MARCH 4, 1948
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—The other day I noticed a little newspaper item which I would like to bring to the attention of some of those who seem to think that constitutions do not make much difference.
The small town of Freehold, N.J., ended segregation in the grammar schools, breaking a custom that goes back one hundred years. One school has been an all-Negro school, regardless of where the students lived, and the town has had three other schools for non-Negroes. Under the change, the community will be divided into school districts, and children of all races will intermingle at all schools.
This ends segregation for the first eight grades. In high school, it had already been done away with. The resolution was offered by Frank Witbeck, and there was no dissenting voice. David T. Buck, president of the board of education, commented: "Under the new State Constitution the board of education had no option—not that we were seeking any."
This new Constitution in New Jersey must be an interesting document. The State seems to have decided to make certain changes to bring it in line with the Federal Constitution and the Charter of the United Nations. It might be well for some of our other States to consider doing the same thing. I realize it may take some of them longer but someday it will probably be done, since the force of logic and democracy is stronger than our prejudices.
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I heard a good piece of news the other day—namely, that the Labor Extension Service Bill actually had been presented before a Senate subcommittee. I understand that there is interest in this bill in the Senate, but not so much in the House.
I hope that the unions themselves are going to back it, because workers' education should be a part of our educational system. And there has been so much experimentation in this field that there is plenty of experience to draw on to do some very effective work.
The unions have not been as interested in the new work that might go on under the provisions of this bill. I suppose they felt that the educational programs already in operation would do all that was necessary. I think it is only a matter of time, however, before they understand how they can use a Federal law most efficiently. Miss Hilda Smith, who has been working so long and so unselfishly as chairman of the National Committee for the Extension of Labor Education, will feel fully repaid for her unselfish devotion to this cause if the bill is passed.
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When I think of all the different phases of education which should go on in this country, and what an inadequate job we do in academic education alone, I wonder how we will do a more adequate job in the kind of education that really helps people to live better in whatever circumstances they find themselves. And I wonder how it will ever be possible to meet our obligations in this field and in the field of health—which is so closely allied to education because, without good health, every child and every adult is hampered in his efforts to progress. Only a real awakening among the people to their needs will see us through.