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Senator YARBOROUGH. Thank you, Mrs. Blanshard, for your statement. Of course, it will be printed in the record, as you know, for the benefit of all Senators with reference to the bill under consideration.
Thank you for your patience in waiting through all the questions of the others until the end.
This ends the hearing for today. The concluding hearing of this series of hearings on the different bills that propose Federal grants to States for elementary and secondary schools will begin this coming Wednesday, April 15, at 10 a.m., in this room.
The hearings is recessed.
(Whereupon, at 12 noon, the subcommittee recessed, to reconvene at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Apr. 15, 1959.)
FEDERAL GRANTS TO STATES FOR ELEMENTARY AND
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15, 1959
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in room 4232, Hon. James E. Murray (chairman) presiding.
Present: Senator Murray (presiding).
Senator MURRAY. The subcommittee will come to order, please. Today the subcommittee is resuming hearings on proposed legislation for Federal aid in the public schools. Our list of witnesses today includes Senator Proxmire; Mr. Peter T. Schoemann, chairman, standing committee on education, AFL-CIO; Mr. Arnold Zander, president, merican Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; and Mr. Samuel Jacobs, Washington representative, United Automobile, Aircraft and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, AFL-CÍO.
The first witness will be Senator Proxmire.
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM PROXMIRE, A SENATOR OF THE
UNITED STATES FROM THE STATE OF WISCONSIN
Senator PROXMIRE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I am grateful to you for this opportunity to appear before you this morning to propose a bill, S. 816, which I think has a solid, practical chance to meet the responsibility that constitutes the most serious failure to educate our children to the best of our ability as a people.
Members of this committee are unquestionably the outstanding experts in the Senate on the necessity for a far more substantial American educational effort—with more classrooms, more teachers, and more teacher training. I am sure you are also thoroughly familiar with the facts indicating the inability of the States to do this job adequately with their historic reliance on the property tax as the main support for education.
The case for a greater effort for American education is stronger this year than last year. Every day it becomes clearer that the rising power of an increasingly threatening Soviet communism is based on an intensive, massive, Soviet educational effort which has now surpassed us in the development of scientists and engineers.
It is no empty platitude that our fundamental line of defense is our schoolroom; or that the battle of the blackboards is the key to victory
. More Americans recognize this today than ever before. More Members of Congress recognize it. We know our schools aren't doing the job they should do. Indeed they can't do the job they should do without additional sacrifice and support by the American people.
At the same time I think it is no secret that many Members of Congress feel the prospects for passing a Federal law that would assist American education in any very substantial way are not very good, perhaps not as good this year as last.
In my judgment a primary reason this is so, is the perfectly understandable expectation by Members of Congress from the South that Federal aid for education may be used as a way of Federal enforcement of racial integration in schools.
With this completely understandable opposition to educational integration in mind, I have introduced the bill on which I am appearing this morning.
This bill provides that each State shall retain a portion of the Federal income taxes collected within the State for educational purposes. The amount retained by the States for this purpose nationally would be 112 percent the first year, 3 percent the second year, and 5 percent after that. But each State will have returned an amount which bears the same ratio to the percent of the income taxes collected in all the States as the school-age population of such States bears to the school age population of all States.
This is another way of saying each State will get the same amount per school-age child as every other State. A child in Wisconsin will get the same assistance in education as a child in Mississippi or New York. This is accomplished, plainly speaking, by allowing a State with relatively low Federal income tax collections to spend for education a higher percentage of those collections than a State can keep which has relatively high income tax collections.
The question might be asked why I employ the principle of returning income taxes rather than that of a direct grant-in-aid." The answer is the income tax is dynamic. It expands as the economy expands. It inflates if the economy inflates. Thus it avoids the rigidity of a grantin-aid of a specified amount.
It also—and this is most important-avoids the rigidity and regressiveness of the property tax, which has been the traditional source of local support of education.
There is a second reason, one I regard as profoundly important, for employing the principle of returning income taxes. It is that no Federal control can possibly be involved. Each State simply gets a part of the income taxes paid by its own residents to use as it sees fit in its own educational program. This means that we can get on with the job of aiding education of building schoolhouses and recruiting and paying good teachers—without first having to settle all the philosophical problems that beset any plan which involves a hint of Federal supervision.
We do not have to wait for integration to be accomplished. We do not have to agree on the goals of education, nor how they will be reached. These are important questions, and I am not suggesting that they should be avoided.
What I am saying is that they need not be solved before we build schoolhouses and recruit teachers. And what I am saying is that the best place to solve them is at the local level, where most Americans would agree that control of our schools should be retained.
I will stand with any man in support of any reasonable Federal-aidto-education bill which does not carry with it Federal interference with the local control of education. I think the bill I introduced on April 3 is a good bill. I think the bill I introduce today is a better bisl. But I do not insist on my bills, either of them. I insist that we pass
bill. Mr. President, the life of a child waits for no man. An opportunity to help him to grow, to learn, to achieve moral stature is an opportunity lost forever. We must not let the lives of our children run, like quicksilver, through our fingers. Let us conduct ourselves today so that we shall have no cause to reproach ourselves tomorrow.
I think the sums estimated here, Mr. Chairman, are very modest. They were based on the Federal income-tax collection of a couple of years ago when the economy, of course, was smaller and personal income was smaller and Federal revenues were smaller.
So that the amounts that each State would receive are very conservatively stated in this table.
I would simply conclude, Mr. Chairman, by saying that while I of course think that the bill I have proposed has perhaps a better chance of passing, I am an enthusiastic supporter that the bill that this chairman of this committee has introduced, S. 2.
I was a cosponsor of that bill last year. And I still feel it is an excellent bill. I think that any aid-for-education bill which will provide a substantial amount of financial support for our schools, which will provide an opportunity to train more teachers and hire more teachers and build more schools, is greatly in the national interest and urgently needed and perhaps the best kind of defense dollar we could spend too.
But I would ask you, Mr. Chairman, and the committee to give earnest consideration to my proposal, because I think that the real problem is getting some kind of an aid-for-education bill passed. And I think this has some practical advantages.
Senator MURRAY. Thank you very much for your statement.
You may be sure we will give very careful attention to your bill. And we want to thank you for your very excellent statement here this morning.
Senator PROXMIRE. Thank you very much.