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Mr. TUCKER. He is one of my proteges, and I take great interest in him, and I am delighted to hear him. I do not know exactly, Mr. Chairman, how he got off in favor of this bill, but I have the scriptural statement to encourage me,
Train up a child in the way that he shall go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” He is a young man yet, sir. [Laughter.]
Mr. CHANDLER. I got the idea originally from you, in 1907.
Mr. CHANDLER. What was your question, Mr. Hastings? I will be glad to answer it.
Mr. HASTINGS. I was asking you about the results of your efforts to reduce the illiteracy and what the percentage was, say 15 years ago, of illiteracy, and what the percentage of illiteracy is now, and what has been done in the meantime.
Mr. CHANDLER. Illiteracy has been greatly reduced in the city of Richmond, and it was done chiefly by the night schools, and I know this committee does not want to hear about it, but I tell you those night schools were run for adult illiterates, both white and colored, and they are still kept up. They were put in 15 years ago.
Mr. ÍUCKER. They are still going on. Mr. CHANDLER. They are still going on and some of the SmithHughes money is used for certain types of those schools. For instance there was a class of negro plasterers. They are being taught partly with Smith-Hughes money and partly with State money.
Mr. FENN. That is an evening trade school?
Mr. CHANDLER. Yes, an evening trade school in which are taught also related subjects. This type of school was not put in until the Smith-Hughes bill was passed.
Mr. HASTINGS. What has been the result of these efforts in percentages, if you have the percentages?
Mr. CHANDLER. The amount of illiteracy in Richmond has been reduced from about 16 per cent to about 8 per cent.
Mr. HASTINGS. Within 15 years?
Mr. LOWREY. You were speaking a while ago about the private demoninational schools and the public schools. I guess there is no member here that does not get a good deal of that from the private church school interests. I mean expressions of doubt on this bill. What do you estimate as to the effects of the passage of this bill would have on the question of church and private schools? Would it diminish the prospects of those schools, or would it help them?
Mr. CHANDLER. Speaking for my own denomination, I think it would help them.
The CHAIRMAN. What is your denomination?
Mr. CHANDLER. But speaking for my own denomination, I believe it would help them. As soon as the public schools get better, the Baptist education leaders will make an additional appeal to the churches and will get more money. I subscribe to our own denominational schools, and I am glad to say they come forward and take certain types of children that the public schools may not get hold of and do good work with those children. Every advance in the public school system always helps the Baptist schools. There is no question about that.
Mr. LOWREY. If the gentleman will excuse me, I will say that I too belong to the deep water tribe and have been president of one of their schools a good part of my life, and I have always taken that position, that whatever helps the State schools and the universities helps indirectly the denominational schools and private schools.
Mr. CHANDLER. I believe that fully.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any other questions? If not, we are obliged to you, Doctor Chandler.
Miss Williams. I would like to introduce as the next speaker Mr. Reynold E. Blight, the editor of the New Age Magazine, a certified public accountant, a former member of the Los Angeles school board, and a representative of that great body of American citizens deeply interested in the promotion and extension of public education; that is, the Scottish Rite Masons of the United States.
STATEMENT OF MR. REYNOLD E. BLIGHT
Mr. Blight. Mr. Chairman, I might say that my purpose in being here is to read a communication of the grand commander of the southern jurisdiction, Capt. John H. Cowles. He is absent in Florida on an official visitation, and this communication is his communication to this committee. Will it be in order for me to read it?
The CHAIRMAN. Certainly.
WASHINGTON, D. C., February 19, 1924.
GENTLEMEN: The Supreme Council, Thirty-third Degree (mother council of the world) of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States of America, whose jurisdiction extends over the 33 States of our country that lie south of the Ohio River and west of the Mississippi River, and, in addition, all the Territorial possessions, has a membership of 260,000 conservative, safe, and patriotic men.
In 1920 our council, in session, indorsed the general proposition of a department of education, the head of which should be a member of the President's Cabinet. At each session of the supreme council held since that time, resolutions reaffirming and making stronger, if possible, our stand for a department of education have been adopted, and we now earnestly urge the passage of the bill H. R. 3923, also known as the Sterling-Reed bill, as carrying out the plans for establishing this much-needed function in our governmental operations.
We believe that the most important problem before our Government is the education of the 25,000,000 children of to-day, who will be the citizens of tomorrow. The continued success of our form of Government will depend more on the intelligence of our citizenship a generation hence than we may be able to visualize at this time. The dissatisfaction that exists throughout the land, and which seems to be expanding, may be the forerunner, unless checked by wisdom and knowledge, of a sentiment marking the beginning of a decline in our form of Government.
We believe that a majority of the people want a department of education, separate and distinct from any other function of the Government.
While I am not authorized to speak officially for other organizations, I know that many of the State Masonic grand lodges, with large memberships; the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, with a membership of about half a million; the Imperial Council of the Mystic Shrine, with something over 600,000 members; the Order of the Eastern Star, with 1,000,000 members; and some of our sister
fraternities, the Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Junior Order of American Mechanics in many of the States, have officially indorsed such a department.
From personal observation during the course of traveling through the States of our jurisdiction and from information gathered from an extensive correspondence, I am satisfied that the people are overwhelmingly in favor of and desire such a distinct department of Government. This view is emphasized by the fact that while we have made no endeavor to secure petitions to present to Congress, yet in two cities widely separated such petitions have been secured, one in New Orleans, in a short time, containing about 27,000 names, and one in Los Angeles, containing 45,477 names; and same are now in the possession of those in charge of this bill in Congress.
This Nation, now the richest and most prosperous in the world, already legislating toward the reduction of taxation, is surely able to support the best possible endeavor in behalf of its people. Nine nations which have ministers of education now surpass us in having a smaller percentage of illiteracy. This at least shows to the world the great interest that those nations take in the education of their citizens.
Anticipating the question as to what objection there could be to adding “Health" to the department of education, will say that our supreme council has not considered that proposition. Expressing a personal view, however, I venture the opinion that the department of education should have no other function attached to it whatever. Education of itself is of sufficient importance to demand the ability, the capacity, the entire attention and the utmost concentration of the ablest man in the United States. I believe that there should not be anything extraneous whatever to distract for one moment his endeavors from the work devolving upon him as secretary of education and as a member of the President's Cabinet.
The creation of such a department would put a responsibility on those who are advocating it to see that it is not unduly expanded in any direction; and still speaking personally I believe that many of the departments of the Government have so expanded that now they are too vast and have so many ramifications that it is impossible for the Secretaries to acquire full and complete knowledge of what is being done. Consequently, the head of any department has to rely too much on reports coming to him through too many hands. It would, therefore, seem to be better, in the interest both of efficiency and of economy, to have more departments and have them more exclusive or confined to limits normally within the capacity of able men to manage, being guided by personal intimacy with their various features.
After all, the President of the United States is the individual around whom revolves the whole system, and if he knew that the reports brought to him by each Secretary were from the personal knowledge of that Secretary, he would have a great deal more confidence and be more in accurate touch with the different departments than if he knew that these reports came to his Secretaries through several different sources; and in any event, the responsibility would rest upon the Secretary and could not be shifted to some assistant or the head of some bureau.
Anticipating also your question as to the preference of leaving the Bureau of Education as it is or creating a department with health or other features added, will say our council has not considered that phase of the situation either. Speaking for myself, it is probable that a new department, with education mentioned first, would add to its standing; but whether it would accomplish more would depend on its scope and provisions as created by Congress and the predilections of the secretary who would be placed at the head of it. However, I believe it will be much easier to finally evolve an exclusive department of education out of the bureau, as presently constituted, than if changed.
I am confident that the masses of the people will not be satisfied until there is an exclusive department of education, and that they will continue to work strenuously to that end. A question is never settled until it is settled right, and it is for such a reason that we appeal to our statesmen to pass this measure now, and by so doing rise above partisan political advantage and party expediency, which has to a greater or less extent interfered with the passage of similar bills in the past. If you will do this, I believe that there will be a great restoration of the loss of faith by a large element of our citizenship in both the great political parties, and which will mark a new era in getting back to a Government in the interest of the people, relieving many of the belief that the people in Congress are more interested in securing advantages for their particular party or particular district than they are in accomplishing the greatest good to the greatest number. Respectfully submitted.
John H. Cowles,
Grand Commander. Mr. BLIGHT (continuing). Mr. Chairman, I simply submit this communication from Captain Cowles.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you anything else to add ?
Mr. Blight. Nothing except that I am glad to say, speaking for myself and not for the supreme council, but as an American citizen, and from my experience as a certified public accountant and as a member of the Los Angeles Board of Education, that I believe that the best interest of the Nation is served by the passage of this bill.
It has been my privilege to discuss this bill before many organizations in the far West, and the more I study it the more convinced I am that the next step in educational progress should be in the direction as indicated by this bill—the establishing of a department of education with a secretary in the President's Cabinet and Federal aid for public-school purposes:
Looking at it from the business man's standpoint, I believe business men will come more and more to favor the bill because the extension of education means an increase in the wealth-producing power of the Nation and greater consuming capacity. This means enhanced profits.
As a layman who is interested in education, I hope very earnestly that this committee will see fit to recommend a favorable consideration of this bill by Congress and that we will see such a department established.
Mr. FENN. Are you a member of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry?
Mr. BLIGHT. No, I am not a member. I am the editor of the
Mr. FENN. How did that originate, that communication from them? Did it originate in the supreme council or from outside?
Mr. Blight. In the supreme council. The supreme council is the governing body of the rite.
Mr. Fenn. I know that. But I did not know whether it originated there or by somebody from outside who addressed them and because of that address this communication was set.
Mr. Blight. No; it originated in the council itself.
Mr. BLIGHT. Yes; but from my correspondence with many members of the rite, East and West, there is an overwhelming sentiment of the members for the bill as submitted.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any other questions? If not, we thank you very much. Miss Williams?
Miss WILLIAMS. At this time I am going to ask Mr. O.H. Blackman, associate editor of Collier's Weekly, to address the committee.
STATEMENT OF MR. 0. H. BLACKMAN, ASSOCIATE EDITOR
OF COLLIER'S WEEKLY
Mr. BLACKMAN. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I would not presume to come before you to-day with any attempt to put before you any technical features relating to this bill. There is just one thing that I have asked permission to come before you regarding, and that is the possibility provided for by this bill of giving us in this country a unified, centralized body for the study of education, for the good of our States and towns and communities as a whole; in other words, the research possibilities provided for in that bill; and my reason for bringing that so particularly to your attention is due to the fact that the last two years, traveling around this country, the great inequalities, not so much in the amount of money provided for the schools, but in the use of that money, have been strongly brought to my attention. I refer to the outlook and division of the local superintendent or the local principal of the school. It has seemed to us very simple, this reaction going around the country, that that one provision, that one possibility offered to us by that bill, would be of tremendous value.
We feel to-day that the education as a whole needs reshaping for these new times, it needs great reshaping in order that our boys and girls turned out of the schools shall come out of there equipped for the battle of life and equipped to be good, useful, and efficient citizens, and in order that our moneys used locally may be used to the best possible advantage. It does seem to us that this department of research plus the council provided for in this bill drawn from all of the States and added to by representative key people in various parts of our life, would give us that concentrated forward-looking planning in our schools that is so much needed to-day.
It does not appear to me that that is a matter of centralization. In fact, reading this bill carefully a number of times and contrasting it with other bills, it would seem that that had been definitely provided against; but it does give us leadership and that means concentration of the scattered bureaus, scattered now through different departments. It would probably mean, by the dignity of the office, one of the real educational leaders in the position of secretary of that department. And if it did nothing else but to collect facts regarding the deficiencies of certain localities and the advantages of others and put this question of education squarely before our people as a matier of facts, and also as a matter of opportunity, that would mean a great deal. And though this may sound quite general, let me give you one specific case.
Wanting to get some new available material for articles on education, this year, in Collier's we went to administration officers of education in three of our largest colleges, and they gave us some remarkable examples of local advance. One in Rochester, where the junior high schools of Rochester had been carried forward to a perfection and usefulness that is not equaled by any other large community.
That article was published and the reaction from all over the country of other municipalities and communities which were interested in the question, which is a comparatively new one, of the junior high school and its possibilities, convinced us that if we could