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There are several other conditions in this bill which evidence the political control that would be inherent in its administration.
Section 7 provides that,
The Commissioner (at Washington) shall cause an audit to be made of the expenditure of funds under this Act by each State educational authority. If the Commissioner after notice and hearing, finds any portion of such funds is expended by any State in a manner contrary to the provisions of this Act, or shall otherwise be lost or unlawfully used, an equal amount shall, after reasonable notice, be withheld from the next ensuing payment * * unless such amount is replaced by such State and expended for the purpose originally intended.
This clearly gives the Commissioner a heavy club to hold over the heads of the State authorities. It not only gives him the right of discretion in deciding whether the money has been used properly but it also gives him the right to use this withholding privilege as a penalty instrument. It does not require much imagination to see how this could be used as a real line of control.
Under section 10 it is provided that an amount up to one-half of 1 percent of the total appropriation may be used for the making of surveys and other studies in connection with the best utilization of the grants to the States authorized by this act.
One-half of 1 percent has an innocent and insignificant sound but it actually amounts to $1,500,000 and this bill gives the politically appointed Commissioner in Washington the right to distribute this huge sum to the State educational authorities as he sees fit for surveys, studies, and so on. I ask you to think well upon the power this would place in the hands of the Commissioner. It carries all the authority that would be needed to make the fine wording in the first paragraph both futile and farcical.
Now we come to section 11. It reads:
The Commissioner shall publish annually a full and complete report showing the status of education in the United States. Each such report shall include an analysis and summary of the legislative and administrative provisions adopted by each State for the expenditure of funds received through this Act, and also statistical information showing the accomplishments of the respective States through the expenditure of funds received under this Act.
Here is another political control club placed in the hands of the Commissioner at Washington. He would have the authority to publish a report on each State wherein he would be free to use his own discretion as to whether or not the report was favorable. If he had certain ideological or political leanings and the State happened to lean the other way it is entirely possible that the report might be of the most unfavorable character. It is not difficult to understand that a State educational authority would wish to avoid an unfavorable report by the national government. This then, you will see, could be a heavy line of control, and again we find that the advertised air-tight language used in paragraph one to indicate no political control could be and very likely would be of but little avail.
Even more flagrant than these controls is that contained in section 12 to which we have already referred. Section 12 is the main joker in the deck.
Now to refer to section 2, which reads as follows:
SEC. 2. (a)For the purpose of enabling States and their local public-school jurisdiction to meet emergencies in financing their public elementary and publie secondary schools by providing funds for the payment of the salaries of teachers and other school employees to keep schools open, to employ additional teachers
to relieve over-crowded classes, to raise substandard salaries of teachers and other school employees, and to adjust the salaries of teachers and other school employees to meet the increased cost of living, there is hereby authorized to be appropriated for each fiscal year in which the Congress shall find a need therefor, beginning with the year ending June 30, 1946, $200,000,000, to be apportioned to the States as hereinafter provided
(b) For the purpose of more nearly equalizing public elementary and public secondary school opportunities among and within the States, there is hereby authorized to be appropriated for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1946, and for each fiscal year thereafter, $100,000,000, to be apportioned to the States as hereinafter provided.
I have seen no explanation as to how or by whom these amounts were computed, except the admission made by Dr. Dawson before this committee. With all the factors to be considered in a vast over-all project like this it is difficult to believe that these figures represent much more than a guess and a convenience.
By the time the $200,000,000 salary subsidy is spread around among nearly a million teachers and several hundred thousand other school employees it could hardly be expected to constitute a deterrent to keep them from taking the more lucrative war jobs if that is what is intended. The indefinite arrangement set up here as to how this money is to be used is so vague as to prevent any valid analysis—but certainly it does give wide range for discretion and possible manipulation.
Under section 6 the bill provides that the fund shall be "expended only by public agencies and under public control.” This is largely meaningless unless the word "public" is at the same time defined.
Senator Hill as a cosponsor of this bill spoke in defense of it in New York a few days ago. He contended that
a the long experience of the Federal Government has demonstrated that there can be Federal aid without Federal control.
He cited no specific examples but even if he can find a needle in the haystack to support his generalized observation he has not and did not answer the specific charges we have made against this particular measure.
We know that when the farmers got Federal aid they also got Federal control. We know that when industry obtained Federal aid for war production it also meant Federal auditors and Federal dictation. When Federal aid was given to the aged this was accompanied by Federal rules and regulations.
The proponents of the bill have made much capital of a comparison between this measure and the early Government land grants to colleges. This is farfetched and inaccurate. Land had but little value at the time most of these grants were made but the important point is that the grants were made and that ended it. Here we have a money appropriation to be applied year after year with many contingencies involved. Another important difference is that money is fluid-and divisible-and usable by individuals. Land is not. Politicians can handle the money—but they would have difficulty doing anything with the land. Besides these grants were mainly for colleges and universities. There was no unification, but here we would have. The land grants could in no way affect the national school system as money appropriations of this kind made to the public schools could. This comparison which has been repeated until it is threadbare has no real value in weighing this bill, other than to confuse.
According to the sentiment I have found, not 5 percent of the people would approve this measure when they understand it or even know about it. I have spoken before representative groups in many parts of the country and with the exception of a few teachers here and there I have found essentially no one who ever heard of this proposal. I was recently riding with the president of one of America's largest universities and I was amazed to discover that he was completely unfamiliar with this bill. I have, however, talked with the heads of three or four other large educational institutions who do know about the bill and are against it. One of these is in Minnesota, another is in Michigan, and another in Arkansas. I had a letter from a superintendent of schools in Colorado a few days ago in which he described his need for school money as being crucial but after he had read an analysis of the implications of the bill he decided that the price was too great. When people understand this proposal they do not want it.
Senator Hill also claimed that our "national interest and the people's welfare" demand an educational bill at this time. He could just as easily apply that presumption to any of a dozen or more fields. The Federal Government can't become Santa Claus to everything and everybody.
Senator Hill, hailing from Alabama, argues that if the Federal Government can take our sons from the poorer States and send them to war then why should not the Government aid in educating the sons of the poorer States to live and serve the Nation in time of peace? That is a noble statement, but it does not fit. By the same process of reasoning, why not let the Federal Government take over the whole job? His bill is so arranged that it gives the rich States the cake in order to give the poorer States the crumbs. The truth is that there is no evidence that any State in this country today is unable to take care of its own educational problems. It would be easier, of course, to pressure the Federal Government at one point than to take the trouble to do it at 48 points.
Senator Hill makes a further plea for his bill by asserting that "good public schools could have prevented the rejection by the armed services of the 4,500,000 men who could not meet the requirements." The Senator should know that a great proportion of those rejected came from sections equipped with the best educational facilities. This bill provides $100,000,000 for “equalizing educational opportunities" and that would amount to less than $25 each if applied to the 4,500,000 rejectees. If this were spread over a period of educational years it yet would hardly have done what the Senator seems to think it would. There has been a lot of talk here about poorly educated people. How is this bill going to change that? Will it in any way force people to drink at the fountain of education? Will it change human nature !
It is difficult, after a close study of what could happen under the egis of this bill, to believe that this committee will approve it or that the Congress will pass it.
I want to read a letter here that came in here this morning from President Donald J. Cowling, who was the first president of education of the Council on Education here in Washington, and who has consistently worked with me in studying and analyzing this bill from the time it started. He says:
Aside from winning the war no item of public policy seems to me so important as keeping the control of education out of the hands of the Federal Government. 258
I know that a great many feel that it is possible to have Federal aid without Federal control. This seems to me impossible. If experience means anything, it means that the lines of financial support in time become the lines of control.
I have never opposed emergency appropriations for education; nor should I oppose regional appropriations. If it is true that a State like Mississippi does not have sufficient funds to provide proper educational facilities for its young people, special temporary appropriations might be provided to help remedy such conditions. However, a few such spots in the country furnish no justification whatever for putting our whole educational system in the straightjacket of Federal control.
I have had a great many letters from prominent educators, so the educational field is not all on the side of the bill.
I thank you.
Mr. ROBNETT. The Church League of America. I am in business
Senator FULBRIGHT. Are you an educator yourself?
Mr. ROBNETT. Only in the sense that when I was a young fellow I taught in some schools.
Senator FULBRIGHT. What business are you in now?
Senator FULBRIGHT. You have never had a particular interest in education ?
Mr. ROBNETT. I have always had an interest in education, because I had a very hard time getting what I have.
Senator FULBRIGHT. I would think you would like it to be easier for the next fellow.
Mr. ROBNETT. I certainly would, yes, indeed; and I said nothing here to the contrary, Senator Fulbright.
Senator FULBRIGHT. Would it make any difference to you if provisions were made in this bill to give funds to church schools?
Mr. ROBNETT. To church schools?
Senator FULBRIGHT. From the evidence that has been presented here in the last few days, don't you think the evidence has indicated some of the States would like to have some of this assistance ?
Mr. ROBNETIT. For the public schools?
Mr. ROBNETT. That the States themselves would like to have some assistance ?
Senator FULBRIGHT. Yes.
Mr. ROBNETT. I am not able to say, because the representatives here, the people who have spoken here have represented certain particular and special groups who have special interests. I have seen no State official here or Governor or any representative of the legislatures, or any of the elected bodies or elected officials of the States.
Senator FULBRIGHT. Evidence from such men as the commissioner of education of my own State has been introduced and quoted here.
I was distinctly under the impression that these witnesses represented the desires of the States. It is not likely that a Governor would go around to a meeting such as this. It seems to me the witnesses from some of the States were substantial witnesses, elected officials, those that represent the educational department of the States. They are not teachers. They represent the States. The departments of education have brought evidence in here as to some need, and certainly there is need in some of the States, don't you think that is true?
Mr. ROBNETT. No; I am not at all sure that it is. I would not say it is not, but I am not at all sure that it is; I would think a commissioner of education or superintendent of schools, or anyone coming in here representing a body, perhaps, would have had a great deal more contact with the teachers and the educational bodies in that State than he would with the people as a whole, the taxpayers and the people in general, who would also have some interest in this bill.
I think that that follows.
Senator FULBRIGHT. How about the land-grant colleges; you said it was a single' act granting land. Isn't it true that for many years there have been continuous appropriations by the Congress to the land-grant colleges ?
Mr. ROBNETT. When a grant is made, as I understand it, that finishes the matter.
Senator FULBRIGHT. There was certainly an original grant; that is true, but for many years since that time annual appropriations have been made and are being made now, isn't that true?
Mr. ROBNETT. Yes; maybe it is possible.
Senator FULBRIGHT. I do not know what you mean by “It is possible." It is a fact, is it not?
Mr. ROBNETT. I say it may be possible that it is true. I don't know.
Senator FULBRIGHT. I thought you came here as an authority on this subject.
Mr. ROBNETT. I do not know all the answers, sir. Some of these people do, but I do not.
Senator FULBRIGHT. You made the statement as a positive statement that that is all there was to it.
Mr. ROBNETT. I spoke of those early land grants, and I used the word "early." I do not see, Senator Fulbright, any relationship between the land-grant situation for colleges and this bill that we are dealing with, which applies to the public schools. Do any of these
. land-grants affect the rest of the public school system in the same way that this appropriation is going to affect them?
Senator FULBRIGHT. You are citing an example as evidence that there has been no Federal control, and it has not been offensive, certainly, to anyone. It is a fact, I can tell you, that there have been and there are very similar annual appropriations to these land-grant colleges. This is simply money that goes to certain institutions in the States.
Mr. ROBNETT. I understand that.
Senator FULBRIGHT. Do you set that as an example? I mean, you seem to destroy the evidence that there has been no offensive Federal control in connection with those grants. If there have been those grants every year, appropriations, and no offensive control by the Federal Government, that is evidence if the appropriation is made in this other field there still will not be such control.