« PreviousContinue »
I think the manner in which this legislation is drafted, I fail to see how any Federal control argument can be raised. Indeed, I would fear that some might say there is too little control, to the point that we are being irresponsible in enacting such legislation.
I would like to commend the gentleman for the improvement in the overall drafting of the bill.
Mr. METCALF. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from Arizona introduced a similar bill last year, and it was streamlined, and certainly I have benefited from an examination and, shall we say, a plagiarism of his bill in streamlining the bill that I sponsored last year.
Mr. BAILEY. Mr. Lafore?
Mr. LAFORE. I would like to ask the gentleman one question because I was not sure that I got the answer out of his testimony.
Is it your belief, without getting into statistics, which I certainly do not want to do, that the situation, classroomwise—that phase of your bill which deals with the classroom problem—is worse today than it was when you first started to become interested in this problem in the 83d Congress, the same or less acute ?
Mr. METCALF. It is my opinion that it is the same. And, again, I know that neither of us wants to get into this business of the numbers game like we did with Mr. Gwinn.
Mr. LAFORE. I understand.
Mr. METCALF. But the latest report, which was issued on the 28th of January, showed that we had a shortage of around 149,000 classrooms.
When we first went into this, the gentleman from New Jersey will remember from the Kearns subcommittee, we had a shortage of somewhere between 139,000 and 160,000 classrooms, depending upon whether it was one or the other of the agencies we were talking about.
But in the years that have intervened, the local agencies have doubled their building of classrooms, the local school districts. We built 70,000 classrooms the year before last, and 68,000, I believe, last year, which indicates that we have reached the peak of capacity of local effort, and are going down, and yet have not substantially
Maybe 15,000 or 20,000 classrooms of backlog have been built. But we still have 140,000. If we do not take those up any faster than we have in the past, it will be the year 2036 before we have wiped out this backlog of classrooms that we are short.
Mr. LAFORE. I thank the gentleman. He has answered my question.
Of course, it is conceivable that in the case of the Kearns subcommittee they thought they had reached their capacity then.
Mr. METCALF. We thought that they needed in those days encouragement and stimulation. They were not taxing up to their bonding capacity. They were not taxing up to their statutory taxing capacity. But since then, in the years that have intervened, school district after district and State after State have both exhausted their capacities to tax and their statutory and constitutional limits, and the trend, instead of upward, is now falling out.
Mr. LAFORE. Thank you.
Mr. BAILEY. The Chair notes the presence in the subcommittee of two members of the general Committee on Education and Labor, both of whom are potential candidates for membership on the subcommittee.
Until such time as the chairman of the general Committee on Education and Labor can make up his mind as to which of the two gentlemen he is going to appoint to this subcommittee, I took the privilege of inviting both of them to the meeting this morning. I am sure that the general chairman will soon designate one of the two to serve on this subcommittee.
In the meantime do you have any comments, Mr. Brademas?
Mr. O'HARA. I would like to thank the chairman for inviting me in spite of the uncertain status of appointments here.
I would like at some future time to talk to Mr. Metcalf in some detail about the bill. I want to thank him for taking the time briefly to explain it to us today.
Mr. BAILEY. We also have at the committee table the ranking representative on the general Committee on Education and Labor, our good friend from Pennsylvania, Mr. Kearns, who in the past and, I assume, at present has been very much interested and is very much interested in the matter of school legislation. He tells me he is going to spend considerable time with the subcommittee during our considerations.
Mr. Kearns, do you have any comments at this time?
Mr. BAILEY. You will be welcome to sit in at any time you wish on the subcommittee.
Mr. METCALF. I hope the chairman will call to the attention of the gentleman from Pennsylvania the remarks that I made in opening my testimony, when I said that the people of America will owe any school construction aid to the pioneering that the gentleman from Pennsylvania did back there in the 83d Congress when he was the first chairman of this kind of a subcommittee.
Mr. KEARNS. Thank you.
Mr. METCALF. Mr. Chairman, like General MacArthur, I shall return.
Mr. BAILEY. We have as a witness Mrs. Betty Lou Pagel, of Cheyenne, Wyo., representing the National Classroom Teachers Association.
Will you come forward and identify yourself for the reporter. STATEMENT OF BETTY LOU PAGEL, CHEYENNE, WYO., ACCOM
PANIED BY SAM M. LAMBERT, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION
Mrs. PAGEL. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, with your permission, at this time I should like to introduce Dr. Sam Lambert, who is director of the research division of NEA, and ask your permission that, if you direct any questions of such a highly technical nature or general policymaking nature that I feel unable to answer, you will allow me to call on him, and, with his assistance, maybe we can give you the answers you
desire. Mr. Bailey. May I say to the lady, before she gives her identification to the reporter, that we would like to ask if you care to be interrupted during the course of your testimony. Or would you prefer to wait and have general questioning at the end of your testimony?
Mrs. PAGEL. I think it would be fine to interrupt. We will try to make this as much of a classroom situation as we can.
Mr. BAILEY. That is fine.
Now the Chair would like to express its appreciation, and I must say that I am somewhat surprised to find a fellow West Virginian here. Mr. Lambert is a lifelong friend of mine and a prominent leader in educational matters in the State of West Virginia.
You are particularly welcome, Mr. Lambert, and the Chair will see to it that nobody roughs you up.
You may proceed, Mrs. Pagel.
My name is Betty Lou Pagel, and I am a classroom teacher from Cheyenne, Wyo. Actually, I have the title of coordinator of elementary grades. This means I am like an itinerant preacher-will travel to help in any classroom in the city from kindergarten through sixth grade. In addition, I am a parent. My daughter is in the ninth grade.
It is my purpose to testify in favor of Federal support for education which would provide funds for school construction and teachers salaries. I hope you will be able to see for yourselves that it would be false economy for us not to get the kind of help we need in order to offer our children the kind of education they deserve in this Nation, and the kind of education that we will come much closer to giving them with the passage of H.R. 22.
Gentlemen, our schools are in the midst of a crisis which could imperil the future of our youth. Too many students in all parts of America are not receiving an adequate education as the result of schoolhouse shortages and teacher shortages. Is it small wonder that boys and girls who have been the victims of overcrowded classrooms, double shifts, and half-day sessions do not measure up to par in such subjects as reading, spelling, arithmetic, and social studies ?
Thousands upon thousands of grade school youngsters across this country could be classed as deprived children because they have not been given the educational opportunities to which they are entitled. Frankly, the majority of classroom teachers are inundated by the tasks of trying to give extra help to all their children, many of whom have special problems.
School systems must provide education for these deprived children. At the same time we are obligated to do more for the average child and again not forget the gifted or bright child. Then, too, special facilities must be provided for the handicapped child—ones with sight, hearing, speech, and motor defects.
These offerings cost money and are made possible only by an adequate supply of well-trained, dedicated teachers, an adequate number of school buildings, and a desire on the part of all of us to have the best set of schools in the world.
Our very survival depends upon how well we provide our 34.6 mil lion school-age children with an appreciation of their heritage and with the effective skills and tools to preserve and expand our freedom, culture, and economy.
Young America must grow up to be an electorate with emotional and intellectual balance, capable of making wise decisions. This year is the year for courageous legislation to improve our schools. The decision is yours.
If you will come into the classroom with me, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce to you some of the children, and, yes, teachers who were victims of the “too big” class and the frustrations it causes.
Take Arthur, for example. I personally recall labeling him as a retarded learner. Fortunately, even though my first-grade class was too large to give all the children individual attention, I discovered that this little boy suffered from a major hearing loss. You know, it takes ages sometimes to discover physical and emotional problems in children in a crowded classroom without the help of special personnel.
Arthur came from a Spanish-speaking family, but once he was equipped with a hearing aid and could hear speech sounds and di ections, he picked up English rapidly. He had never heard our sounds distinctly.
Arthur was having speech troubles, too, and after speech therapy, he entered class discussions with eagerness.
This was a first-grade child, a 6-year-old boy, suddenly blooming because he wanted to try his new-found abilities. Today Arthur is a successful high school student who, I am certain, has developed a lifelong love of learning.
I remember one night when the third-grade teacher came in after school. The teacher was astounded and heartsick. She had found a note written by Mary, the brightest and the quietest little girl in the third grade. The note said this: “I wish my teacher liked me.”
This teacher realized she had neglected Mary through the time she had spent with the slow learners, in disciplining the troublemakersand disciplinary problems are compounded as the classroom congestion grows—in general classroom supervision of too many students and in routine, nonteaching tasks.
This teacher was a good teacher, and, even though she had to add an extra hour to her day to do it, Mary soon felt she was liked and belonged. Today, Mary is studying to be a teacher.
I hope that when she enters her first classroom that her group of children is small enough that she may know the joy of being a real friend to each child. Small children need to feel close to their teacher.
A lot has been said recently about the problems children have in learning to read. These problems are multiplied in a class of 35 to 40 youngsters because the teacher practically has to return to a method of instruction that research has proved is ineffective.
Some of you remember the kind I mean, in which every child opened the same book at the same place and listened to another child read. Those days of marking time for a page to turn while thoughts hopped, skipped, and jumped from a pending ball game to an unspent nickel,
thank goodness, in most cases are gone. In a small class reading has meaning. Children are guided into the habit of picking up the words they need to know out of life situations instead of from stilted narratives such as were contained in the McGuffy and National Readers.
I am not casting aspersions on those readers, for they served a very fine purpose. I merely want to make it clear to you that today the first thing we want to introduce children to is the fact that reading is just talking written down.
If you remember some of those stilted words and phrases, you know that they were not very meaningful to children. They were just repeating the words they saw.
Today reading is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. The important thing is that we learn to read for meaning, so that we can get something out of this material that we read.
Children today are taught many skills, including ways to help them attack new words. Children write stories themselves, and thereby they learn the value of sequential development and a sort of basic beginning to outlining.
Imagine the frustration of a teacher who knows how to teach effectively and finds it nigh on to impossible under his present working conditions. Long ago good teachers stopped cramming skills into a child in the manner of priming a pump.
Teachers found out that what was poured in didn't always come out.
I am not saying there is no place for drill. We drill today, but we realize that drill must come after the period of understanding. We go through periods of manipulation with concrete material, step by step, until children understand what we are doing, and then it is time to put in short and repeated drills.
Youngsters today work at reading, spelling, and writing at their own speed. Just as there are all sizes and shapes of 6-year-olds, so are there different rates of grasping different subjects.
Individual problems of one group of youngsters will be given attention by the teacher, while a second group works away by itself on another step in the reading program. Children actually help set their own goals under the careful guidance of the teacher. know how it is with a beginner at school. The first-grader thinks his chief aim in life is to be able to read and write. How fortunate that child is if he gets in with a really good teacher. The really good teacher capitalizes upon this spontaneous interest. She grasps it and she starts it running on the right track.
This is the way we teachers want to teach your child. But just listen to this letter I received recently from one of the high school teachers in Cheyenne, I quote:
I have 150 students to counsel this year—their records, their problems plus my 110 regular class members—their grades and papers-plus student council sponsorship every Tuesday after school. In addition I am the only sponsor of the Creative Writing Club which meets the first and third Monday nights. Since we are on three shifts in my high school, we must meet at night. Oh yes, I also am junior class sponsor. I tell you this because I am frantic, and I feel I am not doing anything real well.
Teachers have an obligation to work on planning and study committees and to sponsor special-interest groups which broaden the curriculum. But when there are too many students and too many duties, I am afraid the reaction of this teacher is legion. He is only one, but there are so many like him in schools in all parts of America.
We must keep teachers in the teaching profession and not allow the sheer frustration of not having enough time to teach drive them into other occupations, and better paying
ones in most instances.