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This is not a new interest. In 1949, meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates to the national CIO convention asked the 81st Coi gress to "provide at least $3 billion in Federal funds over a period of 5 years for a comprehensive nationwide school building program.” Had this program been followed, we would have had by the end of this year an additional 100,000 classrooms capable of housing 3 million pupils.
We support today, as quickly as possible, a significant expansion in present rates of school construction, both to meet the backlog of classroom shortage and the tremendous school construction needs of the next 5 years.
The Congress of Industrial Organizations feels that President Eisenhower's message on school construction places the members of his party squarely behind Federal action to meet the classroom shortage. It is significant now that both major political parties agree that Federal action in this field is needed. We wish, however, that President Eisenhower's legislative proposals were more adequate to meet the needs of our overcrowded school system.
I am sure that all groups agree with the President's statement thata plan of Federal cooperation with the States, designed to give our schoolchildren as quickly as possible the classrooms they must have. This is the yardstick by which we must judge any legislative proposals in this field.
It is on the score of failing to act quickly with simple legislative proposals to meet these needs that the CIO respectfully opposes S. 968 and supports a bill patterned after Senator Hill's bill, s. 5. Not only will it take more time for S. 968 to be put into operation to build additional classrooms that our children need, but the Congress of Industrial Organizations feels that the bill fails to meet the magnitude of our school problem. It gives too little aid to our children—too late.
Analyzing quickly, title I, which has already been called by many educators—which I think is unusual—the bankers' section of the bill, would make available $750 million worth of Government funds to purchase the bonds of local school districts. The interest rate suggested for these bonds is 31/8 percent. Last year, according to the United States Commissioner of Education, out of the $2 billion worth of public school bonds issued, approximately $76 million were sold at an interest rate above 31/8 percent. This section of the bill may save a few school districts a small amount on their interest rate, but it will not build additional classrooms.
Secondly, it is possible that, with the interest rates of most school bond issues much below this level, the issuance of the Government bonds at a slightly higher interest rate may actually force the interest rate up on general school bonds.
Some witnesses have also indicated that the Federal Government may actually make a profit at the expense of school districts in the country which are most in need. Certainly, the interest rate on these bonds might be lowered.
Under this program, as Senator Douglas has already suggested, communities like New York, Chicago, and Detroit, which do not borrow money for school construction, would receive no aid whatsoever. Hundreds of thousands of children are packed in overcrowded schools in these three cities, including, of course, thousands of children coming from CIO families.
It is ironic, indeed, that an administration that has looked upon every type of Federal planning to meet the needs of people as objectionable and has popularized the phrase, “creeping socialism,” should sponsor a bill in this field that suggests more Federal control than almost any bill that has thus far been introduced in the Congress.
Title II, would provide $150 million to help establish State school building authorities, to pay half of first year's interest and principal on the bonds issued by these authorities. Again, this section of the bill, somehow or other, has inspired newspaper headline writers to predict “$6 billion worth of additional school construction in the next 3 years." There is some evidence that this new type of authority would further delay rather than help to build quickly additional school facilities. While this device is being operated in some five States now, there has been strong opposition to it on the part of the educational profession as it appears in title II. It might be unconstitutional and contested in many States. This introduces a wholly new device, complicated in its operation, for getting the additional school classrooms that need and has aroused a hot debate as to its effectiveness.
Some evidence has also been offered that this may be a more expensive way to build schools. Because of the complexity of the State authority operation, the almost unanimous opposition to it in the educational profession and the amount of time it would take to put such authorities into operation, we should not look to this section as a source for the claimed $6 billion worth of additional school classrooms for the next 3 years.
I would like to insert into the record an editorial that appeared on the editorial page of yesterday's New York Times and read just a sentence as to what the Times has now said about State authorities:
But evidently some means other than that chosen by the administration has to: be found.
They are there referring to the State authorities.
The Times points out that Congress should investigate the other bills: that are available for helping to provide Federal funds to increase school construction. (The editorial referred to follows:)
[The New York Times, Sunday, February 20, 1955)
THE NEW RED SCHOOLHOUSE Probably the Eisenhower administration has done nothing with better intentions than in its proposal to put Federal money into the construction of school buildings in the States. The device chosen has been tried in some States, such as Pennsylvania. It involved the creation of “authorities” which would construct necessary school buildings and rent them to the States or to the local governments.
The difficulty in the plan seems to have been that the authorities building and renting the school buildings would have to remain solvent, and thus would have to extract from the taxpayers in the State or school district the requisite amount of funds. Thus the plan would seem to many critics “a banker's bill rather than one that springs from the information we have about educational finance.” At any rate the surprising information comes from Washington, as expressed by the executive secretary of the Council of State School Officers, that 40 States are opposed to the school construction bill.
It remains true, however, that some States are more able than others to spend money on school buildings, and that the whole country needs better schools and better school buildings. It needs good libraries and good laboratories. It can't do with the little old red schoolhouse. It must have in the poorest communities a new sort of schoolhouse in which citizens who will serve their country well can be educated. But evidently some means other than that chosen by the administra
next 5 years.
tion has to be found. There are other bills floating around Capitol Hill, including some that require direct Federal grants to the States for building schools. These ought to be examined. But they ought to be examined in the light of what educators in the different schools of the States and of the districts within the States think is required. A good program must come up out of the grassroots.
Under title III—and this section we in the CIO feel is important, we are glad to note that at least this section of the bill does provide $67 million a year for 3 years for grants-in-aid to the States for those school districts that cannot qualify for aid under titles I and II. When vou consider the present $12 billion school construction need, $200 million for 3 years seems to be small indeed.
Title IV could be an important contribution toward helping many States meet the problem of improving local and State school finances. The CIO supported in the 81st Congress that section of Public Law 815 which was passed and which resulted in the present Office of Education school construction study which studies our classroom shortage, the condition of present school buildings, and has given to us a fairly complete picture of our school needs. This publication has been extremely useful in helping citizens of all States better understand their total school construction needs and to study methods of financing these needs. Tital IV could produce the same kind of effective help for the
The committee, in sitting through these hearings, is well aware of the fact that a stream of witnesses, educators with many different points of view and many different responsibilities, have testified in opposition to much of the complex and intricate program that has been proposed and have vigorously indicated their support of a direct Federal grant-in-aid program which will more realistically and quickly meet our school construction needs.
One of the most telling points against the proposals in S. 968 is that while the administration is proposing additional grants-in-aid to be matched by State funds for a highway program, the major portion of its school program commits the Federal Government to no real financial support from Federal funds. On the other hand, with the additional matching provisions required of States under the highway program, it will be increasingly difficult to get expanded State funds for school programs.
Many observers believe that some States could do more to meet their need for expanded financial support for schools. I would like to insert into the record a recent resolution from the Illinois State CIO convention, held in Chicago during January 1955. The Illinois State CIO is trying to get additional financial support for schools through the improvement of State programs. Among other things, this resolution emphasizes:
1. Chicago's need for authorizing a $50 million bond issue for build
2. The restoration of a local tax rate for Chicago of $1.20 on $100 of assessed property valuation.
3. State aid to school districts which have reached the constitutional limit of their bonding power.
4. And the need for an equitable and adequate assessment of property for tax purposes.
I include this example of a state program because I want the committee to know that the CIO is interested in raising additional funds for school construction needs through both local and State tax sources and that we mean to continue to press for these funds on a State and local basis while we request significant Federal support for school construction.
(The resolution referred to follows:)
RESOLUTION No. 17–ILLINOIS STATE AID TO THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
(Passed at the 12th constitutional convention of the Illinois State CIO,
January 7-9, 1955, Chicago, Ill.) Despite the fact that Illinois is recognized as one of the wealthy States of our country, it is a tragic fact that the proportion of average income that finds its way to public education in Illinois is far down in the lowest quartile of the States. Illinois is also conspicuously low in the proportion of school support that is paid by the State. The State does not at present guarantee an acceptable minimum school program of education to the children of Illinois.
Downstate school districts in Illinois have reached the constitutional limit of their bonding power, thus being unable to provide adequate housing for the school population of their districts. One-third of the schoolchildren in public schools in Illinois are in Chicago, where 1 out of every 4 schools has an enrollment in excess of its capacity and where 150 school buildings have reached or passed the age for retirement.
Over 10,000 children in Chicago and over 20,000 throughout the State are on double shifts, attending school only half a day. Kindergartens have been eliminated in some downstate school districts because of lack of school housing accommodations.
In order for a child to get adequate attention and instruction, educators are all agreed that a classroom load should not exceed 30. Yet, for example, in Chicago, the average class load is 39 with some classes as high as 48 children.
The inadequate salaries for teachers and related personnel still presents a major problem and challenge.
The inescapable conclusion from these facts is that children attending public schools in Illinojs are not getting either equal or adequate education.
When we realize the further fact of 50,000 to 60,000 new enrollments each September in the public schools in Illinois, we can readily recognize the compounding of an already pressing crisis in our public schools: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That this convention call upon Governor Stratton and the members of the 69th General Assembly of the State of Illinois to approve:
1. The authorization of a $50 million bond issue for the building of schools by the Chicago Board of Education. Emergency legislation by February 1955, and a referendum at the April election are needed to save the cost of a special election or an interruption to the building of schools already urgently needed ; and
2. A restoration of the local tax rate for the education fund of the Chicago schools to the $1.20 on $100 of assessed property from which it was reduced in 1951; and
3. A deficiency appropriation by the State sufficient to pay in full the claims of school districts for State aid as promised in 1953; and
4. State aid to school districts which have reached the constitutional limit of their bonding power without being able to provide adequate housing for the school population of their districts; and
5. A State-aid formula and appropriation to the common-school fund that will assure payment of an increased amount of State aid to the common-school program in Illinois, with Chicago getting a fair share for the numbers taught in Chicago schools; and
6. Provision for equitable and adequate assessment of property for tax purposes: and
7. Be it further resolved, That this convention go on record as unalterably opposed to the recent proposals made by the Illinois School Problems Commission recommending a change in the school-aid formula which would reduce during the next 2 years, over $16 million to the Chicago public schools ; and
8. Be it finallı resolved, That the Illinois State Industrial Union Council, CIO, call upon all affiliated local unions to give full support to this program.
We think that the Hill bill, S. 5, which makes a simple, direct grants-in-aid to the States of $1 billion for school construction over the 2-year program, begins to meet the needs of the 700,000 children in our schools who are now in double- or triple-shift program, the 18 percent who are attending schools that do not meet fire safety regulations and the 700,000 children who are today attending school in makeshift buildings, garages, churches, and converted barracks.
The Congress of Industrial Organizations hopes that this committee will support a Federal-aid program in the field of school construction which gives aid quickly so that classrooms can be built without delaya program that does not stymie the aid through new and conflicting State authorities, and a program that has the same capacity for envisaging our children's school needs that the present administration has achieved in dramatizing the Nation's highway needs.
In closing, because of the great interest in this problem, I would like to read from the last convention report of the CIO two paragraphs on the problem of aid to segregated schools. The first paragraph :
The recent Supreme Court decision outlawing segregated schools places a special responsibility on the 84th Congress to provide Federal funds, so that good schools can be made available to white and Negro children in those States where the Supreme Court decision now requires integration. Certainly an adequate program for Federal aid for school construction and an adequate general Federal-aid program to increase the quality of teaching would be a tremendous help in working out the integration process in an orderly fashion.
Then in the resolved section of our own resolution, point 3 reads: Therefore be it resolved, That in all Federal legislation dealing with education, aid only to school districts operating in compliance with the Supreme Court decision outlawing segregated schools.
Senator DOUGLAS. Senator Goldwater?
Senator GOLDWATER. Would you read that last statement again, just the last one? I didn't get the whole meaning of it,
Mr. GUERNSEY (reading): Therefore be resolved, That in all Federal legislation dealing with education, aid only to school districts operating in compliance with the Supreme Court decision outlawing segregated schools.
Senator GOLDWATER. In other words, where a school district or locality maintains segregation, you would not want any aid to go to that district from the Federal Government?
Mr. GUERNSEY. I think I have read the resolution. I think the interpretation will have to be yours.
Senator GOLDWATER. Is that what you understand it to be?
Mr. GUERNSEY. I purposely brought the resolution to read, because when I appeared before the committee 3 weeks ago, I didn't have it, and I was troubled by some of the quips of Senators and interpretations, and I thought it would be better to bring you the exact words of the convention resolution.
Senator GOLDWATER. I think you and I interpret it the same way, whether you want to say so or not.
Mr. GUERNSEY. I think you are responsible for your interpretation.
Senator GOLDWATER. It is perfectly plain in its reading that the intent of the resolution of the CIO is to indicate that there would be no Federal aid for schools where the school district, locality, or State, as the case might be, did not comply with the decision of the Supreme Court.
Mr. GUERNSEY. I have read the resolution, Senator.