Page images
PDF
EPUB

forgo S. 1016 altogether and renew the fight for meaningful legislation next year.

A bill like this S. 1016, which seeks to create the illusion that the Federal Government has assumed its responsibilities when this is not the case at all, is, to our way of thinking, more futile than no legislation at all. We see no point in kidding ourselves.

I would just like to add, Senator, that we are wholeheartedly in support of your bill S. 2, with one modification which I would like to point out.

We think that the allocations formula should contain a means of equalizing the grants so that the low-income States would receive a larger proportional share than those which are a little better able to finance these educational needs themselves.

Thank you very much, sir.
Senator MURRAY. Thank you very much for your statement.

The next witness will be Mr. George Oakes, member of the board, American Parents Committee.

STATEMENT OF GEORGE W. OAKES, AMERICAN PARENTS

COMMITTEE, INC. Mr. OAKES. Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I am putting my statement in the record, but I would just like to make a few points.

Senator MURRAY. You may do so. Your complete statement will be carried in the record.

(The statement referred to follows:)

STATEMENT OF GEORGE W. OAKES OF THE AMERICAN PARENTS COMMITTEE, INC.

Gentlemen, I am George W. Oakes, a freelance journalist writing on education and a member of the national council of the American Parents Committee, Inc. I am here today to testify at the request of George J. Hecht, chairman, who regrets that he could not come in person.

The American Parents Committee is (what its name implies) a national committee concerned with Federal legislation for the health, education, and welfare of the Nation's children. The position of our organization on legislative items is determined by majority vote of its board of directors. Last November the board decided that one of the committee's top priorities should be to work for legislation providing for Federal aid to relieve the shortage of classrooms throughout the Nation. Consequently, I am not here to oppose or support any one of the praticular bills before your committee, but rather to urge that you report as soon as possible a bill which will provide adequate financial assistance for school construction.

The American Parents Committee has consistently advocated that the Federal Government assume its full share of the responsibility for educating its future citizens. It has maintained that since the Federal Government collects threefourths of the tax revenues, education must not depend on insufficient local and State funds.

Last summer Mr. Hecht, the chairman of the American Parents Committee, took the leadership in forming an emergency committee for the National Defense Education Act. That committee composed of Eric Johnston, former Senator William Benton, Mrs. Albert Lasker, and Mr. Hecht, helped to coordinate the support behind that bill into the strenuous last-d ch effort which finally put the bill through just before the session ended.

We think the National Defense Education Act can provide great assistance to education, providing Congress appropriates sufficient funds to carry out its provisions. But that act cannot provide the desperately needed classrooms.

Two years ago the Senate passed a substantial school-construction bill which the American Parents Committee supported. Today the shortage of 140,000 classrooms is almost as great, but 2 crucial years have been lost. The United States has made no real headway in providing adequate school facilities for our children.

We all know the seriousness of the world situation. We all know what Soviet educational and, as a result, remarkable scientific achievements have accomplished during these same 2 years. We all know what the chances for this country to survive and meet the worldwide challenge in the future depends probably more on our ability to set and maintain the highest educational standards for as many children as possible than on any other single factor.

The American people realize that education is the key to our future. Billions for defense will prove meaningless without properly educated and trained manpower.

We cannot educate our children adequately when 4 million are studying in dangerous firetraps, in overcrowded classrooms, under conditions whereby the schoolday must be cut to permit half-day sessions. What chance has a gifted pupil if he is buried in a crowded classroom of 50 or more students?

The need is urgent. The situation has hardly improved at all, while we have deferred action. You know that the school-age population is rapidly increasing. The past 2 years have proved that this problem cannot be solved by the States and local communities. At the present rate of construction there will still be a major shortage in 5 years according to Secretary Flemming.

The school-construction bill which the Senate voted 2 years ago will undoubtedly require more funds today because of rising building costs. Every day we wait makes the task more expensive and means that it will take that much longer to put our educational system in shape.

Does anyone think that education of our children is less important than roads or housing or airports or urban renewal? Does anyone think that this country cannot afford today the school-construction program that failed by only five votes in the House in 1957, when our future was less threatened than now?

The American Parents Committee calls for sizable and adequate school-construction legislation now-thiş session. We urge a Federal grant program to the States at least as large as nearly passed 2 years ago.

We face a big educational job—we will not meet the issue by ducking facts which the administration presented and Congress almost accepted in 1957. Only through large-scale Federal grants can this school-construction program get underway quickly. And speed is made more imperative with every passing day. We cannot risk waiting another year until the next session. In February of last year Senator Lyndon Johnson said education should be the first order of business for Congress. This is even more true now. What are we waiting for?

We urge that Congress pass such legislation this session and place it before the President. We do not believe the President will veto what he supported less than 2 years ago.

Mr. Chairman, we are confident that your committee will do its part to prevent another precious year being lost in giving our children the school facilities they require and deserve.

Mr. OAKES. Thank you.

I would just like to remind the committee that 2 years ago, with your great support, a school-construction bill was practically enacted by the Congress. What has happened is that we have lost these 2 years. During these 2 years we have seen the remarkable scientific achievements resulting from the educational work in the Soviet Union. All this galvanized American public opinion into considerable action

last year.

During these 2 years this classroom shortage has continued; the situation has improved hardly at all. We still need 140,000 classrooms. We have 4 million children who are going to school in dangerous buildings, who are on a half-day basis. We have a continually rising school population, over 3 percent a year. And during these 2 years the building costs have continued to go up.

We have found, because of theses facts, that the States and local communities cannot by themselves do this job. There must be Federal support, there must be sizable Federal grants in order to make possible the necessary school construction which this country requires.

Certainly most Americans recognize that education is the key to our

reasons.

future, that our whole future depends on it. Certainly education is just as important, if not more so, than roads and airports. We must in this country not only set and maintain the highest educational standards but we must provide for our children the facilities to make these standards possible.

Therefore, Mr. Chairman, we urge that action be taken by this Congress, this session, for a major school construction program, and not defer it. We have lost 2 very precious years as a result of what has not been done in the past, since 1957.

Senator MURRAY. Have you anything to say regarding the teachers' salaries?

Mr. OAKES. I cannot speak on behalf of the American Parents Committee concerning teachers' salaries because the committee has not taken a position on that matter. However, as a private citizen, as a journalist writing in the field of education, I would like to say that it seems to me that Federal aid for teachers' salaries is one of the most essential steps that the Congress can take, and I firmly believe the Congress must provide sizable sums along the lines of your own bill to permit teachers in this country to receive the compensation which is essential if they are to remain in the profession, if we are not to lose, as we are now losing, one out of three because of financial

Senator MURRAY. What is your opinion of the Federal School Support Act, Senate bill No. 2? Do you approve of the bill that is pending before us?

Mr. OAKES. Personally, I thoroughly support S. 2. But I am speaking only as an individual and not on behalf of the American Parents Committee.

I personally thoroughly endorse it, and feel it is essential and that, above all, action of sizable proportions is essential in this session so that we get started on important Federal aid toward education.

Something must be done now and not wait another year. And we must try to get the most we can get this session, either for school construction or teachers' salaries or, if possible, for both.

Senator MURRAY. That concludes your statement, does it?
Mr. OAKES. Yes, sir.
Senator MURRAY. Thank you very much.

Mr. Oakes. Thank you very much, Senator, for permitting me to appear.

Senator MURRAY. That concludes the hearing this morning.

The subcommittee will hold its next hearing tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock in this same hearing room.

(Whereupon, at 11:50 a.m., the subcommittee was recessed until 10 a.m., Wednesday, April 8, 1959).

FEDERAL GRANTS TO STATES FOR ELEMENTARY AND

SECONDARY SCHOOLS

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8, 1959

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

Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10 a.m., in room 4232, New Senate Office Building, Senator Ralph W. Yarborough presiding.

Present: Senators Yarborough (presiding) and Javits.
Also present: Senator Thomas E. Martin of Iowa.
Committee staff member present: Stewart E. McClure, chief clerk.
Senator YARBOROUGH. The subcommittee will come to order.

This morning the Subcommittee on Education will continue the hearings on bills relating to Federal grants to States for elementary and secondary schools. Senator Murray, who is chairman of this subcommittee, was unable to be present today, and has asked me to open the hearing

As you know, these hearings have been on S. 2, S. 8, and related or similar measures for aid to education in the United States.

We have the honor this morning of having as the first witness Senator Thomas Martin of Iowa who is a cosponsor of S. 2, one of the fine bills under consideration by this subcommittee.

Senator Martin, will you proceed, sir.

STATEMENT OF HON. THOMAS E. MARTIN, A U.S. SENATOR FROM

THE STATE OF IOWA

Senator MARTIN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I urge your approval of S. 2. I feel it is urgent that this measure be enacted into law at the earliest possible date.

Some means must be found to improve the general tone and level of our public school systems throughout the land. Only by so doing can we offer the educational opportunities which we should be offering to all American youngsters.

Many local communities and States are unable to produce the money needed to bring their school systems up to adequate levels. The Federal Government is the only remaining source of funds to provide adequate educational opportunities.

Even though we must turn to the Federal Government for financial help for our public schools, their control must be left with local authorities. Men and women living in a community are far more able to maintain a constant watch over their community's schools than

« PreviousContinue »