Federal Aid: The Head of the Class

  • Share
  • Read Later

(7 of 11)

At the same time, the Office of Education is expanding its own research program. Only four years ago, 80% of such research was handled by schools of education whose investigators too often dwelt on such esoteric questions as whether 24 or 26 pupils were the best size for an elementary class. Today, 60% of the research is performed by experts outside education. Anthropologists Margaret Mead and Stanley Diamond, for example, are studying the culture patterns of slum schools. New York Composer Vittorio Giannini is developing a new music curriculum. Biographer Mark Schorer is looking for new techniques in teaching literature. Nobel Laureate William Shockley is exploring computer-programmed instruction. Keppel's office has ordered 28 studies alone on a single question: How do first-graders learn to read?

Federally supported scientific research at U.S. universities is another area of major impact on education. Heretofore, $2 billion a year in Government research grants—two-thirds of the total research money spent by U.S. colleges and universities—served mainly to bolster the schools that were already at the top. Half of all such grants, in fact, has been going to only 20 universities.* Now President Johnson has decided to spread the treasure around. He recently directed all federal agencies to look for new deserving schools that can use the grants as a means of developing facilities and faculties. "We want to find excellence and build it up wherever it is found," says the President, "so that creative centers of excellence may grow in every part of the nation."

Integration. While research looks to education's future, there is still the troublesome problem of school integration. With the 1964 Civil Rights Act as his club, Keppel issued "guidelines" last spring ordering integration at the rate of four grades a year for the next three years; in the absence of such plans, schools could adapt "freedom of choice" plans, by which Negroes would be permitted to enter any school that could accommodate them. Any school system that failed to develop acceptable plans, he said, would lose its claim to federal funds. To ease the pain, Keppel sent his men into Dixie to talk to school administrators. He himself discussed ways and means at innumerable conferences, spent countless hours on long-distance telephone lines to persuade the reluctant. By summertime this year, Keppel had hopes that there would be a tenfold increase in the number of Negro children attending integrated classes.

No such luck. Last week, after a head count, Keppel found that only 217,000 Negro students—7.5% of school-age Negroes—had entered predominantly white schools in the South, an increase of only three times that of last year. Instead of compliance, much of the South had once again played the game of tokenism or outright defiance.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11