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The statement that we have to make is for the need for Federal aid for our schools in North Carolina, as we see it.
North Carolina has reorganized its school system by reducing to less than 1,000 the number of school districts, the consolidation of schools, and the transportation of about 350,000 rural-school children daily to these large consolidated schools. The State has assumed the obligation of operating the schools in every city and county in the State for a minimum term of 8 months, and the payment of salaries, instructional supplies, operation of the plant, and the transportation of children out of State-tax resources.
The local units of government, cities and counties, provide the buildings, pay debt service, and maintain these plants and, in many cases, supplement the State-provided moneys out of local revenues, which consist largely of property levies.
North Carolina is in the upper bracket of the States in effort as compared with its ability, for despite the fact that the State has a larger industrial development than some States in the South, we are the fifth State in the Union in the number of children in proportion to adults. With a population of about 3,500,000 we have over 900,000 children enrolled in the schools. Our educational load, therefore is very heavy.
Our per capita expenditure is low. Our teacher's salary will average, white and colored, about $850 per year; our average term is shorter than it should be for the most efficient work. The differential between white and Negro salaries is not as great as in some States because of the uniform term and the efforts of the State during the past 3 years to bring these schedules together. We have already put half a million into the Negro schedule, and will put another quarter million in this coming year. But it will take another million dollars to bring the two schedules together.
It is difficult for us to see where this additional money will come from for the property tax is high in those communities which need help most, and there are no additional sources of State revenue that will yield large returns.
We levy, on a State-wide basis, the following taxes:
1. One of the highest personal and corporate income taxes in the country--much higher than neighboring States.
2. A business franchise tax of $1.75 per $1,000 capitalization as compared with $1 in neighboring States.
3. A license tax on business and professions that covers everything from the peanut vendor to the manufacturers, the barber to the lawyer and doctor.
4. An inheritance tax. 5. A 3-percent general sales tax. 6. A tax on beer. 7. A tax on intangibles. 8. A property tax which is levied by the local units of government. 9. A 6-cent tax on gasoline--the proceeds of which go to roads.
There is little chance for North Carolina to tap new sources of revenue, in the opinion of its legislature, and increases in the rate of taxes already levied are stopped because we have about reached the point of diminishing returns.
We are straining every resource to provide the less-than-average opportunity. We spend 67 cents of every tax dollar that goes to the
general fund of the State treasury for schools. We have made what seems all possible economies in organization and administration. About 87 cents of every school dollar goes to instructional service.
Our only possible hope to reach the national average is through Federal aid.
We have caused to be filed with the committee a statement of the needs due to defense emergencies in Onslow, New Hanover, and Cumberland Counties.
There is one additional thing I should like to say. Being on the State N. Y. A. Council in our State, I hope it possible for N. Y. A. work and our school work to draw nearer together. We are making a step toward that. I will have to say this, in fairness to our N. Y. A. officials, that they are doing an excellent job in working with the schools. We have one common aim, that is the N. Y. A. and the schools, and we hope that this can be done.
The CHAIRMAN. You found no interference with the schools on the part of N. Y. A?
Mr. Phillips. We found full cooperation, and are drawing nearer together.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. Mr. Trent.
STATEMENT OF W. W. TRENT, STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF
FREE SCHOOLS OF WEST VIRGINIA
The C'HAIRMAN. State your name and position, please. Mr. TRENT. W. W. Trent, State superintendent of free schools of West Virginia. Note the word "free." I believe that West Virginia is the only State that uses that term in describing its chief State school officer.
I sent you a statement, Senator, that I shall be pleased to have appear in the record. (Statement referred to follows:)
STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA,
Charleston, April 22, 1941.
United States Senate, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. THOMAS: From the year 1932, when the tax-limitation amendment was voted by the citizens of West Virginia to avoid losing their personal property and real estate due to exorbitant taxes growing out of the depression and inability to pay these taxes, the schools of West Virginia have operated on restricted and circumscribed budgets. In fact, with 62,000 additional pupils, the State spent last year approximately the same on elementary and high schools as was spent for the year 1929–30. A few of the wealtheir counties have been able to construct buildings and equip them, but practically all of the rural counties have the same buildings and equipment that they had 10 years ago. With the enlargement of national parks in rural counties and with the congestion in defense areas, the continuation of these schools on the present restricted bases seems almost impossible without help. I am, therefore, submitting some statements to you and your Committee on Education and Labor concerning West Virginia and expressing the hope that Senate bill 1313 may be enacted into law and that Congress may appropriate sufficient funds to carry out the purposes of the bill.
This State needs aid for the following purposes:
(a) To provide school buildings in the poorer counties of the State and to prevent a reduction in the present meager school facilities because of the transfer of great acreages to the national parks. Because of this transfer of land, one district within the State cannot for a 5-year period collect enough local revenue to pay off its bonded and contracted indebtedness. The value of buildings and
equipment per enrolled pupil in West Virginia ranges for elementary pupils from $12.70 to $325.14 and for high-school pupils from $34.14 to $627.42. The richer county, therefore, has per elementary pupil 27 times the investment of the poorest county; and for high-school pupil, 18 times the investment. Because of the inability of many of the poorer districts to pay more than the legal minimum salary, they lose their efficient teachers to the counties with higher salaries. Additional help is needed for equalizing these opportunities.
(b) To erect buildings and to provide teachers for children in defense areas. Near South Charleston 450 housing units are to be constructed by the Federal Government. Many homes will be built by private capital. In Monongalia County, where the county is unable to maintain this year its full term of school using all county funds, the regular allotment of State aid, and some supplemental aid, schools cannot be maintained for additional students. As this development is in its initial stage, definite figures cannot now be given. A material increase in school population will call for additional assistance. The greater the development, the greater the need. In Mason County, for which the State is now providing 67 percent of its total school costs, no additional equipment can be provided by the county for the children of the workers collecting in the vicinity of Point Pleasant for defense industries.
(c) To supplement funds in counties to enable them to provide proper and adequate school facilities for employees on Government property and reservations. At present there are many children in the South Charleston schools from parents on Government property. As Kanawha County, where South Charleston is located, is now carrying an extra levy voted by the people for its present school facilities, it is not in position to provide facilities for additional children. Mason County, where a favorable vote for a levy extension is most unlikely, is carrying the maximum constitutional tax permitted without a vote of the people. If adequate school facilities are to be provided by these counties, funds must go to them from some source. As the people sent in the communities for defense purposes claim the request for Federal aid, the request for Federal aid seems reasonable. Aid from some source is imperative. Additional students call for funds not available in State or county. Very truly yours,
W. W. TRENT,
State Superintendent of Free Schools. Mr. TRENT. I shall supplement that by enumerating three needs for Federal aid: First, for defense areas; second, for construction of buildings in the rural counties to accommodate both the whites and Negroes; and third, for both buildings and school maintenance in the large mountainous areas that are being taken over for national forests and national parks.
As far as the first is concerned, we have three defense areas: South Charleston, Point Pleasant, and Morgantown. In the South Charleston area located in Kanawha County, the Federal Government will construct 450 housing units, and there will be many housing units constructed by private enterprise. That county is carrying now an additional tax levy voted by the people over and above the constitutional rate. That county has no chance for additional revenues from local sources. It has its part of the State money, but that amount will not increase for the next 2 years. The legislature ended its session in March.
In the Point Pleasant area, a rural county, a comparatively poor county, there is no hope for a levy in excess of the constitutional limitation, which excess may be levied by a vote of the people. That county will not be able to provide the usual school term, and the usual school facilities, without some additional help. There has not been provided any additional statement yet for this defense area.
In the third area, the Morgantown area, the county this year with the State aid and local revenue is not able to maintain the full standard term of 9 months. It will not next year be able to provide school facilities for the additional boys and girls who are coming into the community.
In the second need for buildings--need in rural areas—the tax limitation amendment limits counties in their legal ad valorem tax. That, together with their low rate of property values, makes it impossible for them to provide school buildings. For one county the State now carries approximately 90 percent of the school maintenance. There is no money for buildings from the State and there cannot be any from the county revenue because of the low valuation.
The national parks that have been transferred to the Federal Government consist of large areas of the mountainous counties. In fact, there is one district in the State that cannot, through its maximum local tax, pay its bonded and contractual indebtedness within 5 years, leaving no provision for maintenance in that district. Of course, practically all the help comes from the State and county. For these areas there is need for both maintenance and buildings.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.
I will ask the recorder to insert in the record a letter signed by Rev. George Johnson, director, department of education, of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, dated April 29, 1941. (The letter referred to is as follows:) NATIONAL CATHOLIC WELFARE CONFERENCE,
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION,
Washington, D. C., April 29, 1941. The Honorable ELBERT D. THOMAS, Chairman, Committee on Education and Labor,
United States Senate, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR SENATOR THOMAS: I have been directed by the administrative committee of bishops of the National Catholic Welfare Conference to express to you and to the Committee on Education and Labor their opposition in its present form to Senate bill 1313, entitled “A bill to strengthen the national defense and promote the general welfare through the appropriation of funds to assist the States and Territories in meeting financial emergencies in education and in reducing inequalities of educational opportunities.” The bill envisages two situations, one of which is an emergency created by the national-defense program, the other a condition that has existed for a long time and which has been a national educational problem for many years. The ultimate solution of this latter problem involves issues that are fundamental and which vitally affect the administration and control of education in the United States.
In the first place, we are opposed to this bill because it would introduce the principle of permanent Federal aid to education in the name of national defense, thus using the present emergency as a means of accomplishing a purpose concerning which there is a decided difference of opinion not only among educators but among enlightened Americans everywhere. There is no gainsaying the fact that flagrant inequalities of educational opportunity do exist throughout the country. The question is how can the needs of backward areas be taken care of without yielding to the Federal Government a degree of control of American education that will eventually destroy that local autonomy which to date has kept our schools free. The fact that the present bill disclaims any intent to vest control of education in the Federal Government does not dispell the fears of those of us who are concerned about the eventual domination of American education by a Federal bureaucracy. If Federal grants-in-aid for education are to be made effective, there must be some degree of Federal supervision of the manner in which they are allocated to local districts and the purposes for which they are expended. This is an issue which should be debated in the Congress on its own merits and should not be summarily disposed of in the sacred name of national defense.
With regard to the educational emergency that has been created in certain areas in the country by our national effort to build up our defenses, a survey made by the United States Office of Education for the War and Navy Departments
which has been submitted to the Congress in response to Senate Resolution 324 (76th Cong.) yields a basis in fact upon which decisions can be made. It would seem to be entirely clear that where the Federal Government through its activities creates an educational emergency, it has an obligation to assist the local governments to meet this emergency. In doing this, however, legislation should be so framed as to safeguard in every possible way the fundamental rights of parents to direct the education of their children. It so happens that many Catholic citizens of the United States have moved into defense areas to contribute their share toward the national effort to preserve the American way of life. They are deeply convinced of the necessity of Catholic education, for they believe that the happiness and well-being of their children as well as the future of American democracy demand an education that is rooted and founded in religion. They would be doing a violence to their conscience were they to allow themselves to be content with a purely secular education for their boys and girls.
Reports from various parts of the country show that the defense program is imposing great burdens on Catholic education, particularly in certain localities. From Hattiesburg, Miss., we have word that the enrollment in Catholic schools has increased considerably. The Sacred Heart School must build additional facilities immediately at a cost of $6,500. There is urgent need for classrooms, equipment, and teachers.
In North Carolina the school at Fayetteville is overcrowded. Extra classrooms are needed. At Wilmington, Camp Davis, the shipyards, and the Government housing project have brought a large increase. The schools are now overcrowded and a large attendance is expected in September.
Reports from Virginia reveal that at Norfolk, Newport News, and Alexandria the need for additional facilities is becoming very acute.
From Alabama word comes of a 15 percent increase of children in Mobile, Montgomery, and Birmingham and a 40 percent increase in Pensacola. In the latter place plans are being rushed for the erection of a central Catholic high school which would not be necessary were it not for the defense activities at that point.
These are just a very few examples of what is taking place in every part of the country and they are being brought to the attention of your committee for the purpose of reminding you that Catholic schools as well as the schools supported by the State are feeling the pressure of increased populations in defense
People who, in response to the Nation's need, are forced to make new homes for themselves in places where educational facilities that accord with their conscience are not available should not be forced to yield their fundamental right to full religious freedom.
For freedom of religion involves much more than the opportunity of participating in public worship in a church of one's choosing. If it means anything at all, it means that a citizen should enjoy the full freedom to live his religion and to enable his children to do likewise. For Catholics this means freedom to provide schools and means of education that accord with the dictates of their conscience. It is not enough for Government to refrain from legislation that would prohibit the existence of nonpublic schools. There is a virtual prohibition of such existence when Government makes it impossible for citizens to exercise their right of free choice in matters educational by creating, as the defense program does in many areas, a situation in which it is impossible for Catholic children depending solely on the meager resources of their parents to obtain a Catholic education.
May I quote for you and your committee the language of the decision of the Supreme Court of Mississippi in the case Chance et al. v. Mississippi State Textbook Rating and Purchasing Board et al., No. 34417:
“The religion to which children of school age adhere is not subject to control by the State; but the children themselves are subject to its control. If the pupil may fulfil its duty to the State by attending a parochial school it is difficult to see why the State may not fulfil its duty to the pupil by encouraging it by all suitable means.' The State is under duty to ignore the child's creed, but not its need. It cannot control what the child may think, but it can and must do all it can to teach the child how to think. The State which allows the pupil to subscribe to any religious creed should not, because of his exercise of this right, prescribe him from benefits common to all."
We register then opposition to S. 1313 in its present form. To meet the present emergency a special bill should be drawn up in which the allocation of funds should be made on the basis of children, the funds following the children into what