Federal legislation impacting agricultural education and extension era i
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Federal Legislation Impacting Agricultural Education and Extension - Era I. Precursors. Burkett-Pollard Bill (NE) (1906) sought federal aid for the teaching of agriculture in normal (teacher training) schools Clay-Livingston Bill (GA) - 1907

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Precursors Extension -

  • Burkett-Pollard Bill (NE) (1906)

    • sought federal aid for the teaching of agriculture in normal (teacher training) schools

  • Clay-Livingston Bill (GA) - 1907

    • sought federal aid to establish an agricultural high school in each congressional district in the United States


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Precursors Extension -

  • Nelson Amendment (1907)

    • Amendment to the Morrill Act of 1890

    • provided $5,000 for five years, $25,000 annually after five year to land-grant colleges for general support.

    • One special provision of the amendment opened the door to prepare teachers of agriculture . . .


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Nelson Amendment Extension -

  • money could be used “for providing courses for the special preparation of instructors for teaching the elements of agriculture and the mechanical arts.”

    • summer school sessions for teachers were utilized extensively (especially elementary teachers)

    • some 4 year teacher training in agriculture started


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Precursors Extension -

  • Smith-Lever Bill (1912)

    • goal was to establish the extension service

  • The Great Compromise

    • The supporters of vocational education would support the Smith-Lever Bill. In return, a Commission on National Aid to Vocational Education would be created to study the need for federal funding for vocational education.


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Federal $ Extension -

  • Smith-Lever Act (1914)

    • established the extension service

  • Smith-Hughes Act (1917)

    • provided federal funds to support vocational education in the public schools


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Smith-Lever Provisions Extension -

  • “there may be inaugurated in connection with the (land-grant) college or colleges...agricultural extension work which shall be carried on in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture…”


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Smith-Lever Provisions Extension -

  • “...in any State in which two or more such colleges have been or hereafter may be established, the appropriations hereinafter made to such State shall be administered by such college or colleges as the legislature of such State may direct”


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Smith-Lever Provisions Extension -

  • “That cooperative agricultural extension work shall consist of the giving of instruction and practical demonstrations in agriculture and home economics to persons not attending or resident in said colleges in the several communities, and imparting to such persons information on said subjects through field demonstrations, publications, and otherwise”


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Smith-Lever Provisions Extension -

  • Each state was to receive “...$10,000 of which shall be paid annually…”

  • Additional funds were to be disbursed to states on the basis of “the rural population of each State bears to the total rural population of all the States”

    • Note: Legislators in the Midwest wanted the act to say farm population. The South had a much larger rural population than farm population.


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Smith-Lever Provisions Extension -

  • A state could not receive the additional funds “...until an equal sum has been appropriated for that year by the legislature of such State, or provided by State, county, college, local authority, or individual contributions from within the State, for the maintenance of the cooperative agricultural extension work provided for in this Act.”


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Smith-Hughes Provisions Extension -

  • The first paragraph of the Smith-Hughes Act contained four statements:

    • 1. “to provide for the promotion of vocational education;”

      • The word “promotion” is misleading, a more correct word would be “establishment”.

Tidbit: Since the person (Charles Prosser) who wrote the bill was Director of the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education, the word promotion might allude to this organization


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Smith-Hughes Provisions Extension -

  • 2. “to provide for cooperation with the States in the promotion of such education in agriculture and the trades and industries;”

    • This statement defined what made up vocational education. Why is home economics not mentioned? The word home economics appears 17 other times in the Act. It is believed by some that home economics was not included in the earlier drafts of the bills. Legend has it that Prosser’s wife made him include home economics. The fact that it is missing here gives credence to that legend.

    • Trades and industries covered a broad range of jobs.


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Smith-Hughes Provisions Extension -

  • 3. “to provide for cooperation with the States in the preparation of teachers of vocational subjects;”

    • There was much concern over the supply of qualified teachers. Two different paths were taken in regards to vocational teacher training:

      • Agriculture and Home Economics went with a 4 year college degree as a requirement. At that point in time, few public school teachers had four year degrees. This was designed to assure a quality, well-educated teacher and enhance the status of of the field.

      • Trade and Industries chose to pull teachers out of industry. The belief was the master craftsman made the best teacher.


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Smith-Hughes Provisions Extension -

  • 4. “and to appropriate money and regulate its expenditure.”

    • This wording as to the purpose of an act is a little strange. It should be self evident.


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Smith-Hughes Funds Extension -

  • Provided money to pay salaries of

    • teachers, supervisors, and directors of agricultural subjects

      • Tidbit: Director is an unusual word until one notes that agricultural schools had been established prior to Smith-Hughes in Massachusetts. The person in charge of these schools was a Director. Since Prosser had been associate superintendent for vocational education in Massachusetts, this wording isn’t that strange at all.


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Smith-Hughes Funds Extension -

  • Provided money to pay salaries of

    • teachers of trade, home economics and industrial subjects (but no more than 20% of the total money allocated for this purpose could be spent in the area of home economics)


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Smith-Hughes Extension -

  • Tidbit: Teachers who received their salaries from the Smith-Hughes Act were often called “Smith-Hughes teachers” to distinguish them from teachers in schools not receiving Smith-Hughes funding. Agriculture and home economics was taught in many other schools but not all schools received Smith-Hughes monies because of limited funds.


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Smith-Hughes Funds Extension -

  • Providing money for teacher training

Tidbit: State supervisors of each vocational subject were given authority over the teacher trainers. Federal level

supervisors checked the qualifications and approved of the

hiring of teacher educators. Many universities became very dependent upon federal funds to pay vocational teacher educators. When this funding was abolished it created shock waves in many states and institutions of higher education.


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Smith-Hughes Funds Extension -

  • The states did not have to use all the provisions of the act. For example, if there were no agriculture programs, it didn’t have to ask for the agriculture money. However:

    • Before a state could receive monies for salaries for any vocational teacher, it must first accept the teacher training monies. This indicates the federal government was serious about training teachers.


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Smith-Hughes Funding Extension -

  • Specific amounts of money were allocated to each vocational discipline:

    • Agricultural appropriations were based on each state’s rural population

    • Home economics appropriations were based on each state’s urban population

    • Trade and industrial appropriations were based on each state’s urban population

  • There was to be a 50-50 federal-state match on all salaries


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Smith-Hughes Act - Agriculture Extension -

  • “...under public supervision or control...”

  • “...controlling purpose...shall be to fit for useful employment…”

  • “...shall be of less than college grade…”

  • “...meet the needs of persons over fourteen years of age who have entered upon or who are preparing to enter upon the work of the farm or of the farm home…”

    • Question: Does the previous phrase also mean adult education?


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Smith-Hughes - Agriculture Extension -

  • “...that such schools shall provide for directed or supervised practice in agriculture, either on a farm provided for by the school or other farm, for at least six months per year”

    • This was interpreted to mean that each student (including adults) is to have a “project” (crops or livestock).

    • If the teacher is to supervise it, then the teacher will need to be employed during the summer. This is the basis for 12 month employment of agriculture teachers.


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Smith-Hughes Funds Extension -

  • Provided money to create a “Federal Board for Vocational Education for the administration of this act and for the purpose of making studies, investigations, and reports to aid in the organization and conduct of vocational education”

    • Question: Why did Congress create a special board to administer vocational education?

    • Answer: They were afraid to turn vocational education over to the entrenched education bureaucrats who had been classically educated.


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Memorandum of Understanding Extension -

  • In 1918 a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was established between federal officials responsible for vocational agriculture and for extension.

  • This MOU was revised from time to time.

  • A brief description of each program was provided, then specific duties of each were outlined.


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Memorandum of Understanding Extension -

  • Unless the activity is specifically related to classes taught, the agriculture teacher is not to do extension activities. However, it is recognized there may be isolated instances where the agricultural teacher is called upon by farmers in the school district. This should represent a “small and incidental” part of the job.


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Memorandum of Understanding Extension -

  • Teachers of vocational agriculture or representatives of vocational agricultural work should be invited to participate in all meetings conducted by the extension service for the formulation of county and State agricultural programs.


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Memorandum of Understanding Extension -

  • The extension service should not enroll vocational agriculture students in 4-H.

  • Services should not overlap.


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Plumbing in the 1920s Extension -

  • 1 out of 10 farm homes had water indoors

  • 1 out of 2 farm homes had sinks

  • 1 out of 64 farm homes had a water closet, the rest had outhouses

  • Most laundry was done outside


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George-Reed Act - 1929 Extension -

  • Provide additional financial support for vocational education

  • Money was equally divided between agriculture and home economics

    • Ag money based on farm population

    • Home economics money based on rural population

  • Funds were used to hire subject matter specialists in agriculture at the federal level


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Ag Ed Enrollments Extension -


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George-Barden Act (1946) Extension -

  • Increased funding for vocational education

  • Indicated federal funds could be used to support travel associated with the Future Farmers of America and the New Farmers of America

  • Money could be used on vocational guidance