JANUARY 20, 1940
WASHINGTON, Friday—Visitors come and go so quickly in the White House these days that I hardly have time to enjoy them, but it was a great pleasure to have Miss Fannie Hurst for a night. Last night, Mr. and Mrs. Howland Davis of New York City, came down for the departmental reception. The heads of various departments who have not already come with other groups for dinner, dined with us before the reception. In some cases we greeted the same people three times, once when they arrived for dinner, once when we met the Cabinet before proceeding to the reception room previous to the reception itself, and once when they came through the line as heads of their departments. Each time we tried to look as though we had not parted five minutes before.
I attended, for an hour, a reception given at the Congressional club yesterday afternoon, and it was pleasant to see many familiar faces. Before that, I spent two hours with some of the leading educators of the country, and I hope I learned much about the problems facing those who are trying to meet the situation of rapidly mounting numbers of young people in high school. Basically, our trouble is inadequate money to pay for properly trained teachers and to divide the young people as they should be divided for their best interests. There is a wide variety of capacity which necessitates a wider variety of occupations and opportunity as well as academic teaching.
We have always believed in this country that education was the basis of our democracy, and I still believe that is true. We have certainly not as yet faced the duty of the nation, in view of the entirely new problem which is before us today. Great numbers of young people who, in other times, would have gone to work, are now going to high school because there is no work.
For any work which they may later do, they must have better training than ever before. The nation, I think, should consider this as an investment, if we still feel that education of the proper kind, suited to the capacities of every individual, is part of the preparation necessary for adequate participation in a democratic form of government.
I have just been sent some information on the Pan-American Conference in Aid of Spanish Refugeses, which is to take place in Mexico City, Mexico, February 7th to 10th, with delegates from Chile, Cuba, the Argentine, nearly all the Latin-American countries and the United States. With 130,000 Spanish refugees still in France in need of assistance, it seems wise to help work out opportunities in those countries for establishing them in a pattern which will at least seem fairly familiar.
These Spanish people should have a contribution to make to the New World. It hardly seems fair to me that France should have to bear this added burden at the present time. Bishop Francis McConnell in his report to Secretary Ickes, who is honorary chairman of the Spanish Refugee Relief Campaign in this country, reports a fair amount of success both in collecting cash and other materials for the aid of these refugees. Their transportation must be provided and they must be started in their new surroundings. It seems to me that those who are able to do so should be glad to help in this work.