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T. Stamm

Bosses Propose Starving Schools

(August 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 38, 5 August 1933, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The April 1933 issue of the American Teacher, official organ of the American Federation of Teachers in the A.F. of L. lists twenty recommendations for economy in education sent out by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to all chambers of Commerce in the United States.

“(4) Postponement of new capital outlay for buildings and replacements; (8) Shorten school day one hour; (9) Increase size of classes; (10) Increase teaching hours; (12) Suspend automatic increase of salaries; (13) Reduction in teachers salaries not to exceed 10 percent; (14) Shorten school year not to exceed 12 per cent; (15) Discontinue evening classes; (16) Discontinue kindergartens; (17) Reduce elementary school curriculums by consideration from eight to seven years; (18) Reduce high school curriculums by consolidation from four to three years; (19) Transfer one-third of cost of instruction above high school levels from taxpayer to pupil; (20) Impose a fee on high school students.”

This program is already being carried out. In Ohio, California and other states the school year has been cut; in some states drastically. In New York City and elsewhere salaries have been cut: in some places more than once and more than ten per cent. New building is virtually at a standstill. Classes have been increased in size all over. Similarly with the other items in this bill of particulars.

It is clear at a glance that the burden of this economy will fall on the teachers and pupils. The teachers have already begun to struggle against it. The militant demonstrations in Chicago and the protests and activities of the Left wing in the Teachers Union in New York are laying the foundations for a teachers movement in the United States.

But the scope of the Chamber of Commerce economy proposals transcends the interests of the teachers as teachers. It is an integral part of the attack of the capitalist class on the working class. In New York City the backbone of the organized labor movement are the Building Trades. They have a direct and immediate interest in new school construction. Imposing fees on high school students increases the cost of living for the workers. Increase in the size of classes places hardships on the children.

Under capitalism labor struggles to assimilate the culture which science and the arts place nt the disposal of society. The labor movement has to fight the poisonous ideology which the capitalists inculcate in working class children in the schools. In the United States labor has a stake in the preservation and extension of the free school system.

This economy move on the part of the capitalist class is a reactionary one. The teachers by themselves will not, cannot be successful in defeating it. The experience of the Chicago teachers proves this. They must ally themselves with the working class movement. The teachers movement must steer in this direction.

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Last updated: 25 October 2015