Page images
PDF
EPUB

in the wisdom and desirability of the plan generally followed in this country of a special levy for public-school purposes in the annual tax budget, the resulting revenue to be expended by the local school board for such kinds of education as the community demands.

Local resources are, therefore, upon the whole, insufficient for the desired expansion of vocational secondary education in the vocational lines that will provide training for thousands of young people in every State. For this reason the larger community, the State itself, must contribute to the expenditure. While this entering into partnership by the State is primarily to give financial aid and encouragement, it brings other advantages which are concerned with the general welfare of the State and individual in almost the same proportion as they are concerned with vocational education. It may well be borne in mind, however, that most effective results can be produced only when there is complete cooperation between the local community and the State, with the local community exercising its own initiative so far as may be possible. The following are the generally accepted reasons for aid by the State in establishing vocational education:

1. To encourage local communities to give specific vocational education as a new and needed kind of training, beneficial and desirable in the interest of the State as a whole.

2. To aid communities with their varying resources to provide effective vocational training.

3. To secure for the State the right to a reasonable participation or voice in the development of vocational education in the State.

4. To make it possible to secure a “State minimum of efficiency" in the conduct of vocational education.

5. To pay the just share of the State in a kind of education which, comparatively speaking, must be expensive, but which is of Statewide benefit.

6. To place upon the State a part of the cost of training “ mobile labor."

The welfare of the community means the welfare of the State, and the need and value of cooperation in the widest possible extension of the new education are self-evident.

The amount of aid to be given by the State is, of course, the allimportant consideration. It should be sufficient to induce local communities to get the work started and to justify reasonable voice by the State as the nonresident partner in the control and administration; but State aid should not be so much as to sacrifice local initiative and support, or that pride and interest which is characteristic of all people in the institutions that have grown out of their own planning and their own sacrifice. Up to this time the general method has been to let the local community furnish the plant and equipment and pay approximately one-half of the operating expenses. The town or city should be required to show a need for the school and its interest in it by building and equipping the plant and paying half of the operating expenses, the State paying the other half. Another way is for the State to pay two-thirds of the salaries of all the teachers employed in the work, whether in trade subjects, or technical subjects, or such academic subjects as may be needed to complete well-rounded courses. Two-thirds of the salaries of the teachers is assumed to amount to practically one-half of the operating expenses. Under this plan of payment the State board of control is relieved of the difficulty of auditing the complicated accounts of the local communities. About all that is necessary under this plan is for the local authorities to make affidavit at the end of the year that they have spent so much money for instruction, or for teachers' salaries. On recommendation of the State board, after the work of the school has been approved, the aid should follow.

Payments to local communities should not be made automatically, but only with the approval and recommendation of the proper State board of control for work actually accomplished. The State is a different entity from any or all of the communities within it. The money in its treasury does not belong to the cities and towns, but to the citizenship of the State as a whole, entirely irrespective of the local boundaries. It should be spent by the State, not for the benefit of the local community, but for the best interests of the whole Commonwealth. The State should give money to the town or city in payment for a definite service—that of providing a good school giving a good training for good citizenship and good workmanship. Any locality should be entitled to its share of this money, not automatically as a right, but only when it has rendered the service for which the State has, through its law, agreed to pay. The State board of control should not only be charged with the duty and responsibility of finding out for the State whether or not any school is meeting reasonable standards of efficiency, but it should also be authorized to distribute money to the local community only after and not before the work has been accomplished.

The better plans seems to be to approve the school program in advance. For example, a full program for the work of a school is drawn up by a local board, in consultation with the State board, and is approved by the State board before being put into effect. This enables the State more easily to set a standard and to follow it up in the actual conduct of the school. It strengthens the bond of cooperation and interdependence between the State and the community. Financial aid is not given, however, until the work has been done.

In passing upon a school, a State board should have the power to go over every feature of its work, including all such items as location, equipment, courses of study, method of instruction, qualifications of teachers, and expenditure of money. In many of the States this is secured by a provision in the law giving the State power to approve the school, but leaving the latter free to operate according to its own discretion.

State-aided vocational schools should be free to all the people of the State. If State funds are to be used for their support, these institutions should be open to every child in every part of the Commonwealth. Each school must, of course, adapt itself to local needs and conditions. There might be a school at one point for one industry and other schools at other places for various different industries. In order that every one in the State may have a chance to prepare for the wage-earning occupation which he wishes to follow, a system of exchange of pupils should be put into effect in order to meet the case of pupils nonresident in a given community. Provision should be made by a contribution from the community in which he attends school, amounting, of course, to one-half the real cost of training.

This can be accomplished in two ways: First, the community in which the pupil resides may pay the community in which the pupil attends school the full cost for tuition of the pupil and later receive reimbursement from the State to the amount of one-half the expenditure; second, the community in which the pupil resides may pay the community in which the pupil attends school one-half the cost of such attendance. It would appear that from the standpoint of vocational education the first plan is preferable, inasmuch as all financial dealings would be carried on between the State and the individual community rather than between different communities, and further, that partnership of the State in vocational education would be continued.

Such method of interchange of pupils between communities would limit or reduce the number of vocational schools in a State, and would tend to lessen the per capita cost of training pupils. The total cost in plant and equipment, and the running costs, to be divided between the communities and the State, would be reduced. Cooperation, supervision, and the maintenance of a desired standard would be more fully assured.

State aid for vocational education in towns and cities has a foundation in theory and practice. Industrial welfare demands it, and the results already worked out give promise of better things to come.

A matter of considerable interest to this new movement in education, and a possible item of cost to the public, is the training of teachers for the vocational schools. Persons drawn from the trades and having trade experience only must be given further training

a

[ocr errors]

in related subjects and in the principles of teaching. They will be slow to do this at their own expense and loss of time. Such special preparation must largely devolve upon normal schools and upon towns and cities and States in the conduct of particular groups or classes of these new recruits to the teaching force. Pay must be made attractive and the means of entering inexpensive. Fortunately it may be said that several States are already taking progressive steps in the training of such teachers. One of the most recent experiments along this line has been the attempt in Massachusetts to train teachers through evening instruction work to become instructors in the vocational schools of the State. Several classes of this kind were carried on in various centers of the State during the fall and winter of 1914–15. The results of this training will be seen in the work of the vocational schools in Massachusetts during the present and succeeding years. Hence, this may serve as a basis for future action in the training of teachers.

FEDERAL AID FOR THE STATES.

Federal aid is needed to provide the same stimulus to the States which the communities receive by State aid. The States in a sense are industrial and commercial unions competing in a friendly way with one another. The large argument in favor of national grants for practical education in the communities is that this Nation is an economic union. The markets of the world are open to the products of our industries, and therefore the National Government is interested in the industrial efficiency of every section of the country. If the Nation is to profit as a whole, then the Nation should provide the stimulus and support which would encourage the States to provide vocational education to increase the wealth.

The States are already burdened to their limit, in many cases, for general education. There are also great differences among the States in taxing ability. New York, for example, has eighteen times the per capita wealth of Nevada. The burden of establishing industrial schools will fall very heavily on two types of communities or States—the rural community with scattered population, and the industrial center whose population increases rapidly and whose taxes increase in greater proportion than does the amount of taxable property. The Southern States, as a rule, are poor and will have a hard problem.

The problem transcends State boundaries, and is distinctly a national one. “A man may be born in Indiana, trained as a worker in Massachusetts, and later spend his days as a machinist in Cali

1 The fundamental ideals involved in the training of teachers for vocational education were taken from the report of the commission previously referred to. Cf. pp. 75–76.

fornia.” 1

Twenty different States furnish the men for one construction concern in New York. This concern, again, does business in 12 different States. It is estimated that about 75 per cent of the workers in many cities were born and trained in other places than those in which they are working.2

The magnitude and importance of the subject as a national question is indicated by the fact that members of the Cabinet have interested themselves even to the extent of appearing before the commission on Federal aid favoring plans for national support. Hon. William C. Redfield, Secretary of the Department of Commerce, made an extended statement to the commission on May 8, 1914, in which he stated that he regarded the question of vocational education as being “the single, most serious subject affecting American life” which is under consideration to-day. He further stated that he believed that the problem is so large and covers so much ground that it should be dealt with by the greatest power in America. A statement was also made by Franklin B. Dyer, of Boston, April 30, 1914, to the effect that the stimulus which would come from Federal aid is a necessity in order to place squarely before the country at large the importance of vocational education, and further that there was no doubt that the Government could with propriety designate methods of expenditure of money raised

by it.

There is abundant precedent for national aid to the States for vocational education, from the Morrill Act of 1862 to the SmithLever Bill of 1913.

One hundred and thirty million acres of lands, all told, have been granted to the States for common-school development. The income from these grants has exceeded $600,000,000. This amount has been used largely for teachers' salaries. These grants have been largest in the West, because of the setting aside of land by the Government for school purposes in each new State as it came into the Union from the Northwest Territory.

Under plans proposed by the vocational education commission large sums of money may soon be devoted annually by the Government to industrial schools. These may be allotted for the salaries of teachers in industrial, including agricultural, subjects; in the training of teachers for industrial, agricultural, and household economics subjects.

The device of the national grants to local districts has been in operation in England for nearly a century. From this experience there have been developed certain principles which are of special significance to legislation involving both State and Federal aid in

1 See Rept. of U. S. Com. on Nat. Aid for Voc. Educ., pp. 32–34. 2 Rept. of U. S. Com. on Nat. Aid for Voc. Educ., App. I, p. 113, “Mobility of Labor.”

« PreviousContinue »