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Too many things attempted; too few things perfected.
Too much paid to teachers who confine themselves to class manipulation; not enough paid to teachers who skillfully promote learning on the part of pupils.
Too much blurring of mental distinctions in the name of "democracy”; too little recognition and stimulus of superior mental abilities.
Overemphasis on the individual pupil's right to such schooling as he may personally desire; underemphasis on every pupil's obligation to make profitable use of such educational opportunities as society provides.
A committee of citizens at Binghamton, N. Y., 2 or 3 years ago sent a questionnaire to some 10,000 employers in New York and Pennsylvania, asking several questions the purport of which was whether the product of the schools, as this product came to work for these employers, justified the cost. About 5,000 employers replied, and the overwhelming burden of their reply was that the cost was not justified. They found that hardly any of the pupils had learned to do anything well. They did not think the education obtained justified the huge cost. It does not mean, sir, that they were not for education, but they wanted better education.
Public education in recent years, at least in New York, has tended to spread out and to include too many subjects. As more subjects have been included, the teaching of many of them, notably of such elementary things as reading, has often deteriorated. As I stated earlier, at a conference on the cost and quality of education held in February 1940 in Albany, Dr. John L. Tildsley, former associate superintendent of schools of New York City, pointed out that about 20 percent of all pupils admitted to one high school in that city were unable to read well enough to read its textbooks in high-school courses. He said that to meet the situation, W. P. A. workers were brought in and trained to teach these pupils how to read.
I have a statement quoting Dr. Tildsley about the reading in New York, and I will send it to you, sir, for the record if you would like to have it, the exact quotation from the stenographer's minutes of what Dr. Tildsley said at that time.
Senator ELLENDER. If you send it in the next 2 days it will be put in the record in conjunction with your statement.
Mr. Hart. All right; I will do that, sir. (Statement referred to follows:)
EXTRACTS FROM CITIZENS' AND TAXPAYERS' CONFERENCE ON THE QUALITY
AND COST OF PUBLIC EDUCATION
Held at Albany, February 5, 1940, at the Hotel Ten Eyck Dr. John L. Tildsley, former associate superintendent of schools of New York City, made the following statements during his address to the conference:
Some 5 years ago I gave an intelligence test to the pupils entering the firs term of the high school. I followed this up with a reading test for all the pupils who received a low rating in the intelligence test. We learned from this test, or rather learned again, that more than 20 percent of the entire body of entering pupils, all of them graduates from the elementary schools, were unable to read well enough to use as tools the textbooks in use in the first-year high school, and therefore almost certain to fail in their initial work in the high school. We found it necessary to establish remedial reading classes to enable these pupils to do the work in the upper school. We provided thus at a considerably higher cost, teaching that could have been done better by teachers especially trained for this in the lower schools and done at a lower cost. That is, we had to take highschool teachers at much higher salaries to do the work that could have been done by teachers in the lower schools, especially adapted for this kind of work.
Now, here is a very interesting development. A little later Mr. Chatfield, director of attendance, and in general charge of Public Works Administration projects for the board of education, was also able to supply a large number of Public Works Administration workers who were then employed as assistants to a regular teacher in these remedial reading classes. You understand these Works Progress Administration workers were not teachers; they never had any training as teachers—just run-of-the-mill people out of employment, picked up.
In the Theodore Roosevelt High School, for example, 37 of these unemployed were assigned to assist Dr. Center, the chairman of the English department, and her assistant, Miss Persons, in solving this problem. These two teachers selected the materials, devised the methods, and then trained these completely inexperienced workers to take groups of five pupils and make readers of them. In this school it was definitely proven that every one of these retarded readers, some of them retarded as much as 6 years, could be taught to read when meeting in small groups of five with especially planned techniques employed. In some cases of more serious difficulties, it was necessary to borrow from manufacturers special instruments and machines for detection of physical defects. Why am I telling you all this since this is not a teachers' convention? It is because I wish you to recognize that in the school.business, someone needs to be able to face difficult problems and find solutions for them just as you do in your business, and if someone does not find a workable remedy, a huge amount of money may continue to be wasted together with the waste of the children's lives.
I wish I could make you feel this picture. You all went to school and learned to read either at home or in school; you know perfectly well that in practically no occupation in life can a man or woman get along if they cannot read at a minimum rate. They do have to be able to read. And to realize that in New York City we are sending thousands of pupils from the elementary schools to high schools, although they cannot read well enough to do the work of high school. What an injustice that is to the children. Talk of an inferiority complex. And this has been going on for years. That is the important thing. It is not a condition that suddenly exists today.
Notwithstanding these discoveries—(1) The presence of so many deficient readers; (2) means and methods of diagnosis of reading disabilities; (3) that there was frequently a physical basis for such condition which the use of newer instruments and machines would reveal-no centrally organized plan has yet been inaugurated throughout the elementary schools for remedying this known condition. Such a remedy would cost some money, but not in proportion to the saving that would result. It would involve the appointment of a director of remedial reading, the establishing of a clinic in each of the larger boroughs, equipped with apparatus for the detection of the more serious defects, and then the formation of classes (listen to this) in which the already appointed teachers could learn how to teach reading, when the fact has been clearly proved must have hundreds of teachers who do not know how to teach reading.
Mr. Chatfield, our director of attendance, a serious student of education, said, “The reason why your pupils fail in arithmetic is because the teachers themselves do not know arithmetic, and, certainly, not knowing arithmetic, they don't know how to teach it." I am getting very pessimistic, but do not believe that New York City is the Sodom and Gomorrah of education. I would back up New York City with any other city in the United States, as to quality of education. A little more about that later.
May I give you a few more figures? I wish to convince you that the question confronting you is not merely one of more or less State aid nor more or less expenditures for education. It is something deeper.
I saw this past week the records of the reading ability both of the pupils entering a certain high school from the eighth grades of the elementary schools and of those entering the second year of this same high school from the junior high school. Of the pupils entering the first year of the high school, according to the records they brought with them, 14 percent were retarded 1 year in reading; 21 percent 2 years; 5.7 percent 3 years; 3.1 percent 4 years. Of the pupils of the last 6 entering classes, numbering 2,890, 1,509 pupils, 52 percent, were retarded in reading 1 or more years; 118 pupils, 4.1 percent, were retarded 4 years in reading, and so could not possibly do the work of the first year of the high school. Of the pupils coming from the junior high last week, into the second year of this high school, 622 in number, 26.9 percent were retarded 1 year in reading; 16 percent 2 years;
29.7 percent 3 or more years. Of the pupils coming from the junior high schools during 4 terms, 1,456 in all, 453.31 percent were retarded 2 years or more.
I won't burden you with more figures. But here we have real, accurate knowledge of conditions. That is the important thing, and the more important thing is we have had this knolwedge for years and have done little about it. So I say the significance of these figures lies not merely in the fact that these pupils retarded 2 or more years in reading will find it almost impossible to do the work of the year to which they have been admitted, but in the fact that no systematic citywide campaign has been organized to remedy these deficiencies in the lower schools although the facts have been known for years and for the past 3 years, at least, we have known that these deficiencies can in nearly every case be remedied in whole or in part.
Reading conditions are probably no worse in New York City than in many other school districts in this State, not worse than in the country generally. Deficient reading ability is a national disease. Since it is probably a State-wide disease, it seems to me that it is incumbent upon the State education department to recognize the fact, study the disease, make recommendations for its remedy and insist as a condition of receiving State aid that adequate measures be taken to remedy the condition in every school district.
Now, I have picked out reading. I might pick out something else. Now, what does this indicate? To my mind, it indicates that we ought to stop drifting and indulging in haphazard education. We have a commissioner of education with unlimited powers, in the State education department. Is it not the responsibility of that department to really get seriously to work and remedy conditions in the entire State of New York, when the commissioner has power over every dollar spent by every school district in this State?
Mr. Hart. Part of the cause of this I believe to be too much educational machinery. The schools are trying to do too much. In many cases they are not doing essential things well. We hear that from schoolmen themselves. Only a few years ago the principal of one of the leading high schools in New York said, “We are trying to do so much we are not doing anything well. We are trying to teach from 75 to 100 different subjects in the high school and we are not even making 'Jacks,'” he said, "of any of the things we are teaching the students.'
The machinery could be simplified with money saved and with better education to the child.
The remedy is certainly not the setting up of still more machinery. The remedy is not to set up Federal control.
I think, sir, that this bill should be forgotten and that this Congress should make no further efforts to bring about Federal control of public education.
Senator ELLENDER. What is the New York State Economic Council? What is its membership?
Mr. HART. The New York State Economic Council is an organization that has some 1,200 or 1,400 members, that includes mostly individuals, some corporations. It has two objectives: One is to try to keep down the mounting cost of government, keep it within reason, and the other is to try to strengthen and preserve and protect private enterprise.
Senator ELLENDER. How is it maintained? By private subscriptions?
Mr. HART. By membership subscriptions; yes.
Senator ELLENDER. I suppose that it appears before the various boards in New York City and also in Albany?
Mr. Hart. In Albany; yes, sir; not much in New York City.
Mr. HART. To prevent high appropriations, or anything pertaining to the cost of the government.
Senator ELLENDER. Of course, that affects schools and everything else?
Mr. HART. Yes, sir.
(Whereupon, at the hour of 12:30 p. m., a recess was taken until 2 p. m. of the same day.)
(The hearing was resumed at 2 p. m., pursuant to recess.)
STATEMENT OF BENJAMIN C. MARSH, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY,
Mr. MARSH. My name is Benjamin C. Marsh, executive secretary, the People's Lobby, with offices here in Washington.
Mr. Chairman, I want to congratulate the introducers of this bill and the committee upon recognizing the fact that conflicts abroad do not settle all economic problems in America, and to express the hope that this bill will be enacted, with two amendments which we want to suggest, which are by no means, I am sure, inconsistent with the purposes of the introducers of the bill.
In the first place we want to suggest that the amount appropriated be the same amount which we have urged before this committee or similar committees for 4 years, I think it is, half a billion dollars, $500,000,000.
If my mathematics are any good--and recent budgetary difficulties have raised a question in my mind on that point I think $500,000,000 will mean about 5 percent of what we are probably going to spend a year for the armament program, and it does not seem to us that it is an excessive amount.
Second, we want to suggest that "public schools," as used in this bill, be defined to mean schools supported chiefly by taxation.
I am not going into any harrowing details because it would be of no use, and I am going to be very concise today, but I want to point out to you that the November 1940 meeting of the department of superintendents of the National Catholic Education Association recommended that Catholic school authorities "continue their efforts to secure for Catholic school pupils a just share of the funds which are annually expended by the Federal Government and the individual States and subdivisions thereof for the support of education in the United States."
What the intent of that is, I am not quite sure, but in order to make sure that we confine such appropriations as this bill carries, to public schools, we suggest that the words "public schools" be defined to mean schools supported chiefly, or, if you want to put it, entirely, by taxation.
We very much hope this bill will pass.
Only dictators fear general education, and only short-sighted democracies fail to provide for it.
"Horse and buggy' day education was largely concerned with the three R's, but in the present mechanized era large stress in education must be put upon vocational and occupational training, since Satan hasn't given up his prerogative of finding mischief for idle hands to do, and untrained hands and minds are most apt to be idle.
You are going to have difficulty, I concede, in getting this bill passed by Congress, and we would like to stress this fact, as our judgment, that a nation may have a fleet second to none, but it is little stronger in justice and efficiency than the least trained segment of its people.
Also we would like to make the suggestion-I am not asking to redraft the bill and I don't know where you would want to incorporate it—but we would like to make the suggestion that part of these funds might be specifically allotted for health work.
Now I rather hesitate to make that suggestion for this reason, that it seems to me that this bill gives to the Board extremely wide latitude in determining what money is to be given to what State, subject to two or three provisions on page 7, but if it could be emphasized, at least in the hearings, that part of it should be used for health work so as to justify the Board-I might put it on that ground-if they want to do it, I think it will be very helpful.
If I may revert to a third of a century ago, I was secretary of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in Pennsylvania, with headquarters in Philadelphia, and I think one of the most helpful things we were able to do, with the corps of assistants I had, was to give physical examinations in the public schools of Philadelphia, and to provide for medical care.
The CHAIRMAN. Health work in elementary schools would be such things as paying a school nurse, and physical examinations for children?
Mr. MARSH. Yes; and providing the care which they need, because I think it is relatively easy to tell folks what ails them, but you know, with the economic status of many of our people it is extremely difficult for the parents to provide for the children what is necessary to end those ills.
I received the other day, Chairman Thomas, a carbon of a letter written to you by Mr. H. L. Mitchell, secretary of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union, with headquarters in Memphis, Tenn., who is very much interested in this bill and is giving the support of their organization to it. Maybe you have planned, Mr. Chairman, to put Mr. Mitchell's letter of endorsement in this record, but if not, might I ask that this carbon copy be inserted ?
The CHAIRMAN. I think it might be well to have the carbon copy inserted in the record, in case we do not have the original. (The letter referred to follows:)
SOUTHERN TENANT FARMERS UNION,
Memphis, Tenn., April 29, 1941. Senator ELMER D. THOMAS, Chairman, Committee on Education and Labor,
United States Senate. DEAR SENATOR Thomas: I understand that hearings are now being held on the Federal aid to education bill, S. 1313, recently introduced by you and Senator Harrison, of Mississippi.
On behalf of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union, an organization of some 40,000 tenant farmers, sharecroppers, and farm laborers, here in the mid-South, I wish to urge the immediate enactment of this constructive legislation. No