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GENERAL SESSIONS OF THE ASSOCIATION
ADDRESSES OF WELCOME
EDWARD VOSE 'BABCOCK, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH, PA.
As the Mayor of Pittsburgh it gives me great pleasure to welcome to our city the members of the National Education Association. The citizens of Pittsburgh deem themselves signally honored that you have chosen this city as your meeting-place in this fateful year in the history of our country and of the world.
You, Madame President, are the head of an organization which, representing the school system of America, is perhaps by this fact the most distinctly American body in the country. It stands at once as the creation and the hope of our democracy.
From the day of its experimental beginnings, thru the years during which it was gradually extended thruout every American commonwealth, the public school has grown steadily in its usefulness and in its capacity to serve the needs of the people of the nation. In the older commonwealths it necessarily displaced existing schools, among them the church schools of different denominations. Naturally there was opposition at first which had to be overcome. The school, however, so perfectly commended itself both to the good sense and to the patriotism of the citizen that in the progress of time he became quite willing to meet the larger expense of the extension of the system into the high school and in most of our commonwealths into and thru the university itself. The only problem now is more perfectly to adapt our system of public education to the needs of our Republic, so that it may better fit our young people for their duties as citizens, better equip them for the practical duties of life, and more thoroly train them to enter fields of scientific investigation and study. It is to discuss and gradually to solve such problems as these that you are gathering together in this great conference. Most heartily do I commend the purpose of your assembly and most sincerely do I express the hope that you may realize your highest expectations in this particular conference in this crisis of human affairs.
Never has the public school made such marvelous progress as in the most recent years. The people have been coming to a recognition of the fact that our public school is perhaps the greatest socializing institution in America, and that as such it is capable of rendering a service of untold value to society and to the state.
The teacher in the public school of America has come into his own and has demonstrated that he is capable, not only of working out and administering a system of public instruction, but of making that institution a most potent agent in its transforming power for the socialization and the Americanization of all classes of people, which is so essential to the wellbeing of our American life.
I congratulate you also, Madame President, upon the program which you and your associates have prepared for this meeting. It indicates that the leaders in our public school system are alive both to this present and to this future obligation. No one can take up the program of this great conference, with its fifty pages crowded with topics of national interest and national obligation, without being mightily imprest with both the brain power and the patriotic fervor of those who had a part in its preparation.
In this great city of busy industry and at this time of quickened activity and production, this Association has come to spend a week with us. Around you are social clubs, hotels, and churches, universities, parks, and high schools, a memorial hall, an armory, the temples of fraternities, and all the rest. Gathered here at this time are over two thousand enlisted men receiving their training for war service in the University of Pittsburgh and in the School of Technology. In these splendid edifices, in this beautiful civic center, it is possible for your great Association to assemble at the same moment twenty-five audiences in commodious auditoriums, seating four hundred and more people, and to do this with as little effort as a congregation might gather in its accustomed place of worship. We may be pardoned for this pride we have in our city and its institutions. Of none, however, are we more profoundly grateful than for our schools, our colleges, and our universities. We are delighted that you have chosen Pittsburgh as your meeting-place this year, and we trust that when you have completed your conference, with its rich and varied program, you may go away with as profound a feeling of gratitude that you came as we have in receiving you as our guests at this time.
SAMUEL HAMILTON, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS,
ALLEGHENY COUNTY, PA. You have just been welcomed to the city by his honor, the Mayor. In a few minutes you will receive a whole-souled welcome to the hearts, the homes, and the hospitality of the people of Pittsburgh by its distinguisht educational leader as the educational representative of the city. In like manner I deem it a great honor and a rare privilege to speak a word of welcome for the teachers of western Pennsylvania, and especially for the school people of Allegheny County, those working outside the confines of the city of Pittsburgh and yet within the limits of what Lincoln even sixty years ago called the “State of Allegheny.” You are the nation's leaders in educational thought and action, and on behalf of our teachers I extend to you a most hearty and cordial welcome.
In this part of the State of Allegheny there is a graded-school system including some 2500 schools with a school population of 85,000, and a rural school system of 400 schools with 16,000 pupils. This vast school population is organized in two cities, 70 other municipalities each with from 1,000 to 25,000 inhabitants, and 55 townships. These schools are under the supervision of two city superintendents, nine town superintendents, and a county superintendent with five assistants.
All of our schools stand loyally and enthusiastically back of every movement to win the war. We have almost 1000 war gardens this year, worth possibly $500,000; 85,000 of our pupils are members of the Junior Red Cross. In point of time the first food bulletin issued in the nation came from the domestic-art teachers of Allegheny County, mobilized in the interests of food conservation. More than 1500 of our high-school boys are now on farms under the direction of the United States Boys' Working Reserve. In the Liberty Loan campaigns our schools sold about three million of the bonds. Thousands of our boys have gone to fight on the Western Front. And while they fight and die to help hold the line, our schools are doing their part to show our people that every good citizen will either “go across or come across”—go across to fight or come across with the money or the effort that will help win the war.
Ninety per cent of our teachers have received normal, college, or university training, and, gathered as they are from many states and many counties, representing practically all the higher institutions of learning, they are probably unsurpast in scholarship, culture, zeal, efficiency, and skill by any body of teachers in the land.
It is an honor and a pleasure to represent such a group of teachers, and to bring to you their cordial greetings and warm-hearted felicitations. Your presence here is a pleasure and an inspiration to us, and I trust that your stay in the city will be as pleasant to you as it will be to us. As the inspiration of a great occasion lingers long after the event has become a matter of history, so the recollection of your presence and the inspiration, enthusiasm, and uplift growing out of it will remain long after you have taken your departure.
Our supreme faith is not in material things. Our people believe that intelligence is better than industry, that wisdom is better than wealth, that culture is better than cash, that manhood is better than money, that brains are better than boilers, and that minds are infinitely better than mills. Acting upon this faith, the State of Allegheny has invested more than fifteen million dollars in modern school plants, that the children, the greatest of all our assets, may have the best educational advantages the age affords.
Our people realize that material prosperity depends in the last analysis upon the school. Every mill; every shop, and every factory began with an idea. By thought and investigation that idea developt into a plan, and then thru mind-directed effort, due to intellectual and vocational training, it materialized into an actuality with physical form and physical characteristics. In point of time then, as well as of importance, the teacher precedes the engineer, the school precedes the shop, and the immaterial thought takes precedence over the material thing. The school, therefore, which develops the “clear-eyed man who knows” and “the thinker who drives things thru” stands back of the mill, the shop, the factory, and all superior industrial conditions.
The war-school program theme for this meeting is most fitting. The clock of the world's fate strikes twelve. Democracy is threatened. Civil liberty is in the balance. Civilization is in mourning. In such a crisis democracy may well ask, What can the school do? If public education is the deliberate effort of the state to make better citizens, it must act. If the free school in a republic is expected to function in patriotism as well as in general intelligence, it must offer some plan of action.
Again I greet you and bid you welcome! And on behalf of our teachers I express the hope that when you leave it will be with an intense desire to return.
RESPONSE TO ADDRESSES OF WELCOME
JOSEPHINE CORLISS PRESTON, STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC
INSTRUCTION, OLYMPIA, WASH.
I count it a great privilege and an honor to respond in the name of the National Education Association to these friends who have so kindly extended to us the courtesies and hospitality of this great city.
This royal welcome, which has been so ably voist by these three distinguisht men, bespeaks a welcome for us, not only from this city, but from this county and from the great "Keystone State” as well. The National Education Association is indebted to this state for many of its ablest members, conspicuous among them being its present chief executive. The state of Pennsylvania is to be congratulated on being able to secure the services of this distinguisht educator to guide the Ship of State through these perilous times.
At this moment when our eyes are fixt upon the scene “over there,” where the flower of our American manhood is paying the price of greater world-opportunity and world-freedom with precious life-blood, it is fitting that this great body of educators should meet for earnest deliberation in the city of Pittsburgh, the recognized “Armory of the Nation.” For one hundred and fifty years it has been regarded as a key in the transportation routes between the Atlantic seaboard and the great West. We recognize in Pittsburgh a great industrial center, a great civic center, and a great educational center.
We are here as the educators of a united nation to counsel together. We desire to be steadfast in our purpose to keep our schools uniformly moving forward in the line of true progress, even tho a great world-conflict is upon us. We are facing a great emergency in education. War demands the best. War is taking the best.
The Commission on the National Emergency in Education, the creation of which was inspired by our worthy President, has been at work on the problem of the readjustment of education during and after the war. The program which the commission has in mind will be presented at this meeting. Never was there so favorable an opportunity for removing the most significant handicaps under which public school education in this country has labored.
The attention of this great body will be focust this week upon the problems which this commission conceives to be the outstanding problems in education, in the solution of which the school men and women should take an unquestioned leadership. Briefly, the outstanding problems are these: (1) the preparation and supply of competent teachers for all types of public schools; (2) rural education; (3) health education, physical education, and wholesome education; (4) the reduction and early elimination of adult illiteracy; (5) the Americanization of the immigrant; (6) education for national service.
I stand before you as spokesman of a national organization which towers above others in the scope of its work and its opportunity for service.
The National Education Association, alert to the situation, hạs this year establisht permanent headquarters at Washington, D.C., the only place from which this national body can function properly. This new educational home of ours is a four-story residence located in close proximity to the buildings of the various embassies. The location of the home of the National Education Association in Washington makes it possible for the teaching profession to cooperate directly with the government in all educational matters.
The general program of this meeting is the outgrowth of war conditions as they have reacted upon our schools, and in this program an effort will be made by the speakers to show how the schools must of necessity react in turn upon national development in the present crisis. We are indebted to the government of three of the allied nations, England, Italy, and France, and to their respective education associations, for the messages which their representatives will bring to this meeting, and thru which we shall learn of the efforts which these three nations are making to solve our common problems in education.
This program expresses a conception of the need of international effort. This meeting occurring, as it does, in one of the most crucial years of the world's history, will undoubtedly prove to be one of the greatest meetings of this august body,