NOVEMBER 25, 1955
NEW YORK—The Army, it seems, has suddenly become aware of the fact that most of us are interested in seeing the young people who enter the Army get a chance for education as well as training to go to war.
The Army is a very good place to fight illiteracy. While I think it is appalling to find that four out of every 100 inductees have less than fourth-grade schooling in a country where we are supposed to give free and compulsory education in many states up to 16 and 18 years of age, still we must face the fact that we do have backward states, because we have never been able to agree on an equalization of educational opportunity through Federal aid to states.
I was much interested in the illustrations taken from the educational manual published by the U.S. Armed Forces Institute, called "Men in the Armed Forces." It might also help many children in our schools to learn to read, and they would certainly like to feel they were studying from a book that would help them someday to be more useful in the armed services. In a situation where we are putting so many young people into the Army it is good to use these services as a continuation of education.
This leads me to draw attention to the fact that we now have in many areas in this country a real crisis in education.
Many of our schools are running on two shifts, and a great many classes are too large for children to get any kind of proper attention from the teacher. Unless something is done to help the various communities there will be many children who will not get any education in the course of the next few years.
The present school plants are not adequate for the number of new children coming in, and communities need aid for building as well as for paying more adequate salaries to teachers.
Studies have been made of this situation for such a long time that all the needs are well known, but I don't think the country as a whole has realized that if something is not done soon children of the present generation are going to be seriously handicapped in the near future.
We have met these crises before and we could meet them now but it requires a real determination on the part of our citizens to see to it that their children are not neglected.