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Native Pathways to Education
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MERIAM REPORT
EDUCATION SECTION
A SCANNED-DIGITIZED VERSION

Scanned-Digitized Version
By
Thomas (Tom) R. Hopkins

Original Citation
Meriam, Lewis. THE PROBLEM OF INDIAN ADMINISTRATION. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1928, 872 pp.

2008

Financing the Indian Educational Program. The educational program recommended in this report will necessarily cost more than the present educational program. The present cost is dangerously low; it has already resulted in a school provision considerably under accepted standards. To build up a better equipped personnel it will be necessary to raise qualifications and increase salaries; to make the educational program adequate in other particulars more money will be required, and while the increeased expenditure will not have to be made effective in a single year, the program to be undertaken will involve considerable ultimate increase in cost. Fortunately the total amount involved is small, and wise expenditure of funds in the next few years will prove to be real economy, in that such a method will probably settle the problem, whereas the present method will not settle it.

What the Cost is Likely to be. Indian schools and the Indian education program generally are not adequate and it will take money to make them so. Following the World War school systems throughout the United States adjusted themselves to a new price level. They were obliged to do this, in order to get satisfactory educational results. In accordance with long experience as to the effects of training requirements upon results, they set high requirements and arranged to pay for them. In particular, as pointed out elsewhere in this report, they adopted the plan of a salary schedule, whereby teachers and other educational employees are paid, not only according to certain standards of entrance to the service, but according to experience and the attainment of certain special qualifications. The national government apparently never made this adjustment in the Indian educational service, the entrance salaries still being below the level of the better school systems, and the lack of salary schedule putting the Indian Service in the class of the few school systems anywhere in the United States that are without such a method of securing and keeping efficient teachers.

How much money will be required to make the changes suggested in this report?

While exact figures are impossible because of several varying factors, it seems quite certain that a well-staffed educational program for the Indian Service will cost approximately twice what is now paid. Some indication of what will be necessary is found in the boarding school per capita cost at various periods. For many years the per capita allowed was $167.50. The most careful estimates of change in purchasing power seem to show that $100 in 1900 purchased the equivalent of $224 in 1927. At this rate the boarding school per capita, instead of $225, should be over $375. Even this is lower than for any adequately financed state institutions of which it is possible to get records. The per capita cost of the only state Indian school for which figures are obtainable, the Thomas Indian School on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation, New York State, is $610 That this itself is not a high figure is indicated by the fact that the lowest-cost boarding schools in the United States charge $700 per annum, while most boarding schools, although almost never operated at a profit, charge much more. Furthermore, the fee charged by ordinary boarding schools does not, as in the case of the Indian schools, include clothing, transportation and other items. Some economies are undoubtedly possible as a result of government purchasing, and a reasonably low per capita, under normal conditions, would be cause for congratulation, but the present low per capita for government Indian boarding schools is only possible as the result of dangerous economies in food, housing, and education. Indeed, the attention of Congress and the Budget Bureau should be called to the unsatisfactory method involved in the uniform per capita charge; conditions on various jurisdictions differ so that a uniform amount is bound to result unfortunately.

Amount Suggested is Small. Doubling the amount of funds for government Indian education does not involve the expenditure of large amounts of money. The Indian education expenditure is one of the smallest items in the national budget. The procedure suggested is based on the principle that it is good business to spend sufficient amount to get satisfactory results, rather than to do a half-hearted, unsatisfactory job. Spending the recommended amount will not create an ideal educational service; it will, however, bring Indian education up nearer the level of better educational work in the United States, and it should make possible a certain amount of pioneering and leadership in education that one would like to associate with the efforts of the national government. In the long run the nation will settle the Indian problem or not by its willingness to take hold of the issue in a responsible and business-like way. It is business-like to apply to the task in hand the best methods that can be found. At the time the Indian work began there were no accepted principles of education and social work that could be used, but in the past forty or fifty years a body of experience in both education and social work has developed that can and should be applied in order to speed up the solution of the Indian problem. Persons are being trained all over the United States for handling situations very similar to the Indian situation. The major problems of the Indian, health, social and economic development, as well as education in the more restricted sense of schooling, are all in need of the kind of handling that comes from people who are qualified by special training. It takes more money to get qualified people than is at present paid in the Indian Service, but on the other hand the work of qualified people brings assurance that the task will be effectively done. The nation has a right to expect that Indian education as a special governmental function will eliminate itself in a comparatively few years; this can come about if funds for an adequate program are provided.

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Last modified April 25, 2008