Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

I have also seen the value of other special classes. I have seen parents pay an extra fee in Cheyenne to send their children to elementary schools at 8 o'clock in the morning to take a special class in Spanish. My wish is that we had the money to make such classes a regular part of our school program for all of the children.

Now may I pause here a moment to tell you how such a language course helped one 12-year-old boy?

Tom, as we all knew, was an above-average boy in his ability to learn; but he certainly had chalked up a record of underachievement, because early in his school career he had been the first one through with many assignments, and because a teacher in an overcrowded classroom could not give him extra help and challenge him into better work, he became bored and soon lost his interest in all learning. And then he enrolled in a special language course, and suddenly for him school took on a new meaning. Spanish seemed to serve as that extra something or that stimulous which he needed to direct his energies along the right lines. Now he is just as interested in all his regular classroom subjects.

At this point, I would like to underscore the value of advanced classes in English, mathematics, and sciences for our gifted children. These children must be challenged if they are to make full use of their abilities, or otherwise they can become bored and lose interest in school.

For a long time we have done too little in this respect. We should have these special classes. We should have special summer programs. We should enrich their curriculum to provide them with the most wonderful experiences that we can. But this takes money. And it takes more teachers than we have.

We do have one special school in Cheyenne, and its purpose is to give the really retarded child, the one who finds school a frustrating experience, a chance to do his best in an emotionally healthy atmosphere. Actually, it gives him a chance to preserve his ego. But one school is not enough. We could fill another building tomorrow, if we had the building and the money to pay the teachers.

I wish you could meet Joe, who attends this school. He is a former truant and a former troublemaker, but today he gets to class, and he gets there on time. His behavior is becoming more socially acceptable, and his teacher says he displays real initiative in mechanical tasks.

Joe, I am sure, will become a useful part of our community and a good citizen.

For too many thousands of children just like Joe, the school offers the only stable environment that they incur throughout their child hood and youth.

Now just think. If we could provide for the special needs of the many Joes in this Nation, and also the needs of the unchallenged academically talented Jims and Franks and Marys, we could direct some of the $20 billion that we spend annually for crime toward providing better educational facilities.

But let me return a minute to the many cities in America, cities where my friends teach that do not have enough regular classrooms, let alone special classrooms. Some are teaching in gymnasiums with dividers down the middle, which do little to shut out the bustle and

a

a

sounds of the neighboring class. Others are housed in makeshift arrangements in auditoriums and cafeterias. Not only are these children being denied a regular classroom situation, but other children are being denied the use of these special purpose rooms.

These overcrowded schools and the continued use of schools which are known to be fire hazards could duplicate many times the recent Chicago disaster.

The U.S. Office of Education has found that in a national survey nearly one school building in five is a potential fire trap. And one in five is a borderline case. Old buildings run the risk of overloaded wiring or short circuits, which is the cause of nearly 30 percent of school fires. And yet today we are using more and more electrical equipment to better teach our children.

Kentucky's State fire marshal says that that fire could be duplicated in almost 75 percent of the Kentucky schools. In Michigan, Dr. Lynn Bartlett, State superintendent of public instruction, estimates there are at least 800 schools in his State which must be considered fire hazards.

That is a tragic situation which, unless corrected, can only spawn tragedies, with American children playing the leading roles.

Now, I am going to turn just a moment to the subject of teachers' salaries, and I am going to do it by an illustration.

A friend of mine who is an educator in a large city hired two painters to do some work for him on a weekend.

He was impressed not only by the fine job the painters did but by the obvious fact they were well educated. Much to his surprise, he learned that the weekend painters were public schoolteachers from Monday through Friday. They had to take a second job in order to make enough money to send their own children to college. This is true of many teachers.

Because we realize the value of a college education, we are almost desperate in seeing that our children get one, too.

Actually, 28.7 percent of all the men teachers are doing work during the summer months and after working hours during their school years, too. These figures jibe pretty well with a survey that we took in Cheyenne recently. We have 41 percent of the returns in, and tabulated, just before I left home, and out of that percentage 30 percent of those teachers are supplementing their income through additional or outside employment, and 37 percent of them report that they have their husbands or wives working to supplement their salaries.

Our present salary schedule makes it increasingly hard to staff our schools properly. We shall need to hire between 65 and 75 teachers in my own little town this year, and we would like to secure the best qualified, but it will be difficult to do under the existing conditions.

I tell you this only because this same problem is facing school systems all across this country. As the general property taxes become less and less effective as a producer of sufficient income for the operation of local governments and education, the financial responsibility has become increasingly shared by the State. Costs of a quality education have now outrun State resources in many cases. The public must make use of every possible resource to give our children the kind of teachers and the kind of schools they deserve.

a

a

a

Senator Hill, effective teaching and effective learning depend both upon adequate facilities and a plentiful supply of qualified teachers. Both cost money, more money than we can supply from our State and our local revenues. But in my mind, I think that our country can afford both, and I think we should.

Thank you.

Senator Hill. Mrs. Pagel, you have made a most interesting and informative statement, and we appreciate it very much.

Let me ask you a question. I notice you state you are a classroom teacher, and you also have the title of coordinator of elementary grades. How large a school do you teach or coordinate in, if I may ask?

Mrs. PAGEL. Our public school numbers 10,500 children in Cheyenne. We have 18 elementary schools. We have two coordinators who are traveling teachers, and we are called to go and help any of those rooms in those 18 buildings. We work with the kindergarten through the sixth grade.

Senator Hill. In a word, just what are your duties as coordinator?

Mrs. PAGEL. I do a great deal of demonstration teaching for our new teachers and teachers who are new to our system. And in cases where teachers run into problems, I go in. Most of my time, actually, is spent in classroom teaching. I do have to help them find resource material. I help work on the curriculum. We share responsibilities for committee work, just the way our classroom teachers do.

We find this an effective thing, because we go in as one person helping another person on the same level. We are all in this boat together and doing our best.

Senator Hill. When you go into a classroom, do you sometimes take over the class, conduct the class ?

Mrs. PAGEL. That is what I do all the time.

Senator HILL. That is what you do. You take over the class and conduct that class, to demonstrate the way you think the class should be conducted and the pupils should be taught.

Mrs. PAGEL. Yes, Senator. Senator HILL. How many children do you have in the elementary schools that you visit, if I may ask?

Mrs. PAGEL. Per classroom?
Senator HILL. Per classroom, yes.

Mrs. PAGEL. We are very fortunate. Through years of hard work, we have lowered our average classroom size to 29. "This we would like to see lower than that. We range from about 21 to 36 and 37, depending upon their location in our city.

Senator Hill. But you average around 29 ?
Mrs. PAGEL. Yes.

Senator HILL. I want to thank you and express our appreciation that you have brought us this very informative and interesting statement. We appreciate it very, very much.

Mrs. PAGEL. Thank you.
Senator HULL. Dr. Alexander?

Dr. Alexander, I believe you are president-elect of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development of NEA. You are from Montgomery, Ala. We welcome you here. I would be delighted to have you proceed in your own way, sir.

[ocr errors]

STATEMENT OF DR. WILLIAM M. ALEXANDER, PROFESSOR OF

EDUCATION, GEORGE PEABODY COLLEGE FOR TEACHERS,
NASHVILLE, TENN., AND PRESIDENT-ELECT, ASSOCIATION FOR
SUPERVISION AND CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT, NATIONAL
EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Dr. ALEXANDER. Thank you, sir.

I would like to have the indulgence of the Senator to permit Mr. Lambert, again, to answer questions should they arise about the technical aspects of the bill.

I understand, Senator, that you have already had rather complete testimony concerning the financial aspects of the bill. I see my function here as not to attempt to answer questions of this sort, but rather, as a person who has been for some years very much interested in the quality of instruction, to talk about this problem.

May I say I think it might be more interesting to take the opportunity to chat with you about the problems of some of our neighboring States of Alabama and Tennessee.

Senator Hill. I would be glad to have you do so, Doctor. As you know, many of our Alabama teachers attend Peabody. They go there for

training and preparation. Dr. ALEXANDER. Yes. We have a great many Alabama students. We are very proud of them. Peabody, of course, has students from many States. And I think one of our problems, incidentally, since you mention this, is that so many of our graduates are leaving the South. They are going into areas where salaries are more lucrative. And I think this is one of the concerns that makes me feel education is a national responsibility.

Senator Hill. We even found that Alabama teachers go into Florida.

Dr. ALEXANDER. Yes, sir. I was down there on the receiving end of that.

I think I would like to talk with you about several items that seem to me to make for quality education, whether it is in Alabama or New York State or anywhere else.

Senator Hill. Excuse me, Doctor. Would you like to have your statement put in the record in full ?

Dr. ALEXANDER. Yes, sir, I would appreciate that opportunity.

Senator HILL. All right. We will put your statement in the record in full and then will be happy to have you make any further comments or statement that you see fit, sir.

(Dr. Alexander's formal statement follows:)

STATEMENT OF DR. WILLIAM M. ALEXANDER, PROFESSOR OF EDUCATION, GEORGE

PEABODY COLLEGE FOR TEACHERS, NASHVILLE, TENN., AND PRESIDENT-ELECT, ASSOCIATION FOR SUPERVISION AND CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT, NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, WASHINGTON, D.C.

[blocks in formation]

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, during the past 25 years as a teacher, and a supervisor, and a trainer of teachers, I have seen great variations in the quality of instruction and curriculum available to our children and youth. At the upper extreme I have seen classrooms in which almost every known need for high quality has been met; I have also seen classrooms in which the reverse is true. Although there are variations in the quality of other professional services, low quality education has the longest lasting and most adverse effect on the citizens of our Nation. An untaught or mistaught youngster may result in a potential civil leader becoming a public liability and nuisance. In most professions, the incompetent, professional person may run out of clients, but under existing teacher shortages, the incompetent teacher is all too frequently kept in the classroom, thus plaguing the efforts of pupils to receive quality instruction. A poorly prepared and ineffective teacher may lose the opportunity of further schooling for his pupils.

Our first line of national defense sags at its most critical point. Quality education is being denied to millions of our young people. The lag between low level schooling and the high level ideals of our people must be decreased. Although money alone will not solve all the problems of providing quality education, many critical problems in education cannot be solved without adequate finances. Good schools exist only as certain essentials are provided them. These essentials, we know, are: (1) competent teachers; (2) enough classrooms to maintain a full school day for classes small enough to permit effective teaching ; (3) a well-rounded program of studies; (4) adequate special services, such as libraries, guidance, and education of exceptional children; (5) well-equipped classrooms in all curriculum fields.

[blocks in formation]

Mr. Chairman, I am sure the facts of the national shortage of qualified teachers are well known to all the members of this committee. In the postwar years school boards and school administrators throughout our Nation have been working incessantly to secure persons who meet even minimum qualifications for teaching. Although these qualifications have been increased in past years, they are still below training standards for professions requiring no more exacting skill and knowledge. Most educators are convinced that a fifth year of college training should be required of teachers; yet, 29 percent of our elementary schoolteachers today have not completed a fourth year of college.

The importance of competence on the part of each teacher is emphasized by the fact that the average elementary teacher who retires this year will probably have taught approximately 1,000 American citizens, and the average high schoolteacher about 5,000 persons. For a moment, let us examine the educational ill effects of only 100 ineffective high schoolteachers who retire. A halfmillion American citizens might not have received adequate instruction in the high schools. The possibility of such an undesirable influence on America's future is an alarming threat of the present teacher shortage. It matters tremendously to our Nation whether future citizens have profited from the impact of a skilled, informed, personable and creative teacher in each year of their schooling or have had a school career spotted with instruction by temporary, part-time, or unqualified teachers who have been employed merely to keep school open.

Continually staffing our elementary and secondary schools with competent teachers would do more than any other long-term program to develop and sustain children's and youths' interest in learning. Persons who lack adequate preparation for teaching can rarely interest others in the subjects they teach or successfully guide children and youth in learning activities. A survey cited in Better Schools (a publication of the National Citizens Council for Better Schools) last September revealed that in one out of three communities reporting a decline in science enrollments, the teacher was named as the No. 1 factor. In the cases where the teacher was named as the No. 1 factor he was described as poorly prepared, uninspired, or uninteresting. We all know teachers who make learning exciting, and who nurture the dreams and aspirations of excellence in terms of each pupil's capacity. The current and long-range need is for more, many more, of these competent teachers. They must come, I believe, from the group of able young people, who should enter teaching rather than other currently more lucrative careers.

The failure of many high ability youths to take college training is both an indictment of and a potential loss to our profession. Undoubtedly many of that half of the upper one-fourth (in ability) of high school graduates estimated not to go on to college could become effective teachers. We desperately need more of this able youth population to aspire to teaching careers.

At the same time, there is the unhappy reflection that many of these boys and girls might

« PreviousContinue »