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Mr. MASON. But that still leaves the country districts with only about 50 percent of their pupils of high-school age in high school. Ninety percent of those who belong in high school who are in high school includes industrial centers where the high schools are available, but the country districts would only have an average of about 50 percent.
Mr. FLANNERY. You take the high schools. What about the grade schools?
Mr. MASON. Well, in the grade schools in Michigan he has testified that over 90 percent actually are enrolled.
Mr. FLANNERY. Is that in the rural schools also?
Mr. VAN BUSKIRK. Yes, sir.
(Mr. Van Buskirk submitted the following data on school-building needs and teachers' salaries in Michigan:)
SCHOOL BUILDINGS NEEDED
As stated in the January number of the Michigan Education Journal (p. 206), a survey was made in June of last year of the school-building needs of 108 city and village school districts. The immediate needs totaled more than $16,250,000. Many of the districts were willing to assume from one-third to one-half of the cost. The 15-mill amendment makes it almost impossible to carry on an extensive building program in any school district. Aid may have to be secured from the State or the Federal Government. Some have suggested repeal of the 15-mill amendment in cities. The following table shows the expenditures, by school districts, for capital outlay purposes from 1924 to 1935, inclusive. It will be readily seen that the peak of capital outlay expenditures of almost $27,000,000 was in 1925, but during 1933, 1934, and 1935 it did not reach $2,000,000 in any one of these years.
Average salaries for teachers in Michigan have been increasing during the last 2 years. Data for 1935-36 are not yet available, but we know that they were slightly higher than the previous year. The following table shows that we are back to 1920-21 average salaries ($1,308), and Michigan schools are still paying much less than the 1930-31 average ($1,660).
Mr. LAING. I would like to call your attention to the fact that in and around Detroit known as Wayne County we have a county unit. plan where we have a superintendent of the county. I have asked him to come and tell you the situation that applies to his county surrounding the city of Detroit, Mr. Fred Fischer.
STATEMENT OF FRED C. FISCHER, COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, DETROIT, MICH.
Mr. FISCHER. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I appear in a dual capacity. I represent some of the metropolitan area, particularly the scattered area around Detroit, and also I happen to be recently elected president of the department of rural education of the National Education Association, and I anticipated that this would be a crowded meeting toward the last and that many would be in a hurry, so I have written two letters to this committee which I am going to leave. The first letter is something about the situation in and around Detroit. I represent rural schools, so-called. I think that our situation is considerably better than it is in many parts of Michigan, but just now we are faced with a problem that has not arisen to speak of until a year ago, and that is the question of housing children, school housing.
Some districts have doubled in population inside of a year, and I am told by real-estate operators that little farms, 1 to 5 acres, are being sold, and that hundreds and hundreds of little homes will be built in Wayne County this spring, as was the case a year ago. If that is true, the almost impossible conditions about housing in some districts which exist, this year will be just doubly bad, and we have no way that we can find out, no way to build buildings, on account of legal restrictions in the State of Michigan, which has been mentioned here. One is the 15-mill limitation which does not permit the people to tax themselves beyond a period of 5 years.
Another is the legal restriction by the statutes of Michigan which require that no district may borrow money if it has a 25-percent delinquency for the preceding year. Nearly all of our districts have that delinquency.
I think that is the most critical of the situations in that metropolitan area, so far as the rural and small town schools are concerned.
In a general way I want to appeal for aid for rural schools, because that is the type of school that I have been concerned with the most. My observation and experience, and I think it is borne out by your observation, is that the rural school has always been regarded as the weak link in the educational chain. I think that that need not be true. In places like Wayne County where we have rural schools, we have determined over a period of 10 years testing that rural children with the proper kind of equipment, the proper kind of teaching and supervision, make just as great achievement and progress as do the children in the cities and villages. We have those figures over a 10-year period.
Now, here is something that is very interesting, that just happened in the past year, and that is in these crowded schools where we have not been able to give as much teaching, where we have been obliged to have half-day sessions, that indication of achievement has dropped from 100 percent down to around 90 percent. So we fear that with this condition in our county, this crowded condition, we will not be able to meet that matter of increasing efficiency.
I cannot entirely agree with Mr. Van Buskirk that rural children, if they have the proper advantages that rural children may have, will not advance as rapidly as those in town. I think they do, and my appeal is that the rural schools be given funds so that those standards may be raised right now in the open country.
Mr. DONDERO. May I make this suggestion, Mr. Fischer, on that very point? Is it not a matter of fact that the boys and the girls in the rural areas, when they arrive at high-school age, usually stay home and work on the farm and do not go to high school, which accounts for the lower percentage in that class?
Mr. FISCHER. Yes, sir; even though the opportunities are there for them to go.
Mr. MASON. I would like to ask Mr. Fischer a question. In your first statement did I understand you to say that some of these farmers are moving into town from the rural sections and building houses? Mr. FISCHER. No; these farms have been sold and they have been subdivided into 1- to 5-acre farms, and have been sold to people that built a little house of four or five rooms. Most of these people have children. They cannot secure quarters in town, so they come out to the country.
Mr. MASON. They come out to the edge of the city, they work in the city, but also farm, 2- or 3- or 4-acre farms?
Mr. FISCHER. Yes; most of them work for some of the automobile companies.
Mr. MASON. I understood you to say the farmers are leaving the farms and coming to the city.
Mr. FISCHER. No; I did not want to be understood that way. I might say that a large part of this increase in population comes from many other States, so we regard the problem as not local but national.
Mr. DONDERO. May I say for the benefit of Mr. Fischer and the committee that Wayne County, Detroit included, represents about 40 percent of the State of Michigan.
Mr. FISCHER. Yes.
Mr. MASON. Is that the district you represent?
Mr. DONDERO. Part of it.
Mr. MASON. I would like to say it is well represented.
Mr. FISCHER. I would like to submit these two letters for the record.
(The letters referred to follow :)
SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS,
To the MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR SIRS: In behalf of the schools in the rural sections of this country I wish to make a special appeal for Federal aid to education.
We have in our rural areas today many of the conditions which have existed for generations. Old boxcar buildings with improper lighting, ventilation, and
heating are still serving the needs of the rural communities. Not only are the buildings out of date and unsatisfactory but the equipment and supplies for the most elementary requirements of the teachers and children are often lacking. Inadequately trained teachers still are the ones employed by many rural school boards, because the towns and cities have provided for higher standards of training as well as a higher schedule of compensation.
The rural school need not be the weak link in the educational chain. Give to these schools good buildings, equipment, and well-trained and adequately paid teachers and the results will be as satisfactory to the children as in the towns and cities. This has been proven in counties having such satisfactory conditions for its rural children.
Federal aid for rural education is the most vital need today in order that the boys and girls from the country may receive opportunities somewhat equivalent to those of the urban areas.
Very truly yours,
FRED C. FISCHER,
President, Rural Department of Education,
National Education Association.
SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS,
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.
DEAR SIRS: The school districts of Wayne County, Mich., are confronted with a vital school housing problem. The area in this county outside of the cities is having an influx of population that has taxed the present school buildings to capacity. Hundreds of small homes were built in 1936 and many hundreds more will be built in 1937 in the rural areas alone. One-half a million dollars is needed to construct and equip school buildings to take care of this increase in school population and to replace many of the present out-of-date and inadequate buildings.
The delinquent tax situation, the limitation of the taxing rate, and other legal restrictions prevent borrowing and bonding the districts to take care of these needs. Also, the villages and cities of this county cannot properly house the children. Half-day sessions have become the rule. The only solution to the problem at the present time is without question a generous appropriation by the Federal Government to be used to relieve this situation and to provide safe, sanitary, and healthful conditions for the children of these overcrowded communities.
Detroit and Wayne County, Mich., comprise a great industrial area. The increased number of people come from practically every State in the Union. The adults are largely among the wage earners-the laboring classes-seeking employment in the industrial plants of Detroit and Wayne County. The problem is no longer local, nor even State. It has become national and can be solved only by Federal aid, such as is provided in House bill no. 2288 now before your committee for consideration.
Very truly yours,
FRED C. FISCHER, County Superintendent of Schools.
Mr. LAING. We also have a man here from Detroit who has charge of the census and child counting, and we have asked him to say a word, Mr. George Weitzel.
STATEMENT OF GEORGE WEITZEL, DETROIT, MICH.
Mr. WEITZEL. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, Mr. Laing first told me to say a few words, and just a minute ago he said a minute and a half. I told him all right, we would be on our
In 1931, with a membership of 247,000 pupils we operated the Detroit schools with an appropriation of $25,000,000, using round figures. In 1936, with a membership of 259,000, an increase of 12,000