Page images

units of the greatest of all works, the uplifting of humanity and the betterment of mankind.

The rural school should and is making determined efforts to have the entire community look to it for the source of all community entertainment. The schoolhouse should countenance every reputable form of entertainment that will give a great uplift to its people. Citizens will not tolerate in a schoolhouse what they would allow without protest in another place. This coming together, this decidedly modern tendency is undoubtedly causing profound changes in the society of our rural American people; this coming together at evening entertainments of an educational as well as of a social nature induces the young people to expend their surplus energy in a becoming manner, makes society more democratic, and deals a deathblow to many secret dens of vice.

Social unity is the prerequisite of social regeneration, and the surest way to effect a social transformation is to realize the actual cooperation between the home and the school. In my opinion the Parent-Teachers Association has marvelously contributed to the educational and social unification of community spirit and welfare in the great and varied avenues of its service. It has brought about a closer relation between the home and school and has embraced different types of activities--educational, social, and civic.

The "teacherage" has contributed largely toward the expansion of community social and educational life in the rural school. The “teacherage" exerts that inviting and welcoming influence over the community that the old fashioned hard-fast-by-the-church manse did in days past. The very presence of the teacher's home on the school grounds invites and creates a community spirit for advanst social and economic measures, and incites and stimulates the desire for better schools.

We could not pass without giving due praise to the moving-picture machine for its generous share in the enlargement of the social-center movement of our rural schools. It has been truly said that the moving picture gives to all the opportunity to witness great events and to be conversant with all countries and all occupations. It is the most effective way of teaching geography, industry, history, much of literature, and much of science, and proves an educational institution to parent and child alike.

The opportunities and demands for service which these times of worldwar bring to the door of the schools of our country constitute a burning challenge which must be met. Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children have been converted to a belief in service. War has taught us to cooperate. We have workt together zealously in conserving food and fuel, knitting socks for the sailors, knitting sweaters and packing kits for soldiers, buying Liberty Bonds for humanity's sake. Indeed we see stampt upon the heart of every true American citizen the great, wonderful Red Cross. Those of us behind the lines must cooperate to the point of sacrifice to reclaim the wounded and fallen, care for those who continue in service, and prepare those in our keeping for an enlightened intellectual reconstruction when this world-conflict has ended. Indeed we are just learning our first wonderful lesson in community interest. While I supervise schools, attend office duties, consolidate districts, erect new schoolhouses, repair old schoolhouses, urge better school and playground equipment, yet I believe the most truly uplifting, elevating, and far-reaching work is the community-center work for the rural schools.

Permit me to leave with you this: We have never before enjoyed so splendid an opportunity to perform a lasting service as the one now presenting itself to us and that is the social-center work of the rural schools, which are the greatest socializing and Americanizing agency in the country today.





Someone has said that there are three essentials to carrying on war. The first is money, the second is money, and the third is still more money. However widely the problems of our respective school systems may differ, we all have one common problem which at this time is especially difficult, namely, that of adequately meeting our current needs and making provision for the expansion which the growth of our cities makes imperative. The American people have too long prided themselves on an imaginary generosity toward education. Education has been largely a local matter, and there is scarcely a city in the United States today where the schoolhouses are able adequately to accommodate the enrolment. In those states where funds for the encouragement of education are administered thru state agencies there is a constant conflict being waged to keep the school funds intact and free from the greedy clutches of political agencies which desire to use the money for other purposes. The national government has spent little money in the encouragement of education. The Smith-Hughes bill is the first act of our national government under which financial assistance is given to the cause of education, and while I say "Three cheers for the bill, and all honor to the men who persuaded Congress to take this first magnificent forward step,” the money which will ultimately be spent under the provisions of the bill is pitifully small compared with the sums spent by the federal government for other and less important purposes. nation that pays its school teachers an average wage less than that paid the street sweepers of New York City can hardly be said to have an exaggerated appreciation of the value of the teachers' services.

Nearly every one of us here today is faced with the problem of securing sufficient money to operate efficiently those activities which already have been undertaken. But our systems must expand our cities are growing and we are constantly askt to enlarge the scope of the school's activities. This war has clearly demonstrated that in certain particulars our school systems are lamentably inadequate. It has shown, for instance, how much needs to be done for physical education. It has demonstrated that the education of the foreigner must have in the future a much larger share of our attention. It has proved beyond the peradventure of a doubt that vocational education must be undertaken in our cities, not as a basement annex or side-show addition, but as an integral part of our educational policy. Most of us undoubtedly appreciate the necessity of meeting these and other responsibilities, but when the cost of operating our school systems as they now stand shows a percentage of increase more than twice as large as the increase in the source of revenue it may well give pause to all those who have charge, either professionally or financially, of American public schools. Personally I believe that inasmuch as education has clearly come to be vested with a national interest the federal government should liberally subsidize our local communities in meeting some of these educational problems. It is my profound conviction that if the federal government had spent on physical and vocational education in the last ten years only a small percentage of what it has wasted on useless river and harbor improvements we should not now be in the situation in which we find ourselves. If the federal government twenty-five years ago had begun to spend on the education of the adult foreigner only 1 per cent of the money which it has spent in superfluous and extravagant post-office buildings we should never have been faced with the problem of the “Hun within our gates." I believe it is unfair to ask local communities to bear the entire burden of a problem which is state and national. Be that as it may, as Grover Cleveland said, “We are confronted with a condition, and not a theory.” The problem with which we are faced is that of adequately financing, out of local taxation, the operation of the public schools. The public schools in any community constitute a large business corporation in which the people are the stockholders. It is our duty as superintendents to explain to these stockholders why the cost of public education is constantly increasing. And the discharge of this very duty constitutes a large problem in itself. The printing of annual reports has practically no effect on public sentiment. Educating the public to the financial needs of the school is a herculean task. It is a task which ought to be undertaken only when we can accompany a statement of our needs with a constructive, definite program of how we propose to spend the additional money which the public is askt to contribute.

This program has been prepared with the idea of discussing these various problems in a series of short addresses. It is hoped that the meeting may become a clearing-house of helpful and constructive suggestions so that we may all take back to our respective cities something which will assist us in meeting our local problems.



JOHN D. SHOOP, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, CHICAGO, ILL. In a brief discussion of the question of public-school revenues as they affect the educational interests of the larger cities we can touch upon only one or two phases of current conditions which may indicate the trend and scope of the movements that are in advance of adequate financial provisions.

The added expense incident to a richer and more comprehensive curriculum, the shifting of phases of training from the home to the school, the larger equipment which the principles and methods of modern realistic education demand, the improved physical conditions which are necessary for the conservation of the health of the children, and the maintenance of supplementary, corrective, and special schools combine to augment the outlay necessary for the maintenance of a modern educational system.

Again we have not yet compast the field which public judgment is including within the domain of education. There are earnest and persistent calls for a wider range of the activities of public instruction. The flocking of our immigrant population into neighborhoods so defined and isolated that the language, customs, and traditions of the parent country are preserved for at least a generation, creates a condition that must enlarge the mission of education, and calls for remedial agencies that will keep the fires burning beneath the melting-pot until our motto, “E Pluribus Unum," which had its origin in a necessity for political union, shall be alike applicable in the discovery of the social common denominator that will make possible a closer and more complete blending of all social elements now characterized by racial distinctions.

Adult schools must lend their influence and opportunities to the task. The end must be a common language-the forerunner and basal factor of a homogeneous citizenship. We turn to biblical lore for the time-honored illustration of the helplessness of the builders when there was confusion among the workmen. The same results must follow with greater certainty when the structure is that of the state instead of the tower whose materials are the baser elements. American security is conditioned upon the solidarity of American citizenship, which in turn must look to the field of education for the development of the social process that is to assemble the whole in ideal and balanst relations. This end will not be attained until the intelligence, the hopes, the aspirations, and the emotions of the people find expression in a language common to all, the language of the American court, which, interpreted in terms of democracy, means the common people.

The educational responsibility of the centers of population of our country is increasing with a rapidity that challenges the genius of those whose mission it is to maintain the economic poise of the social order. The necessity for the modification of the ratio of urban to rural population must appeal in seriousness and in significance to the educator as well as to the economist. The cry of "Back to the soil" is born of necessity rather than of sentiment. The test of the extraordinary conditions into which the war of the nations has carried us indicates only too plainly the inadequacy of the reserve in our supply of common necessities. The unbalanst condition is not to be explained alone by the demands of war. The full dinner pail is no longer a political slogan. Cold, stubborn facts which indicate in statistical columns a disturbance of the equilibrium of production and consumption speak eloquently and convincingly of our economic situation. The remedy is not to be found in legislation. The diagnosis must be placed in the hands of the educator, whose business it is to provide the remedy. The problem is no longer peculiar to rural schools. The city must shoulder its responsibility. The antidote for the gregarious instinct out of which has grown the over-population of the urban center is the inoculation of the city boy with the agricultural germ. Our departments of vocational guidance, when intelligently organized, will discover among the throngs of those who are seeking advice as to a life-calling thousands who by natural inclination would find their happiest employment in the activities of rural life. The coming years will witness the introduction of agricultural courses in our city schools, and the public will not fail to provide for their support.

The advent of international strife and the entering of the American nation into this world-wide controversy are reacting forcibly on educational thought, and today we are scanning the horizon for the first gleam of intelligence that will throw its light upon the path of duty. To those whose keener vision penetrates the cloud of battle a subsequent field of conflict is revealed. When the dove of peace once more hovers over the ensigns of the militant forces of the world it will witness again the alignment of nations in battles for supremacy in the markets of the world. The future of our country as it relates to her industrial and commercial interests will be cast in the balance whose poise and counterpoise will be determined by the contribution which education may offer to the process of preparation. Lack of preparedness for that new era in the history of the world would indeed be a national calamity.

It is the business of education to map out the roadway for training toward that technical skill and higher constructive efficiency that will arm our human power for future service. It is the business of eduon toatic

« PreviousContinue »