My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK, Sunday—I think we can be extremely grateful to President Truman and to the United Steelworkers under the guidance of Philip Murray's leadership for the fact that they have decided to put off the strike for a time and submit to a fact-finding committee.

It is true that the industrial group has carefully announced that the findings are not binding upon anyone, either the union or the employer. Nevertheless, those of us who realize that a steel strike would be very bad for the general economic situation are grateful for the common sense that is willing to take time out at least to try to find a solution. It would be ironical to have a steel strike just as the housing bill is passed with a request from the President to start building at once.

I have a very interesting letter which I am going to give here in full as it is a point of view on education in our democracy that should be considered.

"Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

"The right to educate a child rests with the parent. We agree, do we not?

"This right of the parent allows the parent to decide the school wherein that education will be provided. This right of the parent also permits the parent to look to the community for the means, financial, scholastic, etc., whereby the right to educate the child may be satisfied.

"The parent who chooses the public school has these rights. So, too, has the parent who chooses the religious school.

"If a community pays, e.g., $75 annually to provide a basic education for a child through the public school, it ought to provide an equal sum for the child who receives an equal education through a religious school. The community is not asked to pay anything extra for the extra religious training which the religious school provides."

This point of view interests me since it is going far afield from our original idea on free education in this country—that all children should have an opportunity to attend free public schools. The services granted to the public schools—medical check-ups, transportation, free textbooks—are granted because these schools are open to all children. Private schools, and this includes religious schools of all denominations, are the free choice of parents who are not obliged to support them as all people are obliged to support public schools. But if these parents choose to send their children to the private schools, they have a right to do so.

I think one of our troubles today is that we have forgotten the difference between our rights as parents and our duties as citizens to all the children of the nation. Naturally, we have a right to educate our own children in the way that we feel is wisest.