NOVEMBER 21, 1945
NEW YORK, Tuesday—I was very glad to see yesterday that the Board of Regents have asked the Department of Education in New York City to answer various questions which have been brought up in criticism of our city's educational system. One of the secrets of attaining better education is, of course, greater interest on the part of all our citizens. This is true in rural areas as well as in the city. I have never been able to see how we could expect to get the best kind of teachers and ministers at the salaries they usually receive. We seem to consider them so unimportant that we rarely pay them sufficiently well to have them count their success in terms of the money return which most of us think is the gauge of success in any other occupation.
I grant that you have to be dedicated to the work of being either a clergyman or a teacher, but I still think you should receive better remuneration than most communities consider necessary. I also think that the conditions of work should be more reasonable. In New York City, for instance, the size of classes seems to me to make really good work very difficult.
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I had a letter from a mother the other day who does take an interest in the schools, and she feels that every school should be equipped with the best possible modern teaching aids. She says that the Army had made great strides in using visual aids to teach complicated drills and skills of various kinds. In the same way, young children who find reading difficult could learn a great deal if their schools were equipped with a good projector, serviced with the proper kind of films. Truancy might be considerably cut down if, in the higher grades, this same type of teaching could be used in connection with the regular curriculum.
I think it very important, of course, that all young people learn to read, and to do so with pleasure; and I feel that we should use the new methods that have been developed. Where classes are as large as they are in many of our cities, this method might also be extremely helpful to the teachers.
Films, too, could well be used to help us in explaining our minority group problems. If our schools become the community centers they should be, they will be the place where adult education flourishes in the evenings. Much civic education, therefore, could be taught if the equipment were available in every school. I was shocked to find in the last election, for example, that many people did not vote either for or against Proposition No. 1 because they did not know how to do so.
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During my plane trips last week, I had a chance to read the manuscript of a life of my husband written by Mrs. Rita Halle Kleeman for children. Mrs. Kleeman has done a remarkably accurate and readable job which I think children will enjoy.