« ForrigeFortsett »
was that the chairman of the school board, who happened to be a tailor, said, “I have a man who sews for me who is quite intelligent, but he can not read and write, and he ought to go to night school." I said, “You bring him up. He said, I am going to bring him up and see what you can do for him.”
Well, that man came around and started. He was a Russian. He went to the night school for eight years, and never missed a night in the night schools established by the city of Richmond, and he is now in the tailoring business; he has the business that his employer had, his employer now being dead.
Mr. BACON. Were most of these illiterates aliens or native born?
Mr. CHANDLER. They were all foreigners—Greeks and Russians. Remember that 95 per cent of the people of Virginia are American born, and that 92 per cent are Virginian born. Our colored people, you know, are Virginians and Americans.
Now, this foreign problem is not with us. That is a very small problem with us.
We do need aid in physical education everywhere in this country, which is provided for in this bill.
As you very well remember, when the call was made for men to come to arms, 30 per cent of them were shown to be physically unfit, and the marvelous feature was that a larger percentage of men from the country were unfit than men from the city. That was the interesting thing—because most of the city schools had medical inspection and dental clinics and things of that sort, which are so beneficial to the children as they are growing up, whereas they do not have those things in the country.
This aid for physical education is needed for the rural districts more than it is for any other section.
And then we want aid for teacher training. There are about 750,000 teachers in this country and about 200,000 have not anything more than a high school education, and many of them have not gone that far in school, and 20 per cent of our teachers are children under 20 years of age. It is due to the fact that there are not enough schools to train them, not enough opportunity to train them, and moreover salaries are small, so that a good many do not stay in the profession after they get into the profession.
That is a State problem, of course, but it is a problem that the Nation is interested in, and it is one to promote, is one to assist in, and to put all the force of the Federal Government behind but not to interfere with the States in the control of their systems.
And then, finally, we want to do something for the great mass of common schools in this country. We are not doing enough for them.
Oh, it grieves me to see the children in so many States crowded together in small rooms, 50 in a room that ught not to have more than 20.
Mr. Fenn. Would you have the Government build the schoolhouses?
Mr. CHANDLER. No, sir; oh, no; that is not in the bill.
Mr. FENN. You just spoke about its being crowded, incidental to your speech, and I thought you were advocating the Government's building the schoolhouses.
Mr. CHANDLER. If you consider that this bill means control of education by the Federal Government, of course I could not make any argument that would have any effect, but if you consider that this bill is a bill to encourage education, I think I could argue with you.
Mr. FENN. Excuse me a moment. My interpolation there was when you made that remark. I suppose your idea would be that this department should submit plans of schoolhouses and determine the number in the different school districts, and lay down rules as to hygiene, etc.
Mr. CHANDLER. I think that would not be bad, just as our State does it. Our State department of education does that. That is a good illustration, and I am perfectly willing to take it. Our State department of education submits plans to the various counties but the counties do not have to follow them. That is just the point.
Mr. FENN. Like the Department of Agriculture tells us how to raise a good many crops, but we do not follow their advice in all cases ?
Mr. CHANDLER. Yes; and of course much of it is waste motion and will be in all cases; I am bound to admit that; but that does not mean that we would not be working in the right direction.
Mr. FENN. On, no.
Here are these children, crowded with 50 to a room, and here is one poor teacher, poorly prepared, not trained for the work, trying to teach those 50 children, and the locality is running that school probably five or six or seven or eight months a year. You can see with such a condition it is quite necessary that something shall be done to try to improve the opportunities for the children in the various communities and to equalize the opportunities as far as possible throughout the country.
We are endeavoring, of course, in every State to try to equalize the educational opportunities between the country and the city, and the State makes special aid in many cases for these small schoolsthat is, where the community will put up so much money the State will then put up so much money. That is done over and over again all through the United States.
Gentlemen, I thank you very much for allowing me to talk in this desultory way, but I want to say that I feel that there is a great need for Federal Government at least giving to education its support, its encouragement, its assistance.
Mr. Bacon. What has been the principal cause for the failure of the States?
Mr. CHANDLER. You know why there is opposition to this bill and opposition to bills within the States for the promotion of education? It is because this country is divided into two classes; one class of men who are public-school minded and another class who are privateschool minded. That is really the cause of opposition.
Mr. Bacon. Do you mean opposition to this bill?
Mr. CHANDLER. This bill, and all bills in all States for the promotion of education.
Mr. FENN. Are the private schools much of a factor in the educational system of this country? Are they any considerable factor, outside of some parochial school?
Mr. CHANDLER. Well, the denominational school is a private school in my judgment.
Mr. FENN. Yes. I do not suppose in the country at large what we call private schools are much of a factor in the great educational system of the United States.
Mr. CHANDLER. I belong to a denomination that has its chain of schools, that believes that those schools should be promoted. There are some men of that denomination who desire to see the public schools get better and better every day. And do you know why? Because they think that if they get better and better every day they will be able to get out of the members of the church more money to support their private schools; because they will appeal to the denominational pride to get more money. That is one element.
There is another element, however, that does not wish to give that money; and therefore they do not wish to see the public schools advance too rapidly, because they do not care to give too much to their own denominational schools.
Now, in my State, a vast majority of the people are in favor of this bill. There is a very respectable minority, however, who are not in favor of it, and the synod of one religious body in my State, in southwest Virginia, has adopted a resolution against this bill.
Mr. TUCKER. What synod is that?
Mr. CHANDLER. In southwest Virginia. On the other hand, there are certain other bodies that have opposed it. But the main difficulty in the promotion of public education is that there are two great classes in this country, those who are public-school minded and those who are private-school minded. Those who are public-school minded will fight to the end for everything to promote public schools, and those who are private school minded will not always oppose the public schools, but they say “Hold on for a year" or "Hold on for a couple of years” or “Hold on, wait for 10 years" and so they hold back.
Mr. Bacon. And it is because of these two schools that the States have shirked their duty?
Mr. CHANDLER. There is no doubt about that. Of course there are other elements in the South that enter into it. That is, there is still among some of the older people the feeling that prevailed years ago, that the laboring class is not composed of people who should enjoy the benefits of universal education.
Mr. TUCKER. I think there are mighty few of those.
Mr. CHANDLER. Yes; but there is a little survival of that. But it has mostly disappeared. But we had no public-school system as such until 1870, you know; and so you can readily see that some who were living previous to that time could have such a feeling. But that is fast disappearing.
But I want to tell you this. The president of the chamber of commerce of a great city in Virginia, a young man, a man at any rate not over 50 years of age, said on one occasion “If I had my way I would not have a high school in the State; I don't believe the State should give one dollar to anything but elementary education.
There are quite a number of people who hold that same point of view; but they are a minority, of course.
Mr. Bacon. I appreciate that, and if we develop this question of Federal aid will there not be an increased tendency of the States to shirk their duty?
Mr. CHANDLER. How can it be?
Mr. Bacon. The States to-day are not appropriating sufficient money to maintain their schools properly.
Mr. CHANDLER. I have not read the bill since it was reintroduced, but it provides, I am sure, that State appropriations shall not be reduced.
Mr. Bacon. I appreciate the matching feature, I appreciate that provision.
Mr. CHANDLER. But the old bill had in it that the States should not reduce their appropriations below the amount what they appropriated the year before the bill becomes operative. .
Mr. TUCKER. I think that is in this bill.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you not think what you are after would be obtained more readily if they were obliged to start with what they have now and not get any money unless they raised additional money, on a 50-50 basis?
Mr. CHANDLER. If you will pass this sort of a bill I will agree to that with great pleasure. If you will pass a bill providing that for every dollar the State raises the Federal Government will match it with a dollar I would accept that provision with great pleasure.
The CHAIRMAN. You think that would be an improvement in the bill, do you?
Mr. CHANDLER. Well, I do not know that I would say that it would be an improvement but I would accept it with great pleasure.
I do not hesitate to say that that would be perfectly satisfactory to me, but I do not under any circumstances desire to yield for a minute on the proposition that we should have a department of education, and that we should have a provision for Federal aid to education. Those are the two main things.
Just exactly what way you work out that Federal aid I think would be a matter for thought, for the judgment of this committee; but the proposition you propose, Mr. Chairman, would certainly go a long way toward promoting education in the States.
The CHAIRMAN. What would you say to this, Doctor:
That the States should be obliged before they get any Federal aid to tax themselves to a certain average standard. I understand in your State in many localities property is not assessed for schools, roads, etc., anywhere near what it is worth in the market, whereas in my
State property is assessed for the full valuation, often more than it would bring in the market, a very high tax rate. Now, should not a State before it gets Federal aid, be obliged to tax itself proportionately to its valuation and wealth up to a certain standard, average standard of other States, before it gets Federal aid, that is the question.
Mr. CHANDLER. I am afraid we would get into a little too much Federal control there.
The CHAIRMAN. No, it would not be Federal control
Mr. CILANDLER. I mean control of assessments and taxation. You are going from education into another field.
The CHAIRMAN. Let me give you an illustration on the question of the fairness of the Federal aid in the different States. We will say here there is one State that is doing a certain amount by taxing its own citizens for education, and an adjoining State is only doing one-fifth as much proportionately to its population and wealth for education; do you think those States should be on a par in getting aid from the Federal Treasury for education?
Mr. CHANDLER. I will answer that very candidly, no; I do not want to try to evade that question at all, as I believe all should be taxed according to their wealth; but at the same time I should not want any clause inserted in this bill that had to deal with the question of the assessment of property in the States, as this bill is dealing with education.
Now, on this matter of equalization of assessment, that is still a local matter illustrated by my own State. Here is one county that is assessed 16 per cent of its true value, and right next to it is another county assessed at 70 per cent of its true value.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you not have any State law in regard to that?
Mr. Fenn. Do you not have equalization through your different counties?
Mr. CHANDLER. We tried to get an equalization law this year and could not get it passed.
The CHAIRMAN. Do I correctly understand that in the State of Virginia each county is allowed to fix its own system of valuation?
Mr. CHANDLER. We are local rights people, yes; I mean to say that most truthfully, that assessments of personal property, tangible, and of real estate, are fixed by each unit, the county and the city. You may not be familiar with the fact that each city in my State is in itself a county. Those assessments vary. I took an extreme case. Of course,
you want me to tell you what the average assessed value is, I can do so. It is 42 per cent.
The CHAIRMAN. Of what the property would bring in the market ?
Mr. CHANDLER. Yes, sir; that is right. I am perfectly willing to answer that.
Mr. LOWREY. I can testify that that is not true throughout the Southern States, because a year ago I tried very hard to sell some property that I owned and fixed a price and could not get it, and the other day I got my tax assessment and paid it, and I paid just 163 above what I tried to get for that property, and could not get it. I paid 164 per cent more valuation on that property than I could get for it when I tried my best to sell it, and the part I sold, the lot I sold, was the choicest lot of the property, and this valuation was on all the lots taken together.
Mr. HASTINGS. I am very much interested in your efforts to reduce illiteracy in Richmond. What has been the result of the establishment of night schools as well as efforts made there in regard to illiteracy?
Mr. CHANDLER. Great work was done.
Mr. TUCKER. May I interrupt you for a minute? I will say to the committee what Dr. Chandler would be too modest to say or admit, that no man in our State has done more on the educational line in that direction than Dr. Chandler.
Mr. CHANDLER. Thank you, Mr. Tucker.