AUGUST 20, 1949
HYDE PARK, Friday—I keep seeing in the newspapers that Federal aid to education probably will not be enacted in this session of Congress. This grieves me, because the fight to obtain Federal aid to education has been going on for a long time. It seems to me if we fail to attain it, it would show that the people of the country have not yet realized fully the importance of this assistance nor have thought through their fundamental objectives.
I am not going to advocate any specific bill, but I want to put down some of the reasons why I personally believe it is important to obtain Federal aid.
In this country there are great inadequacies of opportunity for children in education. Some of our cities have excellent schools and teachers, but even within those cities there may be a need for newer equipment or more modern facilities that, for one reason or another, may keep the standard below what we would like to see.
Some states have some excellent systems in their rural areas. Others do not offer the rural children anywhere near the same opportunity that it gives the city child.
There are states that spend a larger proportion of their total revenue on education than do other states. Yet, because the total revenue of the former is not very large and their child population is very high, these states cannot begin to give a child the same educational opportunities that he would have in other states. These are questions of interest to the whole country because our people are inclined to move about. A child who gets an inadequate education in one state may become a public charge later in life in another state because he is unable to earn a living, lacking adequate education in his new home where he or his parents have moved.
This, therefore, must be considered not the problem of individual states, but the problem of the nation.
There are three primary things that Federal aid to education should be channeled to do.
First, public school buildings, in which all our children regardless of race, color or creed, may be educated, should be safe. They should be thoroughly protected from fire hazards and they should be provided with adequate lighting.
Second, the school year should be equalized, even though it may be divided in different ways in different states. The same amount of time should be required of all our children to attend school.
Lastly, teachers' salaries should be more uniform throughout the country. This would tend to raise the level of education of our teachers. In some cases today it is inadequate. The fact that in some parts of the country the cost of living is supposed to be less and, therefore, the community may feel they can pay their teachers less does not seem to me a good reason for the great differential that now exists in salaries. Nor does this reasoning take into account that all teachers must put in a certain number of years of preparation for their professions. Many of them have to borrow the money to do this, and through their teaching years they must continue to learn, otherwise they do not live up to the best standards.
Most of those in the teaching profession who give out to young people for approximately nine months of the year must spend the other three months in taking in, so that there can be a margin for travel or education during the holiday periods.