Page images
PDF
EPUB

The Sheffield Chamber of Commerce will, therefore, appreciate everything you do to help in bringing about the passage of Senate bill 2. Respectfully yours,

(Miss) CLARA B. SPADE, Secretary.

THE ASSOCIATION FOR SUPERVISION AND CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT,

Washington, D.C., April 30, 1959. Hon. JAMES E. MURRAY, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.

SIR: At a recent meeting of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development the enclosed resolution was passed by the membership. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development is a voluntary educational organization with a membership of 7,000 educators who hold key curriculum positions in schools and colleges throughout the United States.

The executive committee believes that support of S. 2 and H.R. 22—the Murray-Metcalf bill—is consistent with action requested in the resolution and it has urged each member of the association to support this bill. Very truly yours,

WILLIAM M. ALEXANDER, President.

FAVORING ADDITIONAL FEDERAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR EDUCATION

Whereas the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development has given recognition to the need for Federal financial assistance to States for educational purposes; and

Whereas the National Defense Education Act recently passed by Congress provides assistance only in limited areas of the educational program; and

Whereas the association has affirmed its belief in a balanced curriculum : Therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development go on record as favoring the passage of legislation providing Federal financial assistance to States for the improvement of all aspects of public education.

STATEMENT OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MANUFACTURERS The National Association of Manufacturers welcomes the opportunity to state its position with respect to S. 2, the School Support Act of 1959.1

We are a nonprofit, voluntary membership organization representing the bulk of this Nation's manufacturing capacity. Since 1897, just 2 years after it was organized, the National Association of Manufacturers has evinced an energetic and constructive interest in education. As spokesmen for the business community, we have had considerable experience not only in studying the problems of American education but also in contributing to their solution.

With this organizational history we have been very interested in some of the reexamination of American education which seems to stem from the Russian success with their first sputnik. We have been impressed with the emphasis put on the quality of education by Dr. Conant and, more recently, by President Kirk, of Columbia University :

“In my judgment, the first need is to toughen our secondary school curriculum. No boy or girl should have a high-school diploma unless he or she can write simple English sentences properly punctuated and composed of words properly spelled * * *

Further, I would insist that every high-school graduate should have a reasonable working knowledge of one foreign language. * * *

“Other basic high-school requirements ought to be mathematics, history, and an understanding of modern science. * * * If it is argued that such a core curriculum is really a return to emphasis upon college preparation, and at a time when more than half of our high-school students still do not go on to college, I would merely reply that in my judgment those who do not go on to college will gain more valuable education from a curriculum of this kind than they will from the courses of low educational content that today make a hodgepodge of

1 We have not had time to make careful analyses of other bills, also before this subcommittee, providing for Federal aid to school construction but using other formulas to achieve the same basic purpose. However, as the same principles are involved, we respectfully request that this statement be considered to apply also to these other bills.

Dr. Grayson Kirk, “Education for the Future,” Graduate Faculties Newsletter of Columbia University, February 1959.

trivia in many high schools. * * * Many a teacher * * * would like nothing better than to have an opportunity to teach something of substance and significance."

Our concern with education stems in part from our long-term interest in the optimum development of the capacities of our young people. As recently as June 1957, the NAM board of directors stated, with reference to increasing the effectiveness of education :

"Our continued progress in the American way of life depends very greatly on the products of our educational system. Industry has a vital interest, therefore, in seeing that this system from the kindergarten to the postgraduate level-is strengthened and supported. Our country can ill afford to waste the intellectual capacity of its young men and women.”

Our interest in education is also part of our general concern with the preservation of our basic freedoms and our form of government. Education is one of the responsibilities implicitly reserved for the States by the Constitution. Our traditions bring this responsibility even closer to the homes of the children and make education a function of local government. The National Association of Manufacturers believes that:

"It is the direct and exclusive responsibility of each State and its citizens to retain control and to provide funds and facilities for public education. The citizens of each community should be actively urged by all possible means to see that their State and local governments support education adequately in the provision and allocation of local and State funds.

"It is believed that the financial position of each of the States with respect to outstanding debt, borrowing capacity, cash reserves, and potential tax resources, is adequate to fulfill this responsibility. Therefore, we do not favor Federal support, either as grants or loans. * * * (From a statement by the NAM board of directors, February 10, 1956.)

We have examined s. 2 in view of our beliefs with respect to both education and government. We are opposed to it on both sets of grounds. We feel that it has dangerous implications for the future of Federal-State relationships and that it will detract from, rather than add to, the quality of public education. Our beliefs are elaborated in the remainder of this statement.

EDUCATION: A RESPONSIBILITY OF STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS The authors of this bill seem to recognize that education is not a Federal responsibility This is implied in section 2 ; section 11 contains specific "assurances" against Federal interference in the schools. However, the requirements of other sections of the bill do, in fact, constitute an intrusion on State and local administration of the schools.

Section 2, while paying lip service to State and local control of public education, nevertheless sets the stage for Federal control by asserting the existence of a crisis in classroom construction and teachers' salaries of such magnitude that only Federal aid can remedy it. If this claim is followed by funds, as it will be should this bill be enacted, the participating communities will, in effect, be directed to do something about school construction and teachers' salaries. The bill not only involves control in this broad sense, it also is restrictive because it would divert the school boards from trying to define and solve their local problems to finding a way to use these new Federal funds. If school boards and State educational agencies ar made disbursing officers for the Federal Government, they will lose their incentive and their authority as local policymaking bodies.

Another form of control is found in the prescription of labor standards for school construction (section 9). If we are truly facing a critical classroom shortage, why should not the local communities be allowed to build those classrooms at the prevailing local wage even if that does not meet the standards of the Davis-Bacon Act? When they are told what wages they are to pay for the construction, the local school authorities are subject to regulation by the Federal Government—no matter what other wording appears elsewhere in the bill. And if the Federal Government can control the wages of the men who build the schools, how soon will it choose also to control the wages of those who teach there?

The answer to the last question is, in a way, already in the bill. It takes the form of the so-called school effort index, which would become effective in the fourth year of the proposed program. This index, as defined in section 8. for all practical purposes, sets national standards for school expenditures. Of course, no State is forced to comply with those standards. However, if it did not, it would lose some of the funds to which it should be "entitled” if this bill were not really a method to control educational standards.

FEDERAL SCHOOL GRANTS TO STATES

513

THE AVAILABILITY OF TAX RESOURCES

The rationale of this bill is found in section 2:

“* * * the Congress recognizes that without sufficient financial resources at their disposal to provide necessary educational facilities and to employ competent teaching personnel, the control of our Nation's schools is not directed by State and local school boards but is dictated by the harsh demands of privation. * * *

"In order to provide State and local boards with actual, as well as nominal control of schools, the Congress has the responsibility for appropriately sharing in their financial support.

Certainly this is the height of fiscal fantasy. If the tax structure needs to be overhauled so that the States and localities have increased sources of revenue, is it not better to do that than to shift a State responsibility to the Federal Government which then “shares appropriately” in supporting that function? But if the States are truly without financial resources, where is the Federal Government to get the money? It is an interesting coincidence that, shortly after this bill was submitted, Mr. George Meany, president of the AFI-CIO, discussing school construction with a group of labor educators, said: "There is no point in further talk of meeting this problem at the school district level, or even the community or State level. Their tax well has run dry." (Quoted in the AFLCIO News, Jan. 17, 1959.) If “their” tax well has run dry, so has that of the Federal Government for they are one and the same the resources of the people.

THE EDUCATIONAL NEED The educational crisis, as defined in this bill, relates to the alleged classroom shortage and the need for adequate salaries for competent teaching personnel. According to this bill, these problems can be solved by Federal money.

Whose solution is this for our educational problems? The States have not asked for this type of "help" in solving their school problems. Neither have the local school boards. The insistence in recent years on Federal aid for school construction and teachers' salaries has come from the National Education Association. In fact, the formula for grants used in this bill was first called to our attention in a "New York Times” story of December 21, 1957, which described it as an NEA program : “4.6 BILLION IN SCHOOL AID BY U.S. Is URGED AS THE ANNUAL NEED-NEA

OFFERS PROGRAM TO MEET 'CRISIS' LINKED TO THE SOVIET GAINS-OUTLAY WOULD RISE FROM 1.1 BILLION START

“(By Bess Furman (Special to the New York Times) ) "* * * The specific proposals of the NEA were presented by Dr. James L. McCaskill, executive secretary of its legislative commission.

“The principal feature of the permanent plan would account for almost all of the Federal aid money. It calls for grants to the States of $25 per school child in the first year, then rising to $100 in the fourth year and standing thereafter * * *"

Does this mean that all educators support this program? Certainly not. A school superintendent recently wrote: 8

“* * * I am very much concerned about the Federal Government's attempt to get control of our schools, and certainly hope that the American people will urge Congress to kill any Federal aid to education bills that may be introduced this session * * *

Some of the school people of our country, I'm afraid, have been rather thoroughly brain washed.”

Actually it is not the Federal Government as such that is attempting to get control of our schools. However, individuals in both Congress and the administration are aiding and abetting the forces within the educational profession that are apparently seeking such control. Increasingly since the end of World War II these educators have appealed for Federal aid much more insistently than they have sought help and attention from State and local authorities.

Why? Certainly this reflects a general trend toward centralization of government. It also reflects the erroneous notion that it takes Federal action to give a problem its proper attention. Dr. Burkhardt comments further :

“There is nothing incompatible between the national interest in an educated citizenry and our tradition of leaving responsibility for general public education

3 Dr. A. P. Burkhardt writing in "News and Cues,” published by the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, February 1959 issue. 39997-59-

34

to the States. The national interest in education, like many other national objectives, is best served by State and local administration and control.”

The request for Federal participation in education undoubtedly also represents a desire on the part of some professional educators to achieve control of education by defining national standards.

This bill calls attention to two problems—classroom shortages and teachers' salaries. But even if these were resolved to the complete satisfaction of the professional educators, we would not have solved our educational problems. We would not, for example, have done anything about improving teaching quality, raising the standards of curriculum or making economics, science and mathematics attractive to the gifted students who now shun these “difficult” subjects. We would have made life more attractive and more pleasant for teachers and administrators, but that is not the substance of education.

Dr. James B. Conant, reporting on his recent study of the American high school, stated that the necessary improvements in secondary education can come only:

6* * * if the citizens in many localities display sufficient interest in their schools and are willing to support them. The improvements must come school by school and be made with due regard for the nature of the community. Therefore, I conclude by addressing this final word to citizens who are concerned with public education: avoid generalizations, recognize the necessity of diversity, get the facts about your local situation, elect a good school board, and support the efforts of the board to improve the schools.”

This report by one of our distinguished educators has been well received by many thoughtful educational administrators and classroom teachers.

It certainly is a far cry from the nationalization of educational standards.

In his projections of school enrollment to 1970, based on U.S. Office of Education figures, Mr. Roger A. Freeman showed that the increase in public school enrollments will become smaller after 1960, (a summary of Freeman's table XI is attached). Yet the formula for aid for school construction asks for the smallest contribution for this fiscal year. In other words, the States will be receiving most of the “Federal aid" after they have passed the peak need caused by population growth in the 5 to 17 age group. If the proponents of this bill were sincerely convinced of an actual, current, physical shortage of classrooms, would the bill not have asked for larger sums sooner? By asking for the apparently “token" contribution of $25 per child for the first year they have attempted to make the Federal share look unimportant. But it is very important-regardless of the amount–because it brings the Federal Government into general education for the first time and because it provides for a continuing and permanent subsidy. Therefore, the bill introduces continuing and permanent Federal control of education.

Freeman's study also showed that there has been a tendency to overestimate the need for classrooms. His conclusion, after carefully weighing population and construction data, was:

"* * * it appears that most States are constructing classrooms at a rate which, if maintained over the next 12 years, is adequate. Current shortages re being slowly reduced and, in a few years, should no longer be substantial by reasonable standards. A number of States will need to accelerate their construction somewhat. Major increases appear to be necessary only in about half a dozen States."

This temperate conclusion was not popular with the proponents of the argument that only "massive infusions” of Federal money can provide an adequate number of classrooms. Also, people who admit the need to increase the salaries of competent teachers, but question the wisdom of across-the-board increases, have been greeted as enemies rather than friends of education by the defenders of the educational status quo. There is nothing more likely to arouse the wrath of this group of educators than the phrase "merit pay.”

We in industry know that raising salaries does attract more people into a particular segment of the labor market. But it does not automatically attract more competent people. And what we need is not just more teachers but more good teachers. We need to raise the standards of teacher-training institutions and to provide incentives for special effort and competence. Raising pay alone will not improve the quality of public education. It will merely reward mediocrity and entrench the commonplace teacher.

4 Dr. J. B. Conant, “The American High School Today," New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., p. 96.

6R. A. Freeman, "School Needs in the Decade Ahead," Washington, D.C. : Institute for Social Science Research, 1958, p. 205.

5

Nor should we expect that school districts, if they are relieved of pressing financial problems by such legislation, will be encouraged to look for ways to increase the effectiveness of the dollars they spend. This bill may represent a “liberal” point of view with respect to the growth of centralized government. But it is regressive with respect to education because it would perpetuate points of view that are fast becoming too readily and uncritically accepted.

This statement is not farfetched. Within the year we have seen attacks on two responsible publications because they attempted to stimulate public discussion of educational problems. The “Reader's Digest” was concerned with the question of economy in school construction. The articles in “Life” dealt primarily with problems of curriculum. When the National Association of Secondary School Principals urged its members to threaten to cancel their subscriptions to "Life" after the publication of the first article in a five-part series, “The New York Herald Tribune" commented editorially under the title “Reading, 'Riting and Boycotting":

“Like that old weather adage, everybody talks about the schools but nobody does anything about them. Those who try often find that their reward is a volley of abuse. 'Life' magazine is now in this ironic position.

"* * * Both the magazine and Mr. Larsen have long been vigorous fighters for better schools. This is not to say that the magazine's findings are infallible. It is a field in which many sincere people disagree. But the value of the series is that it stimulates debate and invites an open study of our strengths and weaknesses.

“In such a healthy climate the action of the N.A.S.S.P. is narrow and bigoted. There is something repugnant in the spectacle of a professional group telling its members to boycott freedom of the press. There is probably something illegal, too, as the magazines and books in school libraries are provided by public funds. These journals should be available to all students, not spitefully removed by any faction whose private interests are crossed. Freedom of inquiry is the basis of education. America must teach her people how to think, not what to think.” (April 17, 1958 editorial.)

State and local control of education is one of our great successes, as well as one of our great traditions. In the 1950 to 1957 period, amid all the talk of "crisis," this system expanded the N ion's teaching force by more than onethird, increased the average teacher's salary by more than half, built half a million new classrooms.

Federal control necessarily follows Federal dollars, though in more or less subtle fashion. Federal control would remove the incentive of local school boards to improve the quality of their educational systems. This bill would serve only to shift a problem from State capitals to Washington and to make it easier for those who want to control education to offer mediocre and ineffective solutions to urgent problems.

Summary of table X1-Projection of school enrollments to 1970

School year ending in

Actual

Projected

1940

1950

1956

1960

1970

29, 805

38, 756

25, 597

31, 317

Population, ages 5 to 17.

thousands Increase per decade.

do. Public school enrollment.

do. Increase per decade.

do... Nonpublic school enrollment.

do. Increase per decade.

do. Total school enrollment.

do Increase per decade.

do. Total enrollment as percent of ages 5 to 17 population. Nonpublic enrollment as percent of total enrollment.

2, 660

30, 730

925 25, 241

-356 3, 419

759 28, 660

403 93. 2 11.9

4,954

44, 757
14, 027
36, 165
10, 924
6,035
2, 616
42, 200
13, 540

94. 3
14.3

53, 770

9, 013 43,000 6, 835 7, 540 1, 505 50, 540 8, 340 94.0 14.9

28, 257

36, 270

94. 8
9.4

93. 6
13.7

Source: Freeman, R. A., “School Needs in the Decade Ahead," p. 34.

6 Burkhardt in “News and Cues," February 1959.

« PreviousContinue »