Congressman John M. Ashbrook of Ohio expressed his concern over the radical shift in the direction of education before the U.S. House of Representatives in a speech he delivered entitled “The Myth of Federal Aid to Education without Control.” With extraordinary foresight, John Ashbrook warned that: ‘In the report A Federal Education Agency for the Future we find the vehicle for Federal domination of our schools. It is a real and present danger.… The battle lines are now being drawn between those who seek control and uniformity of our local schools and those who oppose this further bureaucratic centralization in Washington. It is my sincere hope that the Congress will respond to this challenge and defeat the aid to education bills which will implement the goals incorporated in A Federal Education Agency for the Future.’
That there was any doubt of the Federal bureaucrats’ intentions in this matter was laid to rest with the discovery of a Health, Education, and Welfare publication, A Federal Education Agency for the Future, which is a report of the Office of Education, dated April 1961…. I feel that its pronouncements are a blueprint for complete domination and direction of our schools from Washington. The publication was not popularly distributed and there was some difficulty in obtaining a copy.
Fifty-six pages of findings contain recommendations which call for more and more Federal participation and control and repeatedly stress the need for Federal activity in formulating educational policies. It recommends a review of teacher preparation, curriculum and textbooks. It calls for an implementation of international education projects in cooperation with UNESCO in the United Nations, and ministries of education abroad. Of course, it recommends an enlarged office of education and the use of social scientists as key advisers…. It places stress on “implementing international educational projects in the United States and bringing maximum effectiveness to the total international educational effort.” Would not the Communists, with their footholds and infiltrations in these organizations, love this? No detail has been overlooked—“curriculum will have to undergo continual reshaping and upgrading; and new techniques and tools of instruction will have to be developed” and “teacher preparation, textbooks, and the curriculum in these subject fields must be improved in the decade ahead.” In the report… we find the vehicle for Federal domination of our schools.
…The battle lines are now drawn between those who seek control and uniformity of our local schools and those who oppose this further bureaucratic centralization in Washington. It is my sincere hope that the Congress will respond to this challenge and defeat the aid to education bills which will implement the goals incorporated in A Federal Education Agency for the Future.
Ashbrook went on to point out that:
[Under] The Mission [as stated in the report]… the basic mission of the Office [of Education] to “promote the cause of education” remains unchanged since its establishment in 1867. …What is meant when he [Sterling M. McMurrin, Commissioner of Education] says, “I anticipate that much of this activity will take place through normal administrative processes within the Office and the Department”? In the jargon of Washington bureaucracy this means that the report will be largely implemented on the administrative level without Congressional action and approval.
The House Committee on Education and Labor recently voted out H.R. 7904 which would extend the National Defense Education Act.… It is evident that the administration has chosen this vehicle for enacting piecemeal the recommendations of A Federal Education Agency for the Future.
Ashbrook continued to quote from Agency for the Future which he said “laid bare the real nemesis of the Federal bureaucrats—the tradition of local control.” The report stated, “The tradition of local control should no longer be permitted to inhibit Office of Education leadership.” The Committee on Mission and Organization called for:
[An] Office of Educational Research that would administer a separate program of extra-mural contracts and grants for basic and experimental research in disciplines bearing upon the educational situation, and would serve the other parts of the Bureau with advice on research problems…. Since it is presumed that the Centers, oriented to education as it is organized and administered, will deal with educational problems directly confronting schools and colleges, it is believed desirable that extra-mural research be significantly attentive to basic problems of human development, training and teaching, regardless of whether or not they are acknowledged as immediately pressing problems by educators. In short, some research should be conducted precisely because it challenges the assumptions upon which practicing educators are proceeding.
The above is obviously a reference to behavioral sciences research which, until that time, had not found a permanent home at the local school educator level nor was there the need to conduct such research in order to challenge the “assumptions upon which practicing educators are proceeding.” Attached to the Committee’s report were appendices from which the following excerpts are taken:
The Mission of the Office of Education in the 1960s
The schools of tomorrow must prepare their students for living in a world of continuous and rapid change, presenting them with unprecedented social, economic, and political problems. We must, in fact, give to education a character that will initiate and support a process of lifelong learning if Americans are to keep abreast of the accelerating advent of new knowledge and of the increasing complexity of modern life. These prospective conditions are already suggested in part by the rapidly increasing demand for highly specialized and professional skills. During the coming decade, new means must be developed for identifying and releasing student potential; curriculums will have to undergo continual reshaping and upgrading; and new techniques and tools of instruction will have to be developed.…
- Education is basic to effort to bring about an enduringly peaceful world.
- Next decade will bring closer and multiple relationships with Ministries of Education abroad and international organizations, such as UNESCO, the Organization of American States, International Bureau of Education.
- Variations among States and school districts in standards of instruction, facilities, staff, and services expose serious inadequacies. Our progress toward the ideal of equality of educational opportunity is tragically uneven.
- In the area of international educational cooperation, in particular, it must play the major role, since only the Federal Government can enter into agreements with other governments. Along with these responsibilities should be included that of stimulating and participating activity in the process of formulation, examination, and reformulation of the goals of our national society in terms of educational objectives.
- The development of uniform, consistent and compatible statistical data in all States and in all institutions of higher education will call for both technical and financial assistance to these sources from the Office of Education….
- Economists, sociologists, and other social scientists will be needed on the staff to assist in dealing with educational problems in their total context.