A Federal Case II; 3; A discussion with Richard Graham
This is a federal case from Washington D.C. the National Educational radio network brings you one examination of current issues facing our nation and its capital city. Here is an E.R. and correspondent Vic Sussman. The National Teacher Corps was established to provide disadvantaged rural and urban communities with highly motivated teachers especially trained to teach the poor and so-called culturally deprived children. These teachers in turn received a regular salary from the local school system and 90 percent of their tuition was paid towards a two year program leading to a master's degree in education at a dissipating University. The teacher quote was established as part of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Congress authorized one hundred million dollars to start the program and then characteristically refused to appropriate any funds. One year later however Congress did release 17 million dollars late and conditional and in two installments does the teacher corps
came into being amid predictions for an early and ignoble death. Richard Graham was named the teacher corps first permanent director in November 1066. Mr. Graham after such a rocky beginning how is the teacher corps after four years. How is it doing. Well the teacher corps is alive and well. It's more than a lie I think it's it's spirited. It's got good people and there's a sense now in colleges and in school systems about what they want to do for the future and how they can use the energies of young people to help make the changes they want. You know I'm number reading in the press at the time of the teach a course called the stepchild of Congress it was compared to an orphan out of a Dickens novel it was called I think the unkindest cut it was called an afterthought to the Education Act. You had very little support for the most part and you had open opposition in Congress. Well the teacher corps was a good idea. It was hardly more than that.
It represented a lot of faith in young people and that threw their energies and their impatience. That you could bring about some reform because the act really didn't specify that you were to provide services. The emphasis in the legislation was to improve educational opportunities for kids from low income families. But then secondly to encourage colleges and universities to broaden their programs of teacher preparation. The idea was that you would use the teacher corps not just to get better preparation for a few young people but to help colleges and universities change the way they train teachers so that everyone following thereafter would also be able to do a better job and not. And although the emphasis to be sure was with kids from low income families certainly the idea was that if you produced some reform if you could educate kids from low income families in a better way that you'd probably end up providing better education for all kids.
So part of the idea was to affect some sort of change on the university level and what have been called antiquated education departments. Sure. Teacher Education had a terrible reputation and that much of it I guess was deserved but it need not be. And the idea is that if you're going to provide better education for the young and better education now most certainly means a scheme by which they become excited. They learned the processes and the habits and the joy you say of discovery and of learning and the idea that their life can become more fall and that they can continue and they can continue to learn themselves. But that occurs that happens by the processes by which they learn not nearly so much of the content but the processes by which teachers were learning were even worse than those that were expected of the kids. You keep putting that in the past tense I mean has it changed that much in the past couple of years
and it still seems teaching for the most part. If I'm wrong and it's correct never teaching still as I talk you listen for the most part I mean sure itself. But the encouraging thing the promising thing is that there is a quickening awareness of that that that need not be in that there are such systems which in isolated places around the United States are Silberman and others are pointing out where that isn't happening where kids are coming alive but that hasn't happened to a very great degree in teacher education and it will never happen broadly in the schools until the teachers themselves have learned by those processes and believe and by the national teacher or was established during the Johnson administration I believe it was. The idea was originally John Kenneth Galbraith has a track record. It's been reputed I mean. Oh I think certainly he had some part in it but the idea had a number of origins. OK. But now you're in the next administration which has been criticized from both within and without as being
well allegedly insensitive to the needs of the poor the black the disadvantaged you know has this. Do you agree with this and has if it is true how has it affected your organization or the teacher corps appropriations have continued to increase. They're still substantially short of the authorized funding but they have increased. And in retrospect when we consider how little we knew about how we could best help schools and and colleges a few years back it isn't perhaps the great tragedy we thought it was then we think now. And I think the colleges and universities and school systems that are using the teacher corps now feel that it's right in the mainstream it's of what they want to do. And it can provide a very important resource in helping them do what they want to do. Back in 1967 Congresswoman Edith Green was expected to scuttle
the whole program she didn't she apparently overhaul the program to suit herself and House Republicans and and you survive but she asked an interesting question that. Probably a lot of conservatives would like the answer too. She asked Why is it better for the commissioner of education to recruit train and help place teachers in individual school districts rather than a state or county superintendent. How do you answer that then how would you answer in the same way. And the commissioner of education never did. The legislation was never intended that he do. If anyone who was party to the development of the legislation felt that that was desirable I think he was wrong that the people who come into these programs may have a common national sense a feeling of wanting to work for their their nation as well as for the society as well as for their local system. But they're employed by their local system. They are assigned by the local system. The course of instruction that they
receive is developed by the local school system in cooperation with the community that is to be served. The teacher corps people themselves the college the state people so that if Ms Green want to dam for sizes I suspect she did. The importance of all of that then it serves a useful purpose but it was not really correct and you know that. The teacher corpsman then is invited to a to a local school district has been assigned there by the government. He also has does not have tenure he serves really at the pleasure of the local school system the training be he can be fired with one day's notice or removed with one day. No no we can yes I guess. We ask that they give him. I forget now what is 10 or 20 days notice. But no it's really not the federal government is not then assigning people to local districts
it's really to set up a sort of program so that local people can invite people to write the greatest emphasis of federal involvement is this that we in effect say that if you have a plan for your future and you can show how the teacher corps will help you achieve that plan for your reforms which you seek that then we can provide support but in the absence of a plan we probably would not because you are going to put your support to those systems that do have such a plan and at the same time that Congressman woman green raises the question about federal involvement or more federal takeover I think is what she and some others you know they worried about. She also raised the question of. The morale of local people our brain and so-called you know outsiders who come in for two years. They receive a full first year salary some of them were never taught before they receive 90 percent of their tuition. What is this done to local morale of people you know already in the system. Well initially the pay for the
teacher corps people was about as high as you state but it was quickly changed and had to persist I think she was right that they don't receive the starting salary. A lot did say that they had to receive from federal sources up to 90 percent of a stipend of $75 a week which was taxable and in some places really represent take home pay of $50 Ribera enough to live on. But we asked for and received a change in legislation which sets no minimum so that the local systems will determine up to this and now it has been changed to $90 a week they they may be paid but there is further. When these Teacher Corps plans that are developed locally a schedule for the withdrawal of the federal resources so that after a period of four or five or six years that one of them has begun with federal assistance will be continued with local or other
federal resources. The idea being that if you're looking for some change some some reform the experience with other federal programs is has been that when the federal money is tended to run out of the program. And so unless you build in a kind of phased withdrawal of these what are referred to as highly categorical federal funding the reforms that are sought tend not to take hold. This this was described at one point as being a program that was closest to President Johnson's heart. You ever hear from a former president you know and I'm embarrassed about that because I should write to him here. He did he put his prestige on the line on several occasions and asking from the Congress the funding that the program needed. And he really did all he could to the fact that we've gotten here managed to survive as you suggest was largely due to his efforts. You have hear from Congresswoman green and she become a fan of the teacher corps will
certainly she hasn't that. But again that's my fault and I'm getting up to see her more frequently and tell her that. The things we think of going along the lines that that she probably would like to see. Let's talk about the actual program and the work that that internes are doing at a summer training session at San Diego State College trainees in the teacher incoming trainees at a summer session were advised if you don't like dirty little snot nosed kids you don't belong here. It's been adopted as an official line of the corps. You know that's that's Madam blazoned on our walls who are there and you know what he was trying to say I think he said it very ineptly he would say the it's a tough job unless you really like kids you know always system when when when they're good and when they're bad. Don't take this job. But we talked earlier a moment ago about about changing the traditional manner of
teaching to make to make a learning for the child an exciting thing and to make teaching I would assume for the teacher an exciting thing. But that's the step down on traditionalists toes I mean such things as team teaching ungraded classes personal relationships with students I read recently where one of your teacher corpsman used to cut his student's hair because the town had no barber. Now there are some people are Imagine that are upset by this kind of non academic or nontraditional approach. I mean you feel you stepped on toes with with this kind of approach. For sure and I haven't had a teacher corps in France also got involved in activist community involvement got involved with welfare groups this kind of thing. Yeah they have. And in fact that in light of experience with other youth programs it's probably surprising to some that they haven't been engaged in more of that activity. But much of that sort of thing comes about from a sense of
frustration that there's no way to help bring about some reform except by confrontation. And as long as there is hope of working within a system. But but you can't kid yourself that the people you're working with actually what it have to want it and want enough to put themselves on the line and have some reasonable sense of what they're after. But if that happens then instead of having some palliative or in these murmured cues and senses re-establish an equilibrium which is still far short of what's necessary. But as long as you can put aside the the tokenism of change and but build in a regular process of continual change if there's if there's some hope then the most energetic and thoughtful and patient of the young will say all right there is a chance through this kind of system and we'll give it the chance. In many of the other is they they get into it find it know it's some kind of hoax that the people that the words were great
but the commitment isn't there and the only way really to bring it about is that challenge. Well I say that and we think more now than before. There is a promise that you can learn the techniques of really making something happen and that and then you don't have the confrontations. The country apparently from what we read and what we hear is is taking a trip toward the right politically. We keep hearing cries for a return to commonsense traditional patterns. You think this is going to affect what what has already been accomplished what you're trying to do what you hope to do in the future. Oh no that puts me into the right as a rear guard action against the abuses and excesses of those of the frustrated that that the long term swing is and back to the traditional values so-called love that the traditional values of of
church and nation. They're over a long period for absolute long long periods. I tend to change and the system has to help kids provide their their own sense of that they tend to a much greater degree to create for them for themselves their sense of the proper relationship to their society to their nation to their god to their family and all of that regardless of what happens on the right is changing in the education system is deficient now because it leaves a void. The good of the kids will continue to question more but they're not provided by the means do more effectively come up with their own answers. National Teacher Corps was supposed to also help develop new programs with and within universities to help the universities produce better teachers and so on. What new programs have resulted. What are some that you're especially proud of specially excited by the framework
for change happily is can be based upon some of the ideas put together by a group of very bright young teacher educator people over the past two or three years. Some people from Colombia and from the University of Massachusetts and University of Georgia and the Wisconsin a number of institutions around the United States it's based upon a system of discovery of self pacing of self motivation of self determination of what they want to learn and how to do it. So that teacher education will then be based upon the same principles that you expect kids to learn by and that's begun. And we've taken the posture that because there are a number of institutions that would like to take this approach to teacher education that will provide support to the teacher court to those institutions but really not to the others. What are some I mean give me an example of a university program that's been set up
that's particularly interesting or innovative. All right well let's let's suggest this week we can pick that of the University of Georgia Texas Southern and and several others have now embarked upon programs of this kind the way they will do it is this they'll use their teacher corps program to. Start off with 50 or 100 teachers in training they'll start these new processes that means that they will no longer be courses but instead there will be a series of rather precise objectives behavioral objectives knowledge objectives or in the case of teacher education what would they for want of a better word. A proud product objective that is you determine whether a person has learned something about teaching by whether children learn from him. And although that that's still difficult to do they are learning something about doing so that whether a person has learned what he should learn can be determined by those ways.
Do kids learn from him. Or Does he exhibit the behaviors by which other experiences indicated that kids learn more than 3 the more conventional way. Does he know is he familiar with other people's philosophies and experiences and what is generally considered to be effective practice so that you will have a series of faery of discrete and rather generally short learning modules there. They're called rather than courses and a person may progress through these at his own rate or he to a given N or he may he may choose the modules or that is the methods the means by which he will. Arrive at the end he seeks and he'll do so at his own rate. He may take half a dozen of these modules at the same time or he may take only one and work at that very intensely. You're talking about teachers now these are the way teachers will learn. But after teachers learn this way then of course there's much greater likelihood that these will be the process of processes by which kids will
learn to learn. All this sounds a lot more relaxed. Well more wow. But I'm not casting it I thought it sounds rather appealing. Well it will if just if it kind of hits me because we work at it so intensely for so little relaxation but the ultimate objective yes this is a more relaxed free developing of your own self confidence in yourself. The learning is something you can direct and will forever and enjoy doing. Let me give you let me give you the needle for a second said OK let's hear a lecture for oh I think any of a moment in 1967 a Dr Bernard Watson did his Ph.D. dissertation on the teacher corps and he found that. In this area of universities updating courses and reorganizing Education Department said a number of universities were applying a little sleight of hand and they were doing such things as one school renamed its general sociology course urban sociology. Yet the Course was essentially the same course taught by the same teacher who was an expert in rural
sociology and he had taught the class for 15 years. How much of this goes on is widespread. You know it's a big problem. Yes it's a problem and I think a fair amount of it. When I first came out of institutions and acquired some experience in writing a proposal for a federal monies some of them I think can and really intended to do things then found out later they couldn't get the professor they wanted to for a variety of reasons couldn't do what they intended or in some cases perhaps may have been a little shaky in their intentions. But I'm sure there was a great deal of that but that her feeling is now that if and that was largely seen because the teacher was a federal program which you could pick on her you could not take on in that was in some places you got extra points if you got more federal programs. But now if the teacher corps and. In a
position of providing resources to local programs for reform and that we will help them do what they want to do rather than there taking on some kind of a package federal program. Then there is far less of this. But talk about a lot of the good things but I know you've complained publicly in print that you've said that very often people tell you what they think you want to hear since you are the director and of course here it is here in Washington which has a certain magic to it. What are some problems or what are some things that people don't tell you that you're aware of the things you'd like to see changed. Well we have an advantage that few other programs have and that is that it is a core. And the people who there's a sense of membership and there is a sense of people coming to it for a common goal beyond that of their or their own career which characterizes same most of the other problems that means that the young people generally young
who are in the problems are those who will be most critical if they fail to produce because in your earlier question that if you have a lot of it's a tough job that you're you're working in the places where education really needs the greatest change. And unless they feel that the program is delivering what it. Professed to do. They're the ones who are most critical. They're vocal and we try to keep these channels open directly so that they can get to us. Not not in a way that undercuts the local directors but there's sometimes some debate about this but but they feel that it will be supportive so that we you think you do hear you're not shielded from from the bad and hear only the good. Well give me some examples of bad things when you talk about them publicly things that bother you. Well in the past it's been this site an example that in line with with the Komen another
James Coleman and other educational theorist fostered that. That you can't just improve schooling for poor kids that unless their overall educational input equals that of middle class kids the the poor will continue to receive an inferior education so this means greater attention to what happens to them outside of school to work with parents to work with across age tutoring to work help parents with early childhood stimulation to help set up part time paid and non-paid jobs in the community but in order to get kids in into society more at an earlier age they get a sense of what society can do for them and what their responsibilities are to it so that all of these programs then call for something that we call community based or volunteer assisted programs of education. So these are presented generally in the program proposals. But then all too frequently the school
principal hasn't been as much involved in the development of this program as he should. Then he his view would be this. Now things are awfully tense in our community now. We don't want these these these new people these young people out there working with parents they may stir things up so that the grand plans which they have proposed then come the nod because the right at the local scene someone really wasn't party to that plan. What is the obvious solution. If you just make certain that the. That the school teachers the other people in that school and the principal and the others on whom the responsibility falls they help make it work heard that they read it it's theirs there's something in it for them they want isn't a teacher getting involved and some some new directions recently are somewhat different from what you've been doing in the past. Now that you're four years old I'm sure it's a but it's better more that we've learned something of the people than working with the programs have learned how to make these
resources more effective that if you ask most big city school people what your system is in your school system for the introduction of new curricula or new teaching methods or new staffing patterns new outreach to the community they say well no we we don't have a system but we always say well why don't you consider this notion of the of the portal schools our portal school as you know. Coined word for one or more schools and a system that will serve as the point of entry of a new curriculum or new method of staffing pattern the like but more than that new personnel the new teachers who will also be have a kind of postgraduate preparation in those new processes and curriculum and further that that school will serve as a place of retraining for regular teachers in that school system who will have to go who will want to become familiar with the with the new approaches and so that in a school system then that will serve as the test point. And
then if the tests have been successful that the other schools in the system will adopt but more than that that the big cities will join together and will share in this and that's something that seems to work well in Detroit. Well then tend to be considered or certainly more rapidly in Pittsburgh. Now it is it's that type of system and that type of support that a program such as this can provide as well as the support for a university to try out and then adopt if it works. A new approach to preparing their teachers a couple of brave questions here. You said in a magazine interview some time ago. You saw the teacher corps as one day going out of existence as being basically I know you see it as a temporary sort of program you said. There's nothing about a federal program that's going to make it any better simply because it is a federal program. All right do you see this as the assimilation of the teacher according to local school budgets taking place anytime in the future.
Yes that in fact the whole intent is that if the things that are introduced by the teacher corps program work that they will be adopted and carried on by local resources and the but that there are a lot of other school systems that will want to try the same things over there or similar think different things really. So that that for a while you see a place for a program such as this as long as it is is more effective in achieving these objectives than some alternative needs. And the reason you think you can is that this is that you can call upon the resources of the young in this nation who believe that the change of this kind should be made are seeking for a way to do it and otherwise find it difficult to affect things affect their society as they wish. I've been speaking with Richard Graham who is the director of the teacher corps in Washington DC. This is Beck Sussman reporting from Washington. You've been listening to a federal case a weekly examination of the national
- A Federal Case II
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- A discussion with Richard Graham
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- "A Federal Case II" is a weekly program produced by the National Educational Radio Network which examines current political topics in the United States and Washington, D.C. Each episode features interviews with experts, members of the public, and lawmakers concerning a specific issue of government.
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