Fourteen faculty members of the Graduate School of Education, including Dean Francis T. Spaulding, and Professor and former Dean Henry W. Holmes, have issued a public statement with respect to the recently announced project of the National Association of Manufacturers for analysis of the "social studies" textbooks now used in the public schools.
The statement, while welcoming the action, called on the Association to avoid certain dangers inherent in such an analysis by making its position clear, and suggested that the Association might perform a great service by joining with other groups in a broad gauge study of the entire problem of public education.
The statement follows:
"The National Association of Manufacturers has recently announced a plan for the analysis of secondary school textbooks in the social studies. The Association has employed Ralph W. Robey, Assistant Professor of Banking at Columbia University, to abstract some 800 textbooks. The abstracts will be made available to all interested persons, including the 8,000 individual members of the Association who will presumably take such action in their various communities as seems warranted. In the statement released to the press, the Association expresses its hope that this undertaking will serve to encourage manufacturers in every community to cooperate wholeheartedly with their local educational authorities in analyzing sound means by which the concept of private enterprise and the deals of its operation may be taught in the schools.
Praise Interest of Manufacturers
"We whose professional concern is primarily with the sound progress of the public schools, acclaim wholeheartedly the interest of the Association in the improvement of education and the preservation of the democratic way of life. Every group in the body social, especially in such critical times as these, should concern itself actively with these two complementary tasks. To deny the Association or any other sincerely interested group the right to examine and help select the textbooks for the public schools would violate a right and a spirit inherent in the democratic process. A wider interest in our schools by every type of sincere citizen is one of the great needs of the system today.
"But the action of the Association in our opinion holds dangers which, unless guarded against, may more than offset its merits.
"The first and most obvious danger is that the abstracting of the textbooks may be done with bias, professor Robey may easily find in any or all of his 800 volumes statements with which some groups in American will disagree. He will find very few statements not espoused by some legitimate group in our society.
"There are many possible roads to our cherished vision of democracy.