Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

a pressure group back of the bill. It should be pointed out also that each edition of this bill has employed the emergency technique and strategy so generously used during the last twelve years.

My second point is that this act would revolutionize our traditional public school system. What we have built up in America is a decentralized system of public education. Each school district is independent and is in no way subject to influence from a centralized Federal authority. Any thinking person who knows anything about politics or about the present trends in this Nation can feel very sure that this plan would inevitably lead the Federal Government to play a larger and larger role in public education. We have heard this purpose plainly indicated in this room.

My third point is that this would implement the trend toward statism. The control of public education has been a vital part of the program of every totalitarian regime in Europe. We have seen our Government show an increasing appetite for control over the minutiæ of our lives. With conditions as they now are in the world and here in America can we afford to tamper with these vital basic tradi. tions when the danger is so clear?

The fourth point concerns the threat of political control which is clearly inherent in this measure. Proof of this point will be included in my analysis of the bill itself.

It is important to note that no State has come forward to ask for the Federal aid which the sponsors of this bill feel is so necessary. The proponents of the plan have now been agitating the issue through four separate sessions of Congress, but at no time has any Governor or State legislature approved or asked for this gratuitous help. Why do not the proponents of this bill demonstrate the validity of their plan first by showing some indication of official interest on the part of the several States?

The proponents of this bill must, I am sure, feel some sense of embarrassment when they consider that the States are today in much better comparative financial condition than is the Federal Government. I have only recently written to various State treasurers and have received financial statements from most of them that show the States to be in excellent financial condition.

On the other hand, our Federal deficit is running at the rate of about $60,000,000,000 a year and our national debt is soaring toward the $300,000,000,000 mark. With two separate wars on our hands who can say how much we will be required to spend to attain victory? Isn't it far better that we attempt to economize on all possible fronts rather than to bankrupt ourselves by seeking new ways to spend money? This certainly is not the proper time for experiment spending.

On this point it is well to read the minority report, issued by Senators Ball, Walsh, Wherry, and Taft, on S. 637 which is the similar bill just preceding this one wherein these Senators state:

There is no real evidence today that the States are unable to finance their own educational system, certainly the many large States in industrial areas which are to receive money out of the $200,000,000 relief fund.

After quoting from a report prepared for the George Postwar Planning Committee which stated that the fiscal status of the States is definitely improving this minority report observed:

It hardly seems that the States are in a position to demand relief from the Federal Government.

The report of the four Senators then hits this proposal a devastating blow by saying:

As a matter of fact, they [the States) are not demanding relief. No State has come before us affirming its inability to deal with the educational problem. No legislature has passed any resolutions requiring assistance. The entire proposal is placed before us by representatives of the teachers and other educational interests who may or may not have exhausted their remedies within the States. How ridiculous it would be for those States, operating with surpluses, to ask relief from a government that is running a deficit of $60,000,000,000 a year. As far as we can see there is not the slightest justification for treating the present condition as an emergency which requires Federal financial assistance.

If this bill should pass it would produce the curious and paradoxical situation where the Federal Government would be paying out money to many districts that do not need it. It would be in a measure like buying an unneeded automobile in order to get a set of tires for a friend.

The rich State of New York, for instance, that recently showed a surplus of $75,000 000, would receive about $18,000,000 of the Federal aid merely to make it possible to give aid to a few of the poorer States who might have a valid need for it.

Most of us, I think, will freely admit that there are certain sections of the country where educational facilities are not as ample as they are in other areas. The Senate committee's minority report frankly recognized this condition but questioned whether money alone would remedy thiş. There are other factors to be considered such as colossal indifference, local viewpoints, economic circumstances, and unwillingness by local communities to increase the tax burden to equal the levy paid by other communities.

There are other factors, too, that enter into educational costs, such as climate where different kinds of housing, different amounts of fuel and so on are needed. This bill does not take any of these matters into consideration in its blanket application.

In regard to my suggestion that there is a constitutional question involved in this proposal, I again refer to the minority report, already mentioned, wherein the distinguished Senators pointed out that

There is nothing whatever in the Constitution which delegates to the Federal Government power to deal with questions of education.

On the contrary, the tenth amendment to the Constitution reads: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

This measure would materially increase the tax load which is even now a great burden to the citizenry. To sustain the fear that many of us entertain on this point I again refer to the minority report by Senators Taft, Wherry, Ball

, and Walsh wherein it is pointed out that this proposed appropriation of $300,000,000 a year is probably but a starting point-just an opening wedge.

We need only to think back to PWA days to see how every community runs to Washington to try to get its share when Congress makes easy Federal money available. This matter of Federal aid would, by the nature of things and the purpose behind it, quickly jump from millions to billions. This would increase the tax burdens of those very submarginal communities which this bill presumes to help.

I was raised in such a community and walked a mile to a one-room country school. I have only recently visited sections of Missouri,

252

a

Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky. I can tell you that what these farmers need is less and not more taxes. The little school I attended, which still stands on an acre of an old farm I own, cannot compare with educational structures in our big cities--but that little school in 40 years has never turned out an individual who became a criminal. These backwoods communities are all advancing culturally and will continue to do so if those who have a mania for public spending do not push them backward and hold them down with an unbearable debt load.

I have stated that this bill holds the same threat for teachers that did NYA and similar projects. When NYA was in high gear setting up its own system of schools throughout the country there was great alarm among administrative educators who feared that Government control was coming to the back door. There was a great feeling of relief among these educators when NYA was curbed by Congress. Now it appears that many of these same educators are willing to open wide the front door for Government control. There would be very little difference in the end between these two methods of achieving Government control. They would both be gradual-but certain.

This bill would in truth be a Federal subsidy with vast implications of social and political change. With communism and fascism in the air these are days to be cautious. The minority report from which I have quoted at length also said:

Can Federal subsidies to the public-school system be maintained without ultimately bringing about the nationalization of our educational facilities and federalized bureaucratic control?

They answered this by saying:

Our experience with the social-security laws and many others leads to the defnite conclusion that Federal subsidy in the end means Federal control. Those who put up the money and have the power to refuse it dictate the policies of the local officials.

Centralized control of education, continues this reportgives a power to the central government far beyond that of any cther control, as Hitler has illustrated in Germany. It places the whole character and knowledge of the people in the hands of a Federal bureau. That bureau is more than likely to be guided by some small group of men who believe in this method of education or that method of education. It transfers the control from the people of each district to a man or men wholly beyond the control of public opinion.

To express my views and those whom I represent here I can do no better than use the words of these Senators when they said:

We feel that the bill before us would be the beginning of the end of local selfgovernment in education.

The people don't want it. Even before this bill is passed there is clear evidence that the project is the child of a small group whose ideological and political persuasions have brought them together in a common purpose. The Senators whose warning we have just quoted about clique control also pointed out that the National Education Association and the Federal Office of Education, both in Washington, have for years been trying to get a Federal subsidy project through Congress but have at no time produced any evidence that the States or anyone else but their own small group wanted such legislation. I was amazed to hear one man testify here that this bill was largely his child.

*

[ocr errors]

FEDERAL AID FOR EDUCATION

As to whether or not there is any political consciousness or astuteness on the part of the educators back of this bill, I call your attention to Defense Bulletin No. 8 issued January 10, 1944, by a committee set up here in Washington called the National Commission for the Defense of Democracy through Education, which has been used to help flog this bill through Congress. This Bulletin No. 8 said in part:

Teachers should plan their action in the 1944 election campaigns with their Senators' attitude on Federal aid in mind.

Then the bulletin lists 32 Senators whose terms expired last year and who might be expected to be up for reelection. It showed whether or not they were for the bill. The purpose was plain. It was pressure politics and nothing less. If these educator proponents of the bill show such political purposes before the bill is passed what can be expected after it becomes law? It is ridiculous to deny that this proposal is not a political threat when in truth it is full of political dynamite.

In frankness and honesty I am forced to say that many who oppose this bill are led in part to do so because they do not have confidence in the full purpose of those who have fathered this particular project. There is growing alarm all over this country concerning certain trends that have been developing in the field of education.

Our educational system needs teachers--not reformers. Public education in this country is maintained for the purpose of teaching children and it is supported, mainly by those who are parents. It is clear, therefore, that it is these—the children, the parents, and the taxpayers—who have the largest interest and responsibility in our system of public education. Teachers must not come to think that they have a vested and superior interest in this domain. Any plans that are designed to create radical change in this field must properly come from those who have the most at stake rather than from a small group who may have special and selfish axes to grind. This is said in a spirit of friendliness but also in a spirit of candor that reflects wide and apprehensive sentiment on the part of those who pay the taxes and provide the children.

SECTION II-ANALYSIS OF THE BILL

A few days before I came to Washington I discussed this bill with a special committee of one of our Chicago clubs. A number of prominent attorneys were in the group. After discussing the matter as presented in this bill the sentiment was totally opposed to it. I shall try to give you the reasons. Considerable interest was shown, especially by the lawyers, in the opening paragraph which, after the whole bill has been studied, appears to be a strained attempt to make the bill seem innocent and devoid of political control.

It is difficult to reconcile this high sounding opening statement with other provisions in the bill, especially section 12, which reads:

The Commissioner is authorized to make such rules and regulations in conformity to the provisions of this act as may be necessary to facilitate its adminis. tration.

I asked two of our ablest lawyers to express an opinion on that contract and on the meaning of section 12. Permit me to anote tbat. opinion.

7338445—pt. 1-17

Under the provisions of S. 181 the Commissioner of Education is an administrative officer of the Government. He is empowered under its terms to make findings of fact. Under the rulings of the United States Supreme Court the conclusions of fact of an administrative body or officers, when subjected to judicial review, must stand if there is any material evidence tending to support his conclusions, and this even though the court may find that his conclusions are contrary to the weight of the evidence. In support are the following citations from the Supreme Court of the United States: Helvering V. Kehoe (309 U. S. 277, at 299) (review of decision of Board of Tax Ap peals); Kessler v. Strickler (307 U. S. 32, at 31) (review of findings of Directors of Immigration); Leach v. Carlile (258 U. S. 138, at 139 and 140) (findings of Postmaster General).

The provisions of section 1 of this act are abortive. “Supervision" and "control" will not arise out of regulations. The object would then be too obvious. “Supervision" and "control” will arise out of the inherent nature of the act itself. The named objects will be brought about more subtly with the bait of Federal largess, such as the project of increased funds for the local political authorities to spend, increased salaries of teachers and other employees, and other seductive prequisites. The desire to curry favor with the benefactor is bound to operate on the minds of the beneficiaries. They will serve as the unwritten and subrosa "control" and "regulation." These untoward pressures will be incapable of proof in proceedings for judicial review, while the conelusions of the Commissioner will be immune from attack, except as above stated.

Senator Taft. Section 9 provides that the State educational authorities have a right to appeal to the United States district court and that the court shall have jurisdiction as to both facts and law. While I think that is somewhat ambiguous, my impression is it is intended to give the court wide-open power on facts. I do not think it was phrased quite correctly, but I rather think the intention is to give the court wide-open review of the facts that may be presented.

Mr. ROBNETT. That is probably true, Senator Taft. However, the district court, I take it, would be governed by the Supreme Court decisions.

Senator Taft. The Supreme Court decision was not based on any such provisions as this. That simply applied to the general common law. This is, I think, intended to reverse that ruling of the Supreme Court. If not, it could be made to do so. •

Mr. ROBNETT. That is true. I think it is interesting to know, however, that the recourse is to a Federal court, Senator Taft.

Senator TAFT. This is a change, an improvement over the Act 2 years ago, that particular feature of that review, in an attempt to lessen the Federal control.

Mr. RORNETT. It would take quite a while to discuss that particular point. I will go ahead with this.

The Congress, I am sure, is not unmindful of a new temperament that seems to have changed the contour and nature of judicial decisions during the last few years. This new influence is well expressed by Justice Frankfurter when he recently included in one of his extraordinary decisions these significant words:

The notion that because the words of a statute are plain, its meaning also is plain, is merely pernicious orersimplification.

This new trend was reflected by the President himself as early as July 5, 1935, when he said to the committee studying the Guffey coal bill:

I hope your committee will not permit doubts as to constitutionality, however reasonable, to block the suggested legislation.

« AnteriorContinuar »