Page images
PDF
EPUB

NEW EDUCATIONAL POLICIES.

As an expression of educational policy, the new act embodies some important departures from previous legislation. It makes provision for the training within the schools of a large group of our population unreached directly by the Federal Government. On the other hand, by offering instruction along vocational lines and of subcollegiate grade, it supplements the Morrill Act, the expressed purpose of which is to maintain colleges “to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts * * * *n order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life.” On the other hand, since it contemplates a system of training in the schools, it also supplements the Agricultural Extension Act of 1914, in which the service provided is “the giving of instruction and practical demonstrations in agriculture and home economics to persons not attending or resident in State colleges in the several communities.” Since it imposes definite requirements as to the training of teachers, it also represents a material extension of authority over the purely permissive provisions of the Nelson amendment of 1907. The Smith-Hughes Act creates a Federal Board for Vocational Education. This board consists of seven members, including the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, and Labor, and the United States Commissioner of Education, ex officio, with three members appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, ultimately for a term of three years each. One of the appointed members is a representative of the manufacturing and commercial interests, one of the agricultural interests, and the third of those of labor. The board selects its own chairman each year. The Federal board is charged with the administration of the act. the details as to the care of funds, the certifying of the States, etc., in general plan resembling the legislation for the agricultural colleges and experiment stations. In addition it is empowered to make, or have made, investigations and reports to aid the States in the establishment of vocational schools and classes and in giving instruction in agriculture, and the trades and industries, commerce and commercial pursuits, and home economics. These studies include agriculture and agricultural processes and the requirements - upon agricultural workers, similar studies as regards the trades, industries, and commerce, home management, domestic science, and the study of related problems, and the principles and problems of administration of vocation schools and of courses of study and instruction in vocational subjects. In the discretion of the board, the studies concerning agriculture may be made in cooperation with or through the Department of Agriculture. Similar cooperative arrangements may

be made with the Departments of Labor and Commerce for industrial subjects, while the studies of the administration of vocational schools, curricula, and methods of instruction in vocational subjects may be taken up in cooperation with or through the Bureau of Education. An appropriation of $200,000 per annum, available from the date of passage of the act, is made to the board for its expenses.

STATE BOARDS FOR WOCATIONAL EDUCATION.

To cooperate with the Federal board in carrying out the act, each State when accepting its provisions is to designate a State board of at least three members. The State board of education or some board having charge of the administration of public education or of any kind of vocational education may be designated as the State board, or an entirely new board may be created. Of the 48 States, 35 have designated the State board of education or the State department of public instruction; 11 have designated a State board for vocational education or industrial education; 1 a State board of agriculture; and 1 a State high school board. The State board is to prepare plans for the approval of the Federal board, showing the details of the work for which it is expected to use the appropriations. These plans it is specified must show the kinds of vocational education contemplated, the kinds of schools and equipment, courses of study, methods of instruction, and the qualifications and the plans for the training of the teachers and agricultural supervisors. In all cases the work must be conducted under public supervision and control. The plans of expenditures for salaries in agricultural and industrial subjects must show that the controlling purpose of the education is to fit for useful employment, that the training is of less than college grade, and that it is designed to meet the needs of persons over 14 years of age who have entered upon or who are preparing to enter upon agricultural or industrial work. The Federal appropriations to the States are divided into three distinct groups, providing, respectively, for the payment of salaries of teachers, supervisors, or directors of agricultural subjects; for the payment of salaries of teachers of trade, home economics, and industrial subjects; for the preparing of teachers, supervisors, or directors of agricultural subjects, and of teachers of trade and industrial and home economics subjects. The main initial appropriation for salaries in agricultural subjects is $500,000. This is increased by $250,000 per annum during the next six years and then by $500,000 per annum during the next two years, making an appropriation of $3,000,000 for the fiscal year 1926 and annually thereafter. Like appropriations are made for salaries in industrial subjects. 112388°–19—2

The main appropriation for preparing teachers and supervisors is likewise $500,000 for the first year, but increases to $700,000 and $900,000, respectively, for the next two years, and then becomes $1,000,000 per annum thereafter. The Federal appropriations for teacher training must be divided among agricultural, trade and industrial, and home economics subjects, no one of these subjects being granted more than 60 nor less than 20 per cent of the State's allotment for any year.

The training of the teachers provided for will throw a very heavy burden of responsibility on our higher technical institutions and particularly the land-grant colleges. These institutions have been very successful in training technical experts who have contributed in large measure to the success of our industries. They have not as yet paid any large attention to the training of teachers for secondary schools of the strictly vocational type. The pedagogy of this class of education is yet in its preliminary stages. It evidently will not do simply to copy what has been worked out abroad. There is therefore great incentive for men of original thought and inventive skill to enter this comparatively new field of teacher training.

ACTION BY THE STATES.

Up to January 1, 1918, 48 States accepted the Smith-Hughes Act either by specific provisions of the legislatures or by acts of the governors and by that date the plans of the 48 States had been examined by the Federal Board for Vocational Education, approved, and the board had certified to the Secretary of the Treasury that these 8tates were entitled to receive the allotments for the year 1917–18, apportioned by the terms of the act. Federally aided vocational courses have been set up in agriculture in 41 States, in trade and industrial subjects in 32 States, and in home economics in 29 States: 22 States have organized courses in each of these three fields; in 46 States teacher-training courses have been organized. The record of the States in this work is impressive, especially when it is borne in mind that the record covers an initial period of only 10 months. In Massachusetts, for example, vocational agriculture is taught in 19 secondary schools with Federal aid : trade and industrial subjects, in 36 schools; and home economics, in 29 schools. In New York the number of Federal-aided secondary schools is 4, of agriculture, 60, and for trades and industries, 40; in Pennsylvania, for agriculture, 38; for trades and industries, 131; and for home economics, 69; in California, for agriculture, 12, for trades and industries, 14, and for home economics, 14; in Indiana, for agriculture, 37, and for trades and industries, 21; in Mississippi, for agriculture,

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

w

34, for trades and industries, 1, and for home economics, 3. These States are illustrations of the widespread development of secondary vocational education.

The chief handicap in the promotion or introduction of vocational instruction was the lack of qualified teachers. This was due largely to the war emergency, many of the teachers being drafted or volunteering for service in the Army.

The SMITH-SEARS ACT.

In June, 1918, Congress passed the Smith-Sears Act, providing for the vocational rehabilitation and return to civil life of disabled persons discharged from the military or naval forces of the United States. The act delegates to the Federal Board for Vocational Education the responsibility of reeducating the disabled men in some useful employment, after their discharge from the Army or Navy, and provides for a plan of cooperation between the board and the Surgeon General's Office, covering the work done in hospitals, in order that the men may have the advantage of a continuous and coordinated plan.

It is provided that there shall be full and complete cooperation of the several Government offices concerned with the future welfare of men discharged from the Army and Navy, including the medical and surgical services of the War Department and the Navy Department, the Bureau of War Risk Insurance in the Treasury, and the labor exchanges in the Department of Labor, and the Federal board. Each will render service in retraining and returning to civil employment men disabled in the war.

The Federal board will act in an advisory capacity in providing vocational training for men during their convalescence in the military hospitals, before their discharge from the Army and Navy, and will continue such training to finality after discharge, as the civilian agency for rehabilitation and placement in industry.

THE STUDENTS’ ARMY TRAINING CORPS.

The Students' Army Training Corps represents a unique educational undertaking on the part of the Government. The work was under the direction of the Committee on Education and Special Training of the War Department. A circular of information issued by the committee stated the purpose in view as follows:

The primary purpose of the Students' Army Training Corps is to utilize the executive and teaching personnel and the physical equipment of the educational institutions to assist in the training of our new armies. Its aim is to train officer-candidates and technical experts of all kinds to meet the needs of the service. This training is conducted in about 550 colleges, universities, professional, technical, and trade schools of the country.

The corps was divided into two sections—the collegiate or “A” section and the vocational or “B” section. Of these the former is discussed elsewhere in this report under higher education. Concerning the latter, it is to be noted that the experience of three years of war in Europe demonstrated the need of large numbers of skilled mechanics and technicians of many kinds. When the United States entered the war, therefore, and undertook the organization of an army, it soon became apparent that a plan must be devised to train mechanics quickly and in large numbers. To accomplish this result the War Department did not depend on the establishment of new schools, but utilized existing institutions which had the necessary facilities. The men, in uniform, were assigned to institutions in units of 200 to 2,000, where they were housed and fed under military discipline for periods of two months each. Military drill and industrial instruction, including shop practice, were provided in an intensive form as the regular daily routine. The initial assignments of men began work on April 1, 1918. Some idea of the magnitude of the undertaking is conveyed by the announcement that on August 1, 1918, there were 52,025 soldiers under instruction, in 35 different trades or occupations, in 144 institutions, located in 46 States and the District of Columbia. It was estimated that by the close of the fiscal year, June 30, 1919, if the plans had been carried out, more than 300,000 men would have received instruction in these courses, suslicient to make them definitely serviceable in some mechanical or technical duty in addition to their training as soldiers.

EFFECT ON Ei) U.C.ATIONAL SYSTEM.

Without question the work of the Section B units of the Students’ Army Training Corps will prove to have been the most significant experiment in vocational education thus far undertaken under a democratic form of government. It is too soon to appraise the results in full, but as soon as adequate reports are available, educators, and especially students of industrial education, are urged to examine them with the greatest care. It is believed that our public-school system may with profit learn a number of valuable lessons from the experience of these Army training units.

Tn this connection it is possible to refer briefly to two points only, but these will serve to suggest others that will develop later: (1) The experience of the Army training units seems to demonstrate the futility of short shop periods; that is, shop periods too short for the student to see work processes in complete wholes. The amount of ground that can be covered in a short course, eight weeks in length, consisting of daily periods of six or seven hours in shop, drafting room, or laboratory, proved to be greatly in excess of all expectations.

« PreviousContinue »