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WHAT THE FEDERAL BOARD FOR VOCATIONAL
EDUCATION IS DOING
As the law provides they shall be, the activities of the Federal Board for Vocational Education are largely coöperative. This Board, of which Dr. C. A. Prosser is Director, administers Federal grants in aid of vocational education in the States, and it is, at present, largely engaged in providing emergency war training for conscripted men, and in organizing for undertaking national reëducation and return to civil employment of men disabled in the war.
UNANIMOUS ACTION BY THE STATES Federal grants become available each year, in amounts increasing from approximately $1,650,000 in 1917–18, to $7,160,000 in 1925–26 and annually thereafter, and if accepted by the States the Federal grants must be matched by equal amounts of State money.
In the past ten months, since the Board organized, all of the States without exception have accepted grants, matching Federal with State money to be expended for promoting vocational education in the public schools throughout the country.
It is a rare event when our sovereign States elect unanimously to take any single course even when their own best interests point the way clearly, and the event of the forty-eight States taking unanimous action involving expenditure of State money within a brief period of ten months under a permissive Federal statute is unique in our history. It is in itself conclusive proof that the Federal law in this instance has been wisely conceived by Congress to insure widespread social benefits.
The law which has been thus unanimously accepted by the States is a law for democratizing our public school education, by adapting it to the needs of those who must prepare to take up the commoner wage-earning pursuits in agriculture, industry, or commerce. Under
Under the law, also, vocational education is provided in continuation part-time or evening courses for those who have already entered upon some wage-earning pursuit.
VOCATIONAL COURSES SET UP IN THE STATES In the past ten months the Federal Board has organized its staff of experts in various lines, and of regional agents for inspection of schools federally aided; has formulated its policies of Federal coöperation covering the entire field of vocational education in the States for agriculture, trades and industries, and home management; has approved State plans setting up vocational courses in each of the forty-eight States, and allotted Federal money available under these plans for the ficsal year 1917–18; and has maintained inspection of courses as they have been established in numerous local communities.
Federally aided vacational 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 ten months. In Massachusetts, for example, vocational agriculture is being 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 federally aided secondary schools is for agriculture 69, and for trades and industries 40; in Pennsylvania, for agriculture 38, for trades and industries 131, and for home economies 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 34, for trades and industries 1, and for home economics 3. These States are taken at random merely as illustrations of the widespread development of secondary vocational education. The record for other States is equally impressive.
EMERGENCY WAR TRAINING
As it happens the coöperation of the Federal Board during the past ten months has extended far beyond the scope of activities contemplated in the organic law under which the Board operates.
The administrative machinery built up for undertaking the joint Federal and State enterprise of promoting vocational education in the country as a whole has been commandeered for war service, -or rather, being immediately available for such service it has been freely tendered to the war offices, and has been by them freely utilized.
Immediately upon its organization, the staff of the Federal Board, in compliance with the general policy approved by the Board to render such assistance to the Government as it might legitimately do in the emergency of war, began to take on war work.
The training of conscripted men for army occupations was conceived to be the sort of vocational education which might most properly be immediately promoted.
Under supervision of the Federal Board, war emergency training classes for conscripted men have been organized in the public schools throughout the country. A series of war emergency training courses for army occupations has been prepared, and these courses have been adopted extensively not only for classes organized under the direct supervision of the Board, but as well for classes organized by the War Department among men enlisted in the army, and for classes conducted on a commercial basis under private civilian control.
The emergency war training bulletins of the Federal Board include emergency training courses in shipbuilding for shipyard workers; mechanical and technical training for conscripted men (Air Division, U.S. Signal Corps); training for motor truck drivers and chauffeurs; for machine shop occupations, blacksmithing, sheet metal working, and pipe-fitting; for electricians, telephone repair men, linesmen, and cable splices; for gas engine, motor-car, and motorcycle repair men; for oxy-acetylene welders; and for airplane mechanics, engine repair men, wood workers, riggers, and sheet-metal workers.
The preparation of these courses and the organization of training classes has been undertaken at the request of, and in cooperation with, the Signal Corps and the Quartermaster Corps in the War Department, and the United States Shipping Board.
Growing out of conferences between officials of the Federal Board for Vocational Education and officers of the General Staff an arrangement was perfected late in October, with the approval of the Secretary of War, for the utilization of the educational facilities of the United States by the Federal Board in coöperation with the War Department for the purpose of training drafted men in various occupations prior to their reporting at the cantonments. An order signed by the Adjutant General of the War Department under date of November 3d, 1917, issued to the Commanding Generals of all departments and to the chiefs of bureaus, reads in part as follows:
"1. The Secretary of War directs that you be informed as follows:
"a. The Federal Board for Vocational Education, authorized by act of Congress, February 23, 1917, of which Dr. C. A. Prosser is director, is now organized and is in close cooperation with the vocational schools of the country. This board is prepared to institute a comprehensive system of preliminary training of men of the second and subsequent drafts prior to their reporting at cantonments.
“It is the desire of the Secretary of War that the chiefs of bureaus maintain close coöperation with this board, furnishing such information as to number of men desired to be trained, necessary courses, etc. For this purpose the chiefs of bureaus will deal directly with Dr. Prosser."
This work has continued and the War Training Division of the Federal Board reports that on June 13, 1917, 12,000 men had been trained through the Federal Board and State authorities, for vocational education, and turned over to services—6,000 in mechanical lines, 5,000 in radio work, for the army, navy and mercantile marine, and 1,000 in clerical occupations for Quartermaster Corps work. It estimates that an additional 3,000 men have been trained by private agencies through impetus given to the work by the Federal Board, using Federal Board courses of instructions. Incomplete reports from State Vocational authorities for May return over 6,000 men in training—3,370 in radio classes, and 2,508 in mechanical classes—and it is estimated, on the basis of April returns, that the complete reports for May will show the number in training to be at least 7,500. On June 13, the May reports showed 165 radio classes operated in 38 States, and 172 mechanical classes in 49 communities in 14 States. Almost daily reports of additional classes being formed were coming in from California, Wisconsin, Missouri, New York and Pennsylvania. Since the May letters were sent out urging the establishment of new classes and the continuance of those in operation, renewed activity has been reported in at least 20 States.
The Federal Board War emergency training bulletins have become standard courses in Corps schools, such as the Quartermaster Corps at Camp Joseph E. Johnston, Jacksonville, Fla.
Of these bulletins, or course outlines some 25,000 copies have been furnished directly or indirectly to the War Department Committee on Education and Special Training for use in its classes, in which the number reported in training was 7,086 in April, 10,685 in May, and 26,666 in June. Contracts in force provided for the training of 100,000 men during the current year. This training under military control has been found necessary to provide for the needs of the army, in addition to the training in voluntary classes under the Federal Board.
The esteem in which the Adjutant General's Office holds the results of Federal Board Training is well indicated by the following order issued to the Department Commanders under date of May 7th:
“Draft men sent divisions from the May draft and all subsequent drafts who have certifications showing that they have been instructed in certain subjects in schools under the direction of the Federal Board for Vocational Education should be given assignments where they can utilize the training obtained in these schools. You are directed to instruct your personnel officers to record on classification card the training each man has received and make assignments accordingly.
Classes in shipbuilding occupations have been established in coöperation with the Federal Board in the following States: North Carolina-Wilmington, evening. Pennsylvania-Chester, Girard College students. OhioCleveland, evening classes; Lorian, evening classes. New York-Port Richmond, Staten Island, evening; Newburgh, evening;
Buffalo, evening. Minnesota-Duluth, evening; part time. Delaware-Wilmington, evening. Connecticut-Bridgeport, evening, part time, all day; Housatonic, evening
and part time. California-San Diego, evening classes; Long Beach, evening classes;
San Pedro, evening classes; Oakland, evening classes; San Francisco,
evening classes; Alameda, evening classes. Maine-Bath, evening courses. Oregon-Portland, evening, not confirmed; Astoria, evening, not confirmed. Washington-Seattle, evening classes.
Bulletin No. 3, “Emergency Training in Shipbuilding” is being used in these classes. The following States have appointed agents who will work whole or part time on these classes; Ohio, New Jersey, Texas, Connecticut, Alabama, New York and California.
(To be continued.)
MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT WILSON
To School TEACHERS OF THE UNITED STATES:
It is quite unnecessary, I am sure, for me to urge a continuance of the service you and your pupils have rendered to the Nation and to the great cause for which America is at war. Whatever the Nation's call has been, the response of the schools has been immediate and enthusiastic. The Nation and the Government agencies know and appreciate your loyalty and devotion and are grateful for your unfailing support in every war service.
The schools and colleges of America are justified by their works when the youth of our land and the homes from which they come are united in unselfish devotion and unstinted sacrifice for the cause and the country we hold dear. The spirit of American democracy is a heritage cherished and transmitted by public education. All that America has meant to us and to the world in the past it must mean with greater and more disinterested devotion in the future. The civic sense that has made each home and child part of a community, part of a state, part of a Nation, is today deepened by this war and its issues. It affects the fate of the many lands and peoples whose blood is in our veins, and whose happier future will be part of the triumph of the principles for which we fight.
The doors of the schools have opened to a new generation of children. Your responsibilities, great in the past and greatly met, are still greater today. This publication by the Committee on Public Information, established in response to the requests of the schools and the needs of the departments whose programs involve the schools, will have served its purpose
if it aids you in performing and interpreting the new duties implicit in its title.