Page images
PDF
EPUB

а

a

the terms of this bill to accept what the State superintendent of public instruction, or whatever his title might be, in a particular State; you are not bound to accept what he submits. He submits it for your rejection or approval.

Secretary FLEMMING. Mr. Chairman, let me illustrate it in this way. I am sure both of us could imagine a situation where a State was, let us say, completely out of sympathy with the overall objective.

Senator Y ARBOROUGH. If the State does not agree to this objective, it probably would not try to borrow money under this.

Secretary FLEMMING. That is right. This is one of the things I think we should keep in mind, and one of the reasons I think this would work in the way in which I have indicated. If a State should propose a plan which included criteria which clearly, on the face of it, would not result in the State following a program which would lead to the identification of districts that were exerting a reasonable tax effort, and those that were not exerting a reasonable tax effort, the Commissioner could not approve the plan; but if, on the face of it, these criteria would result in the State carrying out a program which would lead to their making a distinction between the districts that in their judgment were exerting a reasonable tax effort and the districts that were not, this plan would be approved.

I do not want to appear dogmatic on this, because we do not have any pride of authorship, as far as the language is concerned. This is clearly the objective that I think we should achieve. I do not want to see the Federal Government substituting its judgment for the judgment of the States, as to what is a reasonable tax effort, for example. And as I see it, under this plan you might have 49 different rates. Each State might select a different cutoff point, depending upon the conditions that prevailed within that particular State. But we would approve all the plans.

Senator YARBOROUGH. Mr. Secretary, just looking at this, as an attorney, it seems to me if this legislation is passed the inevitable result will be that the Federal Government will be passing upon the reasonableness of the tax structure, the ad valorem tax structure, of each school district that applies for a grant of money under this. And so far as I know, historically, when that happens, that would be the first time in the history of this country that the Federal Government was passing upon the local tax structures in local governmental subdivisions in the country. And it would be a reaching of the Federal Government into the local governmental structures beyond anything witnessed in our history before if the administration's bill were adopted as written.

Secretary FLEMMING. Senator Yarborough, I am just as much opposed to that as you are, and I agree with the import of your statement.

Now, I do not see in this language anything that would result in the Federal Government passing on the tax structure of each local school district. This is designed to operate in such a way that a State would present a plan which would be built upon the conditions and the situations that exist in that particular State. And if that plan would result in the State drawing a line between local school districts that were exerting a reasonable tax effort and those that were not, the plan would be approved, and from there on out we would

[ocr errors]

a

not look at the situation in the local school district, because from there on out, the local school district that had been identified as one that had made a reasonable tax effort and could not go any further would simply apply to the State for the kind of assistance provided in this bill, and we would automatically provide that assistance.

I cannot see anything in here which would result in the Federal Government looking at the situation in a single local school district. Now, if it is there, I am ready to take it out and ready to recommend that it be taken out.

Senator YARBOROUGH. That there be safeguards put in the law to respect that? You are willing to put safeguards in this bill to prevent it?

Secretary FLEMMING. I would certainly be more than happy to recommend any safeguards that would prevent that type of thing happening, because I think you and I are in complete agreement on that.

Senator YARBOROUGH. I think the law provides for it. The Commissioner even might have some duty to look beyond State certification as to the tax structure.

Secretary FLEMMING. Senator, I certainly respect your ability to analyze a bill of this kind, and if you have fears along that line, I can assure you we will take another look at it and see whether or not we can recommend some safeguards that would eliminate that fear on your part, because I do not want to be a party to any proposal that would lead to that result.

Senator YARBOROUGH. Mr. Secretary, referring to what you previously mentioned, the effect of this proposed law if passed on teachers' salaries, the State superintendents who testified here I do not recall just which one-raised this point. The language in the bill which they feared would depress the teachers' salaries was the matching fund requirement. Would you agree to dropping this matching fund requirement in the bill?

Secretary FLEMMING. Mr. Chairman, no, I could not agree to that, and I will give you my reason, as far as my own approach to it is concerned. I believe that as the Federal Government moves into an area of this kind to be of help and assistance, it should make provision for matching, because I think that in so doing it is not only helping to assist the State and local school districts, but it is providing an incentive for increased effort on the part of the States. And my own approach to the Federal-State problem is that we should not, as a Federal Government, move in to help deal with a problem in such a manner as to make the State or the local school district feel that it does not need to exert additional effort in order to deal with this same problem.

I think we ought to go in together, the Federal and the State governments, in order to deal with the kind of situations that we know exist in some of these school districts.

Senator YARBOROUGH. Mr. Secretary, I think that we all recognize, all who are on this committee and who have appeared before it, the need for stepping up our educational effort in this country and improving our schools.

The differences between us are as to the method or type of law that would best accomplish the objective.

39997-59-18

Do you

have any

[ocr errors]

I want to thank you and your staff for coming back again to offer this additional testimony in explanation. further statement or statistics that

you

desire to offer?

Secretary FLEMMING. Mr. Chairman, we do have a statement that we promised to supply for the record, dealing with this whole question of the issuance of bonds. And I will be very glad to supply it now. And I think that is the only thing that we have not supplied up to the present time in response to the questions that were addressed to us at the last hearing.

May I say to you that I appreciate very, very much your going into the matter further, your examining our proposal further, and I am very appreciative of the issues that you have raised and the comments that you have made. And on the basis of that, as I indicated a few minutes ago, we will take another look at some of this language and see if we can work out some safeguards.

Senator YARBOROUGH. Thank you.

Secretary FLEMMING. I again just express the hope that together maybe we can find some common ground.

Senator YARBOROUGH. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for coming back and taking the time with your staff. My only regret this afternoon is that some Senators who are very much interested in this matter, as you are and as many others are planned to be here, but had some matters they wanted to attempt to clear up, and their duties held them to other places that they could not leave.

But we do appreciate the fact that you and your staff have been here.

Secretary FLEMMING. If you and any members of the committee would like me to come back at any time, I would be more than glad to do so.

Senator YARBOROUGH. I will be glad to give them that message. There may be some others who might have such a desire.

Secretary FLEMMING. I would be glad to come back. Senator YARBOROUGH. The hearing of the subcommittee will be adjourned until 3 o'clock tomorrow afternoon, to hear the testimony of Gov. Mennen Williams.

(Whereupon, at 4:30 p.m., the subcommittee hearing was recessed, to reconvene at 3 p.m., Friday, February 27, 1959.)

[ocr errors]

FEDERAL GRANTS TO STATES FOR ELEMENTARY AND

SECONDARY SCHOOLS

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 1959

U.S. SENATE,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EDUCATION OF THE
COMMITTEE ON LABOR AND PUBLIC WELFARE,

Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 3:05 p.m., in room 4232, New Senate Office Building, Senator Pat McNamara presiding.

Present: Senators McNamara (presiding), and Yarborough.

Also present: Representatives Rabaut of Michigan, and Bailey of West Virginia.

Committee staff members present: Stewart E. McClure, chief clerk; William G. Reidy, Frederick R. Blackwell, and Raymond Hurley, professional staff members.

Senator McNAMARA. The subcommittee will be in order.

We have as our witness this afternoon in connection with our hearings on Federal grants to States for elementary and secondary schools the Honorable G. Mennen Williams, Governor of the State of Michigan.

Governor Williams is serving his unprecedented sixth term as Governor of the State of Michigan. His problems are very little different than the problems of other Governors in this area. He has appeared before our committees of Congress many times. I want to welcome him here this afternoon and say we are awfully glad to have him and assure him that his testimony will be very helpful to the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare as well as the Senate of the United States.

Governor Williams, we welcome you. STATEMENT OF HON. G. MENNEN WILLIAMS, GOVERNOR OF THE

STATE OF MICHIGAN; ACCOMPANIED BY DONALD G. LEU, DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, STATE OF MICHIGAN

Governor WILLIAMS. Thank you very much, Senator McNamara. It is a real pleasure to be here, I can assure you, and I am very grateful for that cordial introduction.

Today I have taken the liberty to invite Donald Leu, who is our deputy superintendent of public instruction, to appear with me in case we had some detailed questions that he could handle better than I could I

Senator McNAMARA. We are happy to have him here today. Certainly you may feel free to have him contribute anything that you care to as you progress.

Governor WILLIAMS. Thank you.

Because I cannot think of a more pressing problem in the United States of America, I especially welcomed the invitation of Senator Murray to appear before your committee to testify on the need for Federal aid to education. Indeed, if I had not been invited to appear before you, I would have requested your permission to testify.

My eagerness to testify arises because I believe there is a very real danger that the system of universal education in the United States which it has taken us 180 years to develop—will break down. A tremendous unfulfilled need for more educational facilities and more and better teachers has built up, a need so great in terms of money that it far surpasses the practical ability of the States to cope with it fully. At the same time, inaction by the Federal Government—which alone has the necessary resources—has resulted in continuing aggravation of the problem of educating our children.

Perhaps unconsciously, and certainly by inaction, we are drifting into an educational situation of great peril

. Because we provide insufficient funds for education, the children of America may be deprived not only of the higher standard of education they ought to have, but even of opportunities for the kind of education they have had in the past.

There are many voices urging that we must provide our most talented children with better educational facilities. If we cannot greatly expand our financial resources for education, this can be done only by sacrificing the kind of education we provide for the great bulk of our school population. Either to let our general standards of education fall or to short change some children for the benefit of others is unthinkable. If we follow either of these courses, it means the end of our system of universal education.

My eagerness to testify here arises because the States, as a purely practical matter, do not have it in their power, financially, to avert this impending catastrophe by themselves. Only with the aid of the Federal Government in all probability can we preserve true educational opportunity for the children of America.

As a layman, I do not propose to explore matters of educational theory. Three propositions seem to me self-evident:

(1) The right of every child to have the opportunity to develop his potential to the greatest possible extent.

(2) The need of the nation—if it is to grow and flourish-to develop in every way the creative and productive talents of our people.

(3) The urgency of education so that the United States can withstand the Communist challenge.

To my mind these propositions do not admit of argument. But I would stress my first proposition, that every child should have the opportunity to develop his full potential. This seems to me the birthright of every American child.

We do many things, and we justify many things because of the pressures upon us for survival and of national need. Too often we İose sight of the real object of our democratic society-to further the growth of the individual for his own sake. And by growth, I mean

« PreviousContinue »