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I have here a brief editorial from the magazine Education for March. May I remark that this is one of the magazines which a few years ago was doubtful about the bill but now is coming out month after month with editorial support. May I insert a brief editorial from the Jornal of Education of Boston, whose editor I think has been across the continent at least once every year for more than 50 years, and who has the reputation of knowing personally more school men and women than any other living man, and who, from this wide contact with actual conditions, writes a statement here explaining the situation with reference to the bill.
And then I wish I might insert a third statement from the Journal of the National Education Association, summarizing somewhat all of the things I have said this morning. If I may, I will insert these at this time. The CHAIRMAN. There will be no objection and you may do so.
(From Education for March, 1924) One of the most telling evidences of the need of such a measure as the SterlingReed educational bill now before Congress is afforded by a letter from a southern school-teacher, which has lately been brought to our attention. It reads in part as follows:
“I am a little country school-teacher, teaching in one of the most backward sections of —; have never played any athletic games; in fact, have only seen a few games of basket ball, so know nothing at all about such things; but I want to interest my children in athletics.
“We have a baseball diamond fixed, and the children play with bat and ball, but they do not know how. We are also fixing a basket ball court; have ordered ball, goals, etc. I have secured rule books, but I can't understand them well enough to teach the game, nor the grown-ups either.
I am very anxious that my children have a better chance than I had to learn these things. They do not know how to play, are full of malaria and hookworms, but I am trying to teach them that to be well is much more interesting to others especially—than being ill. I have 35 children, ranging in age from 6 to 16, but our average is 20, ague being principally the cause of poor attendance. But I think if I can get them interested in something they will make a greater effort to get well and do better. Please give me some information regarding badge tests. Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated.”
This letter was addressed to the Playground and Recreation Association of America, New York City, and was published by them as “one of the 14,000 requests for help” answered in the year 1922. We want to ask our readers' frank and candid opinion as to what shall be done about such a situation? Whose business is it to remedy conditions in such parts of our country as that from which this teacher writes? Can they be remedied locally? Do you want them remedied? Have you any responsibility in the premises? Have you ever read what the “good Samaritan” did? Do you think that the Samaritan parable is outgrown and obsolete? We confess that we feel the punch of these questions.
The Journal of Education (Boston) for January 31 contains the following editorial, which is especially significant because of the wide range of personal observation enjoyed by Editor A. E. Winship who wrote it.
THE PUBLIC-SCHOOL ISSUE
The Sterling-Reed education bill in the present Congress is likely to be the test of loyalty or disloyalty to the public schools of the United States.
What the attempt to land tea at the Boston docks was to England, what the Dred Scott decision was to slavery, what the sinking of the Maine was to Spain, what the sinking of the Lusitania was to Germany, the defeat of the education bill is liable to be to all antipublic-school interests.
It is not a question whether we are satisfied with this bill; it is as plain as day that “Remember the education bill” is liable to mean as much in American politics as was Remember the Maine."
We speak all the more freely because we have had no part in framing the bill. Personally, we shall have no humiliation in its defeat. We are not speaking for ourselves in anywise
Everything said or written by educational aristocrats, so called, makes a vote on the bill a test of one's place in the battle line for or against educational democracy, solidifies nine-tenths of the American people for the bill.
Every objection to the financial feature of the bill is believed to represent the big taxpayers and the so-called big interests, who appear to make the dollar of more importance than the child.
So every phase of opposition to the education bill is liable to be popularly interpreted as opposition to the greatest efficiency of the public schools.
What Little Round Top was to the fate of southern armies the Sterling-Reed education bill is liable to be to all opponents of the public schools. That stone wall in the graveyard at Gettysburg was not such a fortification as the Union generals would have selected. It was not high enough; it had too many open spaces. An expert builder of breastworks for a battle could have found no end of weak spots in it, and the southern general made his charge across that field and up that hill on his interpretation of the weak features of that stone wall, but it was in the right place at the right time for the Union Army to use whatever there was of it.
So we suspect that the education bill, which may not be high enough, which may have too many weak places, is high enough and strong enough for the public schools to withstand all attacks.
We would rather be behind that education bill breastwork in defense of the American public school than charging across the field and up the hill depending upon the imperfections of the bill that is likely to become the defense of the public school.
OUR NATIONAL ASSOCIATION-ITS BATTLE FOR A DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
A nation's conscious concern over education measures its interest in its own future. Education looks forward. Wisely guided, it studies human needs as they are likely to be and teaches boys and girls how to live to meet those needs. What we wish to be as a nation, we can be if we are willing to pay the price. We have tremendous material wealth and can not afford not to pay the price of building men and women who can dominate that wealth and not be dominated by it. Our greatest natural resource, and the one upon which the development of all others depend, is the intelligence and morality of the masses of our people. Develop these through improved schools, and industrial and social progress are inevitable. It is in this faith that the National Education Association and its friends have sought a Federal department of education. This article is an account of the battle which now gives promise of early victory:
The supreme struggle of the war emphasized and intensified educational weaknesses, which were already evident in inadequate salaries and a tremendous shortage of trained teachers. The profession itself was the first to recognize the growing needs of education. The National Education Association responded in 1918 by appointing a commission to study all phases of the probem. The commission included members appointed by the association itself and also by the department of superintendence. The executive committee on February 25, 1918, decided that the new agency should be called The National Education Association Joint Commission on the Emergency in Education and the Program for Readjustment During and After the War. Its members were drawn from all sections of the country and from every phase of educational work. The commission rendered immediate service by coordinating war activities in the schools. It made a careful study of the educational situation throughout the Nation and found the following outstanding needs which called for legislative effort:
The need for arousing the people of the Nation to an appreciation of the seriousness of the situation. If education was to have the funds and public consideration necessary to enable it to keep pace with other phases of our life, it must have larger recognition from the Government itself. The commission, therefore, proposed to create a Federal department of education with a secretary in the President's Cabinet, which would give education the prestige and public attention that go with the Cabinet position.
The war had drawn attention to the vast number of men who could not read and write. Of the men examined in the draft one in every four was unable to read a newspaper in English or write a letter home. Schools to teach reading
and writing in camps throughout the country took the time of great numbers of men whose efforts might have been thrown immediately into the war.
The physical examinations of the draft had eliminated one out of every six as unfit for any type of military service. The wealthiest Nation in the world was obviously below par physically. The situation demanded immediate attention. The commission, therefore, proposed Federal aid to encourage the States in the development of programs of physical education.
Another menace revealed by the war was that of unassimilated foreign elements collected in great centers of population. There are communities in this country containing more Italians than Rome, and more Russians than Moscow. These men and women-potentially good citizens—have had little contact with American life and often have failed to appreciate the purposes and ideals of our American democratic institutions. The association's commission recommended Federal aid to encourage the States to undertake programs of Americanization. Federal aid seemed particularly appropriate inasmuch as the States have no power to refuse immigrants admitted under the authority of the Federal Government.
During the war and immediately after, many schools were closed all or a part of the year for lack of teachers. In some localities it was not possible to obtain even untrained teachers. The shortage of trained teachers was so appalling that when the National Education Association collected the facts and presented them to the country, it stood aghast at a situation which had not before been appreciated in its national importance. The Nation had spent vast sums to train 3,000,000 men for service overseas, but had ignored the problem of training teachers to fight on the frontier of childhood. Four-fifths of the teachers of the United States had had less than two years of training beyond the four-year high school and tens of thousands of them were not even eighth-grade graduates. Single agricultural colleges were receiving appropriations equal to those provided for ten or a dozen normal schools. The association's commission, therefore, recommended Federal aid to encourage the States in the training of teachers.
The investigations of the committee revealed another serious difficulty in our educational system. Many communities which are the poorest in material resources are the richest in children. The system of tax support for education has remained local and is based largely on real estate and other forms of tangible wealth. The ability to pay taxes has come to be represented by income rather than property. Wealth tends to concentrate in great centers of production, even though that wealth may be the result of the cooperation of large numbers of people spread over immense areas of territory. Such industries as tobacco, textiles, and automobiles draw their raw materials from far and wide and in the sale of products levy tribute wherever tobacco, clothing, and automobiles are used. Recognizing this centralization of tax-paying ability the association's committee proposed to seek Federal aid for the equalization of educational opportunities.
Having determined the outstanding needs of education, the commission sought to frame legislation to meet those needs. It drafted a bill, which was presented to Congress in the fall of 1918. This bill was sent widely to educational workers and others throughout the country. After their wishes had been learned, it was revised and again presented to Congress as the Smith-Towner education bill.
So carefully had this preliminary work been done that the educational forces rallied to the support of the measure with practical unanimity. In spite of misrepresentations of the opposition, the educational group has stood by its great legislative program. Almost without exception educational workers have remained loyal and steadfast.
Hardly had the bill been presented to Congress when one organized group of citizens after another rallied to its support, until organizations reaching directly or indirectly over 20,000,000 voters had allied themselves back of the cause. One hears it frequently said in legislative circles that no measure ever before Congress has been supported by so great a mass of intelligent public sentiment. The education bill is more than the legislative program of the profession; it has come to be the program of the forward-looking people of the entire Nation.
When the new presidential administration came into office in 1921 the movement had already become a crusade. Into this situation came the measure known as the welfare bill (S. 1607 and H. R. 5837). The association's representatives and other friends of the cause did not wish to oppose the administration's proposal to create a department of welfare, but were determined in their opposition to the submerging of education in such a department where it would be no better off than it is in the Department of the Interior. At the hearings on the welfare
bill on May 18, 1921, there was such an avalanche of opposition to submerging education that effort to promote that bill was stopped.
Meanwhile there had been created by special act of Congress a Commission on the Reorganization of the Executive Departments of the Government. Congressional leaders did not wish to consider other legislation affecting the Cabinet until the reorganization proposals had been formulated and passed upon. The association respected this wish and did not press for action on its bill to create a department of education.
In February, 1922, the chairman of the Commission on Reorganization made a report as chairman which was to become the basis of consideration by the committee as a whole. This report proposed to create a department of education and welfare in which about the only improvement over the former welfare bill was the insertion of the word “education" in the name.
This proposal for the department of education and welfare was fully presented to the department of superintendence at Cleveland on February 28 by the United States Commissioner of Education, officially representing the Government. Following this proposal the department of superintendence adopted for the fifth time a resolution indorsing the education bill, providing for an independent department of education. This indicated that educational workers would not be misled by a mere change in name.
With the proposal for a department of education and welfare still before the country, the National Education Association went on record at its Oakland meeting for the fifth time for an independent department of education with a secretary in the President's Cabinet. Meanwhile, the rising tide of public sentiment in favor of the education bill had swept onward.
The bill was reintroduced on December 17 in the Senate by Thomas Sterling, of South Dakota, and in the House by Daniel A. Reed, of New York.
Hearings were held earlier than had been expected, beginning January 22 before the Senate Committee on Education and Labor. Eight half-day sessions were held. The cause of public education was never more effectively presented. The report of those hearings constitutes an encyclopedia of information on the needs of the public schools.
On January 25 and 26 representatives of the association and allied organizations testified before the Joint Congressional Committeee on Reorganization of the Executive Departments. It was made plain to this committee that the friends of education do not wish it submerged in any department or subordinated to any other great national interest. The members of the committee were impressed by the testimony showing the needs of education and the great mass of public sentiment that exists for giving it primary recognition in the Federal Government.
The tentative proposal before the Reorganization Committee included a department of education and welfare, with divisions devoted to education, health, veteran service, and social welfare. The idea of welfare is not generally favored. The American Legion prefers to have the Veterans' Bureau remain as an independent establishment. Health and education are separate establishments in cities and States as well as in foreign countries, and the same arguments apply for keeping them separate in our Federal Government. The representatives of education asked that it should not be submerged or associated with any activities which would divert the attention of the secretary of education from this primary interest. Attention was called to fact that the plan before the Reorganization Committee was presented at the Cleveland meeting of the department of superintendence and was before the country at the time of the Oakland meeting of the National Education Association. Yet both of these meetings went on record in favor of an independent department of education, showing that there is a clear mandate from the organized educational workers of the Nation against submerging education in any department.
It is now a common remark among Members of Congress that regardless of the action that may be taken at this session with reference to Federal subventions, the creation of an independent department of education is a reasonable probability.
Mr. MORGAN. Unless the members of the committee desire to ask me some questions, this concludes my statement. I thank you for your courtesy.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions?
Miss WILLIAMS. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I placed before each of you a marked number of the January Journal of the National Education Association. I wish to call attention to several marked articles:
"Our National Association's Battle for a Department of Education," some articles on the editorial page, 96, and some excerpts from the Senate hearing, on page 111.
I hope you will take these to your office and find time to glance over them.
I should like at this time, Mr. Chairman, to insert some statements of editors and writers, one being from Doctor Wardlaw, of the South Carolina Journal of Education, and Dr. Frank Crane, editor of Current Opinion. Also a statement from Edward W. Bók, and another from an associate editor of the Collier's Weekly.
The CHAIRMAN. If there is no objection, these may be inserted in the record.
COLUMBIA, S. C., January 20, 1924. Miss CHARL WILLIAMS,
National Education Association, Washington, D. C.:
STATEMENTS ON THE EDUCATION BILL
The real business of every man and woman in the country is education. Everything else is a side line.
One hundred years from now the most amazing thing in our present form of government will be that we had a Secretary of War, a Secretary of the Navy, but no secretary of education.
If there is any one thing in which Federal aid is justified, it is education. Frank Crane, editor of Current Opinion.
When we stop to think that the United States is to-day the only great Nation in the world which has not an officer of the Government devoting himself to education, it seems to me that the question of whether we should have a secretary of education in the Cabinet answers itself. With a country so needful of the extention of educational advantages, there are few more urgent necessities than that the Federal Government should work with the States along educational lines. Almost every question has two sides, but this, it seems to me, has only
Edward W. Bok, author and editor.
FEBRUARY 19, 1924. Miss CHARL WILLIAMS,
National Education Association, Washington, D. C. DEAR Miss WILLIAMS: During the last year Collier's Weekly has been sincerely interested in to-day's problems of education and has printed many articles and editorials on the subject. We strongly feel that the cause of education to-day needs leadership and research.
Education needs leadership because our people as a whole are not yet conscious of the fact that we have dropped down in the list of nations to the eleventh place in percentage of literacy. We need leadership because our educational opportunities are extremely unequal-we are a long way from Lincoln's desire "for an equal opportunity for every child.” Our Federal bureaus of education are scattered through different departments of Government. Education has no central voice equivalent to that of agriculture, labor, or commerce.
The leadership provided by the education bill does not in any way imply Federal domination—in fact, this possibility is distinctly provided against in unequivocal language. If, as most people believe, education is the hope of our future democracy, certainly it should have a full voice in the official family of our Nation's executive.