COMMUNISM and EDUCATION
American vs. European Policies
by William F. Russell
Deputy Director, Technical Services International Cooperation Administration,
Past President, Teachers College, Columbia University.
Speech delivered at Convention of the California Association „< School Administrators
H' MAT lo do aboul Communists and
communism. That is the latest hard
problem confronting the school superintendent anel lhe college presidenl. ll cannot be Ignored or dodged, li cannot be
laid upon the table. Inept handling may
alienate public support. Fumbling may
ruin a good organization. Requisite to
successful administration is the adoption of ei wise and resolute policy and
the will to carry it into effect.
Whal should ibis policy be?
Many people have many ideas both
here eunl abroad. Nevertheless America
sei'ius to be' settling upon one poliev.
Europe quite another, with the resull
thai of all the variations which one can
detect in lhe educational work over here
.in,l over there, none is now so completely misunderstood, nunc so productive of suspicion and ill will, as the contrail in the ways in which schools and
teachers are reading to the threats of
This discussion proposes t" describe
these contrasting policies and practices
in European and American1 schools.
give- lhe lease.ns for lhe differences; and
then to draw whatever lessons we can
ind for the American school administrator eiml college president.
THE AMERICAN VIEW
The I nited States is coming to the
decision that the schools should take ee
firm stand against communism. Communisl teachers arc beginning to be
barred, as evidenced bv such measures
as the Feinberg Law in New York, the
scti I the National Education Association in 1949 followed bv similar action this summer bv the American Federation of Teachers, various types "I
oaths for teachers, ami the undoubted
public approval which heis greeted the
dismissal of Communists b) such educational executives as the Superintendent
Of Sel I- of New ,- oil Cilv em,I the
President of the I niversit) oi \\ ashing-
now al I CLA,
Positively, there is nnw developing
-''-.it enthusiasm for a number "I cilu-
1 America eunl American are intended to
""'ein .mu the U.S.A. Europe and European
""I i ontinental are Intended to mean nnest eel
Western Europe, excepl Ireland, >|ieeh> and
n 'lia „ 11,-1. exceptional conditions prev ail.
cational programs designed lo strengthen
American ideals, arouse patriotism, and
to improve the actions of American citizens. Partly because they have little
enthusiasm for negative measures (you
can't root out all the Communists
Communists will be the first to take the
oath) teachers have welcomed programs
in citizenship education. They believe
that the best way to beat lhe Communisl is te) faee him with citizens who
know and love their country, who both
understand and revere its ideals, who
i an recognize them and apply them in
the ordinary situations of everyday life.
The Citizenship Education Project —
one of these many programs has been
enthusiastically received, widely
adopted, and is spreading more rapidly
than we had thought possible. American
schools are coming to take a far more
active role than formerly in developing
American citizenship, and in conse-
ipicne'c. in combating la.mmunisin.
It is the American people who have
made this decision. Some educational
policies are determined in the classroom
by the individual teacher, sonic by the
.superintendent of schools, or by the supervisory or administrative .-.lafT. But
this decision regarding communism
comes from the people, eis they express
their will in state eiml local legislative'
bodies or school hoards- in national,
steete- hi local voluntary associations
sometimes called pressure groups and
bv parents and teachers close to indi-
viebieil schools. The American people are
coming to the decision that the Bchools
shall stand againsl communism; thai
Communisl teachers and Communisl
teaching and propaganda will not be tolerated: thai greater efforl musl be made
to strengthen patriotism and improve
the' sense of elulv and w illingncss to serve'
eif the fulure citizen; all ibis to lhe end
thai American education mav play ils
proper role- in the great efforl thai tree
people' .if the world are making to maintain their freedom.
THE EUROPEAN VIEW
\e le.ss the Atlantic, teachers in general ami thoughtful pcplc associated
with teachers view these' American decisions with great alarm, believe them to
be basie- mistakes, ami cannol under
stand w 11v teachers and professors have
nol risen up in arms againsl them.
Here arc two illustrations, both personal. In 1952 I was invited to give- one
of the Jubilee Lectures of the I niversit)
of London Institute of Education. This
paper entitled "The Caravan Goes On"
I tried out first before a general session
of the AASA. It was an effort to explain
certain recent developments in American education and to isolate eunl analyze
lhe considerations that led lo recent cril-
icisms of our schools. To lay the foun-
ilaliieii for an understanding of present
American concerns for education, I discussed our reluctant realization thai we
were no longer isolated, the < ommunisl
threat, the disappearance of ei -ense' of
eeisv optimism and confidence, the re-
binb ol the psychology of the pioneer
I including children wearing the coon-
skin cap), and the growing puhlie- concern at the quality of American ,-iiizen-
ship eis evidenced bv the Miss case, the
tiieil of the eleven Communisl leaders
under Judge Medina and other recent
revelations ,,f Communisl intrigue and
Reading the same paper before the
I l-tii Teachers Union, where there was
ample lime pie.vide,I lor discussion. I at
<■ realized that I had struck upon a
highlv controversial topic, despite the
efforl I bad made to emphasize that I
wee- speaking wholly of American conditions. Whv were lhe Americans s,,
frightened? Whv we're tbcv Irving to
disturb the peace of the world? Communists were merelv members of ei minority
political party. Why think them aggressive? In facl. is ii not precisel) the
Communisl who advocates peace? Who
talks of war? Only the Americans.
The Russiein- will never attack Europe.
\ „u Americans, with vour Feinberg
Law. McCarthy-ism and Hiss witchhunts, you are merely hysterical, ll is
ei mistake to allow politics in the schools.
W hv are ve,u tr) ing to Eoisl vour mistakes on the resl of the world?
Such ideas were expressed bv onl) a
few e,l tb<< large eiml friendl) audience
al the meeting In 1 l-tir; but the member who led this critical discussion was
an able man. an experienced eiml competent school administrator, obviously
PACTS FORUM NEWS. September, 1955