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provisions which we believe very definitely should be amended if this measure is to be enacted into law.
Now it is a fact that this bill preserves the basic authority and functions of the Board of Education, in that such functions are transferred from the present Board to the proposed elected Board, and that if as it should be. However, there are sections in the bill which provide that the basic authority of the Board of Education may be altered.
I refer specifically to section 325 (a), which provides that the District Council may pass legislative proposals on any subject coming within the scope of the power of Congress in its capacity as legislature for the District of Columbia, as distinguished from its capacity as the national legislatureand more particularly to section 326 (b) which provides that any legislative proposal amending any provision of title XI may be passed by the District Council only by affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of the members then holding office.
ese sections propose to authorize the District Council to amend title XI which establishes the Board of Education by a two-thirds vote of the Council members then holding office. These sections, if enacted into law, make it possible for the District Council to alter the authority of the Board of Education in any manner.
Furthermore, it would seem that the District Council is not prevented by section 326 from amending or repealing such basic legilsation as the Teachers' Salary Act or the Teachers' Retirement Act. There is no guaranty whatever that the status of the Board of Education and existing legislation at the time of enactment of the home rule bill would be free from change in the future should the District Council see fit to make such changes, even though they might be opposed by the Board of Education. That we consider is a very, very serious situation, and most certainly should be corrected.
The second deficiency in this bill, as we see it, has to do with the proposal to transfer the enforcement of laws regulating child labor to the Department of Labor.
Section 910 (a) (2) proposes to transfer the functions now vested in the Board of Education with respect to the enforcement and administration of laws regulating child labor to the Director of the Department of Labor.
In view of the direct relationship between the school attendance law and the child labor law, both of which are now administered by the Board of Education, it is essential that the enforcement of the child labor law remain with the Board of Education and school officials. This makes it possible for the school officials to make certain that a child of compulsory school age is either employed in accordance with the provisions of the child labor law or attending school; and, furthermore, that there is no gap between employment and school attendance. According to the proposed change it is understood that work permits would be granted by the Department of Labor, and that therefore the noneducational agencies would be determining whether a child is to leave school in order to work. So we believe very definitely that provision should be amended so as to leave the authority for this administration of the child labor law in the hands of the Board of Education where it rests now, and where the two rest in practically all of the communities throughout the country.
The third point that I should like to speak to has to do with the status of the position of Superintendent of Schools of the District of Columbia.
I am speaking to you very personally at this point, but I am voicing the sentiments of the Board of Education.
The bill provides in section 1103 (b) thatIn contracting with any person to serve as superintendent of schools of the District, the Board of Education shall not obligate the District for a period longer than the 3-year period commencing on the date of contracting.
We can see no reason whatever to change the present provisions of appointing the Superintendent of Schools for a specified term of 3 years, which has been the provision of law since the enactment of the organic act in 1906.
Our objection to this provision is as follows:
The language in this section would authorize the Board of Education to appoint a superintendent of schools for any period of time up to 3 years, and would therefore make possible an appointment for so brief a term as 1 year or less, which would be undesirable from the standpoint of the administration of the schools.
The superintendent of schools at present is protected in his tenure rights by a 3-year contract which is subject to renewal by the Board of Education.
Although all other professional employees of the Board of Education may qualify for permanent tenure, the proposed plan would remove the only guarantee of tenure which the superintendent of schools now holds with the Board of Education.
Almost universally, superintendents of schools in large and small communities are appointed for three or more years of service. This provision would reduce the effectiveness of the superintendent of schools as a leader because of the possibility of a short term of office.
The result would be a frequent turn-over in the position of superintendent of schools, which would create confusion in the school service by reason of frequently changing educational philosophies and administration policies.
It is questionable whether it would be possible for the Board to secure the services of qualified persons for this important position without a contractual term of office of at least 3 years.
The fourth point that I should like to speak to is probably just a technical—maybe an error, I am not sure. It is in section 1103 (c), which provides thatFinal action by the Board of Education shall not be taken on any proposed regulation until the thirteenth day following the day on which it was submitted.
The term “proposed regulation” is too general and should be limited to mean the formal rules of the Board. If it is construed to mean more than the formal rules, it will delay and hamper the business of the Board.
Now the fifth point I would like to speak to is the proposal to place the administration of the Vocational Educational Act, approved February 26, 1947, as amended, under the Board of Education. I am positive that there must be some error in this section.
Section 1103 (d) places the administration of the Vocational Education Act, approved February 26, 1917, as amended--that is the Smith-Hughes Act—under the Board of Education, where it should be.
We believe it should be there. However, it is a fact that it omits reference to the George-Barden Act under which the District vocational education program operates, so far as Federal assistance is concerned.
When this bill was originally enacted it failed to include the Territories of the United States and the District of Columbia. Since that time the Territories have been included in the provisions of that act, and the District of Columbia alone is not included. So there would be no objection in placing the administration of that act under the Board of Education. However, we do operate under the GeorgeBarden Act, and it is under that act that our present program is financed and paid for through Federal funds. There is no question in this bill in regard to the administration of that act and we believe the error has crept in, in using the Smith-Hughes Act instead of the George-Barden Act, and it certainly should be corrected in order to make it perfectly clear that the Board of Education would have charge of the George-Barden Act, as far as the District of Columbia is concerned.
Now the sixth thing I would like to speak about is the proposal to appoint a committee of the Board, to be known as the "Commission on Vocational Rehabilitation.” It is found in section 1103 (e). places the administration of vocational rehabilitation under a committee of the Board of Education, known as the Commission on Vocational Rehabilitation. This is now a function of the Federal Security Agency.
I am sure the members of the committee know that that term “vocational rehabilitation" has to do with the rehabilitation vocationally of criminals of various sorts. This paragraph also provides that, The Commission shall appoint the Director of Vocational Rehabilitation, who shall appoint the members of the staff of the Commission and perform such other administrative functions as the Commission may designate to him.
There is nothing in the language to indicate that the Commission on Vocational Rehabilitation thus appointed is responsible to the Board of Education. This language makes no provision for a recommendation from the Superintendent of Schools as to the appointment of the Director of Vocational Rehabilitation or his staff, neither does it make provision for final approval of such appointment by the Board of Education. Furthermore, the language which provides that the Commission on Vocational Rehabilitation shall appoint a Director of Vocational Rehabilitation does not indicate that the Superintendent of Schools has any supervision over the Director of Vocational Rehabilitation and his functions, or any responsibility for recommending to the Commission on Vocational Rehabilitation any procedures in this important phase of education. In effect this proposal would create an agency having to do with one phase of education which is entirely independent of the Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools.
We believe that there would be great confusion resulting from any such arrangement, confusion as to the use of buildings, as to the assignment of teachers and equipment, and as to the allocation of
We believe very definitely if this function is to come under the Board of Education-it should be under the Board of Education itself-which is charged with the responsibility for the functioning of education in the District of Columbia, and not be under a commission which would operate independently under the Board of Education and without any recommendations of the Superintendent of Schools.
Now my seventh point is in regard to the proposal to pay members of the Board of Education for their services. Section 1105 proposes that members of the Board of Education shall receive $20 per meeting attended. In connection with this proposal the following points are presented for consideration of this committee:
At the present time the public service freely given places service on the Board of Education on a very high plane, which is challenging to the people who serve on the Board. By the proposal it might be construed that the public service incentive had been replaced in large measure by a money incentive. Furthermore, the amount of money is woefully insufficient to adequately recompense members of the Board of Education for their time and effort in administering the $25,000,000 business. The amount involved would not be sufficient to attract capable people to the service. It might be argued that this small amount might_attract undesirable candidates who would look upon service on the Board of Education as a job for which they are paid. Throughout the country it is not customary to pay members of the boards of education; in 85 percent of cities the board members serve without pay and in some of the remaining 15 percent of the cities the members are paid a stipend, and in some they are merely allowed an expense account.
We believe that section should be amended to omit the provisions for the payment of school board members.
The next point has to do with the appointment and designated functions of the secretary of the Board of Education. Section 1107 provides for the appointment of a secretary of the Board of Education, who shall serve at the pleasure of the Board as the chief administrative officer. This provision that the secretary of the Board of Education shall serve at the pleasure of the Board is undesirable as it would remove all security from employees in this position and would endanger tenure rights by removing this office from the civil service.
The designation of the secretary of the Board of Education as the chief administrative officer of the Board creates a conflict between the functions of the secretary of the Board of Education and those of the Superintendent of Schools, who is designated by a rule of the Board of Education as the chief executive officer. Since the terms “executive” and “administrative" are synonymous, the use of the term “chief administrative officer” in the bill would give the same effect as designating two persons for the same authority and functions. This language should be changed so as to designate the secretary of the Board in accordance with his stated and generally accepted functions of the position.
I should like to call attention, if I may, to a few obvious errors:
In section 1203 (c) there is a purely technical error. It discusses the terms of office of members who serve on the Board of Education, and in line 10, page 79, it is thought that the word “Council" should be changed to the word "Board," and similarly the date in line 12 should be changed to 1951 instead ot as it is.
Another point that I should like to speak to is the term of office of the members of the Board of Education. Section 1203 (c) proposes thatthe term of office on the Board of Education shall be 4 years beginning on January 1 following the expiration of the preceding term of such office It is our belief, whether the board be elected or appointed, it seems very important to us that the term of office of the members of the Board of Education should coincide with the established fiscal yeai and with the school year itself, and therefore not be changed from the present term beginning July 1.
Next is the proposal to fill vacancies on the Board of Education for unexpired terms. Section 1204 (a) provides thatany vacancy on the Board of Education may be filled by appointment by the President of such Board with the approval of the Board. The present method of filling vacancies by appointment by the judges seems entirely satisfactory. The appointment of a member of the Board of Education by the President of the Board is inconsistent with the purpose of this bill, which aims to provide democratic methods in the operation of the affairs of the District of Columbia. If the present method of appointing Board members is replaced by an election system, then vacancies within an elected board would more appropriately be filled by election by the entire Board.
The next point, which is in regard to transfer of nonteaching personnel to civil service, is an extremely serious one. Section 1301 proposes that all offices and positions in the Government of the District shall be subject to the act entitled "An act to regulate and improve the civil service of the United States," approved January 16, 1883, as amended, and rules and regulations made in pursuance of such act, with certain exceptions which are enumerated in the bill and which include employees of the Board of Education subject to the District of Columbia 1947 Teachers' Salary Act, the secretary of the Board of Education, and the Director of Vocational Rehabilitation.
This provision would transfer the appointment of all nonprofessional or noncertificated personnel from the Board of Education to the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission.
Section 1302 provides that each new appointee following the effective date of the proposed legislation shall be taken from a classified civil-service list, and that persons would be eligible for transfer between the District Government, including the public schools and the Federal Government.
These provisions are not desirable, for the following reasons: Although the present classified school personnel in the professional, subprofessional, clerical, administrative and fiscal, and in the custodial, protective, and crafts services are covered by the Civil Service Classification Act for salary purposes, and by the Civil Service Retirement Act for retirement purposes, the Board of Education now possesses authority to appoint, dismiss, and promote persons in these classifications.
Under the proposal the Board would have no power of appointment or promotion of these employees. Although the bill provides for an elected Board of Public Education, this Board would have less authority over its personnel than the present Board possesses.