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Education needs research. The work done by Teachers' College, the University of Chicago, Leland Stanford, and the National Education Association have amply demonstrated the need of research on a still broader scale.
We need the most scientific approach to the problems of education; we need accurate figures; we need to know the latest successful advance in any State in the Union or in countries outside of our own. And we need some machinery to give the results of this research and place it at the disposal of our educators intrusted with local administration throughout the country.
The education bill now before the Congress seems to provide in a most satisfactory fashion these elements of leadership and research. Your associates who are in close touch with the whole field of educational administration are in a position to advocate intelligently the other provisions of the bill. But we here in Collier's want to emphasize our great interest not only in the bill as a whole but in these vital provisions which will give us educational leadership and the benefits of thorough research. These two factors are responsible in the commercial world for American advance in the handling of great industrial undertakings. You can analyze the operation of one industry after another and you will find leadership and research frankly acknowledged as the two great fundamental requirements. Cordially yours,
O. H. BLACKMAN,
Associate Editor Collier's, the National Weekly. Miss WILLIAMS. The next speaker this morning represents a reading public of many millions. He is an editorial writer for the Hearst papers, and was formerly a member of the Boston school committee. We shall now hear from Dr. Charles Fleischer.
STATEMENT OF DR. CHARLES FLEISCHER, EDITORIAL
WRITER FOR HEARST PUBLICATIONS
Doctor FLEISCHER. It is certainly a privilege to. appear before
you to espouse this bill. As Miss Williams has just intimated, I began a long career with membership in the Boston school committee. That of itself indicated my interest in public education as such. It happens that now I have the privilege of writing editorially for the Hearst newspaper organization; so that I have a chance to show through that medium the old-time interest in public education and to gain for whatever I may be moved to say on the subject as wide a hearing as perhaps any medium in the country can afford.
I feel that the subject of public education, despite the fact that other matters seem for the moment paramount, is the supreme interest of this Nation. A democracy to be intelligently and responsibly self-governing obviously must be an educated democracy.
Your chairman will permit me to quote a statement that is on the outer wall of the Boston Public Library, which emphasizes that ideal for all the millions that have the privilege of looking upon that symbol of public education, the Boston Public Library. You will remember, Mr. Chairman, the inscription there that “The Commonwealth requires the education of the citizens as the safeguard of order and liberty.”
That is one of those obvious statements which, because it is so very obvious, may seem to degenerate easily into a platitude. And yet I venture to assert that in this democratic experiment of oursif it is still an experiment—we are organizing anew to-day, with the intelligence and wisdom that is the result of the ages in the efforts of self-organization of human beings, we should certainly make one of the department activities of such a democratic experiment a department of education.
I can not imagine that we, if we were to-day organizing this Government of the people of the United States, I can not imagine that we would fail to regard education as on a par with labor and commerce and the interior development of our country, the proper use of naval oil leases and the preparation of a country for war, perhaps; and also the education of the country for peace.
I mean to assert that we would be generally agreed that a department of education which would concern itself with a proper intellectual preparation of the citizens in the science and art of self-government would be regarded by all of us as paramount, as certainly on a par with all these other aspects of political and economic questions to which I have referred.
If that is so, then, of course, such a statement as that which has been made on the outer wall of the Boston Public Library, an ideal that has been reemphasized by our President in his very first speech made to the assembled Congress, I can not believe that that would be regarded by any of us as a mere platitude, but that it does represent, on the other hand, the supreme ideal of all intelligent, responsible Americans.
If that is the case, why, then, should we not as a matter of course have a department of education and a secretary of education a member of the President's Cabinet ? Simply because we failed to do that at the beginning of the organization of the country is no reason for our not registering now what I believe to be the universal and commonplace opinion throughout the country.
Now, because there may be some difficulty of organization, because there may be some difficulty about the details of administration of such a department under the responsible head of a secretary of education, would be no reason for shirking the responsibility of registering, in the creation of such a department now, what is the universal feeling throughout the country.
We have undertaken an enormous task of digestion of evidence, new and old, of the material for the making of the future American. We commonly talk much about Americanization work as applied to foreigners. Now, it happens that I am among those who showed that lack of prenatal cleverness which might have permitted my being born in the United States of America, and therefore I have had to be made into an American, and I was made into an American in the public schools, you may be sure. I learned there my American history, and I learned the spirit of American institutions, and I learned it all so well that America is for me a passion and democracy personally to me is a religion.
What the public schools of the United States have done for me, not only the primary, the elementary public schools, but later on the higher grades and the public universities—for I happen to be a product of a university that is a public and not a private institution, the University of Cincinnati-what those public schools, those means of public education, have done for me personally I feel passionately ought to be passed on to every prospective American, not simply the new, the foreigner, so called, but the native-born as well; I feel that as we come here, we who were not born in America but who achieved our Americanism, as we come here under Federal auspices, it seems to me that the Federal Government ought to retain its responsible interest in us and see to it that under Federal auspices the education
in Americanism is carried on dependably wherever we may land, under the various auspices of the various States of the Union.
I wonder if an older American can see as clearly and take for granted as a matter of course as the relatively new American can that this is one country, that it is not simply a union of States but to us who see America as one it is first of all one nation, and then a subdivision in the States.
Now, perhaps, a statement of that sort stirs ire of the old State rights folks. Well, I don't say it for that purpose. I once had the privilege of addressing a Grand Army reunion on Memorial Day in Boston, and calling their attention to the fact that after all the Civil War was sort of an oratorical dispute, namely, whether it was right to say “The United States are” or “ The United States is, and as a result of that oratorical dispute "is” won the day, and since then it has been “The United States is."
Be that as it may, the only reason I refer to this little oratorical debate of a generation or so ago is that to the American of to-day and to the Åmerican of the future this will be necessarily simply one country, with its convenient subdivision into various States, and it is too late in the day to stir up the old dispute over State rights.
On the other hand, the sovereignty of States is recognized by the Constitution, and even such a department as this would no more interfere with what remains of the sovereignty of the States than any other department of the Government to-day interferes with the local State government and State sovereignty.
That will be no reason for opposing the creation of a department of education with a secretary in the President's Cabinet at the head of it.
I mention that because I believe in passing this bill, and I know there is some opposition to it on the basis of the old State rights feeling.
The CHAIRMAN. May I ask you a question?
The CHAIRMAN. Would you be in favor of doing away with the State's power and have Congress act as the only legislative body in the country, as the English Parliament does in England ?
Doctor FLEISCHER. No, by no means.
The CHAIRMAN. I thought your argument naturally led to that conclusion.
Doctor FLEISCHER. Oh, no. I am glad, then, you asked that question.
The CHAIRMAN. I thought you said that you thought everything ought to be national, one country, and the States simply convenient subdivisions like the counties in the States are subdivisions of the States.
Doctor FLEISCHER. Well, we also have our municipal governments, we also have our county organizations, and as a good member of the Massachusetts Commonwealth I believe even in the town meeting, and, going still further in the other direction, I believe thoroughly in individual responsibility. But we have to run the whole gamut of organization to get in with the individual at one end, where I believe the utlimate responsibility rests, and ending with Federal Government at the other end. And there are, of course, minor organizations and local subdivisions each of which has its function and its authority and its tremendous responsibility.
If I seem to slight State government, I do not want to be understood as doing that. We want a Federal supervision; under the auspices of Federal supervision we need all the lesser subdivisions, coming right down to the ultimate individual, and making each subdivision shoulder its and his share of responsibility.
Mr. TUCKER. As I understand you, Doctor, you would not favor any Federalization of schools at the start that took away the power of the State to control the school?
Doctor FLEISCHER. No. That is why I said in the beginning it is rather early to talk about details of organization and administration, and I am sure we can leave to the experts who are part of this proposed plan-namely, there is to be a gathering of experts, 100 representative educators and laymen, who would meet annually at the call of the Secretary and participate with him in working out the details of administration. I certainly would not believe in taking away from the States either responsibility or authority in the education of their citizens.
Mr. TUCKER. And if this bill did that or tended to do it, you would not favor it?
Doctor FLEISCHER. There I am not so sure; but I speak as an individual, and as a relatively newcomer. I believe if any particular State became rambunctious, there ought to be authority in the Federal Government to make it behave itself. But that is a matter of individual opinion. I do believe in a strong central government with sufficient authority and responsibility so that the vitality of democratic government would be retained.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you be in favor of a Federal department of public safety with a member in the Cabinet on the ground that the local police authorities do not always work together!
Doctor FLEISCHER. By no means.
Doctor FLEISCHER. No, I should say not; because the local authorities are very close to efficiency. I think the maintenance of law and order, despite our too abundant criminality, is, on the whole, considering the freedom there is in this country, remarkably efficient. At any rate we can keep a minimum of order even through Federal interference in case of need, just as we would want, through a department of this kind, to keep at least a minimum of education guaranteed to all the citizens of the United States, all of the children of the country, and where the States do fail to do their duty:
Mr. TUCKER (interposing). Let me understand you. You say your aim is to see that under this bill a minimum of education is at least secured to every State?
Doctor FLEISCHER. Yes. That certainly is desired. I do not know how the proponents of the bill who have worked out these details feel about that.
Mr. TUCKER. How does that conform with the idea that the State has the entire power to control the administration of their schools? That seems to be admitted as a fact by the proponents of this bill
Doctor FLEISCHER. I seem to have stirred up a hornet's nest in suggesting that the States ought to feel a degree of responsibility
toward the education of their citizens, which would put them beyond any danger of Federal interference.
Å Federal department of education would not interfere with States' rights in public education, but would stimulate everywhere a sense of States' responsibility toward education.
Mr. TUCKER. Yes.
Doctor FLEISCHER. But if the States do not feel that, then I should say it is to the interest of the country to stimulate that desire of the States to give education to their inhabitants which the country as a whole feels necessary:
To show how that works out; in the late war you know we had literacy tests, and they worked out painfully, disgracefully. Take a boy that came from a State that is at present neglectful in the matter of providing education to her inhabitants. If that boy failed to pass the necessary tests, it was a loss to the United States; the Federal Armies lost that much.
If a boy was killed in the Argonne it did not matter whether he came from New York or Georgia. We, the people of the United States, have a common interest in the literacy and physical and mental efficiency of our youth; that is really the point that I am trying to express.
I am not trying to bring out the old bogey of States' rights, nor to suggest an extension of Federal organization which would tend toward the interference of either States' rights or State authority or State responsibility; but I do believe in a Federal department of education with a secretary in the President's Cabinet, at the head of it, which would tend to standardize education to the extent of suggesting to the States, well, a minimum in our opinion is desirable; also we believe that if we, in a given locality, want help, the Federal department will know how to give financial and expert help to enable us to bring up the department of education toward the standard on which we are agreed.
The CHAIRMAN. You believe in the standardization of the education of the whole country, do you?
Doctor FLEISCHER. Well, again, that is a dangerous word. I do not believe in standardization of the sort that would mean thus and so, that you must teach the children so and so, but I believe in standardization which means that a given minimum must be fulfilled, which is indispensable to an intelligent direction in a selfdirected democracy.
The CHAIRMAN. And that minimum must be directed by the Federal Government!
Doctor FLEISCHER. It need not be directed by the Federal Government; it is not as though we were beginning all over the task of educating the children. There is not a State that may not be most insistent on its sovereignty, that is not undertaking the task of education, and that does not know what the minimum of education is that is needed and that has not a standard of education.
The CHAIRMAN. But suppose, though, they know it and they do not exercise it; then your idea is that there should be a power in the Federal Government that should see that they do?
Doctor FLEISCHER. Well, as to the enforcement of the ideals and standards and purposes which such a Department of Education might work out, I do not feel expert enough to speak on that; but I do