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A careful study of the State and Federal Constitutions, as well as the decisions of the State and Federal courts, will disclose that there is a very plain expressed determination to maintain that liberty by guarding against the slightest approach toward uniting church and state. However, there is now and has been for many years a determined and well-organized effort to obtain funds from the State treasurers for the support of sectarian schools. This is seen in the demands that are being made by the sectarian schools in almost every State for free transportation, free textbooks, free gymnasium privileges for their pupils, and the portion of public school taxes paid by certain religious groups.
The places in our social system where reaction toward the unity of state and church will first manifest itself is the introduction of religious teachings into the public schools or the support of sectarian schools in some manner from the Public Treasury. Movements to this effect are in evidence in many places in the United States today.
Our tax-supported free public education, free from sectarian inflùence, invades the rights of no one. So maintained, such education justifies its permanent support by general taxation on the grounds that it adequately meets the general educational needs and establishes a homogeneous and free people.
However, if our tax-supported free public schools and tax supported free public education are to provide the greatest benefits and privileges to our people and thus preserve for posterity all the implications of our free institutions, the Federal and State governments must ever maintain a complete separation of church and state. And the States, as well as the Federal Government, must forever deny sectarian schools any aid from public funds.
Mr. Chairman, we feel that any bill which gives Federal financial assistance to education ought to be drafted in the spirit of the first amendment. It is our opinion, therefore, that all such aid should be specifically earmarked for the use of tax-supported free public schools.
Senator ELLENDER. Are there any questions?
Senator ELLENDER. Step forward please, and give your name and principal occupation to the reporter. STATEMENT OF LESLIE S. PERRY, ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT,
WASHINGTON BUREAU, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE
Mr. PERRY. My name is Leslie S. Perry, and I am administrative assistant of the Washington Bureau, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Senator ELLENDER. Have you a prepared paper ?
Mr. PERRY. I appear in support of S. 181, the Educational Finance Act of 1945, as a representative of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Our organization has 900 branches,
FEDERAL AID FOR EDUCATION
youth councils, and college chapters in 43 States. We have a paid membership of more than 400,000 persons. Although our membership includes all races and nationalities from all walks of life, the overwhelming majority are persons of the Negro race.
As an organization, our primary interest and activity has been in the field of civil rights. Nevertheless, our membership is deeply concerned over the status of public educaiton in the Nation which, in many areas, is so markedly inadequate as to fall short of the minimum requirements for a wholesome and functioning democratic State.
The Negro population of the United States, according to the 1940 decennial census, in round figures is thirteen million, between eight and nine million of whom reside in Southern States which maintain separate schools for Negro and white children. In addition to being the poorer section of the country, the South also has, in proportion to the adult population, the largest number of children of school age.
I have here a table showing the current expenditures per pupil for public, elementary, and secondary schools in 1941-42. These data were prepared by the United States Office of Education.
This material shows that in New York, for example, the annual pupil costs based on average daily attendance amounts to $190.50, as compared with $33.13 for Mississippi. The same glaring disparity between State expenditures for the salaries of public-school teachers is shown by the following table taken from studies of the Office of Education for the years 1941-42. As these data show, the average annual salary for all teachers in Arkansas, for example, is $678 as against $1,920 for the State of Washington.
It is clear, therefore, that through the sheer accident of having been born in one of these Southern States, a child attending its public schools begins life with a severe handicap when compared with children living in other sections of the country. Obviously, such wide differences for educational opportunity should not exist in a great and rich democratic country.
Directing attention to the status of Negro education in these Southern States, conditions confronting the Negro child and teacher are even more deplorable. Not only is he subjected to the usual and patent disadvantages peculiar to the school population of this area, but he is also the victim of an unequal and discriminatory distribution of even the limited educational funds available in these States. Material compiled by the United States Office of Education with respect to expenditures for Negro education in States maintaining separate schools underlines the gravity of the situation. The latest data available is for the period of 1939–40. As the following chart indicates, Louisiana, for example, makes an average annual expenditure of $77.11 for white children as compared with $20.49 for colored children, or, stated in other words, Louisiana expends 276.3 percent more for a white child than for a colored one.
Equally discouraging is the differential obtaining in the salaries paid white and colored teachers. In South Carolina the average annual salary for a white teacher in 1939–40 was $953, as compared with $371 for a Negro.
We are of the firm opinion that few, if any, Southern States will be able, in the foreseeable future, to bring their systems of public education up to a desirable level without an enlarged program of direct financial aid from the Federal Government. It is our considered judgment that the bill now under consideration, S. 181, will do much to improve the over-all picture.
With respect to the benefits to Negro children and teachers to be derived under this legislation, we believe that the provision contained in section 6 of the bill providing for a “just and equitable apportionment” of the funds for minority racial groups in States maintaining separate schools, comes very close to being an adequate safeguard against discriminatory allocation of these moneys. While this legislation will not wipe out existing differentials obtaining in State expenditures for Negro and white schools, current estimates of the funds Negro schools will receive under it indicate that in practically every one of these States per capita expenditures for Negro pupils and teachers will increase by more than 100 percent.
When similar legislation was before the Senate in October 1943, an amendment was adopted which virtually required States to eliminate any differential in State funds for Negro and white schools as a condition to receiving benefits under this type of legislation. As much as we deplore the discriminatory action of many States in this regard, I want to make it clear that we do not regard this legislation as a proper vehicle or means of correcting this type of inequality. The association has won, or has pending, suits in nearly every Southern State to eliminate these unlawful discriminations in their publicschool systems. These suits involve the matter of teachers' salaries and, in some instances, admission to State universities and colleges. We propose to continue this fight even after the pending bill is passed. We are, therefore, happy to record ourselves as endorsing enthusiasti. cally and without reservation S. 181.
Senator Taft. Take this Louisiana discrepancy, $77 per white child and $20 per colored child, and the discrepancy in Mississippi is even greater
Mr. PERRY (interposing). Yes; even greater.
Senator Tart. Now, the result of this bill will in no way reach that discrepancy.
Mr. PERRY. That is quite true.
Senator TAFT. We may add $10 to every colored child and at the same time add $10 to every white child, under the provisions of this bill, so that when you get through it is $87 for the white child and $30 for the colored child.
Now it seems to me that the whole justification for this bill, the only one that appeals to me at all, is the theory that every child in this country is entitled to some minimum education, and that the Federal Government is interested to that extent, not in removing entirely the discrimination. But it seems to me that any equalization bill which fails to assure to every child-before anybody else gets anything, some minimum education, a $50 education or whatever is decided to be the standard which the Federal Government thinks should be absolutely assured to every child, fails to be an equalization bill, and I don't think you can use the equalization argument for this $100,000,000 feature of the bill—and I think for you to come in and say that this is
FEDERAL AID FOR EDUCATION
for the benefit of the colored children simply because you add the same amount to every colored child that you do to every white child, is a denial of the whole principle of equality.
Senator ELLENDER. The fact remains though, as I understand the bill, that the money that is allocated to a State is divided among the two races in proportion to their respective percentage of the entire population. For instance, Louisiana has 38 percent colored and 62 percent whites. The colored will receive 38 percent of the fund and the white will receive 62 percent.
Senator TAFT (interposing). If the Federal Government has any interest in education at all, it is in the general statement that we undertake to assure to every child a certain minimum education, and it seems to me that any equalization must be based on that theory, and it seems to me that any money of this sort given to a State should go, in a case like this, entirely to the colored children until they get the $50, or whatever is stated to be the level that the Federal Government considers sufficient.
Mr. PERRY. Senator, I would just like to address myself to that. Personally, I should like to see that myself
Senator TAFT (interposing). I think we ought to try to draw such
Mr. PERRY. I shoồld like to see a floor on the amount of education that any child may receive. But as a practical situation and we are practical people— let's take the State of Mississippi, in which the differential which obtains is now 606.6 percent,
Senator TAFT (interposing). What are the figures for Mississippi; have you got them here?
Mr. PERRY. I have some figures that were released from the U. S. Office of Education. According to these statistics in 1939-1940 the expenditures for a white child were $52.01, and for a Negro, $7.36, and the percent of cost per white pupil is greater than the percent of cost per Negro pupil by 606.6 percent.
Senator TAFT. My recollection is that in the last bill—and whether the provisions have changed any in this one I do not know—when you got through allocating this money there was actually a bigger dollar discrepancy between the white and colored children than before you started. In other words, for some reason that I don't understand, we will say that every white child got $8 more, and every colored child got $6 more. The percentage wasn't quite as great but for all practical purposes it cannot be claimed that this bill, which leaves the colored child with a $13 education, is equalizing education in the United States.
Mr. Perry. Well, just for the purpose of the record, I have some estimates that have been made of the benefits under this bill, and these estimates run, for white children an average of $14.86 which they would receive in Mississippi, and the Negroes would receive $15.03. These figures are a little out of line; I believe they are predicated upon 1937–38 figures.
Senator Tart. They are a little different from the ones of 2 years ago.
Mr. Perry. Yes. But at any rate the estimated expenditures per pupil, as of these 1937-38 figures, would run $56.16 for the white children and $20.58 for the Negro.
But I just want to make this observation: If Mississippi is to receive, say $8,000,000—and that is true generally of the States, because all of them have very wide differentials—and if, as a condition precedent, it is going to have to divert such funds as it receives from the Federal Government to Negro education, based upon the attitudes which have been displayed not only by the States but by their legislative representatives here in Congress, I doubt very seriously whether any Southern Senator or Congressman would vote for this bill.
Senator Tarr. I am not talking about who will vote for the bill
Mr. PERRY (interposing). I want to say this, that when you put on that proposition it is tantamount to saying that Negroes in Mississippi will continue for an indefinite period to receive five, or six, or seven dollars per capita as an expenditure for education, and from my point of view, I would like to see the thing you advocate go over; I would like to see a reasonable ceiling of $50, or $60, or whatever standard the educational authorities would make, but I don't want to see Negroes continue to get $6 or Negro teachers continue to get $230 per annum for an indefinite period, just because we want to proceed upon the ideal situation of a complete abolition of all differentials.
Senator Tart. I don't see why we are so interested in seeing that every white child in Mississippi, for instance, where the figure is $52, gets any more. They may not be interested in seeing the white children get any more. They have chosen to take their funds that are available and, by assumption, that is as much money as they can possibly devote to education, and they give four-fifths to the white children who may be getting plenty of education already. Then why should we be interested in improving the status of the white children? If that is the basis for Federal intervention in this field, which has always been local, why isn't our only interest in seeing that every child gets a fair start in life, that is, a minimum education?
Mr. PERRY. I quite agree with you, Senator, except that I have this further observation to make. As I indicated
Senator Tart (interposing). I am not talking about whether you get this bill through or not. There are too many things in this bill to get it through. I think, if we decide what is the right thing to do, we can get the bill through, or a bill through, but I don't think that this mere idea that you can just allot the same amount to every white and colored child, when the discrepancy is now 6 to 1, I don't think that carries out our obligation, if we have any.
Mr. PERRY. And by the same token I don't think that it carries out the obligation of the Federal Government to continue having children of all races and colors—and I am particularly interested in the Negro-receive a standard of education or a per capita expenditure which runs around $6. I think you are going to have to do something to clear that thing up, clear that situation up, and I don't think we can wait for 50 years when the country and its representation from the South becomes enlightened to the point of view that they want to do the right thing
Senator Taft. I think the colored situation in the South is the biggest, and perhaps the only argument, for Federal intervention in aid to education, and I don't think we meet it at all by adding $6 to a $7 education. I don't think that meets it.
Mr. PERRY. I don't think it meets it, Senator, but I do think that you relieve it and improve it. For example, there are some figures