September 30th, 1912.
My dear Mr. Cooley: --
I have gone over your proposed Law for establishing a system of vocational schools for Illinois very carefully. On the whole it appears to me to be an excellent measure. While I do not think it is worth your time or mine in pointing out the features of your Bill that are especially to be recommended. I feel that I do want to express my approval of these features.
First: -- The provision for a State Board of Control which has, in addition to professional representation lay members who have had actual experience in the industries and occupations.
Second: -- The divorce of the State Control for Vocational Education from the State Superintendent's office, making him an ex officio member of the Board, and at the same time providing for the administration of Vocational Education through an independent secretary, I am very strongly of the opinion that wherever there is an independent State Board of Control, some such arrangement as you suggest is best. Only in those States that elect to give this movement into the hands of a regular State Board of Education which has charge of the general education as well, should the State Superintendent of public instruction be the executive officer, and then only as fully responsible to the Board for carrying out its acts and deliberations.
Third: -- You have proposed a radical departure on the whole in America, outside of Wisconsin at least, and I believe that the method of referendum that [page 2] you have suggested is fair, in as much as it gives the community a chance to decide whether or not it wishes to try out the innovation.
Fourth: -- The types of schools organized under the Law which you propose are suggestive and comprehensive. You have placed the whole matter in the hands of the local governments to decide whether or not they should set up a separate system of schools for Vocational Education. It is also certain that by the method of the referendum vocational schools will have a chance to get ready for the work with proper equipment.
Fifth: -- I believe it would be for the best interest of Vocational Education should the citizenship of Illinois be willing to try it that vocational education should for the next quarter of a century at least, be permitted to develop entirely independent of the regular public schools. From this view-point your arrangement for the local Board of Control is an excellent one.
Altogether it would, even from the standpoint of an experiment, be an excellent thing for Illinois to try out the scheme which you have proposed leaving us to await results as the basis for further action in other States.