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STATEMENT OF DR. EDGAR FULLER, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY,
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHIEF STATE SCHOOL OFFICERS Dr. FULLER. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appreciate this opportunity, Mr. Chairman, to testify on Senate bill 1940. The Chief State School Officers are the State commissioners and superintendents of schools in the 48 States and in the Territories and island dependencies. They are the responsible administrators for a number of federally aided programs in education, because education is a State function under our system of constitutional law when public funds are involved in its support. This is one of the important reasons why most educators and laymen concerned with the government of school systems and colleges believe that the State education agencies are the proper contacts for Federal agencies which carry programs of education into the States.
In spite of these generally accepted principles, only a minor part of the Veterans Administration education program has thus far come through State agencies, although its impacts have, of course, been felt in many ways by the State systems and institutions of education. It has been regarded, with some justification, as a very special program indeed. Its Federal administrators have been responsible for
. many other concerns of veterans in addition to those in education, and they have usually been quite unwilling to delegate administrative authority to State or local education agencies so long as Federal funds were being used for administration.
The result has been, Mr. Chairman, that there have been too many Veterans' Administration employees engaged in educational activities and too much Federal control of education in the States. The present proposal seems more like to aggravate these conditions than to remedy them.
The bill before the committee is an emendment to the GI bill of rights. It has been drawn, we understand, by the Federal agencies involved in the administration of the GI bill of rights, principally the Veterans Administration.
So far as we know, the responsible education authorities of the States and local communities have not been consulted about it. Neither have these Federal agencies, apparently, found it feasible to consult with professional associations of educators concerned with veterans' education in the States. Even the National Association of State Approval Agencies appears to have been omitted from consultation.
Under these circumstances, Mr. Chairman, it is not surprising that portions of S. 1940 are not in accord with generally accepted principles of educational administration and will be forthrightly opposed in certain particulars by most educators and State and local members of governing boards of schools and colleges throughout the country.
We believe a much better bill can be had if viewpoints other than those held by Federal administrative officials can be incorporated into it.
It should be made clear, Mr. Chairman, that opposition to S. 1940 is not opposition to the principle of the GI bill of rights. We favor scholarships for veterans of Korea and other veterans who serve their country. The many billions of dollars spent on the GI bill of rights have, for the most part, been a good national investment, and there have been some improvements in Federal administration, particularly in certain local and regional offices.
On the other hand, there have been numerous abuses. Some of these have been by educational establishments, particularly those operated for profit. Efforts to police the few offending establishments have led Federal officials deep into the operations of almost all educational establishments, and have resulted in excessive red tape and high Federal administrative costs.
One can scarcely escape the conclusion that the veterans' education program requires a much more thorough reexamination than is proposed by S. 1940. We hope the committee will make numerous changes, Mr. Chairman, even to the extent of reporting an entirely new bill, before there is an extension of legislation in this field.
This is merely to say that the GI bill to be written now should take advantage of what has been learned since the original GI bill was passed, and should not perpetuate old mistakes. Inherent in the original bill were two ideas: (a) rewards for service in the Armed Forces; (b) financial aid to obtain education in order to make up
for the lost time and to fit the veteran more successfully into civilian life.
These purposes were not mutually exclusive, and the educational purpose has gained so much in relative emphasis since 1944 that we believe a new GI bill for the veterans of the Korean conflict should be considered educational legislation. We believe those benefits should be in the form of scholarships for education.
For this reason we prefer that this legislation should be administered from the education agency of the Federal Government, which is the United States Office of Education, just as we are pleased that these hearings are before the committee of the Senate that deals with matters of education.
In any event, we believe the Federal Government should recognize that education is a State and local function by relying heavily upon the regular State and local school systems and the colleges and universities to assume substantial responsibilities under the bill. Such provisions would be sound in terms of Federal-State-local educational relations and could eliminate undesirable Federal controls over local school systems and colleges. With much less than is currently spent for administration, a Federal-State-local scholarship system could be set up under which a larger proportion of each dollar expended would go directly to the veteran for the costs of his education.
As a practical matter, a system of this kind would require that some Federal funds be used to insure effective State responsibility for school systems, institutions, and other educational establishments honoring veterans' scholarships, because most State legislatures regard the costs of veterans' education as a proper responsibility of the Federal Government. Congress has agreed with this viewpoint, as is clear from the appropriations it has made for Federal administration. With far less than is now spent for direct Federal administration for the same purposes, however, we believe a superior job could be done by the regular State and local education agencies and institutions if they were given the opportunity.
There has been little real utilization of these States and local agencies in the present program. On paper, the State agencies are supposed
to supervise the educational establishment and the Veterans' Administration is supposed to supervise the veteran. This effort to separate *supervision of the veteran" as a person from "supervision of the institution” in which he receives his education has led both to governmental paternalism and to interference with State and local educational institutions. This unrealistic distinction ought to be cleanly eliminated in the administration of new legislation.
We believe the accrediting of the educational establishments should be done at the State level, that judgments of the success or failure of any veteran student should be by the local institution just as it is exercised for other students, and that direct and personal "supervision of the veteran” by the Veterans’ Administration should lie outside the field of education if it is exercised at all. Judgments of the success or failure of a veteran not enrolled in a regular educational institution, such as those receiving on-the-job training, should be exercised by a State education agency.
Mr. Chairman, s. 1940 has some extremely undesirable features. It writes rules and regulations into law to give Federal officials more power and more discretion. The State approval agencies are given Îimited responsibilities, but in no important instance are they given authority which cannot be supplemented or overruled by the decision of the Veterans Administrator.
Administratively, this is a demoralizing situation in which the work of the State approval agencies becomes comparatively meaningless.
There should, of course, be judicial routes of appeal from their decisions, but these State agencies should not be in a position where their decisions may be made ineffective by a Federal administrative ruling.
The State education agencies and institutions should not be given work to do at all unless they are in a position to do it better than the Federal officials can do it and, once such work is assigned, they should be given freedom to perform it. They should be responsible to the Federal Government for fiscal accounting and over-all performance, but not for the reporting of factual details of individual cases, for details of administration or for clearance of methods for achieving results.
Let the Federal officials define the results sought in areas of administration where State and local agencies can get results more effectively and economically than can the Federal Government; then let the State and local agencies act under broad outlines of delegated authority.
It appears that S. 1940 would increase Federal controls and multiply paper work in the school systems, institutions and other educational establishments in the States. To cite only a few instances, under part X 5 (b) and part X 6 (a), it would often become compulsory to keep attendance records not ordinarily kept, and detailed reporting of them would open up additional leverage points for Federal control of education.
Under part X 3 (a), even the decision as to whether the conduct or progress of a veteran is satisfactory according to the regularly prescribed practices and standards of the institution is left to the judgment of the Veterans Administrator rather than to the judgment of the institution. How can the Veterans’ Administrator decide such matters without close inspection of the institution's educational program?
In part X 4 the approval by the State agency of educational and training institutions is made meaningless by the discretion given the
Veterans' Administrator to add others to the approved list. These additions could, so far as the law is concerned, be the very institutions which had been rejected by the State approval agency.
Such examples of excessive Federal administrative discretion and refusal to recognize any State or local decisions seriously are numerous throughout the bill.
Mr. Chairman, we have not attempted to express ourselves on many aspects of this legislation. The extent of scholarship benefits, eligibility requirements, time limitations, and such matters are not dealt with here, because we believe the fundamental principles should first be decided. Some of these are:
(1) That the new legislation be regarded as educational legislation and its benefits for veterans as educational benefits;
(2) That the scholarships be administered with a minimum of Federal control of and interference with school systems, institutions, and other educational establishments in the States;
(3) That the scholarship system for veterans be coordinated with the State and local administration of school systems, institutions, and other educational establishments in ways to encourage State and local autonomy in education:
(4) That final accreditation of school systems, institutions, and other educational establishments eligible to honor veterans' scholarships be determined by the States;
(5) That final judgment of the success or failure of a veteran in his educational work be determined by the accredited school system, institution, or other educational establishment in which he is enrolled or, in exceptional cases, by a State agency established for this purpose.
We commend to you in connection with these principles, Mr. Chairman, many of the features of S. 3996 of the Eighty-first Congress. Such provisions as section 207 of that bill, which establishes a method for payment of scholarship stipends, are worthy of serious study. By comparison, Mr. Chairman, there is much reason to believe that the GI bill amendment before us is in many respects a less desirable approach, is premature in view of the results already uncovered by the investigation now underway in the House of Representatives, and does not promise to do for the education of veterans what really ought to be done.
I would like to express appreciation again, Mr. Chairman, for your willingness to listen to these views, and I would like your permission to submit for the record a limited number of valuable suggestions we have received from State and local educational officials on this problem.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will be glad to have you do that. I want to thank you for your very careful statement here this morning. It has been very helpful to this committee.
Are there any questions?
Mr. COBURN. Mr. Chairman, I have the usual question of Senator Ives, who is not here this morning.
Were you consulted in the drafting of S. 1940 ?
Dr. FULLER. No; as I pointed out in the testimony, so far as I know, none of these groups were consulted.
I would like to comment just a little further, Mr. Chairman, if I
I , I might, in view of the testimony previously given on some of these points, on two or three of these points which I have not yet commented upon.
The CHAIRMAN. We will be glad to have your comments.
Dr. FULLER. In the first place, I believe that the benefits given to veterans of the Korean conflict, and subsequent provisions, certainly ought not to be lowered too much. We have not expressed any opinion as to the exact amount of benefits, but certainly this proposed amendment here is, in that regard, I believe, conservative. It cuts the benefits very considerably.
Then on another point, Mr. Chairman, I believe that Mr. Elmer Staats of the Bureau of the Budget, in his official agency statement, made a comment which would be very well accepted, I would judge, by educational people throughout the States. He said:
Additional legislation in this field should take into account the further strides which we have made in the United States in providing greater opportunities for educational and vocational training, and for freedom from want when early disability or death strike down the wage earner in the family.
And he further stated : General programs in which veterans participate may well be of greater value than programs designed only for veterans.
In other words, there are scholarship bills before the Congress, and although we would take no position on this, I have not conferred with the people I would want to confer with before taking a position on it, it seems to me that the scholarship theme ought to be explored in connection with scholarships for veteran students.
You see, veteran students, when they enter a college or university, or take work in an accredited trade school or school system, are students like other students. They meet the same requirements as other students. You cannot tell one from another when you walk into the classroom.
The idea that Federal officials should be down there seeing how this student does, but not worrying about the student on his right or the student on his left, just does not make sense to most of us who are concerned with the administration of educational institutions. We do not know all the answers to those things. We would be the first to admit that.
But there are very large numbers of college and university students who are approximately of the same age and going to school under the same circumstances as veteran students are. We think that the two things ought to be considered very carefully together, as the Bureau of the Budget has suggested.
The CHAIRMAN. We thank you for your recommendations. If you have any additional suggestions to make, you may do so at any time before the committee closes its hearings.
Dr. FULLER. I would like to take advantage of that very generous offer, Mr. Chairman, perhaps to check back with some of the State superintendents of public instruction and some of the State commissioners of education, and with the State-approval agencies, and submit somewhat more definite ideas on some of the details that we have not testified to here today.
Mr. Chairman, I would also like to offer, for the record, a letter which was addressed to me from Mr. Ruff, supervisor of veterans education, Nebraska State Department of Public Instruction; a letter