Defining the Issues--The Schools and the Defense
by Lyman Bryson - 1941
During the summer of 1940 the faculty of Teachers College developed the Creed of Democracy under the leadership of Professor Thomas H. Briggs. This and the associated documents have had a far-flung influence. Every department of Teachers College probably has members on Defense Committees and Emergency Committees and in similar activities in their particular fields—members who will gladly be of service to teachers and school administrators anywhere by furnishing information on specific questions. To facilitate the process of getting together persons interested in the same fields, Dean William F. Russell asked Professor Paul R. Mort to serve as a correlating agent. As a result, several committees were appointed. During the year additional faculty members were drawn into various defense activities outside the College. Conferences of the committee chairmen during the Summer School of 1941 led to the plan of holding a meeting at which persons concerned with various aspects of the defense problem would present brief statements of their activities. The purpose was to help teachers build a picture of what might be done by the schools on their own initiative. Professor Benjamin R. Andrews was instrumental in preparing the present document to supplement these verbal statements with brief accounts of what some of the Teachers College Staff are doing in defense work and with suggestions of services that teachers everywhere can render to promote community stability and welfare at present and also the protection and improvement of the position of America on into the post-emergency period. Teachers should be ready to initiate local leadership in their own communities by consulting with municipal officials and bringing together informal groups to canvass the local situation, getting in touch with their governors and such national agencies as may be necessary, in order to provide local committees to undertake such community services.
Free men are unwilling to make grave decisions without substantial information and clear-cut issues. On this account, especially for educators, the problem of knowing what issues are before us for decision becomes a major problem in time of crisis. It is important that we examine the definitions of these issues that come from private as well as from public sources.
Public officials in speeches and papers are constantly offering us definitions. All branches of combatant service and most of the civilian committees now in existence are concerned with problems of what is called morale which is the same problem of defining issues. The function of professional educators in this still quite unorganized activity is now being clarified by U. S. Commissioner John W. Studebaker who is preparing, with the advice of a committee, to call upon schools and colleges to provide for the general public, as well as for their students, full access to the facts and careful definition of controversial propositions. A number of private agencies are undertaking to do the same thing. Many of these confine their propaganda to a single point of view. Some of those which undertake a more educational responsibility and attempt to give both sides of debatable questions are listed below. All have free or inexpensive material about the things that the average citizen needs to know if he is to meet the present crisis intelligently.
American Library Association, 520 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Ill.
American Association for Adult Education, 525 West 120th St., New York.
Council for Democracy, 285 Madison Avenue, New York.
Educational Policies Commission of the NEA, 1201 16th St., NW, Washington, D. C.
Foreign Policy Association, 22 East 38th St., New York.
Public Affairs Committee, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York.