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PROPOSED DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION,
Wednesday, April 25, 1928.
. a hearing on H. R. 7, a bill introduced by the chairman of this committee to create a department of education, and for other purposes. If there is no objection, I will reserve the right to make a statement as author of the bill, to go into the hearings, and will not take the time of the committee now. This morning we are to hear those who are in favor of the bill, and when they have concluded, whether it be to-day or later, those who are opposed to the bill will have their opportunity to come in and be heard fully. STATEMENT OF DANIEL A. REED, CHAIRMAN COMMITTEE ON
EDUCATION, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Mr. REED. The committee has met to consider House bill H. R. 7, known as the education bill. This bill, or others somewhat like it, has been before Congress for the past eight or nine years, and I know it is the hope of the members of the committee that we may at this hearing get some light on the bill—its provisions, why it is necessary, and how it would work.
1. We know that the Federal Government has always been interested in the promotion of education and we want to ascertain if the purpose of this bill means in any sense a departure from the established policy of the Federal Government.
2. The United States has supported a Bureau of Education in the Department of the Interior for more than a half century. If this bureau is not adequate the committee wants to know in what ways it is inadequate and what remedy, if any, the present bill proposes for this inadequacy.
3. The present bill provides for scientific investigations or research in various fields. What would be the advantages of such research study to the country as a whole and to the different types of education ?
4. The committee would like any light that it can receive on the question of the constitutionality of the present bill, especially if there are any provisions in the bill that place control of education in any way with the secretary of education.
5. The members of the corn:mittee would like to know how the present bill would affect private and sectarian schools throughout the country.
6. The committee wants to know whether or not the present bill is tied in with the proposal for Federal aid or whether in the judgment of those who are proponents of the measure the question of Federal aid is entirely independent of the present measure.
7. The committee would like to know definitely who are in favor of this bill and who are against it, together with facts, reasons, and arguments held by opposing groups.
If the committee can get light on the foregoing matters, the membeis will be in much better position to form a definite opinion as to the desirability of the bill.
STATEMENT OF DR. WILLIAM M. DAVIDSON, SUPERINTENDENT
OF SCHOOLS, PITTSBURGH, PA., AND CHAIRMAN LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION, NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION
Mr. SEARS. Doctor Davidson had charge of our Omaha schools before he went to Pittsburgh, and no man in the State of Nebraska is esteemed any higher educationally and otherwise than Doctor Davidson.
Mr. LEATHERWOOD. The same applies to Kansas.
Doctor DAVIDSON. I am glad to see my two friends from Nebraska and Kansas here. The last hearing held by your committe on this bill happened
to fit in precisely with the annual meeting of the National Education Association, which was in session in Washington at that time. That fact caused a very large group of school men and women to be present at the former hearing, showing how deep the interest was in this proposed legislation so far as the National Education Association group itself is concerned.
As the chairman of the legislative commission of the National Education Association I have invited only a very small group of representative school men and women to be present at this time. Some of them will participate in the hearing this morning and some this afternoon, while the other members of our group will not reach Washington until tomorrow. This is in accordance with the plan which we thought had met with your approval, Mr. Chairman, when it was agreed that the two days, April 25 and 26, should be set aside for the proponents of the Curtis-Reed bill. I should like to open the hearing with a statement that covers briefly the history of the whole movement looking toward the creation of a secretaryship in the President's Cabinet.
The movement for creation of a department of education is no newly advanced theory of the teaching profession. Rather, it is a century old idea that is known to have been favored by our third President, Thomas Jefferson, and by other leaders of his day. As early as 1838 Henry Barnard, of Connecticut, began urging establishment in the Federal Government of some agency to collect and disseminate educational facts and statistics. This agitation kept up during the succeeding years until 1854 when a plan for the establishment of a department of education was formulated and presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Education. The terms of this plan were substantially those of the act which 13 years later created a department of education.
ORIGINAL DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION REDUCED TO A BUREAU
In February, 1866, the National Association of School Superintendents passed a resolution appointing three members of the association to present to Congress a memorial on the establishment of a national bureau of education. Four days later Representative James A. Garfield, Ohio, presented a bill to Congress to establish a department of education." In March, 1867, this bill was signed by the President of the United States, and a Department of Education came into being. Little power was given to the commissioner who was head of the department though not a member of the President's Cabinet. Two years later the department was abolished and in its place the Bureau of Education was established as “Office of Education” in the Department of the Interior. At this time the salary of the commissioner was reduced from $4,000 to $3,000.
During the next 40 years the movement for a department of education was brought before Congress by a number of bills.
In February, 1910, a bill (H. R. 12318) was introduced by Congressman Joseph A. Goulden, New York, calling for the establishment of an executive Department of Education. #earings were held on this bill February 2, 8, 15, and 25, 1910, but there is no record to show that the measure was ever reported from the committee.
THE SMITH BILL (s. 4987)
The movement for a department of education began in earnest in 1918 when the National Education Association appointed a Commission on the Emergency in Education. After an exhaustive study of the educational needs of the United States, a bill was drawn up. Like subsequent measures for a department of education through four Congresses, it embodied two great principles—the creation of a department of education with a Secretary in the President's Cabinet, and Federal aid to the States for the promotion and encouragement of education. In October, 1918, during the second session of the Sixty-fifth Congress, Senator Hoke Smith, Georgia, introduced this measure, known as the Smith bill (S. 4987), in the Senate. Hearings were held on the bill by the Senate Committee on Education and Labor on December 5, 1918, but no action was taken.
THE SMITH-TOWNER BILL (s. 1017 AND H. R. 7)
With the introduction of the bill in the House of Representatives by Congressman Horace Mann Towner, Iowa, in the third session of this same Congress, the measure became known as the Smith-Towner bill. It was revised and reintroduced in the Sixty-sixth Congress by Senator Hoke Smith in the Senate and by Congressman Horace Mann Towner in the House of Representatives. Joint Committee hearings were held on this bill (Smith-Towner, S. 1017 and H. K. 7) July, 1919. On January 17, 1921, it was favorably reported from the Committee on Education in the House of Representatives, and on March 1, 1921, it was also reported by the Committee on Education and Labor in the Senate, but it did not come to a vote in either House.
THE TOWNER-STERLING BILL (s. 1252 AND H. R. 7)
Again the bill was revised and in the special session of the SixtySeventh Congress beginning April, 1921, it was introduced by Congressman Horace Mann Towner in the House of Representatives and by Senator Thomas Sterling, South Dakota, in the Senate. Throughout the Sixty-Seventh Congress it was known as the TownerSterling bill (S. 1252 and H. R. 7). During this Congress the bill was held in the Committee on Education in both Houses, the authors of the bill considering it unwise to bring the measure out of the committees until the Joint Committee on the Reorganization of the Executive Departments of the Government should make its report. This report was not made until near the close of the Sixty-Seventh Congress, thus preventing any action on the education bill.
A BILL FOR A DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE
In the first session of the Sixty-Seventh Congress, on May 5, 1921, a bill providing for a department of public welfare (Fess-Kenyon bill, S. 1607 and H. R. 5837) was introduced in the Senate by Senator William S. Kenyon, Iowa, and in the House of Representatives by Congressman Simeon D. Fess, Ohio. This bill proposed to give to education a subordinate position in the department of public welfare. The measure was referred to the Committee on Education and Labor in the Senate and to the Committee on Education in the House of Representatives, and joint hearings were held before the two committees on education. The creation of such a department was seriously opposed by friends of the education bill (Towner-Sterling bill, S. 1252 and H. R. 7), and on May 18, 1921, they appeared before the members of this joint committee and voiced their opposition to a department of public welfare. Following this hearing no further action was taken by the Committee on Education of either House, and failure met all further attempts to secure a favorable report of the bill providing for a department of welfare with education as one of its subdivisions.
STERLING-REED BILL (F. 1337 AND H. R. 3923)
In the Sixty-eighth Congress the Sterling-Reed bill (S. 1337 and H. R. 3923), which was identical with the Towner-Sterling bili, was introduced in both Houses on December 17, 1923–in the Senate by Senator Thomas Sterling and in the House of Representatives by Congressman Daniel Alden Reed, New York. From January 22 to 25, 1924, hearings on the bill were held before the Senate Committee on Education and Labor. Practically every week, from February 20 to June 4, hearings were held before the Committee on Education in the House of Representatives. Congress adjourned on June 4 before action was taken on the Sterling-Reed bill by either committee.
PROPOSED REORGANIZATION OF THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS
On January 25 and 26, 1924, proponents of the Sterling-Reed bill were given an opportunity to appear before the Committee on the Reorganization of the Executive Departments of the Government to protest against a department of education and welfare as proposed in the plan presented by Walter F. Brown, chairman of the committee. On June 3 the Reorganization Committee reported out a bill for the reorganization of the executive departments of the Government (Smoot-Mapes bill, S. 3445 and H. R. 9629), which was placed on the calendar of both Houses. This bill included a department of education and relief.
Congress convened on December 1, 1924, and on December 5 Congressman Frederick W. Dallinger, Massachusetts, introduced a bill (H. R. 633) for a department of education and relief. This measure was identical with that portion of the reorganization bill, Smoot-Mapes (S. 3445 and H. R. 9629) providing for the creation of such a department. On December 11 the Dallinger bill was discussed and voted on by the Committee on Education in the House of Representatives. The committee refused to vote the bill out favorably. They preferred to wait for action on the whole reorganization bill
, which seemed likely to be considered in the House of Representatives.
No active campaign was waged in this session of Congress for the Sterling-Reed bill. It seemed advisable, since the Reorganization Committee had actually reported a bill which was on the calendar of both Houses, to await the consideration of Congress on that measure, as it provided for a department of education and relief.
On Friday, January 30, 1925, Senator Reed Smoot, Utah, attempted to make the reorganization bill the unfinished business of the Senate. His proposal was rejected by a vote of 41 to 25.
THE CURTIS-REED BILL
Neither the teaching profession nor the laity of the Nation was united on the question of offering Federal aid to the several states for education, as it had been presented in former bills for a department of education. There was, however, widespread conviction as to the wisdom of the creation of the new federal department. Since establishment of a department of education was in no way contingent upon further extension of federal aid, it was decided to draft the next bill with only one great provision: that is, creation of a department of education. The education bill subsequently introduced into the Sixty-Ninth Congress as S. 291 and H. R. 5000, was the result.
This bill retained the sponsorship of Congressman Daniel A. Reed, New York, chairman of the Committee on Education in the House of Representatives, who introduced it in the House of Representatives on December 11, 1925. In the Senate it was introduced on December 8, 1925, by Senator Charles Curtis, Kansas, majority floor leader of the upper House.
NEW REORGANIZATION BILL
On December 10, 1925, a new bill for the reorganization of the executive departments of the Government (Smoot-Mapes, S. 1334 and H. R. 4770) was introduced. This bill provided for a reorganization board to cooperate with the President in making adjustments within existing departments. No aggressive action was taken to secure enactment of the measure.