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Hugh Calkins


money to Cleveland, PACE flatly told the city's taxpayers that they would have to come up with $56 million themselves to save their schools.


LARGELY because of this expense problem the PACE report had little immediate impact in Cleveland. But five months after the report came out, some of the supporters formed a new group. They called it the PACE Association, and they elected Calkins as its president.

The Association said its goal was to apply continuing pressure on the same sensitive areas the PACE report had pointed out. For the next 18 months, Calkins gave speeches and provided quotes for newspaper articles in an attempt to swing taxpaying-Cleveland's mind toward the Association's point of view.

The reasoning behind Calkins' public-relations campaign was a sophisticated variation on the original report's relatively simply task. The report unearthed the problems, but Cleveland still slumbered. What Calkins had to do was make the public feel sufficiently disturbed about its crowded schools. Then they might mobilize their city's finances to hire more teachers.

The Association's platform reflected this public-persuasion strategy. Instead of dealing with specific proposals like ghetto school improvement, it concentrated on broad tactics. It planned to "gain active participation from as broad a segment of the community as possible," and to "provide mechanisms for citizens and business leaders to work in the best interests of the schools."

The project's clearest success came among Cleveland's businessmen. By late 1964, bankers and industrialists were telling business conventions that the whole Northern Ohio economy was in trouble if Cleveland school's kept decaying.

"An inferior public school system is the greatest single problem facing all of us in this region," the president of the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company said. Other businessmen quietly looked over reports showing that Cleveland's industrial growth rate was suffering in comparison with cities that had revamped their schools.

Calkins did his part to woo the business community. He put a new cover on the PACE report's vocational-education plan and presented it in the interest of "improving industry-school communication."

The new version was a Greater Cleveland Vocational Education Council, and its purpose was to "keep abreast of job skills in a rapidly changing technological society, and to steer students into those occupations of benefit to themselves and to industry."

As public support for the general PACE idea rose, Calkins rolled out some other specific plans in 1964 and 1965. At a panel discussion, for example, he suggested merging Cleveland's neighborhood high schools into a city-wide system in order to expose white children to "people of other races, religions, and economic levels."

The single most important proposal Calkins made in his year with PACE was probably a tax-reform study he made in early 1965. The city schools' fundamental financial problem was clear: the Cleveland school district had a lower tax base to draw from than the suburban schools did, and Cleveland had to pay more of its tax-base revenue for police and firemen. There was simply too little money left over to support any kind of adequate city school system.

After the Ohio Appeals Board cut some $2.2 million out of the Cleveland school budget by slashing property valuations in 1965, Calkins started the special PACE study of new ways to get money into the city schools.

The study probed several promising sources of Federal aid, and also devised a way of decreasing the embarrassing disparity between school budgets in the richer suburbs and those in downtown Cleveland.

The plan was a country-wide income tax throughout Cuyahoga County -- which includes many of the suburbs, as well as Cleveland. If the proceeds were distributed to the poorest school districts in the country (i.e., Cleveland's), the practical result would be suburban subsides of the Cleveland system.

In April, 1965, two months after the tax study was started, Calkins resigned as PACE president, moved from Shaker Heights into Cleveland, and jumped into the race for one of four seats on the Cleveland School Board.

Calkins was immediately cast in the role of crusading reformer challenging the entrenched party hacks. He ran an exhausting campaign, fought hard to shake a suburbanite-carpetbagger image, and finally came in third out of six candidates. That was enough to get him a four-year seat on the Board.

Since then, Calkins' record has been surprisingly consistent with the outlines he set during the PACE days. During the campaign and after the election, he emphasized the same PACE issues. Cleveland needed better schools, more money, closer cooperation with industry.

In his Congressional testimony, which has become more frequently in the last year, Calkins has again stressed the problems that came out of the old PACE study. In 1967, he told the Senate subcommittee on education the Senate subcommittee on education that inner-city schools could work if they had enough money and enough good teachers.

At that hearing, Robert Kennedy derided Calkins' request for some school aid as "pouring money into the same old system when there's no sign it works." Calkins retored that the city schools have failed only because they have been continually shortchanged.

In 1968, Calkins appeared before the education subcommittee again and urged them to send more money into the cities' vocation education programs. And less than six weeks ago, Calkins--serving as chairman of the National Advisory Council on Vocational Education--hit the same theme saying that job training classes in schools would save the country millions of dollars that it now spends on remedial training for unemployable adults.


THESE CLEVELAND details are currently interesting only because they offer important clues to the way Calkins thinks about Harvard.

One undeniable mark of Calkins' school board record is his commitment to standard "liberal" causes. In his action on the school board, in his intricately-designed tax plans, and especially in his testimony before Congress, he has pleaded for more money to let the big cities meet their crying ghetto needs.

Calkins has urged private investors to put some of their money into black businesses in the ghetto. He made a speech last fall and suggested the creation of some national foundation to direct those philanthropic investments.

In the internal function of the Cleveland board, Calkins has also tried to make governmental procedures more accessible to the people they serve. Last year he fought with other board members in order to get the board's meetings moved to local schools, where parents who were being affected by integration plans could question the board members.

Two years ago, Calkins led another crusade. He headed a drive to repeal an 18-year-old loyalty oath that Cleveland had required of all its school employees.

There are many other examples of Calkins' allegiance to classic liberalism. In his school board campaigns, he received unprecedented backing from labor unions and the Americans for Democratic Action. He said at Harvard last month that he wants the U. S. to get out of Vietnam, and his opposition to the war was on record long before that. He has supported Civil Rights movements, in the South and in the cities.

But there is another clear strain in Calkins' thought that keeps this budding liberalism from veering over into ROTC abolishing radicalism in his views on Harvard. Underlying his commitments to specific political and educational goals has been Calkins' unflagging devotion to pragmatism as a political philosophy.

Calkins is a man who likes to get things done--in the most immediately efficient was possible. He finds the vulnerable chink in the problem he wants to solve, and he begins his attack there. If the attack is fruitless he moves elsewhere. He does not ram his head into the wall.

If he wants to get ahead in life, he moves west to Cleveland.

If his school board needs money, Calkins finds the federal law that will let him get the money. If the suburban schools are too rich, he changes the tax law to send more money to the inner city. If there are too few teachers, he sets up a corps of teacher-auxiliaries. If all these plans cost money, he tells businessmen why the money is a good investment.

If a plan seems futile, it is dropped. If integrating the Cleveland schools seems less effective than improving all the schools, he leaves the schools imbalanced and tries to improve them all.

This outlook has its effects on Calkins' approach to Harvard. Back when the University's failure to invest in ghetto business was a hot issue. Calkins explained the Corporation's reluctance. The gesture was pointless, he said. Harvard simply did not have the power of solve the problem. If students really cared about helping the ghetto, they should put pressure on the government to wield its might there.

The same ethic makes the attack on University rental polices seem foolish to Calkins. He says that the University cannot pragmatically afford to take losses on the apartment buildings it owns. As a practical necessity and as a preventative against federal influence, the University needs to be self-supporting.

But students say that there is not enough housing for the poor people in the country. He agrees. But he says the energy being used to force changes in the rents in a few Harvard units or to prevent the eviction of several hundred Boston tenants is being wasted. If it were applied to the federal government, he says, some worthwhile programs to house millions of poor people might emerge.

Calkins adds another practical argument to his reply to SDS expansion demands. You want to stop the Affiliated Hospital Center from being built? he asks. Then you are depriving the millions of poor people who will profit from the new medical techniques it will develop.

Baroque variations are possible. When students asked him at a panel discussion last week why the Corporation could not take a loss on investments and rentals, Calkins responded with an artful practical problem. You want us to spend more money in the ghettos? Then we will have to cut down somewhere else, like in the new Afro-American Studies program or in the new fellowships for black graduate students.

The same formula applies in the University's government. Bureaucracies should be accessible to their constituents; Calkins has tired to move his school board closer to the people.

Are students on the Corporation the next logical step? No. The Corporation is already straining to run efficiently, Calkins says. Add more people and it will never get its business done. The men who fly in every other week to meet in Massachusetts Hall are busy, and an overblown Corporation would probably drive them all away.

But the Corporation's remoteness also poses a pragmatic threat. Calkins realizes that; he realized it before the bust. The solution he found was to keep the Corporation small and efficient, but to set up informal contacts with students whenever possible.

Most of these arguments-from-practicality could easily be mistaken for old-style conservatism. In April, most of them were. The one application of Calkins' theory that come as a surprise to most students was his "elegant dissent" scheme.

This too was an idea rooted in practicality. The real goal of the ROTC protests, Calkins said, was to end the war. Just getting ROTC off Harvard territory won't do that. What the protestors need to do is to win a national following -- as the civil rights marchers did in the South. National sympathy, he said, was the only way to have a successful campaign.

But the protests so far have had just the opposite result. The rest of the country is mad at the students. So when they win the local battles, they may just be increasing the national war machine, Calkins says.

Why does the country hate these protestors? Because their dissent is not "elegant." Calkins says the key to the civil rights victory was the elegance of its protests. The people were martyrs to their cause. Protestors who demand amnesty aren't martyrs. And so the tactic Calkins suggested on television and in talks with students was for University Hall demonstrators to accept punishment willingly. Then their protest would be effective.

And Calkins' keen sense of what is necessary at the movement dictated much of his own activity last month. Last President Pusey, he thought that the University was threatened. Unlike Pusey, he knew what to do about it. The Corporation had to emerge from its wraps, and so Calkins made himself visible and available.


THERE IS a danger in all this of making Hugh Calkins seem abstract and disembodied. In running through his career as a school crusader, his theories on dissent, his theme of practicality, it is easy to forget that he is a man who sometimes wears how ties, who has a station wagon with a "Go Browns" sticker on the back window, who has little children who can be less than charming.

There is also a danger of taking Calkins a little too seriously as a political figure. Granted, he was made a large name for himself in Cleveland, and may have plans for the future. But some of the fantasies that run through the heads of his Cleveland admirers are clearly out of order.

There are people in Cleveland who say that Hugh Calkins is the logical next man in the John Kennedy-John Lindsay succession. That is dubious at best. He has the same liberal sentiments as Kennedy and Lindsay. He has the same sense of political practicalities. But he lacks what we have cloyingly come to call the "charisma" of a bona fide political hero.

Calkins is a friedly man. He is young, handsome, tall, and slim. But his pants are sometimes baggier than a hero's should be. A bronze Calkins bust or a lacquered Calkins face on the bottom of a party dish would not look quite the same as a Kennedy face did in the same circumstances.

Fortunately, Calkins probably realizes all this. He will never be a Lyndon Johnson, frustrated because not worshipped. He would probably laugh if he heard about the Kennedy-Lind-say-Calkins analogies that float around in corners of Cleveland.


THERE IS probably no one--not even Calkins himself--who is sure just how long Calkins will serve on the Corporation. He is theoretically appointed for life, and he still has 25 years until he reaches the normal retirement age of 70. But Calkins said soon after he was appointed that he did not imagine he would "stay on forever."

Calkins tells a semi-plausible story about his entry into the Corporation, claiming that it was mostly an accident. He says he became an Exeter Trustee because Exeter decided it needed a Midwesterner to round out its board. He met fellow Trustee Thomas Lamont, who was also a Corporation member. Lamont groomed him for service in the Associated Harvard Alumni, and eventually Calkins became a Midwestern representative on the Overseers' Board. Calkins winds up his story by saying that when Lamont died, he was an old friend who was ready as successor.

Calkins tells that story humorously, and it is hard to say how much is true. But if Calkins wins the political prominence that some Clevelanders say he is heading for--either through the kind of accident described in the Lamont story or through the kind of conscious design the story may conceal--he will obviously have to give up the Corporation. What kind of effect Calkins may have had on the Corporation by the time that happens--if it ever happens--is still hard to say

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