Need for More Public School Teachers
A NEW UPSURGE in the school population of the country is under way. The number of children in elementary schools is expected to reach a total of nearly 35 million by 1965, as against 27.5 million in 1955, while the number of children in high school is expected to climb to 12 million from 7 million. Figures like these reinforce already pressing demands for more classrooms and more teachers. Congress has been asked to authorize federal aid to help meet the classroom shortage, but the teacher shortage does not lend itself to such treatment. As Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Folsom told a television audience, Apr. 7, that is considered something for local communities to handle.
Problems created by the numerical shortage of teachers are compounded by a need for more competent teachers. Advancement of knowledge and demands in the nation for a steadily growing annual crop of broadly educated and highly trained persons make it imperative that teacher qualifications in all grades be sustained at higher levels than at present. The secretary of the Educational Policies Commission of the National Education Association observed recently that “A democratic and technological society … demands a steady upgrading of the educational level … if the economy is to continue expanding and if citizen participation in the democratic process is to be a reality.”
President Eisenhower, addressing the National Education Association on its centennial anniversary, Apr. 4, said that teachers were doing “one of the most necessary and exacting jobs in the land” and needed “our active support and encouragement.” In a special message to Congress on Jan. 28 he had observed that “Solutions to all the other problems in education will be empty achievements indeed if good teaching is not available.” The President noted at that time that efforts of states and local communities had “accomplished much in reducing the teacher shortage,” but he deplored continuing employment of “thousands of emergency teachers with substandard certificates.” He declared that “Far more needs to be done in our various communities to enhance the status of the teacher—in salary, in community esteem and support—and thus attract more people to the profession.”