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A Petition for a Department of Education
To the President of the United States:
On behalf of our respective organizations we earnestly pray that in the reorganization of the Executive Departments of the Government, education be given recognition commensurate with its supreme importance to the Nation. The purpose of public education is to develop good citizens. Since the citizenship of our Nation is but the aggregate citizenship of the States, the Nation is and always must be vitally interested in education.
If the Federal Government is to perform its proper function in the promotion of education, the department at Washington must be given such dignity and prominence as will command the respect of the public and merit the confidence of the educational forces of the country. The educational leader of the Nation should hold an outstanding position, with powers and responsibilities clearly defined, subordinate to no one except the President.
In view of the reorganization now pending, the present is a most opportune time for giving education its proper place in the Administrative Branch of the Government. On behalf of the National organizations which we represent, each of which has officially taken action in accordance with the prayer of this petition, we respectfully urge that the President of the United States use his great influence to bring about the creation of a Department of Education with a Secretary in the Cabinet.
Respectfully submitted, Care Cmena Williams Alari Amen Amics ( Mie Sonne G.)
Smiir Mus Thomas
President of the National Foucation Association
President of the General Federation of Women's Clubs
Presign of the National mitte Hors Department of Education
President of the National Society of the payghers of the American
Pretdent five American ederatich of door
President of the National Congress of Mothers and Parent-Teacher
Miss Pese Brenner
African H Parker
Director of the Amencan Council on Education
President of the National Council of Jewish Women
fresident of the American
President of the Woman's Relief Corps
President of the National Federation of Musical Clubs
President of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union
Sovereign Grand Colamander of the Supreme Council, Scottish Rite
of Freemasonry, Southern jurisdiction of the United States
Chairman of the Committee on Education of the Sunday School Coun
cil of Evangelical Denominations and the International Sunday School Association
HE National Education Associa
carried through to a successful issue, will tion is a professional organization.
constitute the greatest single achieveIts fundamental purpose as set
The platform properly begins with ment in the history of American educaforth in its Charter is to elevate the char- the most vital element in a system of tion. It will involve among other things acter and advance the interests of the education—the teacher. It recognizes an almost complete reversal of the attiprofession of teaching and to promote the serious obstacle that immature, tran-, tude that the public has hitherto taken the cause of education in the United sient, and untrained teachers place across toward the work of teaching. From an States.] This is more than a mere senti- the path of educational progress. It is occupation now almost universally rement; it is a pledge and a promise to the the conviction of the Association that garded as temporary and casual, the people of the United States from whose this problem cannot be met by half-way actual work of teaching boys and girls Representatives in Congress the Associa- methods. The teaching profession itself must in the future offer the recognition accepted its
tions and rewards Charter. As a pro
that mark an occufessional organizaPlatform of the National Education Association
pation as constitution the Association
ting a real career. 1. A competent, well-trained teacher in hearty accord with American
For those who wish will do most for its ideals, in every public-school position in the United States.
to make classroom own members when
2. Increased facilities for the training of teachers, and such inducements it does most for the to enter the teaching profession as will attract men and women of the
service an 'ultimate highest character and ability to this important field of public service.
job, giving to its cause in which their services are enlisted.
3. Such an awakening of the people to a realization of the importance problems the same
and value of education as will elevate the profession of teaching to a higher absorbed and lifeIt will do most for plane in public esteem and insure just compensation, social recognition, and its members and permanent tenure on the basis of efficient service.
long study that the most for the cause 4. Continued and thorough investigation of educational problems as the
physician, the law. basis for revised educational standards and methods, to the end that the yer, the engineer, of education when it schools may attain greater efficiency and make the largest possible contribu
and the business directs its energies tion to public welfare. toward raising the
are proud to 5. The establishment of a Department of Education with a Secretary in standards that deter- the President's Cabinet, and federal aid to encourage and assist the States
give to their daily in the promotion of education, with the expressed provision that the man- work, there must be mine who shall be agement of the public schools shall remain exclusively under State control.
sanctions and compermitted to teach ; 6. The unification and federation of the educational forces of the country
pensations that are when it recognizes in one great professional organization devoted to the advancement of the meritorious work teaching profession, and, through education, the promotion of the highest comparable with
welfare of the Nation. To'accomplish this purpose every teacher should be those that accrue to wherever found and
a member of a local teachers' organization, a State teachers' association, and demands that such the National Education Association.
and successful effort work be fittingly re
7. Active assistance to State and local affiliated associations in securing warded; when it
needed legislation and in promoting the interests of such associations and in other callings.
the welfare of their members in accordance with the Charter and By-laws condemns those
It is with no selfof this Association. within its own ranks
ish or insincere mo8. Equal salaries for equal service to all teachers of equivalent training, who betray their
experience and success; and the promotion of sympathetic cooperation be- tives that the Asso
tween school authorities and teachers by utilizing under recognized authority high trust; when it and responsible leadership suggestions and advice based upon classroom
ciation has set up demonstrates to the experience.
this goal. It is not public that the men 9. Cooperation with other organizations and with men and women of
for individual profit and women engaged
intelligence and vision everywhere who recognize that only through educa- that the members of
tion can be solved many of the serious problems confronting our Nation. in the public-school
this grcrippledge 10. The National Education Association is committed to a program of service would make
themselves to adservice-service to the teachers, service to the profession, service to the that service clean, Nation. Its supreme purpose is the welfare of the childhood of America. vance the status of efficient, and de
the teacher. It is pendable.
rather because the Consistent with these ideals, the plat- will be satisfied with nothing short of a prevailing low status has prevented and form that appears in outline form on this competent and well-trained teacher for still prevents thousands of capable men page has been officially adopted as ex- every classroom in the land.
and women from entering the service. pressing, briefly but faithfully the col- How far we must travel to attain The work that should be done by the lective judgment and the collective will this goal and the successive steps that very ablest talent that the country proof the Association as embodied in its should be taken will be the theme of duces is, in consequence, turned over in resolutions. It is the purpose of the subsequent discussions in these columns. large part to persons who are far too present article to consider the more im- It is sufficient here to acknowledge that immature to grasp its significance. The portant implications of this program as the goal will be hard to reach. For this work that calls for the highest type of a whole. Succeeding articles will treat reason, if for no other, the task which preliminary preparation if it is to be in turn each of the detailed proposals. the profession has set for itself, when done well is all too frequently delegated
to teachers who have themselves but the teachers a standard of preliminary train- iiv, but it may remain undetected for barest minimum of substantial education. ing inferior to that demanded of pros- months or for years. To the prelimiThe work that can be done best by those pective lawyers, physicians, and engineers nary preparation of teachers the public who have mastered difficult art is to belittle the public-school service and must look for protection against this through years of studious effort is in- . to leave its responsible posts open to men danger. trusted to successive levies of, raw and women of inferior ability. Young
people of the caliber needed in the work That all this is unjust to the small of teaching are intelligent enough to If our professional schools of teachproportion of teachers who spend their measure the worth of a service by the ing are to attract students in suffilives in the service is not the point at price that one must pay in terms of pre- cient numbers and if they are to keep issue in the earnesť desire of the Asso- liminary training for the privilege of them sufficiently long to insure a proper ciation to correct these grave defects. admission.
preparation, it is clear that the service The emphasis is clearly and unequivo- But the need of increased facilities itself must have a higher—a more honcally upon the injustice that the and advanced standards for the prepara- ored-place in public esteem. Good pay Nation's children suffer from this short- tion of teachers strikes far more deeply for competent teachers is the first need. sighted policy and upon the reduction than this. Low standards of prepara- but it is not the only need. Methods of the Nation's strength by the failure
must be devised for discovering excepto realize through competent instruc
tional merit and for recognizing highly tion, training, and inspiration the pos
efficient service wherever in the school sibilities that these children represent.
every child a good home, a de
system that merit may be found or that Society cannot insure to every child a
voted and intelligent mother, and a
service rendered. good home, a devoted and intelligent
wise and provident father; but so
Men and women of the type that the mother, and a wise and provident
ciety can insure to every child a
schools urgently need are the men and father; but society can insure to every
good school and competent
women who look beyond material rechild a good school and a competent
teacher. This is by all odds the
wards. They crave—and they crave teacher. This is by all odds the most
most direct and effective channel
justly—the recognition that successful direct and effective channel through
through which the forces of social
effort brings in other callings. The which the forces of social control can
control can operate. To provide
names of the most successful practitionoperate. To provide these advantages is
these advantages is by all odds the
ers in law and in medicine are widely by all odds the most serious of social ob
most serious of social obligations.
known. Unusual achievement in the
. ligations. Furthermore, by making such
Furthermore, by making such pro
commercial and industrial fields brings provisions now, the proportion of good
visions now, the proportion of good
a measure of renown that overtops in homes and wise and provident parents
homes and wise and provident
its attractiveness even the high financial will be vastly increased in succeeding
parents will be vastly increased in
rewards that go with it. The great art
Investgenerations. Investment at this point
ists, writers, actors, and musicians have will not only return large dividends in
ment at this point will not only
their appropriate recognitions. Even the immediate future; the interest will
return large dividends in the im
the preacher who suffers with the teacher be compounded at a rate unparalleled
mediate future; the interest will be
the misfortunes of a beggarly wage has by any conceivable form of material in
compounded at a rate unparalleled
possibilities of abundant compensation
by any conceivable form of matevestment.
in wide fame and acknowledged prestige. rial investment.
But of the seven hundred thousand II
classroom teachers in American schools, Basic to any effective plan for placing tion not only cheapen the service; they
not the seven hundred, not the seventya competent teacher in every public- oppose the most stubborn of all obstacles not even the seven—who are doing the school position is a far-reaching policy to educational progress. It is probably
best work are known to their own profor the preparation of teachers. The true that in no other profession does in- fession, let alone the public at large. Association recognizes this need in efficiency have the opportunity to live
'Fame' in the educational world atthe second 'plank of its platform. In- and to spread its baneful influence that taches not to superior teaching, but to creased facilities for the training of it has in teaching. The muddled lawyer
successful administration, writing, and teachers will mean not only more normal soon loses his clients. The bungling sur- research-and even the most successful schools and teachers' colleges, but the geon will not kill many patients before the teaching is more likely than not to draw extension and improvement of existing logic of hard facts forces him to conclude
logic of hard facts forces him to conclude the teacher away from his real work and. institutions. The instructional staffs that he has missed his calling. Even the
under the guise of 'promotion,' assign must be enlarged; the program of studies blundering engineer cannot build many
him to tasks that, important though enriched and expanded; and the require: bridges that "buckle and break” until they may be, require qualities less fine ments for admission and for graduation his last chance of getting another con
and less rare than those that highly exdecidedly advanced. The Association tract has been buried with the ruins. pert teaching involves. maintains with justice that the profes- In the efficiency of lawyers, phy- To change the false system of values sional schools of teaching should be sicians, and engineers the public, of by which teaching is now measured will placed on at least an equivalent footing course, has a vital interest; but its in- be far from an easy task. It means with the institutions that train recruits terest in the efficiency of its public-school
above all an 'awakening of the people' for the professions that have so far de- teachers is even more fundamental, for not only or primarily to the essential inveloped the highest standards of prep
here not only does inefficiency affect a justice of this system of values as it aration. To require from prospective wide circle of relatively helpless human- affects the teaching profession, but to
a realization of the fact that their chil- basic evil lies once more in the injustice dren are the chief sufferers.
that the people's children suffer because N the meantime, the public is the people themselves are unwilling to
making demands upon the IV
provide for the welfare of their offspring schools for results that are in many An effective plan for placing the type of scientific service that they
cases unattainable simply because every classroom a competent teacher provide for their crops, their cattle, and
the problems involved have not must also go hand in hand with an extheir hogs.
been subjected to a rigorous scientended and continuing program of edu- The establishment of the agricultural
tific analysis. Teachers are criticational investigation. Every art depends experiment stations through federal cized for their failure to work for its advancement upon scientific study subsidy thirty-five years ago was in
what, under the present conditions that aims to lay bare the principles lying many ways a 'leap in the dark’; but re
of our knowledge, would be nothback of its practice. The scientific sults have justified in a thousand ways
ing less than miracles. That the study of educational problems has the chances that the Nation took. To
prestige of the profession suffers passed the period of its infancy; it has promote the scientific study of impor
from this situation is again not the amply justified the efforts of its pioneers tant problems is no longer a leap in the
basic evil; that the money invested in the contributions that have already dark. Science is often slow in its proc
in schools fails to make the return been made to the understanding and im- esses, but it has a way of getting re- that it might make is not the most provement of educational processes. But sults in the end. The processes of edu- serious consequence of this neglect. what has been accomplished hitherto is at cation are vastly more complicated than The basic evil lies once more in best only an augury of the benefits that those of agriculture, more complicated the injustice that the people's chilwill come when this field of investiga- even than those of medicine. It is the
dren suffer because the people tion has become as well organized as difficult tasks that are always left to the themselves are unwilling to proare the fields of research in medicine, last.
vide for the welfare of their offengineering, and agriculture. At the But the time has clearly come for a
spring the type of scientific service present time nothing is being attempted measure of advancement in educational
that they provide for their crops, in educational investigation that is at all research that will rival the brilliant rec
their cattle, and their hogs. analogous in scope or efficiency with ord that agriculture and medicine have what a single endowed institution—the made in the past thirty years. The most Rockefeller Institute—has accomplished difficult pioneer work has been done. trially—that educational backwardness in medicine; and any comparison of edu- The methods have been refined and the in any single section, in any single State, cational research with the work of the field fairly well explored. It would be in any single community is a matter of tax-supported agricultural and engineer- most unfortunate if, with this start, the national concern—that every child is a ing experiment stations would be ridic
movement should not go forward as child of the Nation as well as a child ulous.
rapidly as the resources of this rich of the State and of the local community In the meantime, the public is making country will permit. The Association in which he may reside, and that the demands upon the schools for results stands pledged to do all in its power to Nation as a nation has an interest and that are in many cases unattainable promote this advancement.
a stake in his proper education. simply because the problems involved
The Smith-Towner bill has been have not been subjected to a rigorous
framed to meet the national need for scientific analysis. Teachers are criti- The program that has been dis- better schools and better teachers. Its cized for their failure to work what, cussed in the preceding paragraphs is provisions and its present status under the present conditions of our essentially a national program. It is fully discussed elsewhere in this Journal. knowledge, would be nothing less than true that it might be carried out bit by It is mentioned here as the most impormiracles. That the prestige of the pro- bit through the successive efforts of the tant step that has yet been undertaken fession suffers from this situation is States and the local communities. It is to make effective on a nation-wide scale again not the basic evil; that the money true, also, that a forward step even in the comprehensive program that the Asinvested in schools fails to make the re- the smallest or the most isolated school sociation has projected. turn that it might make is not the most may be a step forward for the Nation. When the bill has been written into serious consequence of this neglect. The But such fractional advances leave the law, a beginning will have been made
full solution of the problem not only toward the solution of the great probN the efficiency of lawyers,
years and decades but generations in the lem-a competent teacher for every pubphysicians, and engineers the
future. It should be remembered, too, lic-school position in the United States. public, of course, has a vital inter
that, while certain progressive com- But this will be only a beginning. The est; but its interest in the efficiency
munities are moving forward, others are program of the Association is larger of its public-school teachers is even
likely to stand still or even to move than the bill-larger than any form of more fundamental, for here not
back; hence the net result for the Nation legislation could possibly be. Its full only does inefficiency affect a wide may not be progress but retrogression. realization will depend upon something circle of relatively helpless human
The Association is convinced that the more fundamental than law; it will deity, but it may remain undetected Nation is neglecting at its own peril the pend upon the deep-lying motives that for months or for years.
serious problems presented by the pub- sway the hearts and minds of our peopreliminary preparation of teachers lic schools. It maintains that the Nation ple—their innate sense of justice and the public must look for protec- is itself an educational unit—that the fair play, their appreciation of real valtion against this danger.
States are as interdependent education- ues once these have been clearly demonally as they are commercially and indus- strated, their substantial idealism that