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During the past school year these students earned over $125,000. In these days of the high cost of living explanation is unnecessary to show how this amount has been of great help in retaining high-school students in school. The cooperative course offers the solution of many of the perplexing problems in education, both vocational and cultural, and solves in part the problem of vocational guidance and placement.
A most interesting zone of educational expansion is that intended for children in employment still amenable to the compulsory-education law, and that for adults of various types, whether they be the men or women of foreign birth who feel the need of a knowledge of English speech and of institutional life to make them participating Americans, the men subject to the draft who wish to perfect themselves for admission to a technical branch of the service, or the men and women in industry, commerce, or municipal employment who wish to better themselves. Literally we provide for the waitress, the office boy, the salesgirl, the baker, the artisan, the shipbuilder, and at the present time also the enlisted man. They are taken care of in day continuation classes.
These day continuation classes may be groupt into six types:
Compulsory continuation classes require the attendance of working children who are non-graduates and less than sixteen years of age. During four hours per week these children receive instruction to insure general culture and either prevocational or vocational training, depending upon whether or not the pupils have found their vocation.
Industrial extension classes are practically classes for apprentices in the skilled trades. The subjects taught are shop mathematics, related English, mechanical drawing, and the mechanics of the industry. Thus 500 civilian apprentices are instructed in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and smaller groups have been organized in the shipyards about the New York harbor and in the yards of the Long Island and Baltimore and Ohio railroads.
Commercial extension classes have been organized in large commercial establishments and department stores for instruction in such subjects as stenography, typewriting, salesmanship, and merchandizing.
General improvement classes have been organized in department stores for junior employees less advanst than those in the preceding groups.
Improvement classes give instruction of secondary grades to students, such as civil-service employees, whose working hours enable them to have free time in the late afternoon which they desire to use for self-improvement.
Other classes aim to Americanize the large number of foreigners in our city, as well as to educate in institutional life the newly enfranchised women voters.
New York City is the great entry port for immigrants and the great melting-pot of the country. Because of its resident foreign groups, it is the largest Jewish city in the world, the second largest Italian city, and the third largest Russian city. Within our pupil population we include approximately sixty different nationalities, and therefore the problem of benevolent assimilation is essentially the work of our public-school system. The present war conditions, including the necessity of throttling German propaganda, have meant the extension and socialization of this work. During the term just closed the average number of such classes in the evening schools was 550. In addition there were approximately 60 classes organized in the day continuation schools.
In our evening schools there were organized about 60 classes for men subject to the draft call, who wisht to equip themselves for admission to technical branches of the service in such lines as machine-shop practice, electrical work, sheet, metal, and foundry work, radio and buzzer work, camouflage, aëroplane work, and automobile mechanics. At the present moment, in response to the request of the War Department, we are using one of our best-equipt vocational schools to train a contingent of 400 enlisted men in similar lines of work for service "over there."
I hold no brief for a type of education in which culture and utility are mutually exclusive. An educational program founded upon the LifeCareer Motive does not imply a scheme of gross utilitarianism. There is no divorce between labor and culture. In this materialistic age we must hold fast to our cultural heritage, but above all we must not fail to afford that equality of educational opportunity which is the fundamental thesis of democracy. Our ideal must be service rendered loyally and generously. There can be no conflict between the educational needs of our people and the demands of the government. To the extent that our school systems are responsive to and coextensive with the fondest hopes and the highest aspirations of our people, they constitute a bulwark against which no libertykilling militarism will ever prevail.
THE NATION AND THE CRISIS IN ITS SCHOOLS
JOSEPH SWAIN, CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL EDUCATION COMMITTEE ON SALARIES, TENURE, AND PENSIONS; PRESIDENT OF SWARTHMORE
COLLEGE, SWARTHMORE, PA.
THREATENED COLLAPSE OF PROFESSION
Apart from the prosecution of the war itself, there is no more urgent problem now before the American people than that created by the threatened collapse of the teaching profession. Collapse is an extreme word, but so is the emergency it describes. The drafting into other work of large numbers of the most capable teachers, the continual opening of new doors of opportunity to thousands of others, the utterly inadequate financial provision for the majority of the remainder—these are no longer matters for debate. They are facts. And they are facts ominous with disaster for the nation. If the American people cannot be made to see the situation and to supply an early and drastic remedy, we shall run the risk, even tho we win the war, of losing all that makes the war worth winning. Our schools are the spring and origin of our democracy. Of what avail will it be to spend our blood in defending the forms of democratic society, if the life that is to fill and energize them is lost? And if our schools suffer, it will be lost. It is futile to declare that this is a matter for the future. If the war has taught us anything, it ought to have taught us that the future becomes the present with fatal rapidity, and that failure to provide for that future in advance is criminal. Foresight, above all else, is what is wanted. The American people now have a supreme opportunity to exercise foresight in the matter of their schools. Will they exercise it? Or will they kill the goose that lays the golden eggs?
A WAR OF SCHOOLMASTERS
To the importance of technical education in those branches immediately connected with the prosecution of the war the country is awake. But this is not merely a war of chemistry and engineering, a war of technical knowledge pitted against technical knowledge; it is a war of cultures and ideals, of ideas pitted against ideas. In this sense it is literally a war of schoolmasters; and only the hope of victory in this latter struggle makes the sacrifices of the other conflict seem worth while. But to achieve that victory the ideas and ideals for which we stand must be kept pure and free-flowing at their source. For that deeper war behind the other is bound to go on long after the physical strife has ceast. Everywhere men make the capital mistake of supposing that the good or evil of this war is a thing that will be definitely settled the day victory is attained and the treaty of peace signed. There could not be a grosser error.
The upshot of this war for humanity, the final good or bad of it, is going to depend on what the nations do as a result of it, on whether it gets the better of the brain of humanity by stunning it, or whether the brain of humanity gets the better of it by understanding it. But this, in the main, lies with the will and the intellect of the next generation, and the will and the intellect of the next generation lie, in no small measure, in the keeping of the teachers of the present.
MARKEDLY SUPERIOR TEACHERS DEMANDED
It has become a truism that the Germany of today is the product of the German schoolmasters of yesterday. Just as certainly the America of tomorrow, perhaps the world of tomorrow, will be the product of the American teachers of today. What, then, if the American teaching force of today comes to consist of an inferior selection from our present teachers, supplemented by high-school girls of no experience, of no special training, of temporary tenure, and of only passing interest in their work!
America must not delude herself into believing that she can put her children into the hands of teachers of this type and yet expect them to turn out a generation of statesmen capable of grappling with the problems of what promises to be the most critical period in the social and political history of mankind. To achieve that result the teachers must be, on the contrary, not only not inferior, but markedly superior, the best that can be had, not merely in training and intellectual equipment, but in character, imagination, and social vision.
Yet at the present hour practically all forces are making in the direction, not of this desired superiority, but of markt inferiority. So strong is this tendency that it is possible to predict with accuracy what will happen to the teaching profession in America if some radical remedy is not soon applied. The teachers of the country will fall roughly into three classes, classes which were already being defined during the decade and a half of sharp rise in prices prior to 1914. The war merely accelerated enormously their formation.
POVERTY DETERIORATES THE PROFESSION
First, there will be what we may call the endowed class. This will be a small one and confined in the main to the higher branches of education. It will consist of a certain number of financially independent persons who will continue teaching because of the pleasure of the work, or the intellectual and social prestige flowing from connection with a college or university. However highly we may think of individuals within this group, the idea is repugnant to every democratic instinct we possess of having any part of our educational system pass under what would inevitably become a kind of upper-caste control.
Second, there will be what we may call the part-time class. This will consist of an immense number who will give only a share of their time and energy to teaching: who will teach, but who will not expect their teaching salary to support them. Few outside the profession have any idea how largely the teachers of the country already belong to this class, from the many who earn a few dollars on the side, to the few who frankly make their teaching incidental and double or treble their salaries by outside work. The effect of this state of affairs on the profession calls for no comment.
And then there will be a third class. For it there is no satisfactory name. Were the term not certain to be misunderstood, it might be called the sweated class. Perhaps the exploited class would be less open to objection. It will consist in part of teachers who, thru age, or poor health, or family responsibilities, or what not, will be able neither to leave the profession nor to add materially on the side to their teaching income, with the result that they will be compelled to take what is offered them and lower their standard of living accordingly. Such teachers will deserve nothing but sympathy. They will be slaves in outward condition but not in spirit. And much the same will be true of those teachers who, thru a mistaken sense of duty combined with an ignorance of political economy, remain at their desks when they could leave them. But it will not be true of those teachers who, with both power to do otherwise and knowledge of the consequences of their choice, accept a standard of living below the minimum of what makes genuinely human life, as distinguisht from mere living, possible. Such teachers will be slaves in spirit as well as in outward fact, and their action will degrade not only their own profession but the working world as a whole as certainly as child labor, or coolie labor, or convict labor, degrades it.
These, then, are the three classes. Is this country willing to have its schools, which it has long pointed to with pride as the source of its democracy pass into the hands of an endowed class, or of a part-time class, or of a slave class? If so, democracy in America deserves to perish. And it will perish.
THE REMEDY What, then, is the remedy?
There is just one remedy-tho there may seem to be two, owing to the two quite opposite ways thru which it may be attained.
But before coming to the remedy and the methods of attaining it, let us notice what, emphatically, is not the remedy. The remedy is not to raise teachers' salaries sporadically, here a little and there a little, 25 per cent in this enlightened city, 5 per cent in that benighted one, $500 a year in some industrially booming section, where teachers have grown scarce, $50 a year in some out-of-the-way corner of the land where supply and demand in teachers has not been perceptibly affected. “Supply and demand”—that goes to the heart of the matter. The critical situation of our schools will never be genuinely remedied so long as teachers' services are regarded as a commodity to be purchast at the cheapest obtainable rate in the open market. That on the whole is the present attitude toward the teacher. That attitude has got to end, or our democracy will end. The teacher must come to be taken for what he is: a public servant performing a task of unsurpast importance to the nation, and on that account just as fully entitled to adequate compensation, or its equivalent, as the soldier, the legislator, or the judge.
But this is simply a more roundabout way of saying that education is a national matter. The man who denies that at this hour of the day is not worth listening to. The man who denies that education is a national matter is capable of denying that our Army and Navy are national matters, of thinking that our states and towns and cities, left to themselves, could carry on the war. Which is not to imply for a moment that education is merely a national matter. May the time never come when the people in this locality or that lose control over the teaching of their own children. But the child is of concern to a wider region than the place in which he is born; and the wealth of a community is no measure of the promise of its