Page images
PDF
EPUB

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS,

Chicago, Ill., March 5, 1959. Miss SELMA BORCHARDT, Washington, D.C.

DEAR Miss BORCHARDT: As a vice president of the American Federation of Teachers, an organization long committed to Federal aid, I urge passage of the Murray-Metcalf bill.

In so urging I would like to analyze a few of the arguments against Federal aid to education.

The argument that only a portion of the tax dollar would be returned to the communities, if accepted would apply equally to State aids which are unchallenged.

The argument, therefore, is that a local tax levy would better serve the purpose, but the argument breaks down when one observes that such additional levy is seldom approved.

Then there is the fear of Federal control. This is merely a smokescreen to stall action, but perhaps even if true might serve the same useful purpose that construction standards did for subsidy highway construction.

We are reminded of the president of a large corporation appearing in Washington to oppose Federal aid to school construction, while the vice president remained at home opposing a local mill levy for building purposes. Very truly yours,

CHARLES E. BOYER, Vice President.

THE MINNEAPOLIS FEDERATION OF TEACHERS, No. 59,

Minneapolis, Minn., March 5, 1959.

A RESOLUTION

Whereas the maintenance and extension of public education is necessary to the preservation of our democratic way of life and to our very existence as a Nation; and

Whereas the public schools are in dire straits because of general apathy and because of those in control of our schools had failed to foresee increased population and the inflationary spiral; and

Whereas the age old principle of local and State taxation for schools can no longer operate in an economy where approximately 75 cents of every tax dollar is paid to the Federal Government; and

Whereas more money must be allocated to schools if able young men and women are to enter the teaching profession, if those now in the teaching profession are to remain and continue to give skilled services, and if facilities and materials are to be adequate and conducive to learning, and

Whereas failure of the Congress to pass Federal aid to schools legislation now will have catastrophic implications for our future as a people: Therefore be it

Resolved, That local 59, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers at its regular meeting calls upon the Congress to give immediate and urgent consideration of the Murray-Metcalf bill; and be it further

Resolved, That Local 59, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, communicate with Minnesota Senators and Representatives demanding their active support of the bill and their vote for the bill; and be it further

Resolved, That the Minneapolis Central Labor Union Council be asked to give their support to the Murray-Metcalf bill and to communicate such support to the Washington office of the AFL-CIO and to Minnesota Congressmen. Respectfully submitted.

A. JAMES HELLER, President.

By CHARLES E. BOYER, Executive Secretary. Mr. BAILEY. We have as our witness this morning a representative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce speaking for the national organization, Dr. K. Brantley Watson.

Mr. Watson, you may further identify yourself to the reporter and proceed with your presentation.

STATEMENT OF K. BRANTLEY WATSON, MEMBER, EDUCATION

COMMITTEE; ACCOMPANIED BY JOHN R. MILES, MANAGER, EDUCATION DEPARTMENT, CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Mr. Watson. I am vice president in charge of human relations, McCormick & Co. in Baltimore, and a member for several years of the education committee of the national chamber of commerce.

Since our testimony today is not only the concensus of the views of the chamber but also reflects somewhat my own personal views, maybe I had better tell you a little bit about myself.

ľ hold a doctor's degree in educational psychology. I taught for 12 years at Duke University in educational psychology, was director of the guidance clinic for high school students there, organized it and directed it. For 8 years I was vice president in charge of personnel at the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond, and have for the past 5 years been in my present capacity in Baltimore with McCormick & Co.

I am sure you are all familiar with these facts, but just to mention them again:

The chamber of commerce, as far as the national chamber is concerned, reflects the views and opinions of some 3,450 local and State chambers of commerce throughout the country. Because of the chamber's interest in education, it has stimulated the provision over the years of education committees in various chambers, today totaling 2,200 education committees. The delegates from local chambers and committees on education actually formulate and determine the national chamber's policy. The views that I express today, although I certainly concur in them personally, reflect the concensus of the views of men from all over the country, and reflect the unanimous endorsement of the chamber's policy on education as passed by its delegates at the annual meetings in 1957 and 1958. Among other things, that policy states very clearly that the chamber is strongly in support of public education and its improvement, and believes just as strongly that it is and should continue to be a responsibility of the local communities and the States.

Again, just to put these comments in some kind of context, the chamber over many years has devoted a great deal of time and money to its committees for the furtherance of better education, informing businessmen and the public about the needs for the improvement of education; for the development of all kinds of materials in support of local effort in improving education, and just recently has been commended by the president of the American Association of School Administrators for a complete program and brochure that has been developed for the recognition of teachers.

I will not comment further on that except to say that the chamber's views in this respect represent a sincere interest in education and not just a partisan view as such.

These remarks are based on the conviction that not only the interests of business but of the public at large require expansion and improvement of our educational program, and we wish to recognize that fact. Therefore, we are pleased to have this opportunity today to

37378-59-427

present our views in regard to some of the bills that are proposed as they involve the so-called massive infusion of Federal funds into our educational financing.

Mr. BAILEY. I think maybe you had better enlighten the members of the subcommittee on that expression "massive infusion.”

Mr. WATSON. As you recall, that expression, which has been quoted rather frequently recently in a number of articles, originated, I believe, in an expression of some of the folks in the National Education Association, when they said that only through a massive infusion of funds can the communities meet their obligations as far as education is concerned. That is a phrase that was picked up from a description on the part of one body as to the needs in this direction.

Mr. BAILEY. Am I to understand you are at a loss to create catch phrases like that and you borrow them from the National Education Association ?

Mr. WATSON. I think this is a very good one, and I am very happy to pick up a good one when I hear it.

Mr. BAILEY. I would just like to make a point at that stage.

It takes a considerable amount of money; that is true. But in the debate 2 years ago on school construction I offered on the floor of the House a record of 184 contracts that the Federal Government had with various institutions, colleges, and groups in this country, to carry on educational activities abroad, involving more money than is involved in this, and nobody knows the extent of it.

We are building school buildings from Pakistan to Vietnam and from Patagonia to places up in the Arctic with the American taxpayer's money.

The chamber of commerce is in favor, of course, and has supported consistently the foreign aid, economic, mutual security program. Would you be frank enough to tell us why you support one and oppose the other, especially when the massive infusion would be for the benefit of our own boys and girls?

One of thoses contracts, for your information, was for the construction of an agricultural college and nine agricultural high schools in Ethiopia, not only paid for by American taxpayers' money but we are paying the salaries of the teachers yet under that contract.

Mr. Watson. I would simply say, Mr. Bailey, that, not knowing all of the circumstances involved there, I do not believe that the question of expenditures in such programs as foreign assistance, whether it be for education or anything else, is directly related to this question of Federal assistance to education in this country, because of the matter of need, as I shall point out.

What I hope to show, just to get this total picture in proper perspective, is that perhaps this emphasis upon the need for Federal assistance has been grossly exaggerated.

Mr. BAILEY. Suppose we just let you proceed with your presentation, and I will make some notes here.

Mr. WATSON. I would like to supply for the record, if I may, this complete written record of testimony. With your permission and without objection, I shall not proceed to read it.

Mr. BAILEY. Without objection, it will be accepted for inclusion in the record, and you may make any comments on it you want to.

(The statement referred to follows:)

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

STATEMENT ON FEDERAL AID TO EDUCATION PRESENTED TO THE HOUSE EDUCATION

AND LABOR COMMITTEE BY DR. K. BRANTLEY WATSON.

The national chamber is the voice of business. It is the organization through which business as a whole expresses itself—to let the public and the Government know where business stands on national issues, and the reasons. Representing 3,450 business organizations with an underlying membership of 2,500,000 businessmen in 48

States. I am K. Brantley Watson, vice president in charge of human relations, McCormick & Co., Baltimore, Md. I have been a member of the national chamber's education committee for 4 years.

Since I am presenting the chamber's views, I believe that I should establish the fact that I have had extensive graduate training and experience in the field of education, and that I taught in the field of psychology at Duke University for 12 years and was director of that university's bureau of testing and guidance for several years. Later I became vice president in charge of personnel of the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond before undertaking my present work in human relations with McCormick & Co.

The chamber of commerce of the United States represents the consensus of business thinking of more than 3,400 chambers of commerce and trade associations. In the field of education, it has stimulated the creation of committees on education in 2,200 local and State chambers of commerce. Delegates from these local and State organizations have by unanimous vote at our annual meetings in 1957 and 1958 created the policies on education of the national chamber. These policies state clearly the chamber's belief that public education is and should continue to be a State and local responsibility.

An examination of the chamber's program in the field of education will reveal that it is a dynamic expression of the faith of the business community in our uniquely American approach to the development of oncoming generations. The national chamber not only believes in education—it has taken the story of the importance of education in our way of life to the businessmen of the Nation. It should be clear from the outset of this testimony that the national chamber endorses and advocates the highest quality in education and the full development of the talents of American youth, and that it has taken every opportunity to advise State and local chamber organizations to the end that sufficient investment and an efficient use of funds for education be constantly encouraged. Our remarks today are based on the belief of business that not only their own interest but the interest of the general public require an expansion and improve ment in public education that will keep our society free and increasingly productive and strong.

We are pleased to have this opportunity to present our views to this committee on the several bills, particularly H.R. 22, now before you, proposing the massive infusion of Federal funds into the financing of the construction of schools and the payment of teacher salaries.

The board of directors of the national chamber, on January 31 of this year, endorsed the recommendation submitted by the education committee to oppose such legislation. Careful and extensive study by subcommittees of the education committee caused them to advise the board of directors that the Federal programs proposed were neither necessary nor desirable, but rather that they were inconsistent with both the current facts and the history of our American approach to education and would lead to a deterioration in the freedom and effectiveness of our schools.

We have been concerned, for many years, about the tendency of some educational associations to decry the success of our American approach to education. Instead of telling the American public about the startling expansion and improvements in our schools, they have emphasized the other side of the picture. Add to this fact the genuine concern of American people engendered by Russia's sputniks, and the present confusion-almost hysteria-about our schools is understandable. While some scientific and educational experts subsequently tried to reassure Americans that this breakthrough in science had little relation to the conditions in our schools, advocates of emergency Federal action in education have been falsely employing this event ever since, in the attempt to panic the Congress into far-reaching intervention in our schools.

We deplore this panic approach, so evident in the enactment last year of a variety of new Federal programs which, though unrelated and moving off in many different directions, were offered the American people under the guise of defense action. This National Defense Education Act is not yet understood, let alone possible of evaluation, but appears to have further confused the people, if not school leaders themselves, about the several controversial problems facing us in education and our responsibility to resolve them.

It is, therefore, high time, in our opinion, that our Nation's leaders, both in the field of education and Government, better evaluate the conditions and achievements of the school systems and publicize the facts about the improvements of our schools that have taken place, both quantitatively and qualitatively, during the last decade.

While recognizing the critical importance of further improvement and further expansion of our schools and colleges, we wish today, first of all, to reassure the Congress about the continuing will and ability of the people in the States and their communities to maintain schools equal to the demands of an increasingly technological society in a new era. We wish further to seek the understanding of the Congress for the need to recognize rather than count the spectacular expansion and improvement of our schools and colleges in the last decade.

Our schools and colleges are perhaps the most uniquely American institutions of all the innovations in living that have been established in this country. It would be tragic, indeed, if the good intentions of our legislators were to undermine our people's faith in America's relatively new approach to the organization and development of school systems and colleges appropriate to the goals and needs of this most productive of all societies.

In quantitative terms, the accomplishments of our educational system under State and local responsibility are unprecedented. Forty-five million persons, one-fourth of the Nation, participate in full-time formal education. Ninety-nine percent of the children, age 6 to 15, and 80 percent of those aged 16 and 17 are enrolled in school. One-third of our young people enter college; two-thirds of those who enter graduate. One and a half million high school diplomas and a half a million college degrees are awarded each year. No nation on earth ever did, does now, or has a reasonable prospect to, approach these achievements.

This does not mean that all is well with education. Far from it. The businessman is at least as aware as anybody else of shortcomings in the educational system, and possibly more so. He knows that the continued existence and progress of his enterprise depend upon the skills, knowledge, wisdom, and atti. tudes of the products of the Nation's educational institutions as much as on any other single factor. He recognizes the existing deficiencies and feels the need to have them corrected as rapidly as possible. He is determined to work toward that end. But he is even more determined to avoid the use of means which, while presumed to serve desired ends, will, in his opinion, lead to far different con. sequences.

The businessman does not believe that the injection of the Federal Government into the schools is the way toward the desired ends. Quite the contrary. He is convinced that to shift responsibility, and inevitably authority, from the local community to a Federal bureaucracy will lead to a deterioration in the educational process. For this reason, the business community is firmly and unalterably opposed to an expansion of Federal powers and activities into the Nation's schools. It submits that enactment of the above bills, providing Federal aid to the schools, will gradually lead to a nationalization of the schools and to a debasement of American education.

The support which the drive for Federal aid to education has received is due largely to three factors. First, the idea has been nurtured that Federal money comes for free, while additional State and local funds would have to be obtained from higher taxes. Second, there is the impression that only the Federal Government can do the job of meeting our educational needs, i.e., that the problems confronting education today make it a national affair that can be resolved only through national direction and financing. Third, is the regrettable fact that the school situation is being deliberately distorted and misrepresented for the purpose of encouraging Federal intervention.

« PreviousContinue »