FEBRUARY 21, 1951
NEW YORK, Tuesday—I had a talk a few days ago with a very charming young Japanese moving picture actress, Miss Yamaguchi. She came to see me because she is concerned about the young people of Japan. Being a star she has considerable following and she feels obligated to try to help these young people to a useful existence. She is dainty and lovely to look at, but one felt the serious purpose which lay back of her charm. We talked about possible activities and organizations, and the exchange of students, artists and young workers that might go on between our countries. If the young Japanese live with American families while they are here, there will be a real understanding gained on both sides. And we should send people over there. I hope we will do so.
Even as I was talking about the youth of Japan I was thinking about the youth of our own country. Lately there has been a great deal of discussion about the high cost of living and the impossibility for people on fixed salaries to meet these rising costs.
One group that is hard hit is the teachers. I don't imagine that New York City is any different from any other big city, or the teachers in one community, whether rural or urban, have been any less hard hit than in any other. Here in New York City some teachers finally decided that they could not carry on with extracurricular activities without getting extra pay. One would not be concerned, perhaps, about this except that it actually means fewer safeguards for our children because the teachers are not planning or supervising activities for out of school hours.
It is quite evident that you cannot ask the teachers to give their lives completely to their work no matter how interesting it is, nor how dedicated they are if their compensation is not adequate enough to make their personal lives fairly comfortable.
We know that the return you receive for the work you do is still considered a measure of its importance in this country. The work of training children is certainly one of the most vital vocations that anyone can pursue.
Yet we do not always give careful thought to the preparation and the opportunities offered to our teachers both during their years of preparation and during their vocations while they are teaching. This should be a matter of interest to the public since one cannot go on giving unless one takes in something new and inspiring. Teachers must be continually learning and must keep abreast of the new developments not only in teaching techniques but in the trends of thought along many lines. Unless they do, they will be unable to carry out their work with continued efficiency.
I believe much of the juvenile delinquency that we are forced to correct could be avoided if our teachers were given better opportunities in preparing for their work, better opportunities for continuous learning and more recognition within their communities of the importance of their work through increased salaries and greater social standing.