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AUTHORIZATION OF DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA PUBLIC LIBERAL ARTS AND JUNIOR COLLEGES
(S. 293 and S. 1612)
THURSDAY, MARCH 24, 1966
SUBCOMMITTEE ON PUBLIC HEALTH, EDUCATION,
WELFARE, AND SAFETY OF THE COMMITTEE
ON THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
The subcommittee met at 9:30 a.m., pursuant to recess, in room 6226, New Senate Office Building, Senator Wayne Morse (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Senator Morse.
Also present: Chester Smith, staff director, and Richard E. Judd, professional staff member.
Senator MORSE. The hearing will come to order.
Two of my colleagues in the Senate desired to be present this morning to present testimony supporting the creation of both the community college as well as the 4-year liberal arts college.
Their schedule, however, does not permit them to be present here this morning. Therefore, Senators Muskie and Inouye have asked me to have their statements printed in the hearing record.
Mrs. Agnes Meyer, member of the President's Committee on Public Higher Education in the District of Columbia, and well known to all of us for the great work and contributions she has made to the schoolchildren of this city and Nation, planned to be here with us this morning. I am advised that she is ill. She has asked that her statement be made a part of the hearing record this morning.
I also instruct that there be printed at this point in the hearing record a letter I received from my colleague, Senator Douglas in support of the bills.
There should also be printed in the hearing record at this point a statement filed with the committee by Senator Harrison Williams supporting the legislation.
All the material that the chairman referred to will be printed at the beginning of the record this morning.
(The documents referred to follow :)
U.S. SENATE, COMMITTEE ON BANKING AND CURRENCY, March 15, 1966.
Hon. WAYNE MORSE,
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: I am pleased to submit the enclosed statement to your subcommittee in behalf of the proposal to create a community college for the District of Columbia.
EDMUND S. MUSKIE,
STATEMENT OF SENATOR EDMUND S. MUSKIE ON S. 293 AND S. 1612
Mr. Chairman, I welcome this opportunity to express my enthusiastic support of the proposals before this committee to provide higher public educational facilities for residents of the District of Columbia.
It seems to me that these proposals are long overdue. At a time when all levels of government are seeking ways to provide a college education for all capable students regardless of their financial circumstances, it is time for the Congress to focus on the long-neglected needs of the District for a publicly supported community college.
I do not think it is necessary for me to review the unique dependence of the District on Congress to fulfill its educational needs. But the needs, indeed the rights, of thousands of District residents to higher education supported in part by public taxes do require special emphasis. Although Washington is the home of five fine universities and other smaller colleges, many thousands of District residents cannot afford the tuition charged by these private schools. In any other community in the United States they would have the alternative of attending publicly supported community colleges or State universities. But because of its unique and anomalous position as a city without its own government, Washington is the only community in this Nation which cannot guarantee some form of public education beyond high school to students capable of and desirous of it. As a result many parents feel forced to move outside the District to insure their children a college education in a public institution. Many other parents must watch their children being stifled by the lack of job opportunities which too often result from lack of education.
As a former Governor of Maine, I have long recognized and valued the importance of publicly supported institutions of higher learning. The tradition of land-grant colleges, supported by the public for the benefit of all, is one of the strongest and most enduring features of American education. Congress has an opportunity to extend this tradition to the Nation's Capital in the legislation pending before you.
A community college in Washington will benefit all residents of the District, either directly or indirectly. It will give countless young people the chances which only higher education affords. It will give many high school students the incentive to stay in school. It will give many adults the opportunity to further interrupted education, often economically enforced in the first place. It will set an example to other communities throughout the United States in their efforts to improve or institute community colleges. And, in countless other intangible ways, it will foster the intellectual and cultural life of a great city. I urge early approval of a community college bill for the District of Columbia.
STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF THE PROPOSED DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION ACT BY SENATOR DANIEL K. INOUYE
Mr. Chairman, the problem of higher education in the District of Columbia area is not in a shortage of colleges, for there are many. The problem is that these colleges do not meet the educational needs of the people whose lot it is to live here. As a consequence, these people are denied the opportunities that would be theirs, but for the misfortune of living in our Nation's Capital. I, therefore, favor the enactment of a program for a 4-year liberal arts college and a 2-year junior college for the District of Columbia, as proposed in S. 293 and in S. 1612.
Now in the strictest sense of the term, Congress already has subscribed to the principle of Federal support for public institutions of higher learning in this District. We now have such an institution in name in a District of Columbia Teachers College, but it is housed in two buildings which are partially condemned, and the offerings are so limited that no one argues that this institution can perform even the narrow task of teacher training that it has been assigned to do. I think it is interesting to note that in the government of the District of Columbia's Annual Report for the year 1965, the official report on the District, every other item relating to the District was included-its schools, its crime, its health, and building programs. But not one word could I find of its college
On the other hand, there are five private universities which can proudly use as their addresses the District of Columbia. Now, these are great universities, each serving its portion of well trained and motivated students. But as private schools, they must operate within the confines of the private funds available to them. This means their tuition rates are at least three times those charged by the States surrounding the District of Columbia. To illustrate, tuition for American University is $1,400 a year; Catholic University, $1,300; George Washington, $1,400; Georgetown, $1,400. In contrast, in the State of Virginia, in State supported schools such the the University of Virginia, the charge is $452 a year; for College of William and Mary, $392; for the Medical College of Virginia, $825; and for the Virginia Military Institute, $1,755 These latter compare with the private schools in the District of Columbia, but they are in the nature of specialty schools.
If we move to Maryland, we discover the University of Maryland charges $366; St. Mary's College of Maryland, $300. These tuition figures indicate that the District of Columbia private schools charges around four times as much as surrounding State colleges charge their State students.
Only one exception may be found in the District of Columbia area-Howard University, with a yearly tuition fee of $500. This figure compares with the in-State tuition in our sister State areas. But Howard is an anomaly, for part of its funds are drawn from Federal sources. And consonant with this funding and its now long-standing policies, it endeavors to serve not the local but the national need. Obviously, Howard does not, and cannot meet the full scope of educational needs faced by the population of the District.
In a real sense, the young people in the District of Columbia who come from the lower income groups experience a real financial discrimination. The cheapest schools they can attend, unless by good fortune they are given outright scholarships, are the State-supported schools in the surrounding States. But this is no real outlet. Out-of-State tuitions range approximately double those of in-State institutions and with the increasing numbers of students in each State clamoring for admittance, even this avenue will soon be eliminated or else priced beyond reach for all but those select students which the institution actually desires for purposes of furthering its own programs. As it is today the majority of young people who live in the District, and who have the misadventure of being poor have the misadventure of paying at least twice the tuition cost of similarly situated young people in other States. And they cannot live at home. If they attend the universities that are close to home, they must pay at least four times the amount they would pay anywhere else.
Now, what does a school tuition cost of two to four times the usual figure mean to these young people of the District? According to the 1960 census, 54.8 percent of the people of the area was nonwhite. The median income of Negro families of two or more persons was $4,800. It is true that this is from $1,000 to $2.000 more than the income of similarly situated families in Maryland and Virginia, but for a family, it is still dangerously close to subsistence levels. It is not income that permits large expenditures for university training.
The study, "A Report to the President," submitted in 1964 by a committee appointed by President Kennedy, reported a correlation between family income and college attendance in the District. It reported that in one public high school in an area where the median family income was $10,000, 73.7 percent of the high school graduates attended college. In schools serving a community of from $7,000 to $10,000 income, from 45 to 53 percent of the young people attended college. In areas of from $5,000 to $7,000 income, 21 to 37 percent attended colleges, while in those areas of below $5,000 income, only from 16 to 27 percent attended. In other words, the higher the income, with respect to the cost of tuition, the greater the tendency of the students to go to college.
I know, Mr. Chairman, that many factors combine to make a student go to college and that desire as well as money may be the influencing factors. But proximity and ease of availability have always been characteristics which this country has tried to provide in higher education. Again and again it has been demonstrated that proxmity to a college creates the motivation to attend. In any college community, more people who live close to the college attend than do people who are removed. It has been on the basis of this reasoning alone that the community college development has taken place throughout the United States. It has been discovered that a community college gives people the incentive to go to school. I am sorry to say the District of Columbia, in this respect, is woefully inadequate. As a matter of fact, it has one of the worst records in the country. Again, in the pamphlet, “Report to the President,” it is disclosed that in 16 cities of the United States comparable in population, size, and comparable in that more than 20 percent of its population is nonwhite, it was found that 5 of these cities have local public junior colleges with tuition rates of $250 per year or less. One of these cities was about to organize such a college. Seven already have State-supported colleges with total fees, including room and board, of less than $750 a year. Six additional cities included tuition, room, and board costs of from $750 to $1,000 per year.
Clearly, the children from lower-income groups in the District of Columbia are not being given the same educational incentive and opportunities that have been provide similarly situated young people in other cities of the United States. This strikes me as a singular paradox.
The other day, President Johnson spoke of making Washington, D.C., a model of modern police techniques. He pointed out that this was the showcase of the Nation, and that this is the foreign dignitary's introduction to American culture. I think the President is entirely correct. I should like to carry the showcase idea further.
How can we see the need to improve police techniques, and at the same time blind ourselves to other flaws in our charge? The situation is particularly ironic, for these children live within walking distance of the very heart of American Government. They are closest to our great historic past. They live at the crossroads of world decisionmaking processes and they are under the very eye of the men who guide both national and world destinies.
Here, therefore, could be located the greatest institutions in the whole land. The immensity of our shortcomings in this respect is, therefore, the more tragic. I do not doubt but that, if the people of the District of Columbia had had the right to vote for national office, this situation would have been corrected long ago. As it is, the District is a stepchild of Congress, it is legally tied to us, and we are morally obligated to it. When we fail these people, they have no recourse. They are entirely in our hands.
Mr. Chairman, I propose that we give these people the same advantages as those enjoyed by other people in like circumstances who have enjoyed the right to vote for Congressmen who can represent their needs.
We need a 4-year liberal arts college. We also need a community college for those who can profit from this type of educational offering. As a body we have subscribed to the wisdom of investing in education in a scale never before attempted in this, or any other country. We have done this because we know that it is a good investment, one that returns many fold to the Nation. How, then, can we ignore the need to do as much for our very own legal stepchidlren, our own special charges in the Nation's capital.
STATEMENT OF AGNES E. MEYER
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am only too happy to testify in favor of a 2-year public community college and a 4-year public college of the arts and sciences for the District of Columbia since I was a member of the committee appointed by President Kennedy which made this recommendation.
I believe that few proposals could more dramatically affect the character of the Capital. The absence of any municipal institution of higher learning-with the exception of the inadequate District of Columbia Teachers College is a reproach and should be an embarrassment to the American people.