MAY 8, 1948
NEW YORK, Friday—Just before I went to Europe, my attention was drawn to a new documentary radio program and, in particular, a broadcast called "Report Card." As I read through the script, it was remarkably interesting to see that, in this dramatic form, you could sustain interest in the story of an educator's dream about the buildings he visualized for the school in his community and about the ideal teachers and parents who were to help train the children in that school. In this script the hero was fortunate—he came through better than many an educator with ideals comes through in the average American community, particularly the rural community.
Educators must have listened to this broadcast, for many wrote letters in response to it. I think that one letter, from the head of an Eastern normal school, shows that there is a growing concern to see education really fit young people for life. Here is what this educator said of the broadcast:
"I felt that it presented a challenge to the American people which they will not soon forget. I was particularly impressed with the fact that the broadcast, in its plea for better education, did not stop at a request for personnel, salaries and buildings, but went on to the far more important problem of making education a live force in the community."
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The trouble is that in too many communities the progressive, independent school superintendent or teacher is subjected to control. Such control, for instance, as a letter which I have just received describes:
"My husband was asked to resign his social science teaching position last week because of pressure brought by a number of citizens against the school board and superintendent. After four years, this ends his teaching here.... although he had signed a new contract three weeks ago for the fifth year. My husband is a very serious-minded person who is definitely concerned about school problems .... Because of his social science and history major (6 years college and 12 years teaching), he is vitally interested in national and international policies, and his preferences lean toward the democratic and left-wing group. In his teaching he upholds social equality and points out where this and that policy is leading. He is considered an excellent teacher but his statements have apparently been misinterpreted by students at home."
This seems to curtail academic freedom in exactly the way that "Report Card" pointed out as dangerous, and it would keep a school from obtaining really good and independent-minded teachers.
This radio program is going on to deal with many other matters of importance in the life of our people. One of the next subjects to be treated is the situation which exists for the 400,000 American Indians. This is a subject that American people should learn more about, so I hope many will listen in on May 22nd, when "Arrows in the Dust" will be broadcast.