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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—Everyone must have been delighted that Inland Steel, as a result of President Kennedy's firm stand, refused to raise its prices at the present time, thus causing the other steel companies to follow suit. The President used his full powers, of course, to prevail in this situation. But it is gratifying to note that his stand was finally accepted, because he was thinking not only of the good of the steel companies but of the economy of the U. S. as a whole. And the strength of our economy has a worldwide effect.

True, Europe in the last few years has gained enormously. West Germany today is the most prosperous country in Central Europe. France also has fully recovered and has perhaps a more modernized plant than it would have had without the aid given to Europe after the war. The success of the Common Market seems assured and Europe is financially back where it can carry its share of the world's burdens.

These burdens include help to the U. N. in its efforts to keep developing countries moving as smoothly as possible to political and economic development. They also include additional guidance and assistance in economic and social areas. This must be done without any strings attached, because these new countries must develop according to their own choices and needs. We hope, as they become familiar with the two major developments in the world of communism and democracy, that they will prefer democracy—sometimes in a form of their own, but at least giving the people participation in their own government and gradually developing a sense of the dignity of all human personality.

Now that New York City's teachers have returned to their jobs after a one-day strike, the question remains whether under state law they forfeited their jobs by striking. If that proves to be the legal decision, then a remedy for the situation should be found and found very quickly. The city and the state should long ago have recognized that employees who cannot strike must have an alternate plan which operates quickly for hearing their complaints. When these complaints are justified, action must be taken of a remedial nature.

Both city and state, I feel, have been badly negligent in facing the complaints of the teachers. These are legitimate complaints. At the present time if both a husband and wife are teachers and both work, the two salaries may make it possible to provide a livelihood for their family. If only one member of the family is working, however, that teacher usually has to carry a second job.

Such a situation is wrong for the teacher and wrong for the children under his charge. He cannot give full value in the school-room if he must also work in the late afternoon and evening at another job. Moreover, there is no question in my mind but that teachers should not be obliged to do odd jobs of policing during the lunch hour and in the time when they would otherwise be free to give a child some special help, or to correct papers. There should be groups of volunteers, if necessary from the PTA or other organizations, to undertake such jobs.

The public, I think, feels that under the present set-up teachers have no other recourse but to strike to draw attention to their legitimate complaints. If the school board can do nothing about these complaints, then the city and state must bear the burden. The schools and the health of the citizens of New York are of primary importance. Indeed, if the schools did the very best job possible for the children there might well be less need for the large increase in the police force which is now an essential to keep order in the city.

Although Library Week ended on April 14, the Pioneer Women of America is dedicating the whole month of April to the Graduate Library School. Realizing that libraries cannot function without well-trained librarians, they built the Graduate Library School in Jerusalem, Israel, in connection with the Hebrew University Library. It would be well if we in this country devoted as much time and thought to helping our librarians as these Pioneer Women have done for Israel, and I hope they will be an inspiration to all of us.


(Copyright, 1962, 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, April 16, 1962

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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

TEI-P5 edition published on 2017-04-28

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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.