Donald W. Klopf

Associate Professor of Speech

University of Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii

*James C. McCroskey

Instructor of Speech

Pennsylvania State University

University Park, Pennsylvania

The "professional" usually is engaged in an occupation which requires specialized education or skill, like teaching, and he typically maintains an active interest in, and continual support of, the affairs of his field of endeavor. Under this interpretation, "professionalism" seems to be scorned by the majority of the nation's high school speech teachers. The South Dakotans in this group appear to hold professionalism in similar disdain.

We make this charge on the basis of two studies concerning professional speech affiliations of high school speech teachers, which we completed recently. South Dakota teachers were included. First, during the spring of 1963 we surveyed certain National Forensic League sponsors. Second, during the summer of 1963 we examined the most recent available membership rolls of the American Forensic Association and the major regional speech associations. The results were shocking!

We were dismayed particularly by the results of the study of the NFL sponsors. We asked the sponsors of the 195 largest NFL chapters to indicate in which professional speech associations they held membership. Of the 76% who responded, only 32% belong to any area or state speech association and only 24% belong to either of the two national speech associations with which instructors of forensic activities should have an affiliation, the Speech Association of America and the American Forensic Association.

Since the individuals surveyed, on the basis of the positions they hold, include many of the United States' most capable high school speech teachers, one should expect a much better professional record. Fearing that the professional picture of the nation's high school speech teachers as a whole would be worse, we undertook our second study.

The results of the second study, the examination of the membership rolls of the AFA and the major regional speech associations, supported our fear that "professionalism" is lacking among this group of educators. The results show:

Total Memberships as of Latest Published Count

Total High School Memberships

Percent of High School Memberships
American Forensic Association



Speech Association of the Eastern States



Central States Speech Association



Western Speech Association




(Southern Speech Association Membership rolls not available.)

South Dakota high school speech instructors have a membership record even less encouraging. In those organizations which show South Dakota memberships, this is the record.


Total South Dakota Memberships
Total South Dakota High School Memberships

Percent of High School Memberships
Speech Association of America



Central States Speech Association



American Forensic Association




Undoubtedly, many personal reasons exist for not joining state, regional, or national speech groups. The organizations themselves partially are to blame because they do not always actively solicit memberships among high school speech teachers.

Regardless of the rationale for failure to join, the fact remains that the speech teacher has a responsibility to join--a responsibility to himself, his students, his school, and his profession. He has such a responsibility for many reasons, two of which need consideration here.

Activity in professional associations assists the individual in his development as a teacher. These groups can provide him with important new knowledge and theory, methods, materials, equipment, and programs through their publications and conventions. They keep him abreast of the changes in this dynamic field. So if he seeks to serve effectively himself, his students, and his school, he has a responsibility to affiliate.

Of equal importance is the need in the speech profession for strong, active associations to protect and further common interests. Recently, the state speech association in California could not defeat a movement to remove speech from the list of subjects that were approved for certification. Only prompt and decisive action from the SAA did defeat this movement. Had this national professional organization not been in existence, or had it been less active, this battle for the very existence of our profession in California would have been lost.

The high school speech teacher must recognize that movements like the one in California exist and that such movements are organized to remove speech from the classroom, debate from the curriculum, if permitted. Individually, the high school speech teacher eloquently may defend his profession, but only the professional organizations can help him preserve it.

The high school speech teacher in South Dakota certainly should affiliate with the Speech Association of America, the Central States Speech Association, and, if he coaches debate, the American Forensic Association. Details of membership can be obtained from:

1. Dr. William Work, Executive Secretary

Speech Association of America

Statler Hilton Hotel

New York, New York

2. Dr. Paul H. Boase, Secretary

Central States Speech Association

Oberlin College

Oberlin, Ohio

3. Dr. Jack Howe, Secretary

American Forensic Association

University of Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

The professional organizations need the high school teachers. The high school teachers need the professional organizations. Are you a "professional"?

Click Here To Go Back To PERIODICALS