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I think this is an accurate statement that there is no Member of Congress who has a larger percentage of colored people voting in his district than myself, at least from the South. There may be some in the northern districts who do.
This bill was introduced on the first day I came to Congress, when I came right fresh from being not a Congressman. The first speech I made on the floor of the House was in behalf of this legislation. There is not an ounce or iota of bigotry in it.
If someone wishes to attribute some bigotry to it, they may do so. That is a bill to acknowledge a Federal responsibility.
I think the Federal Government in the field of education should first take care of those to whom it owes the greatest responsibility and the greatest aid. I think the two great races who have a right to expect some assistance are the Negro race and Indian race.
Now, I do not necessarily expect this committee to agree with me. After all, I introduced this bill in 1949 and I have been testifying every time I have had the opportunity to testify for the bill and as long as I am in Congress and as long as this committee hears me, I expect to be testifying on this bill. I am a very patient man. The bill may never be enacted. That does not mean it is not the best bill before Congress in the field of education.
It may not be enacted, but I have not had my views changed on the bill in the hearings that transpired before. I have never had to change a comma or a period in it. It is an excellent bill. I highly recommend it to you.
I will not fall out with anybody who does not vote for it. It may be that people will try to make something out of it that is not there, but it is to make it a clear-cut responsibility of the Federal Government to assist Negroes and Indians that has not been met by the Federal Government. It is an absolute acuity with regard to a great number of Indians.
I think this obligation should be met.
Mr. BAILEY. Would the gentleman from Florida have the committee believe that the legislation can be justified on the ground of Government responsibility through future Government activities of more or less impact on the Negroes when they brought them in as slaves without Federal assistance to education? That clears the Negro part of it.
Now, may I ask the gentlemen from Florida, to what extent the State of Florida and the school districts of Florida have taken advantage of the Johnson-O'Malley Act?
Mr. BENNETT. The Indian act? Mr. BAILEY. The Johnson-O'Malley bill which would permit Federal grants to the Indian Bureau for school construction and teachers' salaries and what have you?
Then, too, we amended Public Law 815 so as to permit attendance at white schools of Indians.
Mr. BENNETT. Let me say several things.
No. 1, this bill springs from my heart. It would have been introduced by me whether there would have been any Negroes in my district or any Indians. There are very few Indians in Florida. None of them lives in the district which I represent with the possibility of one very small family which is probably not more than 10 members and they do not live like Indians; they vote and do everything else like everybody else. They only assert their Indian ancestry for the pur
pose of certain claims as I understand it. That is about the essence of their living that way,
The Indians who live as aboriginal Indians in Florida are very few in number and live in the southern part of the State.
So, No. 1, this bill springs from my heart and not in regard to necessarily representing even the large number of Negroes who are in my district simply because I thought it was a good bill.
No. 2, I really do not know how far the government of Florida and the various school districts have obtained assistance from the Federal Government with regard to schools.
No. 3, I would suspect it would be a rather small amount, if any, because the Seminole Indians of Florida are, as far as I know, the only Indians with whom the Federal Government has never concluded a treaty of peace.
The only war which this country ever fought which was not terminated by a treaty of peace was the Seminole war which lasted for many years, as you probably know. Many lives were lost in it, but the Indians refused to sign the treaty of peace.
Mr. BAILEY. Are those Seminole Indians on a reservation?
Mr. BENNETT. They are not on a Federal reservation. They are assisted with regard to State lands, but they are not like ordinary Indians. They are the only Indians, as I say, who have not concluded a treaty of
It has been over a hundred years now, I do not presume they are about to do it.
Mr. BAILEY. You do not know whether they have separate schools?
Mr. BENNETT. They go to white schools if they desire to do so and a good number of them do. A good number go to college.
Mr. BAILEY. If under your bill one of the Florida districts contemplated building a school building and, say 50 percent of the youngsters attending the new school would be Indians, under your legislation the Government would contribute one-half of the construction cost; is that the basis?
Mr. BENNETT. That is what would happen. I think it would be a very good result because I think they need these schools. I think the Indians would be more inclined to use the schools if they felt that their white brothers in the immediate neighborhood were not doing it entirely out of the white taxation because the Indians do not produce a great deal of tax money.
As I see it, this particular tribe is a rather dignified and prideful group: I think it would be much easier to get schools for them, although the schools are open to them, if it was felt by them that the Federal Government was building these schools rather than their local neighbors, the white people living in the area.
Mr. BAILEY. Do you have any further questions? Let me again thank the distinguished gentleman from Florida. We appreciate having you here. I am sure that the committee when they sit down around the table will give some consideration to your proposal.
Mr. BENNETT. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BAILEY. I note the presence of our colleague, the Honorable George P. Miller, of California. You may identify yourself to the reporter and proceed.
STATEMENT OF HON. GEORGE P. MILLER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear here today in support of the Murray-Metcalf proposed School Support Act of 1959. As you know, I have introduced a companion bill, H.R. 2351.
There can be little doubt that additional funds are needed to maintain and improve the quality of American education. The Murray, Metcalf bill will provide such funds in substantial quantities, without Federal control, and according to an objective formula.
We have had a large and sizable classroom shortage for many years and there is no evidence that it is disappearing. This shortage exists and persists in the face of strenuous efforts by school districts to arrive at more realistic assessments of real and personal property, in the face of higher tax rates, and in the face of increasing State efforts to help the local school districts. In addition, the Federal Government has taken several steps to fill the need. There are now Federal funds for vocational education and for defense-related activities. There is a Federal school lunch program but it is admittedly designed to liquidate our surpluses as much as to feed our children. There is also a current proposal to extend loans to school districts.
Last year the U.S. Office of Education reported a shortage of 142,500 classrooms. Throughout the country we can see that schools are being built, but a year later the Office of Education reported a shortage of 140,500 classrooms. Of course, this does not mean that we built only 2,000 classrooms last year; instead, it means that our Nation is fertile and that our birth rates have been such that the new "vintage” of children is so large that it used up practically all of the additional buildings. In other words, present rates of school construction make it possible for us to hold our own, but do not enable us to catch up. Youngsters now are going to school on half-day sessions, and they face the prospect of being shortchanged during their entire 12 years of public
education. Some States have channeled most of thir funds into teacher salaries and have particularly severe classroom shortages. Other States have concentrated their available funds into school construction at the price of keeping down teachers' salaries. There are two advantages to the Murray-Metcalf bill in this connection. First, by allowing the States to choose between salaries and school construction, there is a lack of Federal control and encouragement of State and local decisions. Second, this choice enables each State to judge its own need and allows it to bring back into balance those budgetary allocations which may have become unbalanced.
In economic terms, the Murray-Metcalf bill, when in full operation, will mean 1 percent of our gross national product-$4.7 billion out of GNP of $450 billion (which will probably be higher 4 years now, when the bill will first go into full effect).
We often pride ourselves on the high American standard of living. The time has come to include our children in the benefits of our wealth and prosperity. Teachers will benefit from this measure, also, and I believe the time has come for them to share in the benefits of living in a free and wealthy society. We have too long depended on their charity and dedication.
Mr. Chairman, I urge the committee's favorable consideration of the School Support Act of 1959, and I thank you for your courtesy in allowing me to present my views on this important legislation.
Mr. BAILEY. I note the presence of our colleague, Hon. LeRoy H, Anderson, of Montana. You may identify yourself to the reporter and proceed.
STATEMENT OF LEROY ANDERSON, MEMBER OF CONGRESS, SECOND
DISTRICT, MONTANA Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, H.R. 4322, the committee will note, is identical with H.R. 22 by my fellow Montanan, Congressman Lee Metcalf. His able testimony in behalf of this legislation leaves little to be added.
We in Montana are deeply concerned about the plight of our public schools. As is true in many States, the major portion of local and county taxes is devoted to public education. An increasingly large percentage of State appropriations is devoted to education. To meet the pressing demands of increased enrollments and rising school costs from local and State resources alone is impossible, unless other vital State services are to be curtailed. Unemployment is a major problem in Montana. The sad plight of our mining and forestry industries and the increasing economic hardship of our family farmers has lowered State income from taxes, thus depleting an already overburdened State treasury. The prospect for adequately increased revenue for schools is very dim, despite the earnest efforts of our State legislators.
I believe that the principle embodied in H.R. 22 and H.R. 4322 is the most practical answer to the Nation's education problem. Good teachers who can afford to teach are essential to quality education. Proper physical plants in which education can take place must be provided to replace the overcrowded firetraps into which too many of our future citizens are presently jammed. Experience has demonstrated too tragically that the States and local communities alone cannot handle this problem. This legislation, which I strongly support, aims directly and permanently at assisting the States in a proper, practical way to meet this financial burden without in any way damaging the tradition of local and State control. I believe firmly that money thus invested by the Federal Government will be returned tenfold-in increased technical ability of our citizens in a space age, in better mental health for future generations, in increased efficiency of our national defenders in the future, if the need arises. Further, the increased earning capacity of properly educated people will actually return more taxes to the Federal Treasury. The money invested in education is really self-liquidating, just as is that invested in developing our water and power resources.
Finally, may I say, as one who was a veteran State legislator preceding my election to Congress, that I fail to comprehend the reasoning of those who hold that a taxpayer's debt at the Federal level is a mortal sin but that it is a virtue for the States and local districts to incur debts far beyond the point of reasonableness. The superior tax collecting powers of the Federal Government make distribution of the cost of education, through Federal aid, to all taxpayers far more
equitable than by local property taxes. Those groups who oppose Federal financial support for schools are the same individuals, sometimes albeit under other names, whom I met in State legislative halls opposing State aid for schools, and oddly enough they frequently appeared at the local school elections opposing bond issues for new schools. One can only surmise that they are opposed to public education because it costs money-or perhaps they fear an educated citiZenry.
I urge the committee and the Congress to meet this challenge which has become a crisis. Our Nation cannot continue to ignore the plight of that bastion of democracy, our public school system.
As Thomas Jefferson so truly said:
If a nation expects to be ignorant and free it expects what never was and what never will be.
Mr. BAILEY. I note in the committee room the gentleman from Wisconsin, Mr. Zablocki. Will you identify yourself to the reporter and proceed with your testimony?
STATEMENT OF HON. CLEMENT J. ZABLOCKI, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF WISCONSIN
Mr. ZABLOCKI. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity of appearing briefly before your committee in support of legislation proposing to extend Federal assistance to education.
Since the enactment of Public Law 815 in the 81st Congress, which was designed to assist local school districts in solving their classroom shortage problem insofar as that problem was aggravated by the loss of State and local tax revenue by Federal programs and activities in or near the local school districts, your committee has undertaken several studies in order to ascertain the need for any further legislation in this field.
Your committee's findings resulted in a favorable report, in the 84th Congress, on legislation authorizing the Federal Government to assist in the financing of school construction in several ways without interference with the
responsibility on State and local school systems. This bill, H.R. 7535, 84th Congress, was defeated in the House by a vote of 224 to 194 on July 5, 1956.
In the years since 1956, your committee has conducted further studies and received specific recommendations from the President on this subject. The weight of evidence thus presented to your committee appears to establish the fact that many localities and areas in our country suffer from a shortage of classrooms—and that, in order to alleviate this situation, some measure of Federal assistance for school construction will be needed.
As your committee knowns, I introduced H.R. 993 in the present Congress, to provide Federal assistance for school construction. My bill is similar to H.R. 1, of the 85th Congress, except insofar as I proposed making all children eligible for assistance, not just those who attend public schools. Briefly, my bill would provide $600 million a year for 6 years in grants to states for school construction; create a school bond purchase fund, for the purchase of up to $750 million, over 4 years, of obligations of local educational agencies where the said agencies are unable to raise funds on reasonable terms