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SIGNIFICANT FEDERAL CENSUS DATA ON SIZE OF THE IMMIGRANT
EDUCATION PROBLEM Granting the general definition that Americanization has to do with promoting good citizenship for the native and foreign born, we shall consider now the problem of education for immigrants, and especially the approximate number that need school help.
No immigrant can participate intelligently in American life unless he has a good working knowledge of English. He must speak and understand our language, and should be able to read and write simple English. Moreover, he should be familiar with the important eras of American history and the significant facts in our national development. He must understand the form of our Government, the duties and privileges of a citizen, and the real meaning of citizenship in our Republic. The ability to use English and a knowledge of American history and Government are not as essential for his Americanization as a genuine feeling of loyalty to the United States. No one can command or control the immigrant's feelings toward America, but fortunately most of these newcomers are well disposed when they come. The schools can teach English, history, and civics, but the inculcation of loyalty can come only through inspiration from contacts with good American citizens.
How many immigrants are there in the United States, and how many need school help in the Americanization process? The 1920 Federal census shows the following:
1. Total number of foreign-born persons.----------- 13, 712, 754
------- 4,364, 909
write in any language and presumably unable to
-------------- 1, 763, 740 It is obvious that all illiterate immigrants who possess normal physical and mental faculties would be helped by attending English classes.
No data are available to show what percentage of the 4,364,909 aliens need school help. Undoubtedly many well-educated immigrants can fit themselves for citizenship by private home study and reading. On the other hand, most aliens, from non-English-speaking countries in particular, would be benefited by instruction in English and citizenship. This means attendance at evening classes by all except those who would benefit from private or correspondence instruction. Regardless of educational attainments, any immigrant who aspires to become a citizen should receive from the United States Government authoritative, definite, practical information as to the methods and requirements of naturalization. On these general principles it is fair to assume that more than 3,000,000 aliens need school help before taking the oath of allegiance to the Government of the United States.
Number of aliens and of foreign-born illiterates, according to States (1920 Federal
Care must be exercised in interpreting the above statistics on the number of foreign born reported as aliens in 1920. These totals have been increased by the number of new arrivals and have been decreased by the number who have been naturalized during the five-year period from 1920 to 1925. The number of aliens admitted to citizenship in the United States during the fiscal year July 1, 1923, to June 30, 1924, was 150,510. Using this figure as an average, the total number admitted since 1920 is 750,000, which represents approximately 17 per cent of the total number reported in 1920. A deduction of 20 per cent from the total for any State would give a fair estimate of the number of aliens in 1925.
No statistics are available to show the number of illiterate foreignborn adults who have learned to read and write during the five-year period since 1920. SIZE OF NATIONAL ILLITERACY PROBLEM AMONG THE NATIVE
BORN The native illiterate population in the United States by the 1920 Federal census, is as follows: Native white illiterates, 1,242,572; native negro illiterates, 1,842,161. It is significant to note that the native illiterate group represents 64 per cent of our total national illiteracy problem. The total number of native illiterates in 1920, however, shows a marked decrease as compared with the number in 1910 and 1900. The 3,000,000 citizens of the United States who are unable to read and write constitute a challenge to American education. The immediate extension of adequate programs of adult elementary education would insure a marked reduction of illiterates in the census of 1930.
Number of native illiterates, according to Slates
The social, political, economic, and cultural losses due to illiteracy can not be estimated. Disrespect for law, disregard for personal and community health standards, suspicion, ignorance, and an undemocratic point of view—all these undesirable conditions are generally found in districts with high percentages of illiterate adults. A NATIONAL SURVEY OF STATE PROGRAMS OF ADULT EDUCATION
IN 1925 In May, 1925, the Federal Commissioner of Education sent a questionnaire 1 on elementary education in English and citizenship for adults to every State superintendent of education in the United States. The questions asked in this report covered the following:
1. State legislation favoring this work.
7. Present outlook for this work. Returns were received from 44 of the 48 States and from Alaska, Virgin Islands, Canal Zone, and Hawaii. 1 Results of the questionnaire appear on a following page.
The following summaries show the returns according to geographi
States that have enacted legislation favoring the establishment of
District of Columbia.
South Carolina. Arkansas. | Maine.
Arizona. Local communities in which adult classes are conducted, reported from 28 States, number 1,310.
Students enrolled in classes for adult illiterates and adult foreign born in 25 States numbered approximately 286,000 in 1924.
States conducting special teacher-training courses for adult schools number 14, as follows: California. | Wisconsin.
| North Dakota.
In addition to the 286,000 students recorded officially from the 25 States in the above survey, there are undoubtedly 50,000 adults enrolled in classes in the larger cities of those States, which have not provided State leadership for this work; for example, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Baltimore, Trenton, New Orleans, and Milwaukee. • This grand total of more than 336,000 adult students is the most significant proof of the strength of the adult elementary education movement in the United States. Despite waning of public interest in Americanization and the serious retrenchment policy in public expenditures, the school programs for native illiterates and adult foreign born have steadily improved during the past five years, and the general outlook for the Nation is most promising.
The 1920 Federal census shows that every State in the Union has more than 10,000 foreign-born adults and native illiterates. Thirtyfour States to date have recognized the importance and the need of public-school programs for adults needing elementary civic instruction and have enacted legislation favoring this work. It is significant to note, however, that in only 27 of these States has the work been recognized by the State department of education as deserving the services of a supervisor on full time or part time.
The rapid development and expansion of adult programs in those States where trained leaders have been appointed in the department of education prove the value and need for personal leadership in the 25 States and Territories where no professional leadership has been provided.
Financial aid to local communities conducting adult classes is provided by 27 States. The form of State aid varies considerably, but the general practice in most of the States is to furnish reimbursement on the dollar for dollar basis. The Massachusetts State-aid law, which has been copied in several Eastern States, is as follows:
Sec. 9. The department, with the cooperation of any town applying therefor, may provide for such instruction in the use of English for adults unable to speak, read, or write the same, and in the fundamental principles of government and other subjects adapted to fit for American citizenship, as shall jointly be approved by the local school committee and the department. Schools and classes established therefor may be held in public-school buildings, in industrial establishments, or in such other places as may be approved in like manner. Teachers and supervisors employed therein by a town shall be chosen and their compensation fixed by the school committee, subject to the approval of the department.
Sec. 10. At the expiration of each school year, and on approval by the department, the Commonwealth shall pay to every town providing such instruction in conjunction with the department one-half the amount expended for supervision and instruction by such town for said year.
The teaching of English and citizenship to adult aliens requires a methodology and subject matter quite distinct from the work in day schools for children. Special training is essential for good teaching a Gen. Laws, ch. 69, secs. 9 and 10; amended May 27, 1921.