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No, gentlemen, there is no magic in the title "secretary” that clothes its holder with supernatural powers of leadership or makes him other than a human being, subject to the frailities, mistakes, and even the prejudices common to mankind.
Given a department of education, what sort of persons will the changing administrations select as secretaries of education, who, during their temporary tenures of that high office, will seek to fasten upon the educational institutions of the country their own or the administrations' notions and aims? Will the secretary of education be an evolutionist or a fundamentalist; a wet or a dry; a Republican or a Democrat; a free-trader or a protectionist; a segregationist or an antisegregationist? Will the secretary be a proponent or an opponent of parochial and other denominational schools; an ardent advocate of State rights or an uncomprising centralizationist? Will the secretary be an apologetic American, advocating the teach of proforeign versions of history, or a rabid antiforeigner, decrying the suggestion of any good outside of America? From what religious denomination will the secretary be selected, or will the secretary be an atheist, objecting to the reading of the Holy Scriptures or any other reverent recognition of Deity in the schools of the country? These inquiries are pertinent, for it must be remembered that while other departments of government deal primarily with industries, commerce, finance, land, produce, and animals, the department of education's primary duty will be to deal through educational institutions with the youth of the country in the formative periods of their lives.
When other arguments fail, proponents of a department of education fall back on the plea that education should be dignified by the appointment of a secretary of education in the President's Cabinet. Such an argument would be comical if it were not so nearly sacrilegious. Education itself dignifies the nation. It needs no representative in the President's political family to give it dignity. Next to religion, education is the most potent factor in the spiritual well-being of a people. If consideration is to be given to the plea to "dignify education, then serious consideration should be given to steps to "dignify” religion through the appointment of a political secretary of religion.
Needless to say, secretary of education would be selected from among the President's political supporters. While Cabinet officers as a rule seek to administer their departments wisely, what Cabinet officer is not largely concerned with promoting the fortunes of the administration of which he is a part? Proponents of this bili naively suggest that great educators will be selected as secretaries of education. Common sense and an acquaintance with the political history of our country refute such a suggestion. If the efforts to create a Federal department of education had been successful during the early days of the Harding regime, it was a foregone conclusion that the secretaryship would have gone to Mrs. Harriet Taylor Upton, the originator of the high-pressure card-index-method of political control. That fact seems to have been so well known that before the bill had made any real progress, papers in London published pictures of Mrs. Upton labeled " America's New Minister of Education.” And what may we expect if Governor Smith is elected and finds it necessary to appoint a secretary of education? Already we find “Equal Rights, ,” the official organ of the National Woman's Party, enthusiastically publishing the suggestion of the possibility of the inclusion in Governor Smith's cabinet of Mrs. Henry Moscowitz, head of the New York Democratic State Committee's publicity bureau. Would not she be given the education portfolio rather than any of the other Cabinet posts now existing? Would such politically-minded ladies dignify education? How much prestige would they lend to the cause of education? What wonderful opportunities either of them, or other similar political workers, would have as secretary of education to carry on through the facilities offered by that post the same sort of political activities that had lead to their political preferment! No, gentlemen; those who are sincerely jealous of the dignity of education will not advocate a Federal department of education. On the contrary, they will seek to widen rather than eliminate the gulf that separates politics from education.
It is argued that because we have a Department of Agriculture, a Department of Commerce, and a Department of Labor, we should and must have a department of education. Opponents of this bill have repeatedly been questioned regarding their advocacy of or opposition to the existence of the other departments mentioned. The answer is obvious. The existing Federal departments are engaged primarily in the performance of appropriate Federal functions. The primary duties of each are to execute laws and regulations on subjects exclusively reserved for control by the Federal Government under the provisions of the Constitution. They operate upon matters which under our dual form of 504
PROPOSED DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
government must be controlled by the Federal Government to the exclusion of State authority. There are but two valid objections to the existence of the three departments. One is that the functions of all three could be more economically performed by a single department. The other objection is that the fact of the existence of these three departments is frequently used as an excuse for extending their activities far afield into realms beyond the scope of Federal authority.
Friends of the bill frequently suggest that as long as the Federal Government is spending money looking after onion worms, boll weevils, loco weeds, barberry bushes, and hogs and cattle, it ought ot have a Federal department of education to spend money on education of the children of the country. Conceding that the activities mentioned may appropriately engage Federal attention and Federal funds, it is difficult to imagine any similarity either in principle or practice between the killing off of insects and parasites and the direction of the mental development of children. The parents of hogs and cattle may not be trusted to see to the well-being and progress of their offspring, but in the majority of instances the parents of children are likely to see to the mental and physical advancement of their children and to do a better job of it than would a secretary of education sitting in the Cabinet at Washington.
Like in other proposals for the extension of Federal authority, there is raised here the old cry that Federal leadership and Federal power must be invoked to raise the standards of so-called “backward States." Which are the backward States? What Member of the Congress will arise and claim or admit that his or her State is backward? And who shall judge which States are backward and which are not? If Congress is setting out to legislate progress into backward States, it must have the courage to designate the States deserving that appellation. The whole scheme of centralization, of which this legislation is a part, seems to be predicated upon a belief that all of the wisdom, all of the altruism, all of the patriotism, and all of the mental, moral, and material resources of the respective States move to the National Capital with the persons of their Representatives in Congress, that when Senators and Congressmen leave their native States to come to Washington they leave behind them constituencies unable, unwilling, and unworthy to manage even their most intimate local affairs. If there is any ground for such opinion, then Senators and Congressmen and Congresswomen can take but little pride in their elections by such intelligent and incompetent constituents.
If you will revert for a moment to the Constitutional Convention, when there was under consideration the method of selection of Members of the Congress and their term of office, -you will find statements by Mr. Pinkney and Mr. Sherman that will be of interest here. Mr. Pinkney had moved that the Members of the first branch of the National Legislature should be appointed in such manner as the several State legislatures should direct. In supporting his motion, Mr. Pinkney said:
"All the reasoning of the gentlemen opposed to my motion has not convinced me of its impropriety. There is an esprit de corps which has made heretofore every unfederal Member of Congress, after his election, become strictly Federal, and this I presume will ever be the case in whatever manner they may be elected.”
Mr. Sherman, who proposed to limit the term of office to one year, said:
“I am for one year. Our people are accustomed to annual elections. Should the members have a longer duration of service, and remain at the seat of Government, they may forget their constituents, and perhaps imbibe the interest of the State, in which they reside, or there may be danger of catching the esprit de corps.'
That the fears expressed by Mr. Pinkney and Mr. Sherman were not entirely unfounded seems to me to be borne out by enactments of Congresses in recent years that have injected the Federal Government into fields of activity reserved for local regulation and control and which must have been based on the theory that States
were unable to manage their own affairs without Federal interference. When a State has fallen so low
as to become unable and unwilling to manage its own affairs, it should be openly and definitely put out of business as a State. Fortunately, all of the statistics and all of the arguments of the proponents of this measure have failed to prove or even give rise to suspicion that any State has sunk to that condition. No valid reason has yet been advanced why States should be bullied or bribed turning management of their local concerns over to Federal bureaucrats. States should be left not only in the full possession of their rights but with the undiminished obligation to perform unaided the duties that properly are theirs.
The Federal Government, whose powers were wisely limited by the fathers who drafted the Constitution, has no right to interfere directly or indirectly in the field of education. The proposed department of education is but part of a scheme that ultimately would inject the Federal Government into the field of education and, through gradual absorption of power by bureaucratic authority, inevitably effect centralized control at Washington over the local school houses throughout the land, leading to unwholesome standardization in a field that has been cultivated to its present degree of perfection largely because of the absence of any semblance of standardization. There are many who would ignore Constitutional limitations and who wax impatient at suggestions of unconstitutionality. Possibly they are among those who have taken seriously the ironical advice that Col. Davy Crockett, in a spirit of levity, gave to a group of aspiring politicians back in 1836. Colonel Crockett then said:
"If your ambition or circumstances compel you to serve your country, and earn $3 a day, by becoming a member of the legislature, you must first publicly avow that the constitution of the State is a shackle upon free and liberal legislation; and is, therefore, of as little use in the present enlightened age, as an old almanac of the year in which instrument was framed. There is policy in this measure, for by making the constitution a mere dead letter, your headlong proceedings will be attributed to a bold and unshackled mind; whereas, it might otherwise be thought they arose from sheer mulish ignorance.
We, who stand on the constitutional limitations on the authority of the Federal Government and say that Government must not invade a field appropriately reserved for regulation by local authority, are accused of being reactionary. We would remind the committee that movement is not necessarily progress; that revolution is movement but is not progress in the contemplation of those who think with American minds. Nor is change necessarily improvement.
Nor can we readily accept the views of those in the land who would rather be different than right. Despite the notives that may be variously attributed to us, we insist upon adherence to the principles of the Constitution. We want no army of Federal truant officers swarming over the land, or goose-stepping pedagogues performing according to specifications dictated by a bureaucratic department at Washington. We want to keep the schools under the supervision of those whose lives they most intimately affect,
Mr. FLETCHER. In view of the several references to the teachers having been used to spread propaganda in behalf of radicalism, that is such an important matter that I asked Mr. Crabtree, secretary of the National Education Association to make a statement for me, so that we might have some direct facts from him. I have that statement in the form of a letter which I would like to have inserted.
a The CHAIRMAN. If there is no objection, that may be inserted. (The letter referred to is as follows:) NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
1201 Sixteenth Street, Washington, D. C., April 30, 1928. Hon. BROOKS FLETCHER,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. FLETCHER: In answer to your question as to whether propaganda containing communistic and radical ideals are distributed through the schools and as to whether the teachers aid in movements of this kind permit me to state at the outset that the schools are not being used for distributing vicious propaganda and that teachers have no part in movements of this kind. One of the things which gave President Wilson much encouragement in the dark days of the World War was the loyalty of teachers and the sacrifices made by them. He was impressed with the activity and leadership of teachers in every community, in the Red Cross collections, in the sale of Liberty bonds, and in carrying out the plans of the Government in that great emergency.
On the request of Herbert Hoover this association wrote the teachers of the Nation asking them to let Mr. Hoover know whether they were anxious to assist in carrying out the food conservation plans. The response was overwhelming. It seemed that every school in the land answered in the affirmative by return mail. They followed up with work which aided materially in making those drives a success in every community in city and country alike. After the armistice had been signed Mr. Hoover wrote a letter of appreciation to the teachers of America. The teachers' part in this and other war work can never be over
estimated. Owing to the sacrifices and overwork on the part of teachers, the siege of flu in 1919 took an extremely heavy toll of the teaching force of the Nation.
That same devotion to duty and loyalty to country is as strong with teachers to-day as it was at that time. There are some who see “red” in the eyes of everybody except themselves. We have now and then heard of some one who even classed teachers as "red.” Teachers do not need to resent any such false statement. Communities rise up and speak in resentment for them. There is no class more free m disloyal tendencies than teachers. This association would not permit charges of disloyalty of teachers to go unchallenged.
Teachers realize their responsibility to the children under their guidance. They live to do good in the world. They try to make every child better for having been in their classes. In doing this they improve themselves. The designing disloyal man or woman can not long remain in the schools. The position makes demands on them which they can not meet.
Teachers are human beings. They differ in ability. They differ in tact. Some are wise and some are foolish. But they are loyal. They are good. The high ideals of their profession and the nature of their work from day to day mold them into a class which you can hardly find in any other profession or vocation.
I am in a position to know as few others could know the real sentiments and ideals of the teachers in every State and in every community. If teachers were "red” or if the schools were spreading vicious propaganda I would know it. They are not doing it. They are not going to do it. The dangers are not in the schools. Teachers in being open minded, in trying to get actual truth before their pupils and to give them high ideals, are continually counteracting the vicious influences that come from other sources. Teachers all over the land regret the use of such ethics as those of the Teapot Dome, or such tactics as great power companies seem to be resorting to at the present time. They are proud of what our ancestors have accomplished and hold Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln up as ideals, but they could never attach greater importance to the deeds of our ancestry than to the welfare of our offspring. Is not this loyalty of the highest type? Very sincerely yours,
J. W. CRABTREE, Secretary. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Monast, there are important petitions com. ing in from your district, and as a matter of courtesy to you, they will be filed.
Mr. MONAST. I would like to have them inserted.
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR,
April 30, 1928.
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. REED: The Rhode Island State Federation of Labor at its regular annual convention held April 28–29, 1928, passed a resolution indorsing the Curtis-Reed bill. There were about 200 delegates present and the vote was unanimous. Respectfully yours,
HENRY M. DONNELLY, Secretary.
PROVIDENCE, R. I., April 20, 1928. Hon. DANIEL ALDEN REED,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. REED: The Technical High School Parent-Teachers' Association, at its regular meeting held January 19, 1928, indorsed the Curtis-Reed bill and urged its passage by Congress. There was only 1 dissenting vote.
This school is the largest technical high school in Rhode Island and one of the largest schools. The Parent-Teachers' Association has a membership of about 160 parents and teachers. Yours respectfully,
(Signed) FLORA PEARL SMITH,
COMMERCIAL High School,
Providence, R. I., April 20, 1928. Hon. DANIEL ALDEN REED,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. REED: The Providence Men High School Teachers’_Association at its regular meeting held February 2, 1928, indorsed the Curtis-Reed bill and urged its passage,
This association is the largest organization of men high-school teachers in Rhode Island, and probably includes a majority of all the men high-school teachers in the State. Very truly yours,
(Signed) GEORGE R. DOLLOFF, Secretary.
PROVIDENCE, R. I., April 23, 1928. Hon. DANIEL ALDEN REED,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. REED: At the regular meeting of the Providence Central Federated Union held on Sunday, April 15, considerable discussion was indulged in on the bill S. 1584, introduced by yourself at the Seventieth Congress, first session.
I was instructed to inform you of the unanimous vote in favor of the adoption of said bill, also to seek the support of our Senators and Representatives from this State in the passage of this bill in the interest of higher educational methods as a mark of progress.
Representing as we do thousands of workers in all walks of life in the city of Providence and vicinity, we humbly request your earnest support in company with the representatives of our State who have signified their attitude as in favor of adoption of said bill known as Senate 1584.
Trusting we will be favored with beneficial results to our request, I beg to remain,
WM. J. FALLON, Secretary to Providence Central Federated Union.
WOONSOCKET, R. I., April 22, 1928. Hon. DANIEL ALDEN REED,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. REED: The Woonsocket Round Table Club indorsed the Curtis-Reed bill, and urged its passage, at its regular meeting, on March 20, 1928.
This organization is known as the Woonsocket Round Table Club, including membership of 85, and its object is the social and intellectual culture of its members. Very truly yours,
FLORENCE G. Moss,
RHODE ISLAND HOME ECONOMICS ASSOCIATION,
Providence, R. I., April 24, 1928. Hon. DANIEL ALDEN REED,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. REED: The Rhode Island Home Economics Association, representing more than 100 women of Rhode Island, at its regular meeting held on May 14, 1927, indorsed the Curtis-Reed bill and urged its passage, Yours respectfully,
GRACE M. NEAGLE, Secretary.
PROVIDENCE TEACHERS' COUNCIL, No. 197,
April 20, 1928. Hon. DANIEL ALDEN REED,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. REED: The Providence Teachers' Council at its regular meeting held April 2, 1928, unanimously indorsed the Curtis-Reed bill and urged its passage.
This organization is the only branch of the American Federation of Teachers in Rhode Island. Respectfully yours,
WALTER H. HIBBARD, Secretary.