each State would continue its system of teacher-training institutions. The Federal funds due a State under the terms of this bill would be paid into the treasury of that State, and the State would proceed with its program of teacher training as it is now carrying that work out. Therefore, the Federal Government would have no authority whatever in that regard. If a State does not enter upon this enterprise and become entitled to its proportion of the Federal funds for this specific purpose, the secretary of education could exercise no authority whatever in the matter except to report to Congress what the situation is. There is no authority given him in this bill to undertake to compel the States to either enter upon this work or to adopt any plan or policy in relation to its program.

Mr. Black. What would be the purpose of a report to Congress?

Doctor FINEGAN. For the sole purpose of giving Congress the information that here is a State that is not proceeding, in the first place

Mr. Black (interposing). Do you suppose that Congress would go further and legislate with only that information at its disposal ?

Doctor FINEGAN. I think not; I think there is no such intention in this bill.

Mr. BLACK. Surely Congress has to be something more than a filing place.

Doctor FINEGAN. Yes, certainly; but it is customary for all of the Federal departments and bureaus to transmit reports to Congress, even without the expectation that Congress would legislate upon those subjects.

Mr. BLACK. Of course, the Federal departments file their reports with Congress upon the theory that Congress in legislating in reference to those departments should have information upon which to base the legislation.

Doctor FINEGAN. I have never served the Federal Government, and all of my experience has been with State governments. The State departments make their reports to the legislature, and we prepare the reports with the understanding that they will be read, but they seldom are.

Mr. BLACK. The reports are used frequently in the debates and discussions of legislative matters.

Doctor FINEGAN. Perhaps they are. They should be. Of course, I am aware, Congressman, of the great help that you rendered the cause of public education in the State of New York while serving in the senate. I am not able to recall a single progressive measure in the interest of education before that body that did not have your support, but I doubt if you ever read one of the reports I wrote.

Mr. BLACK. I read everything you wrote, and it was of great help to me.

Mr. ALLEN. Is it not likewise a fact that the recognition of the low standards of education in our country prompts us to take some action?

Doctor FINEGAN. Yes; certainly it does. That is one of the great services and functions of a State department of education. A State department of education is not expected to go out into a community and usurp the functions of the community in relation to its schools. A State department should be able to develop a public sentiment, so that the people themselves, in every administrative unit of the State, shall want good schools, shall be willing to vote for them, work for them, and pay for them. Similar relations should exist between a Federal department and each State department and a commissioner of education in Washington who could speak with official and professional authority upon education, and whose voice would be heard throughout the Nation--not in a coercive way, but in the language of America's tradition in public education--would establish such relations. His utterances would be received as representing the philosophy or the American concept of public education, and the educational leaders in the several States would accept it as a basis for action. There is not a man who has had the responsibility of administering a State school system who does not feel to-day that one of the great needs of public education is a clearing house at Washington which can assemble here information relative to all phases of public education and which can suggest specific programs of work in every field of educational activity. Under present conditions each State department of education is compelled without adequate equipment to do this research work for itself. Necessarily there is great inefficiency and useless duplication. A Federal department organized on this basis would influence public school administration in all parts of the country. If there were a Federal department of education with an adequate staff of experts to render the service which States need, I would be entirely willing to take my chances, if I were sitting at the head of a State department of education, with the secretary of education at Washington at the head of the Federal department of education, stepping over beyond the functions of his office, coming within my territory, and undertaking to usurp any rights or prerogative which properly belong to the head of the State department, I think that the State school men generally are quite willing to accept that responsibility.

Mr. BLACK. If we were sure that all of the State school systems would have at their head men as strong as Doctor Finegan

Doctor FINEGAN (interposing). Thank you, but we have a great many strong and effective State school administrators, and their leadership would be strengthened in their own States with a Federal department equipped with a staff of able experts who could give these State leaders the assistance they seek. There would then be a leadership in every State of the country that would result in greater efficiency in the schools and in the advancement of all industrial and commercial interests of the States.

We are asked here why should the Federal Government be called upon to make appropriations for public education? Is it fair to take money from New York and Pennsylvania and give it, perhaps, to Connecticut, Virginia, Montana, etc.?

Mr. FENN. Connecticut does not want it.
Doctor FINEGAN. Undoubtedly; but she would not decline it.
Mr. FENN. She would, absolutely.

Doctor FINEGAN. Be that as it may; but we had an experience at the time of the recent war that measured the effectiveness of the school systems of the country. We heard from one end of the country to the other talk about the striking power of the Nation. What is the striking power of the Nation? When our people were talking about the striking power of the Nation, they were referring to the intelligence and the physical powers of the great masses. nize that the efficient citizen in industrial or civil life, as well as the efficient man in war, is the man of intellectual power as well as physical power. We recognize that those two elements in an effective person must be combined. Whether we appreciate it or not, there is being developed to-day from one end of the country to the other a national spirit which recognizes that the intellectual and the physical power of our citizens constitute the striking power or the effectiveness of the citizens of the country in times of peace as well as in times

We recog

Whatever our standards in morals, health, or intelligence may be for an effective citizenship in time of war, I ask you if there should not be an equally high standard in these elements in times of peace? The time to prepare for war is in time of peace, and the most effective weapons for winning a war are strong, intellectual men and women.

We are asked if it is possible by the passage of the Dallinger bill to reorganize the present Bureau of Education so that we could go on with that agency and accomplish the educational reforms that are so much desired. I think it is absolutely impossible to achieve such action by the passage of that measure. our inability to achieve that end by such process is the fact that for half a century the present bureau has not been able to attain the standard of efficiency which it should reach. Its failure is due absolutely to the type of organization which has prevailed. Doctoring it over now will not redeem it or make it effective. No matter who was at the head of that organization, it was not effective. Some of the Nation's great leaders in education have been at the head of that bureau. For instance, Doctor Barnard, of Connecticut, who was one of the great apostles of education in the early development of that subject in this country. Doctor Harris, of St. Louis, one of America's greatest administrators of public education served at the head of such bureau. While those men accomplished something, they did not begin to render anywhere near the service which they might have rendered had they been able to function at the head of a Federal department instead of an inferior officer in such department. Many of the States had bureaus of education in the office of the secretary of the Commonwealth or the secretary of state for many years. We had such a bureau in New York for several years, but New York never achieved leadership in public education while she had such a bureau. When New York had the old superintendent of common schools, and Gideon Hawley served in such office, she had effective leadership. When that office was abolished and a bureau established in the office of secretary of state, New York lost her leadership. Then, again, in 1856, when the bureau was abolished and a State education department created, she again assumed leadership in public education. The same thing was true in Pennsylvania.

I am fairly familiar with public education in this country, or as familiar with it as most men. I have spoken to over 20 State meetings this year, I have come in contact with educational leaders everywhere, and I can say that a compromise of the kind suggested by the Dallinger bill would not end this controversy. We should be here before future Congresses still advocating the enactment of a measure comparable with the Sterling-Reed bill. It seems to me that the wise thing to do would be to enact one of these bills before the committee establishing a department of education either the Towner-Sterling or the Dallinger bill. The Dallinger bill should be modified if it is to be enacted. In my judgment there ought not to be included in that bill the provision relating to the social welfare bureau, whatever that may be. It is so nebulous that no one is able to define it or interpret it. No one knows what the limits of the powers conferred under this provision are. It is absolutely unnecessary. All of the substantial things that the people of the country are interested in and in which the Federal Government has a legitimate interest are

« ForrigeFortsett »