My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—I am upset because we seem to be looking to sales taxes on every side to raise money needed for government. As far back as I can remember I have been told that the sales tax bears down most heavily on the "small" man and adversely affects small business.

Here in New York the state legislature is opposed to the horserace betting tax proposed by New York City Mayor Robert Wagner, as well as any increase in the sales tax for the city, and I shall be interested to know what the legislature can suggest as a way to raise a large sum for New York City.

But I also see that it has been suggested that there should be a county sales tax to aid the schools of the state. This is piling sales tax on sales tax and making it harder and harder for the individual of small means.

I cannot quite see why there should be so much objection to the betting tax. That would seem to me to be as good a tax as any to raise what the city needs.

I am beginning to think, however, that in New York City we need a complete change of thinking on both a short-term and a long-term basis on how we shall get certain satisfactory results for our children from our school system. Probably some of the same ideas should be instituted in the rural areas and in other city schools throughout the state where they are needed, but certainly some changes in thinking need to come about right here.

I think I mentioned once before my visit to an All Day Neighborhood School, which is practically a segregated school because of the area in which it happens to be. The main difference is that a certain number of teachers come in at 11 o'clock in the morning and stay until 5 p.m. The results obtained at this school seem to be remarkable.

Where other segregated schools are failing miserably, the All Day Neighborhood School has an outstanding record of success. This means, I think, that our long-range program is to try to have this kind of program in every elementary school. As a result, our high schools would get quite a different type of youngster.

On the short-term outlook I should think for 10 years at least we must do something to remove the troublesome children that our present system has produced, so that this element would not be a disturbance to the high-school classes generally.

And this need not be a lasting situation. It should be frankly faced as a temporary situation that is being brought about by the wrong kind of elementary schools and high schools.

When the elementary school is satisfactory, then it follows that the high school can profit from what has been learned in the best of New York City's "600" schools. Thus, we can put many of the improvements learned in the "600" schools to work to create better citizens in the regular high schools.

This gradually would reduce the population of our reformatories and ultimately bring fewer people to our mental hospitals and our prisons. In the long run we would save on taxes on these institutions and thus make it easier to pay for our better schools.

But, for the next 10 years, while we are in the process of remedying our own neglect, we shall have to pay more for schools. And it is certainly essential that we prevent the continual deterioration of the young people, which has been going on because of lack of understanding of what we could do to improve our schools—both on a short-term and long-term basis.


(Copyright, 1959, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 24, 1959

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