Why We Need a Secretary of Education

George Drayton Strayer
1920 The Elementary school journal  
Our American public-school system must be strengthened if it is to meet the demands of our democracy. The large percentage of illiteracy among our adult population, the lack of any adequate program of physical education or health service, the failure to provide any thoroughgoing program for the Americanization of foreigners, the overwhelming proportion of inadequately trained teachers at work in our schools, all indicate our failure to make good the promise of democracy, and all demand national
more » ... action for the sake of national safety and national development. We must grow anxious when we contemplate the limited literacy of one out of four of our soldiers between twenty-one and thirtyone years of age, the physical unfitness for general military service of one out of three of this group, the twelve to fourteen millions of foreigners who have little appreciation of American institutions or American ideals, and the meager preparation of teachers for the work in which they are engaged. How many Americans know that four-fifths of our teachers have had less than a four-year high-school course and two years of professional training in preparation for their work. The need is national, the obligation is national, and the encouragement which the nation alone can give, both in terms of money and in terms of a recognition of the place of education in our national government, is demanded by the crisis which confronts us. The commission on the Emergency in Education of the National Education Association, acquainted with the facts as they exist in the United States today, discussed earnestly the method which might best be employed in enlisting the aid and encouragement of our national government in promoting education throughout the nation. It is an interesting fact that the membership of this ' Address delivered before the Society of the College Teachers of Education, February 23, 1920, at Cleveland Ohio.
doi:10.1086/454814 fatcat:5ujhvcqsnrg3nhcnrdmd7424wa