NOVEMBER 29, 1946
NEW YORK, Thursday—It seems funny on Thanksgiving Day to be starting off to the United Nations Assembly to work just as usual. This is logical enough, since the day is a holiday only in the United States, growing out of the gratitude of our early settlers for their first good harvest, which saved them from starvation.
I have been wondering, however, if it might not be a very good thing to broaden this day and invite all the world to join with us in prayers of thanksgiving for the concept of One World, and in supplication that we as individuals, and our representatives as statesmen, may have the wisdom to make a reality of this concept.
Everything we can do on a round-the-world basis is a help to the mental attitude which we must develop if we are going to understand that peoples throughout the world are concerned about each other and no longer think only of themselves.
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Education is going to play a very great part in the development of peace in the world, and so I read with extreme interest a recent report on the educational picture in Georgia. As in every other state, higher education in Georgia is being sought by a great number of young people. State and private colleges and universities are crowded. But the number of teachers is steadily declining, even though their pay has gone up astonishingly in the last few years.
Georgia employs about 25,000 school teachers a year. But in April 1946, the state's Department of Education reported that 2,500 teaching positions, affecting the lives of about thirty times that number of children, could not be filled, due to the lack of applicants. In the year 1942-43, more than 25 percent of the teachers in Georgia quit teaching or left the state. It is not too great an exaggeration to say that probably half the teachers now employed there are not professionally qualified for their jobs.
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As usual, the rural children are suffering the most. Their local schools cannot be kept open because no teachers can be found. Children have to be taken long distances and crowded into schools which already have their normal quota. Frequently, in the course of a single term, the teacher of a class will be changed several times, which hampers any continuity in the children's education.
The theory that low salaries is what prevents people from entering the teaching profession would seem to be disproved in Georgia because, in two years, salaries in the top brackets seem to have gone up about 50 percent, and yet the number of teachers goes on decreasing. If this is so in Georgia, it is certainly so in many other states.
And what must be the situation in countries which have been devastated by war? Are we going to have a generation throughout the world which hungers for education, but is denied it because we have not been able to impress our young people with the importance and value of the teacher in the community? This may be one of the greatest detriments in realizing our hope for peace in the world.