« ForrigeFortsett »
Those of us who have been here to present this measure have other engagements that we have had to cancel, other duties to put aside, but we did not consider the sacrifice. This measure has come to be to us, and we have come to feel about it, that a call to advocate it is a patriotic service, just as the boys felt when they were called during the war to the cause and to the colors. I feel that way in regard to the illiteracy provisions, in which we are all so much interested.
I am interested in every phase of the bill. It is the first measure that coordinated our educational activities and provides for them, but I am particularly interested in the illiteracy provision, which during the past 12 years I have made it my mission to go in my county and native State, and now in the Nation, on the mission of helping get rid of illiteracy. In 1910 there was not a county, district, or State that had as its aim the complete removal of illiteracy. There was not a law on any statute book in this country providing for the relief of the adult illiterate. A great change came over the hearts of the people of this country about illiteracy since that time. To-day there are illiteracy commissions in many of the States, created by the Government or by the legislature. There is hardly a State that has not some provision on its statute books for the relief of the illiterates to-day, and the Nation has become convinced that the illiterate should have more chance. This sentiment is reflected in the fact that the National Education Association has an Illiteracy Commission; the General Federation of Women's Clubs, the National Council of Education, the American Legion, and the National League of Women Voters has in its organization committees for the study of the question of the removal of illiteracy, and various organizations all over the State and over the Nation have as their earnest purpose the idea to give these 5,000,000 men and women more opportunity, more chance.
Mr. REED. Mr. Chairman, I do not want to restrict this lady in presenting her matter. We do not want you, Mrs. Stewart, to worry about the time. Just proceed.
Mrs. STEWART. Thank you.
As Miss Williams stated, we recently brought together, and I want to deny it was through my efforts, but it was through the interest of the agencies that the American Legion, the General Federation of Women's Clubs, the National Education Association and Bureau of Education held the first national conference on illiteracy. That gathering was attended by delegates from every State in the Union excepting two. Some of the delegates had their expenses paid. Some had their expenses paid by corporations, by big business men, voluntarily, and some came out of their own interest in the conference and paid their own expenses. It was the most earnest body I have ever looked upon. Four days of earnest deliberation and discussion of how we might eradicate illiteracy, and then from what I can hear the delegates have gone back to their several States still talking and still thinking about this problem. I heard it expressed many times, although we were not discussing legislation, that the final hope of the illiterates was the passage of this measure. Especially did I hear this in the tour I have recently made. In Oklahoma, where the State teachers were in session, a body of 40,000 educators, every group discussed illiteracy. I did not go into a single group that the eradication of illiteracy was not on the speakers' list. The editor
of a leading paper said that he would offer $5,000 to the county in his State that first eradicates illiteracy.
In looking over the pages of this paper, a metropolitan daily, I found on more than one occasion an entire page had been given to the subject of illiteracy and the campaign waged there.
Going to Arkansas, where the Arkansas Federation of Women's Clubs was in session, I read in the newspapers, and I heard it said by one in a position to know that the subject of illiteracy was mentioned not less than 100 times by the club women during that convention. I could go on, if time would permit, and tell you State after State that has shown an awakened interest like this, and how the Nation in general manifested its interest and desire that the illiterates shall be emancipated.
It is very fine to realize that the educated citizenry of this country has at last accepted its obligation for the emancipation of illiteracy but to me it is even more hopeful that the illiterates themselves are eager for their chance. Wherever schools have been open to them they have accepted the opportunity eagerly, walked for miles, late at night, although they were toil-worn, and their brains were tired and not rested and able perhaps to absorb as much as they might at some other time, but they have been willing to make the greatest effort, and thronged these schools, trying to make up for time they have lost.
Another phase of the proposition is the readiness with which the illiterates learn. It is almost miraculous progress that they make, learning to write their names, which is the first step in the removal of illiteracy, in 20 or 25 minutes, and in a few evenings' time writing & letter, and in a few weeks to read a book that is simple in language, but mature in thought, and in a short time able to read the newspapers, and later Government bulletins.
Mr. BLACK. Are you referring to native-born illiterates or foreign born?
Mrs. STEWART. To both, but particularly to native born, because I have had more experience with them. I am glad that question comes up, because I want to tell you in this country that we have 5,000,000 illiterates, the majority of whom are native born; only 1,700,000 of these are foreign born. A large majority are native born and live in rural districts-farmers, farmers' wives, and farmers' grown sons and daughters, in the main. This is a problem that is startling the whole country. We were startled when 700,000 boys registered by mark. There are perhaps 1,000,000 mothers who are illiterate, and upon them depends the training of their children and the inculcating of ideas and principles and guidance. There are approximately 4,000,000 illiterate voters in this country, and we stand, as Mr. Filene stated, tenth in the list of great nations, Japan even being above us.
I recently had a letter from the leading attorney in Japan, president of the Japanese Imperial Education, and he said something that was very comforting, so far as Japan was concerned, but not to us in America, if we want to rise from that position of tenth and want to surpass Japan. He said the earthquake would not make any difference in illiteracy; that the illiterates in that country would not increase, because they are going right ahead. It is a very startling problem. It is not an unrelated one, but related to every phase of our national life. It is keeping children out of school more than any one thing. It spreads disease; it promotes crime and cor
rupts the ballot. Illiteracy incites revolution and makes for hatred,
The CHAIRMAN. Which States have not received the money?
I do not think any Southern State feels it has the money. Louisiana says she is waiting until the Federal Government will give her some funds. I do not suppose there is a Southern State that feels it has the money to wipe out illiteracy, yet a splendid effort has been made in some of the States to do pioneer work.
Mr. BLACK. Do you think the aid itself, without compulsory attendance of illiterates at school, would be sufficient?
Mrs. STEWART. I can not say I do. I believe the aid is the first thing, the opportunity to be provided for, and we may have to use compulsion. It is used in some places now.
Mr. BLACK. Do you know where it is used now?
Mrs. STEWART. It is used in California up to the age of 21. I believe it is used also in Connecticut. I am not sure about the latter.
The CHAIRMAN. Did the Kentucky Legislature take any action in the last year or two in connection with the 50-50 appropriation plan?
Mrs. STEWART. I can not recall that the Kentucky Legislature has had any vote on the subject, but I do recall this, that the Kentucky Educational Association, the Kentucky Press Association, and the women's clubs have indorsed this bill repeatedly, and always with increased enthusiasm.
The CHAIRMAN. Is not the State of Kentucky able to carry on the work?
Mrs. STEWART. I am sure Kentucky can not continue to the end that illiteracy be removed.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you know how much Kentucky has spent?
Mrs. STEWART. From her public treasury, $85,000, and from private sources, $25,000 more.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you know what the valuation in the State of Kentucky is?
Mrs. STEWART. I can not give it to you at this moment.
Mr. BLACK. Are you familiar with the difficulties in New York in getting illiterates in school during 1918?
Mrs. STEWART. I do not know the procedure in New York. There is very much in the tactics employed.
Mr. Black. They could not spend the money in the continuation of the schools they had. They had to cut down the number of classes.
Mrs. STEWART. New York City or New York State ?
Mr. BLACK. New York City. Mr. Summers reported that at a conference called by Secretary Lane during the war. At that conference they suggested in order to remove it they must have some kind of compulsory attendance laws.
Mrs. STEWART. Do you say that was in 1918? Mr. BLACK, April, 1918, the conference. Mrs. STEWART. New York first appropriated for the removal of illiteracy $5,000 in 1917, as I remember.
Mr. BLACK. He says "We appropriated last year”; that is, 1917, “$16,000 with which to extend the work in summer evening schools, opening special schools for adults,” and instruction was restricted to the English language. They were able to spend only $5,000. He says the people would not come to school.
Prior to that he says in the general schools for the eradication of illiteracy they had this condition: The father would say "I shall not stay at home and mind the children while she go to school," and the wife would say, "I shall not stay at home and mind the children while he go to school," and the number of classes was cut down from 617 to 433 in one year.
Mrs. STEWART. You are evidently speaking of New York City ? Mr. BLACK. Yes; this is a city appropriation.
Mrs. STEWART. I am speaking of New York State. That clause pertains to adult foreigners and not necessarily illiterates.
Mr. BLACK. Adult foreigners. Mrs. STEWART. The conference called by Secretary Lane was an Americanization conference and not an illiteracy conference.
Mr. BLACK. With the idea of removing illiteracy as a basis for proper Americanization work.
Mrs. STEWART. There was an illiteracy conference held in 1918, which was followed by an Americanization conference for teaching English to the foreign born. I hardly think it fair to apply that to the illiterates, for I am informed that New York was not doing special illiteracy work in 1918.
Mr. TUCKER. Are you familiar with the work of the schools established by Mrs. Breckenridge?
Mr. STEWART. I am familiar with the schools established through Mis. Breckenridge.
Mr. TUCKER. It is a wonderful work.
Thé CHAIRMAN. Will you tell me what the National Educational Association consists of? What is it made up of ?
Miss WILLIAMS. The National Educational Association has a membership to date of 135,000 educators. They are those people who are doing educational work in the public schools, normal schools, colleges, private schools.
The CHAIRMAN. How large a proportion of the membership of 135,000 consists of public-school teachers ?
Miss WILLIAMS. I think it is a very large percentage.
The CHAIRMAN. I mean as distinguished from college professors and teachers.
Miss WILLIAMS. I think a very large percentage. I can not give you the figures. They will be available at the office. We shall try to get them. Then, affiliated with the national association, there are 48 State educational associations, and they have a membership of about one-half million teachers, around 400,000.
Mr. TUCKER. The lady who just spoke was working against illiteracy?
Miss WILLIAMS. There is a great deal of work done toward the eradication of illiteracy.
Mr. TUCKER. That is the object?
Miss WILLIAMS. Yes, of course, through the 22,000,000 school children, and the 5,000,000 listed as illiterates in the 1920 census; but of course these public school people try to teach the children of school age, 6 to 14. Mrs. Stewart is particularly familiar with that.
6 Mr. TUCKER. If all the members are like these it will not last long in this country.
Miss WILLIAMS. There are associations that are directly affiliated with the association.
The CHAIRMAN. Made up of teachers, etc.
The CHAIRMAN. Do not many of them that belong to the State associations also belong to the National Education Association?
Miss WILLIAMS. The idea would be to have every teacher a member of a local organization, State organization, and national organization. A large percentage of the 700,000 teachers, a fairly large percentage I would say, belong to some kind of local organization, not so large a percentage belong to the State, and a small per cent to the national organization, but the National Education Association is considered the masterpiece for American education. There are three-fourths of the States who have published their own State educational journal, which goes to the membership, and we publish our own Journal of the National Education Association. We meet twice each year, the whole body in July and the great body of superintendents in February.
The CHAIRMAN. I want to thank you very much on behalf of the committee for the able way in which you have presented your case.
Miss WILLIAMS. We have still a great part of our case to present.
Mr. FILENE. The Boston Chamber of Commerce voted against a Cabinet officer and voted against Federal aid. There were 10 delegates in each case.
(Whereupon at 10.45 o'clock p. m., the committee adjourned sine die.)
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION,
Wednesday, March 12, 1924. The committee met at 10 o'clock a. m., Hon. Frederick W. Dallinger, of Massachusetts, chairman, presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will please be in order, as there is a quorum present. This is a continued hearing on H. R. 3923.
Miss Williams, whom do you desire to have heard? Miss WILLIAMS. The first speaker this morning is Mr. Joy E. Morgan, editor of the Journal of the National Education Association.
STATEMENT OF MR. JOY. E. MORGAN, EDITOR OF THE JOURNAL
OF THE NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION
Mr. MORGAN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, the nature of my work places me in a position to know the sentiment that exists throughout the United States on this measure, and after following the matter closely for four years I am convinced that there has never