« PreviousContinue »
But abundant evidence has been presented this committee to show that we have neither the quantity nor quality of teachers, nor the physical school facil. ities necessary to provide for all our children the standard of education our times require. We will not repeat the testimony presented to you by experts that demonstrates the financial inability of most of our local school districts to raise tax funds sufficient to pay qualified teachers and to erect appropriate school buildings. From the evidence presented, the conclusion is inescapable that if we are to meet the existing crisis, Federal financial aid to our public schools is imperative. For this reason, the National Consumers League sup ports the Metcalf bill, H.R. 22, believing, after studying other proposals, that this bill more nearly than others will meet the financial requirements of our schools.
Although we support the entire bill, we should like to call your special attention to one section of H.R. 22, which has singular interest for members of the National Consumers League and for many other groups and individuals concerned with the welfare of children. Section 6 (2) of the bill provides that a State education agency which desires to us a portion of the Federal allotment for teachers' salaries shall distribute three-fourths of that portion among the school districts of the State in the same proportion that the number of teachers in those districts bears to the total number of teachers in the State. The basis on which the fourth share of the allotment for teachers' salaries is distributed is left to the discretion of the individual States.
The opportunity this provision offers States to supply much needed educationl services to children of large numbers of migratory farmworkers employed within their borders each year has significant possibilities it seems to us. These children are truly the neglected children of our land. The President's Commission on Migratory Labor in 1951 said: “They are children of misfortune. They are the rejects of those sectors of agriculture and of other industries undergoing change * * * Migratory farm laborers move restlessly over the fact of the land. * * * They pass through community after community, but they neither claim the community as home nor does the community claim them. * * * The public acknowledges the existence of migrants, yet declines to accept them as full members of the community. As crops ripen, farmers anxiously await their coming; as the harvest closes, the community, with equal anxiety, awaits their going.”
If we are concerned about the kind of future citizens the children of today may become, then these migrant children deserve our gravest attention. Nobody knows how many there are. The U.S. Office of Education has estimated “that every year at least 600,000 children are being denied the privileges of a public-school education simply because they are always on the move." They have the lowest educational attainment of any group in the Nation and constitute the largest single source of illiterates.
An Arizona report states, “Most migrant children entering classes were re tarded in achievement up to 50 percent in comparison with their age level.” According to a report from Colorado : “Eighty-two percent of all migrant schoolage children were retarded from 1 to 8 years. Paractically all children 11 years of age and over were retarded 3 years or more. Thirty-five percent of the children of school age had left school or had never been in school.” The Education Subcommittee of the Governor's Committee on Migrant Labor of my own State of Ohio found in the fall of 1957 that more than one-half of the 728 children of Texas migrants enrolled in northern Ohio schools, while their parents harvested the crops, were retarded, and half of these were retarded by 2 years or more.
Facts of this kind could be multiplied many times, but they would only repeat the story that children of migrant farmers are deprived of the educational opportunities they so desperately need. These needs are not new nor have they recently been discovered. Private citizens and organizations have been working with this problem for over 30 years. Experimental schools supported by private funds have been organized in nearly every State in which migrant farmers work.
The National Consumers League and our State leagues have done much in this area. For two summers, 1957 and 1958, the National Consumers Committee for Research and Education, Inc., financed experiments in two Wisconsin counties. The work was carried on in cooperation with the agriculture extension service of the University of Wisconsin. Classes were organized for mothers and recreational programs provided for children. Even the farm
owners, who at the opening of the project were quite skeptical, admitted at the close of the season that the experiment had been a great success.
The Elizabeth S. Magee Foundation for Education and Research, an offshoot of the Consumers League of Ohio, carried on an exceedingly successful school for migrant children last summer. This project was conducted in cooperation with the State Department of Education, the Ottawa County Board of Education and the United Church Women of Ohio. At the end of the summer, one of the teachers described the procedure as follows:
“These first summer sessions have been a combination of orientation and education. We have taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, but we have also tried to give the children a variety of experiences.
"We've had singing, painting, and modeling activities, and we have had a number of specialists come to work with the children * * *.
"All of the children will be graded and receive report cards * * *. The report card will serve chiefly as a basis of information for the teachers in other schools these children may attend and help in class placement."
The hope of those planning and financing these projects is always that when the value of such experiments, not only to the children but to the whole community, is demonstrated, local authorities will take them over and make them part of their regular school system. But this seldom happens. In the spring of 1956, after several years of private experimenting with summer schools for migrants, the New York Legislature did appropriate funds for two schools. However, in 1958, after the schools had operated with great success for 2 years, a bill to appropriate funds to make the program permanent was cut from $30,000 to $10,000. Appreciative as a community may be of the work that has been done, the reason for letting the projects drop is always the same. Lack of funds sufficient to maintain adequate schools for the children of permanent citizens makes provision for migrant children impossible. There can be little doubt, whatever the responsibility of the Federal Government for aiding all public education, that it has a clearcut obligation for the education of these migrant children who cross and recross State lines many times during a school year.
This brings us back to section 6(2) of H.R. 22. Our friends in the Department of Rural Education of the National Association of Education assure us that the unassigned one-fourth of the Federal allotment for teachers' salaries may be used in any way the State agency decides is proper, such as additional teachers for that part of the school year when migrants are in the community, for paying teachers for special remedial classes for these and other children who may need special programs, or in a number of other ways.
Quite properly, H.R. 22 does not stipulate that a State shall use funds for these or any other programs. It does, however, give the States an opportunity to determine their own special needs and designates the portion of the Federal allotment which may be used to finance the remedies.
This, in our opinion, is the most constructive proposal for financing education for migrant children contained in any current education bill. For this reason and others presented in this Statement, the National Consumers League earnestly hopes that the Subcommittee on Education will give the Metcalf bill its favorable consideration, and that the House Committee on Labor and Public Welfare will report it to the Senate with recommendations for passage.
Mr. BAILEY. We have this morning as our first witness the Honorable James Roosevelt of the State of California.
Mr. Roosevelt, if there is any further need to identify yourself to the reporter, you may do so and proceed with your statement.
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES ROOSEVELT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. ROOSEVELT. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate very much the opportunity of coming before you and the members of the committee.
Perhaps I should further identify myself as a comember of the Committee on Education and Labor.
I want to compliment the chairman and the committee for what I think is a very thorough job in the hearing of these bills, and certainly
I believe that this is one of the most fundamental and important matters which will come before this committee or the Congress.
Mr. Chairman, I am particularly anxious, if possible, to discuss this matter from the point of view of a realistic approach to offset national education deficiencies in the richest Nation in the world. The need to do something about our classroom and teacher shortages existed before Sputnik I beeped overhead, but it is apparent that this scientific achievement spotlighted the need.
Last year the U.S. Commissioner of Education undertook an onthe-spot study of the Soviet Union and, as has been pointed out before, he offered this telling observation and I repeat it only because I feel that it is necessary for all of us to reiterate it as coming from one who is an expert in this subject, and not a politician in any sense of the word, and certainly not a member of my own political party, as far as I know.
We are today, he said, in competition with a nation of vast resources, a people of seemingly unbounded enthusiasm for self-development, and fire with conviction that future supremacy belongs to those with the best trained minds, those who will work hard and sacrifice.
Yet, notwithstanding the views or observations of one of its own top officials, the administration has failed to offer leadership in meeting this challenge on the education front.
Thus, the conclusion seems obvious: This Congress must alone, if necessary, carry the full responsibility to fill an unfortunate void created by the administration's inaction and failure to present a workable program.
The plan offered by the administration and made public February 9 of this year, is not a workable, realistic program and, in my mind, it is a means to go on record that the administration is concerned, while at the same time offering a program that is destined for defeat and is destined for defeat because in the realization of thoughtful men it would not in any way meet the challenge which has been recognized by the U.S. Commissioner of Education and many others.
It is a program aimed, I am afraid, not at helping financially destitute States and communities, but rather one that in its end result simply is a further assistance to the moneylenders.
Its features would require constitutional amendments by many States that have constitutional limitations on bonded indebtedness. State action to overcome this would be most difficult and thus the administration's proposal to underwrite bond issues from a practical point of view would be of little or no help to many States.
Mr. THOMPSON. May I interrupt the gentleman, my colleague.
I have said here before, but the gentleman from California was not here, that my initial reaction to this administration legislation was much the same as yours, and I was tempted to call it a banker's bill. However, over the course of all of these hearings on the subject I have come to the conclusion that it won't even help the bankers, so that it is not that much even.
that on the basis of the tremendous number of school districts which have reached the limit of their legal indebtedness, or legal limit set by constitution or by statute who, with absolutely nothing
on which to predicate credit, can't even float the bonds that would help the bankers.
Now I know my colleague and friend has been in the investment business for a number of years, for a great many years, and does he think that it would be easy to sell to any market bonds half of which were underwritten by the Federal or State Government, issued by municipalities which had exceeded the limits of their legal indebtedness and the people in it having no more resources ?
Mr. ROOSEVELT. I would say to my friend that I think it would be very very difficult to do so, and while I am in agreement with him that perhaps in the end they will have found they have defeated themselves, as he has pointed out, I am afraid that it will have the result because the matter was brought up that it will have, even in those districts that can float their own bonds, should it pass, in raising the interest rates on those bonds.
So in a sort of backhanded manner it will make the good area or the financially good areas suffer at the expense of the taxpayers and everybody else in those districts.
I think it has, as the gentleman has pointed out, an effect, but it also has the bad effect for those States that can today help themselves, and it is going to make it with rising interest costs almost impossible.
Mr. THOMPSON. Thank you.
Mr. ROOSEVELT. It is unfortunate, to put it mildly, that the state of the Union message does not contain a solitary word on the critical classroom shortage, a shortage that States and communities have not been able to alleviate properly. It is not because of a lack of concern and effort, but because of a lack of adequate public finances. As a matter of fact, the President evaded the whole issue in his message by the less than concrete remark that the Nation's schools "conform to no recognizable standards."
Equally disturbing is the intent of the administration as expressed in the budget message to work toward eliminating or cutting Federal funds to education in fields where Federal participation is already well established. The message calls for ending in fiscal 1961 the Federal grants for vocational education, although a $63-million grant is proposed to continue Federal participation in this and other areas through fiscal 1960. If the vocational education program is worth keeping in fiscal 1960, why not in fiscal 1961 and thereafter I believe with all my heart that it is worth keeping and, incidentally, improving
What with automation forging a new technological revolution, it seems imperative that workers learn new skills in order to be gainfully employed and to support our tremendous national defense needs.
Presently vocational education programs in most local communities are inadequate both in intent and in scope, but even these inadequate programs will suffer materially if present' limited Federal funds are denied.
I would urge the committee to do all that it can to see that these funds are retained and continued in future years.
A most alarming suggestion of the President in the budget message is to cut off aid to impacted areas. This would be, in my humble opinion, a most grave mistake. Many cities are plagued by the increase in school enrollment resulting from Federal employees coming
in to work on Federal projects. This problem has not ended and will not end in the foreseeable future. The problem in increased school enrollment is compounded by the fact that Federal property is tax exempt, so that the city is forced to stretch its tax income not only to take care of the additional burden on its schools, but to expand its city facilities to serve the new residents.
În view of these proposals it really should come as no surprise that the administration has offered no budget item for Federal aid to education.
With its fixation on classical economics, the administration has retrogressed on its approach to education, at least as the approach appeared to be only 2 years ago. It will be recalled that at that time the President's White House Conference on Education called for Federal aid in the field of education, and when Sputnik I made known its presence in the ether, the administration noted the need for Federal action. Congressional programs were advanced by members of bothand not just one--party. Two years ago the administration's Department of Health, Education, and Welfare highlighted the crisis proportions of our educational plant deficiencies when it noted the Nation was short some 159,000 classrooms. At this time the need to do something was further accented by the assertion of the National School Boards Association that a new classroom was needed every 10 minutes to meet the Nation's growing population requirements.
And, Mr. Chairman, the administration, nor anybody else, is going to stop this growing population. It is going to be with us, and with it the needs that it will require.
Now 2 years later, in 1959, despite record building at the local level, the problem is still with us and crying out for solution. The January 28 report of the U.S. Office of Education gives factual testimony that this is the case. The States reported they needed 140,500 more instruction rooms. Of these, 65,300 are needed to take care of enrollments in excess of normal capacity to handle, and 75,200 are needed to replace unsatisfactory or obsolete school facilities.
My colleague, Congressman Metcalf, has documented that these figures, far from being exaggerated, are, if anything, very, very conservative.
Because this committee is well apprised of further data in this regard, I shall not press the point, but I do wish to stress that the teacher shortage has reflected itself in all too many instructors teaching on substandard credentials. The reason is that we have failed to offer financial incentive and security and due recognition to the teacher in the community.
Mr. Chairman, I might also say that it is my opinin, and I think it is backed up by very concrete evidence, that much of the juvenile delinquency in this country can be traced to the position, or the lack of position, which our communities have afforded to the teachers in our schools. It stands to reason that if a teacher is not sufficiently well paid to maintain a position of respect in the community, he is not going to get it from the community, and that will be reflected by the attitude of the pupils in the classroom, and I cannot help but believe that we are suffering in more ways than one not just educationally, but socially, and perhaps economically, from this teacher shortage and this teacher deficiency.