October 16, 1955

We hear a great deal these days of guilt by association. Why not innocence by association? It is susceptible to the same logic. If writing for a radical magazine makes a man radical does not an article in a conservative periodical establish the author as a conservative? I wonder sometimes if … government snoopers have heard of the philosophy called logic. Pick any of their victims and you would find that he has likely associated with more conservative papers than radical ones, listens to more conservative sermons that radical ones, hears more reactionary ideas over the radio and TV than radical ones. Is it only radical ideas that are catching? It is … highly doubtful that any of us have found it to be so. Yet the implications in all the smear campaigns have been that only radical ideas … identify the ideology of the individual: that only radical articles signify the viewpoint of the author.


And an educational quote comes to the reporter at this point which seem seems worth passing on to you. It goes like this: “John Ruskin said that education does not mean teaching people what they do not know. It means teaching them to behave as they do not behave.” It is a painful and difficult work to be done by kindness, by watching, by warning, … and by praise, but above all, by example.


A lot of nonsense is being talked about regarding a return to the primitive church as a condition to one big union of Christian bodies. The assumption seems to be that there was a unity of belief and practice in the primitive church. I have seen no proof of that; instead, there is almost always found the opposite. There never appears to have been delivered one faith once and for all time to the saints. The Christian church was born in controversy, and it has been in controversy throughout history. An evolving culture discovers new religious needs and demands new answers. New ideas conflict with the old; hence conflict and controversy. It is all a part of the glorious struggle for truth, which is one definition of the practice of religion.


The Secretary of Defense Advisory Commission on Prisoners of War reports that many POWs informed on their prison mates with dire consequences for the victims. How are you going to cut down on ratting when a whole generation in this country is being brought on to believe that informing is an obligation? A generation that sees teachers punished and discharged for refusing to inform cannot help but gather that the smart guy talks and save his skin in the process.


This brings up with cogency what teachers themselves think as they survey the scene, their position in it, and the jobs they have to do. The current issue of the American Educator points up with concise clarity the major wishes of teachers in connection with their jobs.

First, is the matter of higher salaries. An average salary for classroom teachers nationwide is about $3,750. This is somewhat more than $70 a week; … stenographers and unskilled factory workers get more than that. At a recent meeting of state university professors, it was reported that professors frequently make less than electricians working on new dormitories on the college campus. Certainly higher salaries would do much to restore morale and promote good will among teachers. The present teacher shortage will get progressively worse unless salaries are raised high enough to induce superior men and women to go into classroom teaching.

Second, teachers want better working conditions. Increased enrollments and higher operating costs of class size have increased in school systems throughout the land. Teachers contend rightly that increase in class size or class load decreases their ability to do their job adequately. It is not possible to give the right kind of guidance and individual attention to a class of 45 students, and reports indicate from all over that this is not an unusual size. But this is only one phase of the program. Teachers feel that they are overburdened with paperwork, extracurricular activities, etc., that should not be part of the teacher program. Why make a second-rate clerk out of a first-class teacher? … Much of the teacher’s time is devoted to … serving as hall monitor, supervising children in the classroom, etc. More time should be available for classroom work and less to other teaching duties.

Third, teachers want community status. They want recognition that comes with any respectable profession yet they complain that they rarely get even a modicum of community status. While the person of intelligence is sought by government and industry, that same type of person often is looked down upon in the teaching profession. The term “egghead” derisively is one indication of the community attitude. One reason community status is low is that many members of society measure status in terms of wealth, and teachers are near the bottom of the ladder in this respect.

Fourth, teachers desire more democracy within the school system. For the most part, the American public school system does not call upon the teacher to make school policy. This is the job of the administrator: president, superintendent, principal; but the teachers object to an autocratic attitude on the part of those in administrative position. They want to have more freedom in the classroom, to teach without fear of the principal walking into the room and ordering them around. As Benjamin Fine, editor of an educational magazine puts it, “Teachers should have a say in what goes on in school. How can we enjoy our work if we were treated like so many puppets.”

Incidentally, I came across another item in my reading this week about the relative shifting of salaries of teachers. It points out that the average salary increase of factory production workers far outstripped the rise in urban teachers’ pay during the years 1941 to 1953. Teacher salaries rose by about 93 percent while the hourly earnings of factory workers increased by some 155 percent. This comes from a U.S. Department of Labor bulletin on statistics entitled Changes in City Public School Salaries.


A publication just out that has commanded thoughtful reading and stimulated much soul searching is a volume entitled Speak Truth to Power: A Quaker Search for an Alternative to Violence. Those who saw it in proof, men like Robert M. Hutchins, Lewis Mumford, Erich Fromm, and others of like stature, pleaded at once for the widest possible discussion and debate of the study, however much some disagreed with part or all of the Quaker alternative to present American foreign policy. This reporter has not had a chance to read the entire book, but he has had a chance to read something about this somewhat revolutionary approach in the search for peace. Its main theme is not strictly pacifist. It tries not to preach religious truth, but to show how it is possible and why it is reasonable to give practical expression to it in the great conflict that now divides the world.


Another volume worthy of note is entitled Nine Men, by Fred Rodell, professor of law at Yale University. In this volume, which is not a debunking one at all, he tears aside the robes and ritual, the ceremony and secrecy, and re-evaluates the justices of the Supreme Court not as gods from Olympus, but as men not above politics and personal motivations. Fascinating behind-the-scenes stories about John Marshall, Rover B. Taney, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Charles Evans Hughes, Louis Brandeis, Benjanim N. Cordozo, and many other famous jurists, past and present.

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