The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


NEW YORK, Friday—I find through my mail and at some of the meetings I have attended that there is very great confusion on the subject of Federal aid to education.

A great many people have heard of the Barden Bill and they tend to think if you are for Federal aid, you must be for the Barden Bill. The two do not have to hang together!

I have been very careful in all of my statements to talk only of the broad general principles and not to advocate any specific bill. I have felt that since there were a number of bills, we, the public, should first have clearly in our minds the principles of what we think Federal aid to education should achieve. Then we could judge specific bills with those principles clearly understood, and in communicating with our representatives in Washington we could say what we really would like to see enacted into law.

The position taken by Governor Herbert H. Lehman, candidate for the U.S. Senate from New York, is an entirely correct one, and having been governor of the state he could hardly take any other stand. It is obvious that one must be willing to accept whatever is permitted by the Constitution and statutes of a state. Mr. Lehman was very careful also never to say that he was for a specific bill when the argument was on specific bills. When he made his statement, as a candidate, he told the voters honestly that if he were in the Senate he would have been for the Senate bill, and for whatever was considered constitutional under a state's constitution and statutes. This, it seems to me, is an entirely correct stand to take.

I was surprised at the stand taken against all Federal aid to education by the Republican candidate, John Foster Dulles. As I understand his position, he fears that it might lead to Federal control of education, and he neither desires Federal government control of education in the various states, nor church control, I imagine.

This particular point of view, of course, has been argued many times. For me the convincing argument is that there is need to equalize educational opportunity for all our children all over the country and this can only be done through Federal aid. It is entirely possible in any bill that is passed to prevent government control by leaving to the states certain rights which they now have and should retain.

There are certain aids to education already granted through Federal aid and these have never led to control by the Federal government of the type of education given in the institutions receiving Federal money.

It would seem to me, therefore, a fair premise that we could proceed under the assumption that it was possible to safeguard freedom of education and still use Federal money to equalize the opportunities for education throughout our nation.

I also have found a number of people who object to the fact that there is no spiritual side to the present education given in public schools. They say that without the teaching of religion it is impossible to give children ethical and moral standards and that, therefore, we fail them in our public school education.

This would be true if we considered that the school alone educated the child. But no child can have a rounded education unless the church and the home have a part in it.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 1, 1949

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.