« PreviousContinue »
TO AMEND THE ACT FOR THE PROMOTION OF VOCATIONAL EDU
CATION IN RESPECT TO THE BOARD CREATED THEREBY.
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION,
Tuesday, January 27, 1920, The committee this day met, Hon. Simeon D. Fess (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Green has a matter here that he wants to present to the committee. We will be very glad to hear you, Mr. Green.
STATEMENT OF MR. WILLIAM R. GREEN, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IOWA.
Mr. GREEN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, while I regard this bill as of the very highest importance, I shall endeavor to be brief and accommodate myself to what I know to be the great requirements upon the time of the members of the committee.
The bill is as follows:
(H. R. 11724, Sixty-sixth Congress, second session.] A BILL To amend the act for the promotion of vocational education in respect to the
board created thereby.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the first paragraph of section 6 of the act to provide for the promotion of vocational education, approved February 23, 1917, is hereby amended to read as follows:
SEC. 6. That a Federal Board for Vocational Education is hereby created, to consist of the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Labor, the United States Commissioner of Education, and four citizens of the United States to be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. One of said four citizens shall be a representative of the manufacturing and commercial interests, one a representative of the agricultural interests, one à representative of labor, and one a representative of the Army and Navy of the United States who shall have had active service in the late war but is not at the time of the passage of this act connected with such Army or Navy. The board shall elect annually one of its members as chairman. In the first instance, one of the citizen members shall be appointed for one year, one for two years, and one for three years, and thereafter for three years each. The members of the board other than the members of the Cabinet and the United States Commissioner of Education shall receive a salary of $5,000 per annum.”
This bill, as you probably have observed from the abstract of it presented by the Legislative Reference Bureau, amends section 6 of the vocational education act by adding one member to the board, who shall be a representative of the Army and the Navy of the United States, who shall have had active service in the late war but 162602--20
TO AMEND ACT FOR PROMOTION OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION.
is not at the time of the passage of this act connected with such Army or Navy, the intention being to have a service man of the late war made a member of the board. I suppose
all the members of the committee understand that there is no department of our Government that has been the subject of more complaint, not to say criticism, than the Board of Vocational Education in its dealings with the service men of the late war, unless it is the War Risk Insurance Bureau. I endeavored for some time to find out whether these complaints were justified. I could not entirely satisfy myself as to just what was the source of the trouble. I did, however, abundantly satisfy myself that, so far as the effect of this act upon the service men is concerned, the results were not such as had been expected and anticipated by Congress, and, as it seemed to me, there ought to be a way of remedying this situation.
Mr. BANKHEAD. Let me ask you a question in that connection, Mr. Green. In what particular do you think it has been disappointing, as anticipated by Congress; with reference to the number of men who have taken the training, or the speed with which they were put into training, or the administratve functions of the board, or in what particular?
Mr. GREEN. In all three; and I will endeavor, as I go along, to give specific instances in this respect.
The board, as now constituted, consists, as the gentleman will remember, of the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Labor, the United States Commissioner of Education, and three citizens to be appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate. One of these three citizens shall be a representative of the manufacturing and commercial interests, one a representative of the agricultural interests, and one a representatve of labor. These last specfications, if I remember correctly, were not in the original bill as presented by this committee. I may be in error about that. If I am, I will be glad to be corrected. My recollection is that those specifications as to these three citizens being representatives of certain interests were inserted in the House.
The CHAIRMAN. No; you are wrong about that.
The CHAIRMAN. They were fought out originally in the commission—the Vocational Education Commission and the members of the commission were very anxious that these three representatives be written in the law. The President was not inclined to name them. I was on the commission, and I did not think they ought to be named. The idea of a representative of agriculture and a' representative of labor was all right, but to name them, I thought, was an error; and President Wilson thought that they had better be omitted, although these different interests should be represented when it came to naming the members on the board, so that it was not a change on the floor of the House.
Mr. GREEN. There was some discussion in the House with reference to it, and probably that is what has caused the confusion in my mind. I have forgotten the particulars.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes, it was very openly discussed.
Mr. GREEN. I know that a great many at the time were opposed to this provision. Just what view the committee originally took I can
not say. In all events, I will say for myself that it never seemed to me to be a proper method of making the appointments; that is, it never seemed to me to be proper that their qualifications should be fixed in that manner. It seems to me inevitable that when these men were appointed as the representatives of particular interests, that they would come on the board not as impartial members of a board to decide what was for the best interests of all the classes that were to come before them but to act as attorneys for the particular interests for which they were appointed, and my idea is that if this board has in any way failed, which I am not claiming at this time, it is because we have on that board now three members appointed as representatives of special interests. But that has all been done and accomplished, is in the law, and I take it it is not likely to be changed. Consequently we will have to take the statute as it is, and, finding it in this manner, supplement it, as it seems to me it should be supplemented, by putting the soldier on an equality with the commercial interests, the agricultural interests, the labor interests, and all these other interests that now have special representatives on the board. If these interests have special representatives on the board, the soldier who at this particular time, as it seems to me, ought to engage the special attention of the board, is entitled as much at least, if not more, to have a special representative upon the board. That I can say with reference to general principles.
The CHAIRMAN. You will note, Mr. Green, that this designation of special interests has not only been written in this original law but is being written in other laws now. It seems to have come to be a principle.
Mr. Green. Well, it is a principle to which I am opposed, but where special classes get their own particular representatives on the board, and another class comes in, it is at least entitled to as much representation and as much consideration, to put it as mildly as I can, and it seems to me they are entitled also to their special representatives.
Mr. BURROUGHS. How do they feel toward this, do you know?
Mr. GREEN. I have heard from a great number of posts of the American Legion that they highly approve it. In fact, the idea, I should say, is not really my own, but originated in the meeting that was held by the representatives of the American Legion in Washington I think now about a month
ago: The CHAIRMAN. Is there a legitimate objection to increasing the size of the board ?
Mr. GREEN. There might be some, and I will consider that a little later. I am a little afraid that I am liable to take too much of your time.
Mr. BLANTON. Where you are selecting school-teachers in an agricultural college, or where an academic course is taken, or any other kind of course, such as a law course, for instance, do you bring in all these different classes and consult them, or do you take them from an educational standpoint? My own idea is that in providing vocational education we ought to have a board of educators, not a board composed of the Secretary of Agriculture, the secretary of this, and the secretary of that, and somebody else representing this, and somebody representing that. We ought to get a board of educators.
TO AMEND ACT FOR PROMOTION OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION.
Mr. GREEN. I agree with the gentleman, but I can not expect to have this whole system overturned, and, being as it is, these other classes having their particular representatives there, not representing the soldier at all, but representing these other classes, it seems to me the soldier clearly, as a matter of right, is entitled to have representation there.
Mr. BANKHEAD. Mr. Green, right in that connection, without committing myself on the proposition offhand, of course, I am favorable to the representation of the soldier, but do you not set a precedent here by adding another special interest and open the gates to add hereafter another representative of some other special interest, and so on, ad infinitum, on this board ?
Mr. GREEN. That is already set, I will say to my friend. I regret it, but it seems to me that it has already been done. The objection, in the first instance, that you make, I think, is very good, but that, like the constitution of the whole board, is there in the law, and I fear there is no opportunity to change it. If I were to write it as I would like to see it myself, I would rewrite the whole provision.
Mr. BLANTON. Is the gentleman aware right now that our Vocational Board here has held that the Federal funds can not go to any school until that school has freshmen, junior, sophomore, and senior classes, all in one school, and that it is absolutely impossible, because this is new work, and you have got to begin and build from the ground up? In other words, the first year that you install this work in any school you have only the freshman class, and that has kept our present vocational work out of many schools that need it right now in different States.
Mr. GREEN. That is outside of the province of this bill.
Mr. BLANTON. I mentioned this because we have been consulting at times interests other than educational interests on educational matters.
Mr. GREEN. Let me give you just a few of the examples of the workings of the board as it stands now. I say workings of the board. Really it is the workings of the agents of the board, because, of course, the board itself can not attend to all these individual cases.
I have here the case of Robert L. Boyce, by no means an isolated one. Probably the other members have had many similar cases, just as I have. He filed his application with the board last May. About the beginning of this year, after spending a great deal of time in having a number of examinations and having nothing determined one way or the other, he finally gave up and started in with the assistance of his friends to take a course himself.
I have the case of a lady who writes: The Vocational Board is always requiring more and more data, and to submit to numerous examinations. My own intelligence will not permit any more of these examinations to satisfy local officers with statistics.
Mr. BANKHEAD. That is from a lady?
One of the most striking cases I have, I think, relates to the decision made by the board as to who were entitled to the
Mr. Donovan. May I interrupt to ask a question about that Army nurse? On what ground did she refuse, just because she was tired of furnishing information? Would not the question there be whether the information sought was proper or not ! Was she the judge of that! I have had instances like that where men have stopped all of a sudden because they did not want to give their hospital records. The fact was that the hospital record was not to their favor and would not bring them within the purview of the law. Whether or not this was a similar case I do not know. I do not know whether this woman stopped for fear that if she furnished anything further she might not come within the scope of the law. Perhaps you know her personally, or something of that sort, but that was ona experience that I had.
Mr. GREEN. Where there are repeated examinations, and they go through one and give them all the information, and then take another and give them all the information, and then take another and give them all the information asked, I would come rather to the conclusion that
Mr. Donovan. If you will excuse me, I thought that referred to the personal history of the patient rather than the examination. She said the data, which would relate to the personal history of the individual. I know that in some cases they hesitate because they think that they are put without the pale of the benefits of the act. I have had that experience personally, that is why I am relating it. However, you will excuse the interruption.
Mr. GREEN. Here is the case of another soldier who had been quite severely disabled. Under the Sweet law he was found entitled, as I remember, to the sum of $450 back compensation. He was applying for a vocational education permit, but he was informed by the agent, not by the board itself, but I assume as the result of the ruling of the board, that having this money on hand, he ought to use it, and ought not to call upon the board. I think it was very clearly not in the contemplation of Congress that such action as that should be taken.
Mr. BANKHEAD. That was not an official opinion of the board,
Mr. GREEN. I think not, but it seems to have effectually kept him from getting anything so far.
The board refuses to take the medical examination that is given by the War Risk Insurance Bureau for the purpose of determining the amount of compensation to be allowed. As I understand it, they hold that the fact that a soldier is disabled is in itself alone no evidence whatever that he is entitled to vocational education. I have gone over their rulings in this respect, and the distinctions that they draw are so extremely fine that while I have had a great many years experience as a lawyer and upon the bench, I was unable to appreciate the full effect of it. But I would not have time here before this committee to go over and discuss the reasons which they give on this point.
Mr. BANKHEAD. Is it your idea that if they had a representative of the ex-service men that he would secure more liberal constructions and interpretations of the law with reference to training?
Mr. GREEN. think the law is now administered in too technical a sense.
Mr. BANKHEAD. Mr. Green, in that connection, you will bear in mind that the original estimate based upon the experience of Canada was that the maximum number that would be entitled to train