When the Massachusetts Commission on Communism early in June published the names of 85 alleged local Communists, the list was immediately at-tacked as verging on half-truth and insinuation.
But on the list was the name of Ann Hale, Jr., '30, a former second-grade teacher in Wayland, Mass., who has herself dispelled doubts as to her Communist sympathies and had subsequently been suspended from her teaching duties by the Wayland School Committee.
An Utter Lack of Ideals
The most significant issue for the School Board's action was the of her fitness to teach. "We believe that it is important for children, even in the lower grades, to be taught by teachers imbued with our American ideals of democracy, loyalty, love of country, and respect for our tradition of freedom," the majority wrote, "and we do not believe that love for these ideals can be properly transmitted by a person whose personal contact shows an utter lack of understanding of them."
Miss Hale was dismissed by a 2-1 vote of the School Committee on July 8, 1954. Earlier, she had testified in close session before the Committee and in an open hearing before the voters of the town.
With her right to her personal beliefs was not questioned, her dismissal was based on her continued membership in the party after 1947 and her statements to the committee as to the nature, purposes, and activities of the Communist Party, showing a lack of "perception, understanding, and judgment necessary in one who is to be entrusted with the responsibility for teaching the children of the Town. . ."
In the case of Ann Hale, Jr., it was felt that although she had an unimpeachable record as a teacher, her personal beliefs would permeate--consciously or unconsciously--her teaching.
In his dissenting opinion, William A. Waldron, chairman of the Wayland School Committee, and a member of the Executive Board of the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, refused to vote for her dismissal on the charges presented. "It is our duty to uphold the right of all citizens--including teachers--to freedom of belief and lawful association in their private lives."
Ann Hale joined the Party in 1938 and dropped out when she moved to Wayland in 1950. Before the Massachusetts Commission on Communism, she said that she never formerly resigned from the Party, nor has she modified her beliefs. The Commission's repjort said that she "admitted that she had held various offices in branches of the Communist party, had been chairman, secretary, treasurer, literary distributor of various branches at various times in New York State and in Massachusetts."
In her statements before the Committee on April 23, 1954, Miss Hale said that she saw the party only as a means for educating people to vote for a socialist government.
"But we cannot believe that Miss Hale, in her twelve years of activity in the Communist Party," the majority of the Committee asserted, "did not learn the doctrine (of violent overthrow of existing governments) or hear it advocated, or know of the distribution of literature advocating it. . . We conclude that she did not tell the truth on April 23, that she did so in order to defend the Communist Party."
Before the Commission in a return hearing early this year, Miss Hale did not use the privileges against self-in-crimination of either the Fifth Amendment or of the Twelfth Article of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, but she did invoke the First Amendment and refused the name of people associated with her in Communist activity.
In her public hearing, before the Wayland School Committee, too, she used the First Amendment on the grounds that public bodies had no rights to interfere in personal political beliefs.
"When an American answers under compulsion concerning his religion or politics," she said, "he not only sacrifices State and Federal Constitutions for himself, but he also sacrifices them for all of the American people and becomes party to the potential control of religion and politics by the State. Such control would be inconsistent with human freedom."
Had she been formally charged with this refusal to answer the questions put to her by the Committee about her associations, chairman Waldron said, he would have voted to dismiss her from her teaching post.
Since her firing she has held a succession of jobs, the first of which was working for a private charity. But although "I was told I was doing well at this job, I was suddenly fired." Miss Hale attributes both her dismissal by the Wayland schools and the loss of her charity job to malicious visits by "agents" of the Commission." "Is this Commission using permanent unemployment as a club to force people to become informers?" she asked last January.
Miss Hale and her lawyer Oliver S. Allen still contemplate further legal action to restore her to her teaching post, but their action is contingent upon the results of other pending cases.
She herself says that she hopes to keep her case before the public eye and "find enough support among those who believe in liberty to enable me to carry this matter further."