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(Mr. Ashe submitted the following brief:)
BRIEF OF THE UNITED PARENTS ASSOCIATIONS OF NEW YORK CITY ON SENATE BILLS FOR FEDERAL AID TO EDUCATION
The United Parents Associations of New York City, Inc., which I represent, is a federation of parent associations and parent-teacher associations in public and private schools throughout the city of New York. It is a membership corporation chartered by the State of New York a quarter of a century ago. One of its purposes, as set forth in its certificate of incorporation and approved by the State commissioner of education, is "to arouse and mobilize the interest of the public in education in its wider aspects, including public and private school matters, the educational influence of the community, and adult education."
Let me make it clear at the very outset that the United Parents Associations is nonpartisan and nonpolitical. Among its members will be found persons of every religious faith and economic status, and of all political persuasions. It does not take any part in partisan politics of any nature whatsoever and concerns itself exclusively with questions affecting the welfare of children, the schools, and education.
As parents and as taxpayers, the members of our organization ask on behalf of the school children the future citizens of our great Nation-that Congress provide for Federal aid to public education. If our children are to be prepared to cope with the growing complexities of life and the problems brought forth as an aftermath of the war, our public educational services throughout the Nation must be improved and expanded. There can be no more worthy purpose for which public funds should be expanded. Unless the grave situation in which our public schools find themselves today is remedied, and remedied quickly, they will be faced with a progressive deterioration which will seriously threaten their continued functioning as a bulwark of our American democratic way of life.
One has only to read the excellent series of articles written by Dr. Benjamin Fine, education editor of the New York Times, published by that newspaper 2 months ago, to realize the alarming state of our country's public schools. Having conducted a 6-month extensive survey, during which he visited urban and rural schools from coast to coast and interviewed thousands of persons connected with education, Dr. Fine found, among other things:
Six thousand schools will be closed this year because of lack of teachers, so that 75,000 children will have no schooling whatsoever.
Two million children will suffer a major impairment in their schooling because of poor teachers, while 5,000,000 children will receive an inferior education because of the inadequate number of available teachers.
Every State has a shortage of qualified teachers, with 350,000 teachers having left American public schools since 1940.. Low salaries appear to be the most important reason for this situation.
One out of every seven teachers today is serving on an emergency, substandard certificate. Many teachers have had only a high school education or less.
There has been a sharp drop in the number of persons entering the teaching profession. Whereas in 1920, 22 percent of all college students attended teachers' colleges, today only 7 percent attend. Veterans are not interested in preparing to teach.
Teacher morale has dropped to a new low.
School buildings are in a deplorable state all over the country. About $5,000,000,000 are needed just to bring educational plants into good condition. Appaling inequalities exist throughout the Nation in the amounts spent for education. While some States or localities spend $6,000 per classroom unit, others spend as little as $100, with $1,600 as the national average.
While the United States spends 1.5 percent of its national income for its schools, Great Britain spends an estimated 3 percent and Russia spends 7.5 percent.
These facts speak eloquently of the need for Federal aid to public education. Even in New York City, which is located in a State which is among the highest in the amount of money spent per pupil in public schools, deplorable conditions exist. There has been a great and continuing exodus of competent teachers from the New York City schools without adequate replacements, resulting in overcrowded classes and in a daily average of some 500 or more uncovered classes which are without either a regular or substitute teacher. Buildings are still in use which were erected before the Civil War, some in the 1840's, which are not only dilapidated and unconducive to inspring children with a love for learning but which constitute definite health hazards for the children and
teachers. And the moneys spent for textbooks and supplies in the New York City schools are woefully inadequate.
With such conditions existing within the Empire State of the Union, which from State and local funds spent $185.12 per pupil in average daily attendance in 1944, one can imagine how appalling the situation must be in those States which spent as little as $42 per pupil that same year.
The Federal Government cannot afford to permit such conditions to continue. An intelligent, educated citizenry is an absolute essential if the United States is to retain its position as the leading democratic country in the world. An uneducated citizenry, ignorant of the meaning and benefits of our American way of life, can easily be misled by foreign totalitarian ideologies. Moreover, as the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers have pointed out, support of public education is a sound investment from an economic point of view. I refer your committee to the study made by the Chamber of Commerce, entitled "Education-an Investment in People, which shows that there is & definite correlation between the amount of money a State spends on its public schools and the social and economic level it reaches. This, the study showed, is reflected in increased business and general economic well-being.
In view of the serious teacher shortage, which Federal Education Commissioner John W. Studebaker has acknowledged amounts to a crisis (see his Annual Report, issued February 12, 1947), we favor the principle embodied in S. 81 (Green bill) and S. 170 (McCarran bill) of Federal assistance to the States for increasing the salaries of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools.
Increasing teachers' salaries is not enough, however. Federal aid for education generally is essential if our public schools are properly to perform their function of building our citizens of tomorrow. And because the need is so great, the United Parents Associations favors the appropriations provided under title I of S. 199 (Aiken bill), which would insure that by 1953 and thereafter no State would spend less than $100 per pupil per year in public elementary and secondary schools. A proviso should be written into any bill that your committee approves, however, prohibiting any State or local government which receives Federal aid from decreasing the amount of its present expenditures for public education. Federal aid should be provided in order to increase educational services or facilities, not to decrease them or to keep them static.
As to the amount of money that would have to be expended for such Federal aid, it is interesting to note that the moneys that would be appropriated for the entire fiscal year ending June 30, 1948, under title I of S. 199, would be less than twice the amount spent by our Government each day to carry on World War II after VE-day. And for the entire fiscal year ending June 30, 1952, and thereafter, the amount would be equal to the cost of carrying the war for 5 days after VE-day. (See World Almanac, 1946, p. 103.) This is certainly a small enough expenditure for insuring that the democratic ideals for which our Nation gave not only so much money but so many thousands of human lives are preserved.
While the United Parents Associations strongly urges Federal aid to public schools, it believes, that, as a matter of policy, such aid should be limited to schools of a completely public character.
Moreover, and aside from any issue of public policy, I submit that title II of S. 199 (Aiken bill), which provides for Federal aid to private schools, including parochial schools, is unconstitutional as violative of the first amendment. Section 6 (B) of S. 472 (Taft bill) suffers from the same infirmity insofar as it permits the use of Federal funds for parochial schools in those States which now render financial assistance to such schools.
In his able dissenting opinion in Everson v. Board of Education (New Jersey parochial school bus case), Mr. Justice Rutledge, speaking for himself, analyzed in detail and with great scholarship the history of the struggle for the separation of church and state in our country, beginning with Madison and Jefferson and continuing down to the present day. Mr. Justice Rutledge pointed out, without any contradiction from the Court's majority, that
"The (first) amendment's purpose * * * was to create a complete and permanent separation of the spheres of religious activity and civil authority by comprehensively forbidding every form of public aid or support for religion.
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11* * * The prohibition broadly forbids State support, financial or other, of religion in any guise, form or degree. It outlaws all use of public funds for religious purposes.'
Discussing the historic memorial and remonstrance against religious assessments of Madison, who was also the author of the first amendment, Mr. Justice Rutledge said:
"In no phase was he more unrelentingly absolute than in opposing State support or aid by taxation. Not even 'three pence' contribution was thus to be exacted from any citizen for such a purpose. Remonstrance, paragraph 3 * * * Madison and his coworkers made no exceptions or abridgements to the complete separation they created. Their objection was not to small tithes. It was to any tithes whatsoever. 'If it were lawful to impose a small tax for religion the admission would pave the way for oppressive levies.' Not the amount but 'the principle of assessment was wrong.' And the principle was as much to prevent 'the interference of law in religion' as to restrain religious intervention in political matters.
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"In view of this history no further proof is needed that the amendment forbids any appropriation, large or small, from public funds, to aid or support any and all religious exercises."
Mr. Justice Jackson, in his separate dissenting opinion, stated very clearly and emphatically:
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"I agree that this Court has left, and always should leave to each State, great latitude in deciding for itself, in the light of its own conditions, what shall be public purposes in its scheme of things. But it cannot make public business of religious worship or instruction, or of attendance at religious institutions of any character. There is no answer to the proposition more fully expounded by Mr. Justice Rutledge that the effect of the religious freedom amendment to our Constitution was to take every form of propogation of religion out of the realm of things which could directly or indirectly be made public business and thereby be supported in whole or in part at taxpayers' expense. That is a difference which. the Constitution sets up between religion and almost every other subject matter of legislation, a difference which goes to the very root of religious freedom. * * *
66* * * Religious teaching cannot be a private affair when the State seeks to impose regulations which infringe on it indirectly, and a public affair when it comes to taxing citizens of one faith to aid another, or those of no faith at all. * * * If the State may aid these religious schools, it may therefore regulate them. Many groups have sought aid from tax funds only to find that it carried political controls with it."
Lest it be said that I have been relying solely upon the dissenting opinions of the Supreme Court, I turn now to the Court's majority opinion in the same case. The Court said:
"The first amendment has erected a wall between church and State. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach."
The only reason why the Court, by a majority of one, upheld the expenditures in the New Jersey parochial school bus case was that there, in the Court's opinion: "The State contributes no money to the schools. It does not support them. Its legislation, as applied, does no more than provide a general program to help parents get their children, regardless of their religion, safely and expeditiously to and from accredited schools." [Italics supplied.]
Whether the Court's majority or minority was correct in their respective views as to the effect of the public expenditures in that case is unimportant here. should be noted in passing, however, that the closeness of the division in the Court and the vigor of the dissenting opinions raise grave doubts as to whether the majority's view that it is constitutional for public funds to be used for the payment of transportation of children to and from parochial schools will stand. Arthur Krock said, in the New York Times for February 11, 1947, in discussing this decision: "The vigor with which four Justices of the Supreme Court today dissented from the legal reasoning, historical interpretation and final conclusion of the other five in the New Jersey case concerning publicly paid transportation of children to Catholic parochial schools suggests that * * * this is only the beginning of a grave judicial controversy.")
What is directly relevant to the bills under consideration is the agreement of all the members of the Supreme Court that public funds may not, under the First Amendment, be contributed to, or used for the support of, parochial schools. Yet that is precisely. what title II of S. 199 proposes to do. Its sponsor, Senator Aiken, in explaining the bill, has said (Congressional Record, January 15, 1947):
"The bill proposes frankly to face the public-private-church-school issue through a plan which would authorize the use of tax moneys collected by the Federal Government from all the Nation's citizens to reimburse nonpublic, tax-exempt schools of noncollegiate grades for an important part of their expense of operation * * *. Such aid from tax sources would encourage the establishment of privately controlled schools of secondary grade or less."
And section 6 (B) of S. 472 would permit the same unconstitutional use of Federal tax moneys, on a more limited scale, "In any State in which funds derived from State or local revenues are disbursed to nonpublic educational institutions * * * ""
The theory has been advanced from time to time in support of public aid for parochial schools that the aid was given to the children rather than to the schools. That this theory is false has been clearly shown by Mr. Justice Rutledge in his dissenting opinion in the Everson case, supra, and by numerous courts that have passed upon the question. It is significant that the majority of the Court in the Everson case did not adopt this theory in justifying its decision. When this contention was advanced in New York to justify the action of a board of education in supplying, at public expense, nonreligious textbooks to parochial schools, it was stricken down by one of the highest courts in the State (Smith v. Donahue, 202 App. Div. 656, 195 N. Y. S. 715; 1922), which said:
66* * * The defendants say that books and supplies * * * are furnished * * * to the children attending the schools, and not to the schools. Even though we accept the statute as meaning that the books and supplies are to be furnished to the pupils, and not to the school, we think the act plainly comes within the prohibition of the Constitution; if not directly in aid of parochial schools, it certainly is indirect aid."
Similarly, when the New York State Legislature, during the war, appropriated moneys to the State war council for the "care of children whose parent or parents or other person or persons having care of such children and with whom they reside is or are engaged in war work," the question arose as to whether any part of these funds could be used for a child-care project operated in a denominational school. The State attorney general held (1943 Opinions (N. Y.) Atty. Gen. 118):
"It is my opinion that the maintenance of a child-care project in a parochial, talmud torah or religious school building, even though outside school hours, would be in direct violation of section 4 of article XI of the New York State Constitution. This is true whether the program is conducted by religious school or parochial authorities, private social agencies or public authorities.
"No public money may be used in aid or maintenance directly or indirectly of any religious instruction."
In the Everson case, the payments were made not to parochial schools, but to the parents of pupils attending such schools. Yet even there the majority of the Court said that the State's action "approaches the verge" of its constitutional power. The provisions of title II of S. 199 and section 6 (B) of S. 472 exceed the constitutional power of Congress because they definitely provide for payments of public moneys to parochial schools. Your committee should, therefore, strike these provisions from the bills.
In conclusion, I wish to urge upon you once more the great need for Federal aid to our public schools. Let us not be penny-wise and pound-foolish in gambling with the future. Federal expenditures now for education will pay dividends in the form of decreased appropriations in the future for combatting subversive activities, for penal institutions, for the curbing of juvenile delinquency and for various other social services. Á failure of our public educational system would undermine the very foundations upon which our American system of government rests. We simply cannot afford to let that happen.
UNITED PARENTS ASSOCIATIONS OF NEW YORK CITY, INC.,
Senator AIKEN. The next witness is Mrs. Stanley G. Cook, representing the National Congress of Parents and Teachers. We will be glad to hear you this morning, Mrs. Cook.
STATEMENT OF MRS. STANLEY G. COOK, LEGISLATION CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL CONGRESS OF PARENTS AND TEACHERS, INDIAN HEAD, MD.
Mrs. Cook. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate appearing here. I am a local member of the Parents and Teachers Association just 30 miles south of here at Indian Head, Md. Also, I have served as legislation chairman of the Maryland Congress of Parents and Teachers, as well as the National Congress of Parents and Teachers.
It was because of this particular question of Federal aid to education that I first became interested in the parent-teacher movement, when I found from my personal experience that there were inequalities of education which I had never dreamed of in my younger days when I went to public school, and I became interested in the parent-teacher movement because it was through this that I thought I might work more for the benefit of opportunity, especially in the State of Maryland, to which I moved some 18 years ago. I found when I came to the State with a 5-year old boy that the educational opportunities there were not as good as I had received in my native State of Ohio some 30 years previous. So I became immediately interested in this problem, and I am very happy to represent an organization which for many years has believed in Federal aid to education.
The National Congress of Parents and Teachers, an organization dedicated to the service of children and youth, has a membership of more than 4,000,000 men and women in 27,000 local associations in the 48 States, the District of Columbia, and Hawaii.
Concern for the children of America is the basis for our every action, the wellspring from which our best efforts continue to pour forth. Truly the parent-teacher organization is vitally interested in children their education, their health, and their need to become selfsupporting citizens of a great democracy. When these young people of ours take their places in the business, agricultural, industrial, and professional life of the Nation, we want them to be thoroughly prepared for their tasks. We want them to be law-abiding men and women of strong character and good morals whose contribution to civilization will be meaningful and inspiring. We want the security that comes from knowing we are rearing a generation of healthy, well-educated citizens.
We realize, of course, that each individual cannot be endowed with extraordinary physical stamina or superior mental acuteness. However, we believe that each person-the weak, the strong, the slow, the brilliant must be given all the healthful advantages that medical science can provide and all the education he is capable of absorbing. Then each in his own way may not only find his rightful niche in a democratic society but may, in turn, help to make that society more democratic.
Other nations, bidding for world leadership, are already working to broaden the bases of their educational structures. Great Britain has inaugurated an enlarged program for public education, which we understand will require 6 to 7 percent of its annual national income. At the same time it is said that Russia is planning to spend 17 to 20 percent of its national income on all phases of education.
Senator AIKEN. That includes adult education.