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STATEMENT OF JOHN JACOB, DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION AND YOUTH INCENTIVE, WASHINGTON URBAN LEAGUE, INC.
Mr. JACOB. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee on Public Health, Education, Welfare, and Safety, my name is John E. Jacobs, director of education and youth incentives for the Washington Urban League. The Washington Urban League is a community planning and social service agency which for more than 28 years has worked to improve the employment, housing, education, health and welfare opportunities available to minority groups in our community.
We appreciate the opportunity to appear before you this morning to testify in support of the need for public institutions of higher education in Washington, D.C.
The Washington Urban League views public education as the cornerstone of progress in our community. We, therefore, would like to reaffirm publicly our full support for publicly supported higher educational institutions for the District of Columbia.
We feel that this need has been long neglected in our community and has many damaging effects. In 1963-64 alone, we saw 4,975 youths drop out of our public schools, the year before, 4,179 youths dropped out. In both of those years, the largest group of dropouts was because of "lack of interest." What then is lack of interest?" The President's Committee on Public Higher Education found a definition when it stated:
The most urgent educational need in the District of Columbia is hope. The public school system is overwhelmingly college oriented, yet there is no low-cost general college to which its graduates can go. Like every American city today, Washington has its share of families-more than a sixth of the populationwho live in poverty and who generally suffer the attendant evils of cultural deprivation and the stifling environment of the slums.
Yet, unlike more and more American cities, Washington is without a single publicly supported institution for education at any level beyond high school— excepting only a teacher-training institution-to help these thousands of persons overcome their handicaps and realize their full potential.
For thousands of these children and adolescents, school has no meaning in terms of opportunity. It is more in the nature of a sentence pasesd upon them to be served until age 16. For they have become convinced, largely through the experience of parents, of older brothers and sisters, and of others know to them in their community, that they can look forward to no real part in today's society, let alone to any share in that society's affluence.
Thus too many of them drop out of school as soon as they are able and try, usually without marked success to compete for a living. Without skills, they are too often unusable by, and hence useless to, the community.
But, if we solved the dropout problem in the District tomorrow, we would still be faced with a major educational problem. According to a report by Forest Bogan in the Monthly Labor Review, the unemployment rate nationally for Negro high school graduates is 16.1 percent. These figures clearly illustrate that a high school education may be enough for many youngsters. A high school diploma can become, in fact, "a passport to nowhere."
In Washington, the lack of public colleges through which excellence in intellectual and technical skills can be pursued only enhances this community's inability to reduce unemployment and eradicate poverty.
The Washington Urban League greets with enthusiasm both Senate bills S. 293 and S. 1613, which propose to establish a Board of Higher Education, the first step in the creation of new institutions of learning. Although the two bills are similar in most respects, the Washington Urban League would prefer passage of S. 1612. We prefer the latter bill, Mr. Chairman, because it better embodies a basic concept of the Urban League: the need for public institutions sensitively to reflect the needs and be responsible to the control of local citizens. S. 293 would have Board members appointed by the judges of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, whereas S. 1612 places this responsibility on the District Commissioners.
While the District Commissioners also are appointed officials, we feel that they better reflect and respond to the voice of local residents. In addition, under the latter arrangement, these powers could be more easily transferred to our local government, when-soon, we hope our community regains self-government.
The challenge through both bills, however, is to create institutions of excellence. We hope that the Board of Higher Education will be guided by a vision of building a system of the highest quality-spacious and stimulating in its physical plant, providing the highest quality of instruction, a vehicle for the most impoverished to enter its doors to find lifetime opportunity.
Excellence, we repeat, must be the foundation upon which Washington must build its public institutions for higher learning. The Washington Urban League urges immediate and positive action by Congress to establish publicly supported higher education in the District of Columbia.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator MORSE. That was a fine statement. We will be delighted to have it in the hearing record. Thank you.
The next witness will be Mrs. Arthur E. Strout, chairman, education committee, Americans for Democratic Action.
STATEMENT OF MRS. ARTHUR E. STROUT, CHAIRMAN, EDUCATION COMMITTEE, AMERICANS FOR DEMOCRATIC ACTION
Mrs. STROUT. We, of the Greater Washington chapter of Americans for Democratic Action, are grateful for this opportunity to present to this committee our views of higher education in the District of Columbia.
We see no reason for taking up the time of this committee to emphasize the importance of higher education in present-day America. The Congress has given abundant evidence through its legislative action that it fully recognizes that importance.
We do not want to underline some of the severe barriers to higher education for the young people who live in the Nation's Capital.
Washington has a number of excellent colleges and universities, but these institutions do not primarily serve the young people of this city. Total undergraduate enrollment in institutions of higher education in the District of Columbia was 30,661 in 1963. Of these students, 22,726 were residents of other places than Washington.
Only 7,935 or approximately 25 percent of the enrolled undergraduates came from Washington. In no one of the 50 States is the proportion of out-of-State students to residents as high as in the District of Columbia. Massachusetts, with Harvard and MIT drawing students from all over the Nation, still has an undergraduate enrollment in its institutions of higher education consisting of 65.9 percent residents of the State.
The result is that great numbers of young people are deprived of the higher education they deserve. It is instructive to compare the District of Columbia with such a State as California which has wisely looked to its needs in higher education. In California, 3 percent of the total population of the State is enrolled in institutions of higher education within the State. In the District of Columbia, only 1.4 percent of the population is enrolled in any institution of higher education within the District.
California undergraduates are equal to 60 percent of the total 18to 21-year-old population in the States. District of Columbia undergraduates are equal to only 21 percent of the 18- to 21-year-old population. These figures include all residents of the State or District_attending college anywhere, either at home or away from home. One could estimate from these figures that approximately three-fifths of the California college age group continue their education beyond high school, but only one-fifth of the young people in Washington do so. The reasons that relatively few Washington young people enter college are not hard to find. Figures of the College Entrance Examination Board indicates that, even to live at home and commute daily to class, it costs $1,880 a year to attend American University, $1,960 to attend Georgetown University, $1,740 to attend George Washington University and $1,800 to attend Catholic University. Only at Howard is it possible to attend college while living at home for less than $1,000
To attend college outside of the District is even more costly, involving heavy out-of-State tuitions and the expense of living away from
In the Cardoza area there is now underway a massive effort to raise the educational sights of young people from low-income families. these young people we only say that however high they may raise their sights, there is no available higher education which is within their
There has been much talk in recent years about the easy availability of scholarships. We do not wish to deny the value of scholarship programs, but we do think that it is important to realize that they do not meet the problem we are describing.
Largest and best known of the Nation's scholarship programs is the national merit scholarship program. In the 1964-65 school year, 28 Washington public high school graduates were merit finalists. This is an impressive number until one discovers that out of the 28 finalists, 23 were graduates of Wilson High School which serves an area having an average family income of over $10,000. Anacostia High School had one finalist; Čardoza, one; Coolidge, two; Roosevelt, none; Spingarn, none; and Western, two.
Put in another way, a student graduating from Wilson High School has 1 chance in 16 of winning a merit scholarship; a student graduating from Cardoza has 1 chance in 250 of winning one.
Clearly the only answer is to make publicly supported higher education the rightful heritage of every qualified young person in the District of Columbia.
We believe that we can turn to good advantage the fact that we are starting at the very beginning. Unlike most of the 50 States we do not need to contend with a century of tradition in shaping a plan for higher education geared to the needs of the mid-20th century.
Americans for Democratic Action, at its convention in 1964, adopted a resolution stating:
An adequate number of public, free tuition institutions of higher education should be built to serve all those qualified students seeking public assistance.
The view that 12 years should no longer be regarded as the limit of free public education has similarly been supported by, among others, the AFL-CIO, the National Education Association, and Secretary of Labor Willard Wirtz.
We, therefore, urge this committee to include in the language of its resolution a stipulation that both the proposed community college and the 4-year university provide tuition-free higher education to qualified young people from the District.
Since we are starting afresh, we are in an excellent position to start right, and we believe that starting right means recognizing that free public education is as valid a concept in higher education as it is in elementary and secondary education.
Senator MORSE. Mrs. Strout, you have submitted an excellent statement with a good deal of data in it that we need. I want to thank you for it very much.
Our next witness will be Kenneth C. Kennedy, chairman of the Congress of Community Organizations.
Is Mr. Kennedy here?
Mr. Kennedy, I am very pleased to have you. I have a copy of your statement. You may proceed in your own way.
STATEMENT OF KENNETH C. KENNEDY, CHAIRMAN, THE
Mr. KENNEDY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Due to the lateness of the hour I will attempt to summarize my statement.
Senator MORSE. Mr. Kennedy's entire statement will be inserted in the record at this point and he will proceed to summarize it. (The document referred to follows:)
STATEMENT OF KENNETH C. KENNEDY, CHAIRMAN, THE CONGRESS OF COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS REGARDING S. 293 AND S. 1612
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, at the outset, we strongly urge that serious consideration be given to the basic need for publicly supported higher education in the District of Columbia. The opportunity to appear before your committee to express our views on this subject is both welcome and appreciated.
Certainly we understand the need for immediate action in the creation of a junior college as well as a 4-year college of liberal arts. We give full and wholehearted support for the immediate development of such institutions for higher learning. But the fact remains, these should be the foundation on which we should build our edifice; namely, a university of the District of Columbia.
Statistics indicate that there are 710 junior colleges in the United States at present, with 20 to 30 new ones opening each year. As soon as the new colleges
open they are besieged with applicants. Miami Dade Junior College, opened in 1960, presently has an enrollment of 14,000 students. Cuyahoga Community College of Cleveland, opened in 1963, and 8,500 enrolled during that fall semester. Obviously, the demand for the junior college is very much the mode of the day. But there is need for more extensive publicly supported higher education in our Nations Capital.
Analysis of the legislation before the committee lead us to the conclusion that it should be broadened to include the university concept, with adequate appropriation for financing such a concept.
It is shocking to learn that per capita expenditures for higher education in the District lag far behind the Nation. The national average in 1963-64 was $28.87, in the District it was $2.26. The latter figure is questioned by some experts on higher education who say it is less.
In 11 States with less population than the District, capital outlays were from $30 million in Virginia, the highest, to Wyoming with $1,900,000. But what of the District of Columbia? The answer, not a single penny.
In short, the youth of our city have been deprived of an equal opportunity for higher education to an alarming extent. Is it any wonder that crime rates soar?
In 1930 an eighth-grade education prepared a person for 58 percent of the jobs in the country; it is estimated that by 1970 the equivalent figure will be 6 percent.
American education has become significant and full of meaning because of the diverse development of public and private institutions existing side by side. Government grants, court decisions, and foundation grants have encouraged the support for public institutions in all 50 States.
The proper development of higher public education will complement rather than compete with the five privately endowed universities in the city. Here, for example, Howard University is an independent institution, national and international in its outlook and teaching. Its relations to the District are no more local than are the relations of Georgetown, George Washington, Catholic, or American Universities.
It is high time that the citizens of the District have equal treatment in education as other citizens throughout the country. In the District we are confined for higher education purposes to a dilapidated, outmoded, and physically dangerous plant threatened with withdrawal of accreditation known as the District of Columbia Teachers College. Put another way, the District, with the second highest per capita income in the Nation, has the lowest per capita expenditure on higher education.
In view of the overwhelming amount of undisputed evidence on the lag in publicly supported higher education in our Nation's Capital, it is indeed difficult to understand the reasoning of the supporters of less than the university concept for the District of Columbia.
Do the public officials and other supporters of higher education for the District reason that the young people who reside in the Capital of the greatest Nation in the world should not be accorded an equal opportunity for publicly supported higher education with other young people in the Nation?
The Congress of Community Organizations unequivocally supports legislation that embraces the university concept.
With respect to bills S. 293 and S. 1612 now before your committee, the Congress of Community Organizations urge that the changes and amendments suggested in the testimony before this committee on behalf of the District of Columbia Congress of Parents and Teachers be incorporated in the final passage of legislation on this subject.
The final point that we wish the committee to consider is the site for the proposed institution. We strongly recommend that the present site of the National Training School for Boys be turned over to the Government of the District of Columbia to be used exclusively for higher educational purposes, including a city university and the proposed vocational training school.
Many of us in the Congress of Community Organizations are residents in the area near the training school site. This is a low-density community, 90 percent of which is composed of single-family detached homes. Most of the residents of the area own their homes. According to the National Capital Planning Commission's proposed 1965-85 plan, our community is one of the lowest density areas in the city. To permit this site to be used for other projects currently under consideration will change the residential character of this area