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FEDERAL AID FOR EDUCATION
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1945
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The committee met, pursuant to the recess, at 11 a. m.,
in room 357, Senate Office Building, Senator George D. Aiken presiding.
Present: Senators Aiken and Morse.
Most of the members of the committee are tied up in a conference at the present time. We are not going to hear witnesses that are going to require a great deal of time this morning or witnesses where there would be a likelihood of a great deal of questioning, without more members of the committee being here.
I understand, however, that there are some witnesses present who have rather short statements to make and who would not be likely to be subjected to extensive questioning. The committee will have to recess promptly at 12 o'clock, because we are having a very important session of the Senate today.
We will call on Mr. Charles J. Hendley. STATEMENT OF CHARLES J. HENDLEY, PRESIDENT, TEACHERS
UNION, LOCAL 555, STATE, COUNTY, AND MUNICIPAL WORKERS, CIO
Senator AIKEN. Will you identify yourself for the record, please, Mr. Hendley?
Mr. HENDLEY. My name is Charles J. Hendley. I am president of the Teachers Union, Local 555, State, County, and Municipal Work
Senator AIKEN. All right, you may go ahead. Mr. HENDLEY. Mr. Chairman, the maintenance of the free public schools has become a national question of the greatest importance because of certain historical developments in the Nation. I wish to discuss briefly two of these developments.
First, public education has become vastly more important in the life of the Nation than ever before. The founders of the Nation recognized that the education of the people was vital to the maintenance of our democratic system. Thomas Jefferson's efforts to establish public schools in Virginia are well known. The ordinance of 1787, which was adopted before the Constitution, contained a provision for land grants for public schools. But in the early days of the country the promotion of education could wisely be left almost entirely to the States.
We are now living in a different world. In the modern world of science and technology education is a factor of increasing importance in the defense of the Nation in time of war and the threats of war, in the maintenance of its prosperity and power in the time of peace, and in promoting the welfare of its people at all times. It is the very essence of democracy that free, public education be provided for the largest possible number of our citizens, and that educational opportunities be made as nearly equal as possible for all the children regardless of race or of social or economic status or of geographical location within the Nation. This is more than an ideal of demoracy; it is the sine qua non of our existence as a free democratic Nation.
It now seems to be accepted by every one that the future prosperity and power of the Nation requires that we conserve our natural resources, the forests, the soil, water, minerals, and all that mother earth yields. In a far greater degree does our future depend upon the human resources of the Nation, and their conservation depends greatly upon education. A first charge upon any modern democratic Nation should be the education and the nurture of its children and youth.
Our experiences in the present war prove beyond all doubt that education is necessary in the development of the best soldiers. Wars are decided not by those powers that have the greatest resources but iby those who can make the wisest use of their resources. And when we contemplate the problem of establishing an enduring peace, a democratic peace, if you please, we must admit that the future depends upon the understanding of the millions of citizens who make up our democracy.
The children and youth of today are faced with the necessity of preparing themselves to live in a world quite different from the world of our generation. Not only must they know science and technology in order to make a living, they also have to know history and geography and must understand the people and the cultures of all nations.
The Africans and Asiatics have become our neighbors. Our children must learn to understand them and to live with them in peace, if democracy is to win the peace as it is winning the war. No other nation can be a greater factor in determining the kind of world our children must live in than our own Nation. But for America to play its great role in history, its people must have education and understanding.
Intellectual isolation is as impossible as physical isolation in this world in which space is constantly reduced and time accelerated. If we are to meet the responsibility that we assumed at Teheran and Dumbarton Oaks, if the Atlantic Charter is to be realized, we must educate all the children.
For this Nation to hold its own in the arts of peace, in industry, in commerce, in agriculture, its people must be educated. For our children to become good citizens in a society in which every citizen's activity affects all other citizens and in which the activity of all affects the life of each one, they must be educated.
It is no exaggeration to say that the very destiny of this Nation depends upon the education, the culture, the understanding of all its citizens. I think we must all be in agreement on this fundamentalcertainly all of us who believe in democracy believe it.
I do not think anyone will deny that the maintenance of public education is absolutely necessary in our democratic system or deny that the free public school is one of the greatest and most American of our institutions. But we may differ honestly as to how the schools may best be maintained and developed to greater efficiency.
We of the Teachers Union and the rest of the State, county, and municipal workers believe that the Federal Government must come to the aid of the States in the maintenance of the schools because the economic development of the country has been such that the States cannot, by themselves, properly, develop the schools or establish equality of opportunity for all the children throughout the Nation, This is the second historical development that I wish to discuss briefly.
Abundant evidence has been submitted to you that the taxable resources of the various States and of the various regions are extremely uneven. Often the resources vary in inverse proportion to the school population. Certain regions that have relatively the greatest number of children to educate have the least taxable resources.
The President's Advisory Committee on Education that submitted an exhaustive report on this subject in 1938 gave conclusive evidence as to the uneven distribution of the taxable resources of the various States and regions. It showed, too, that the poorer States and regions are making a greater effort, relatively, to educate their children than are the richer States. My State, New York, while it stands at the top of the list of the States as to the amount of money it spends on the schools per pupil, could double or perhaps treble its expenditures on the schools without its taxpayers feeling the burden relatively as much as the taxpayers in poorer regions of the Nation now feel their burden of school tax.
We have to face the fact that the people wth the most property and highest incomes are in the metropolitan areas, in the industrial and commercial regions of the Nation. This is a condition of the Nation, not a theory as to what is or what ought to be. We have to adjust our schools to this condition. We cannot continue as a democratic nation if the accident of birth is going to be allowed wholly to determine the amount of educational opportunity we give to any child. We do not stop to consider whether the enlisted men who are bearing the brunt of this war came from one State or another, or whether they come from an unfavored region or a rich region. They are all Americans. They are giving the best they have. They all deserve the best we have got. All their children deserve the best we can provide for them. And one thing this rich country can provide for the children of the returning soldiers and sailors is a better and a more equal educational opportunity.
Years ago the various States found that in order to obtain some measure of equalization of educational opportunity among the children within their respective borders, the local school funds had to be supplemented by State aid. New York City receives approximately 40 percent of its current school funds from the State treasury.
The Nation, as a whole, has now reached a stage of economic development and education has become so vital a factor in the life of the Nation that the Federal Government must undertake to effect some measure of equalization of the school funds for the States and communities.
I quote Grover Cleveland: “This is a condition, not a theory, which we must reckon with.” The education of all the children is as necessary to the general welfare of the people of the Nation as national defense. The Federal Government must meet its obligation in this respect.
As for the cost, whatever it may be, it will be a sounder investment than whatever the Federal Government has invested in the conservation of the Nation's natural resources. And who can doubt the wisdom of that investment? What can be more valuable to a nation than its human resources? What greater investment can it make than to invest in its children?
I heard the discussion here yesterday afternoon. I think it went off on tangents at a couple of points.
I heard the suggestion that since this bill, S. 181, does not undertake to change completely the long-established habit of certain Southern States in dividing school funds unequally between white and Negroes, the bill is too inadequate for its adoption of Congress.
While I deplore the injustice mentioned, I think the argument is not relevant to the main issue, of whether Federal funds should be used to secure some degree of equalization of educational opportunity for the children of the Nation. Federal aid for schools is one question. The correction of the evils of racial discrimination is another question.
There is discrimination against Negroes, not only in the division of school funds but in a hundred other ways. They meet discrimination on every hand, and not only in the South but elsewhere in the Nation. And there are discriminations against other races, too, in this Nation. Jim Crow must go; but we cannot undertake too much in one bill. The enforcement of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments may require numerous measures by Congress, but they cannot all be tied up with this education bill.
This bill does provide for an equitable distribution of any Federal funds it appropriates that the States may use. That is a significant step forward. Its effect is bound to be salutary, not only in making a little more money available for Negro schools but also in breaking down the long-established practice of discrimination in the distribution of the States' own school funds.
The bill certainly does not provide for equal educational opportunity for all of the white children, but it is a sound step in the right direction.
I think that Mr. Elmer Rogers, who appeared before you yesterday afternoon, took the argument off on a tangent, too. He sees in the bill a danger that private sectarian schools will receive some of the funds as subsidies and that, thereby, the principle of separation of church and state will be violated.
I do not think there is a substantial basis for such a fear. The principle of separation of church and state is thoroughly established by both the Federal and the State Constitutions and by 300 years of our history. There is no other policy of government more firmly established in our country.
I have had occasion to examine all the State constitutions on the subject of religious freedom. I find that every one of the 48 States has a bill of rights in its constitution, and that every bill of rights has a provision guaranteeing religious freedom. The clauses are very definite and in most instances very eloquent on the subject.
Not only do these State bills of rights have a positive guaranty that citizens may worship as their consciences may dictate, but most of them specifically provide that no one shall be required to maintain or support any religious establishment against his will.
Most of the States have specific constitutional provisions against the appropriation of any public funds for the maintenance of sectarian schools or other sectarian institutions.
Religious freedom has two aspects: Freedom to worship or not to worship as one pleases. In our American system no one shall be compelled to confess to a creed or to help propagate a creed that he does not believe. I see nothing in this bill that in any way undermines that principle.
Senator AIKEN. Are there any questions?
STATEMENT OF MISS ELIZABETH A. SMART, LEGISLATIVE DIREC
TOR, NATIONAL WOMAN'S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION,
Miss SMART. I am Miss Elizabeth A. Smart. My address is 100 Maryland Avenue NE., Washington, D. C. I am representing the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union.
The National Woman's Christian Temperance Union favors the passage of S. 181. When our fathers founded this Nation, they were well aware that the foundations of liberty rest on general public enlightenment, and alongside the meeting house and the English Bible, they placed the little red schoolhouse.
It is because of this far-sighted wisdom on their part that this Nation has been able to survive the vicissitudes of its early beginnings and its later trials by fire and still survive as a bulwark of individual liberty in a world of varying forms of imperialism.
There is nothing in the horizon of the future, so far as we are able to scan it, that would indicate that this Nation or the doctrine of individual liberty is to face any less drastic tests than those to which they have been hitherto subjected. The surest weapon against the ideologies which have destroyed Europe is the intelligence of the average individual citizen. And it must be trained intelligence.
The same is true if our children are to be survivors in the battle of life. Every neglected child revenges himself terribly upon the society that neglects him. Every illiterate, underprivileged man or woman, bound by his own limitations to a very restricted field of endeavor, becomes a clog on the wheels of society. His very existence is threatened by each new depression.
Our migrant problem will grow and multiply itself, just as the families of the migrants increase, if no educational opportunities are brought to the children. It can spread to more fortunate families if the children of these families are deprived of opportunities to fit themselves for trades and professions which require degrees of skill and intelligence.
A teacher shortage is a tragedy, not for the teacher, but for the children and for tomorrow's society and citizenship. Many teachers