FEBRUARY 10, 1958
LOS ANGELES—In spite of rather stormy weather, I was in time for Martha Deane's radio program Friday morning. She had asked me to come and talk about my articles in the Saturday Evening Post, which began in the February 8th issue. There will be five articles in all and they will more or less cover the last 12 years since I left the White House. I usually find a quick reaction in my mail to anything that I write, and so I was happy to get several nice letters after the first article appeared. I hope they will all be enjoyed, for apparently my mail continues to reflect considerable leadership interest.
All of us in New York City must be interested in the recent policy decision reached by the Board of Education. According to it, any youngster in public schools charged with violence or insubordination will be suspended from regular school attendance. This means that such children will not receive any education during suspension. The board evidently feels that it is the duty of other agencies to look after what they term "difficult children," and in their resolution they go on to say that they have a duty "to protect the innocent from the violent."
I can't help worrying about these children, who must already be in pretty bad trouble or they wouldn't be acting the way they do in the schools. Merely to suspend them from the one place where some interest and protection may be provided for them does not seem a very intelligent way of meeting their troubles. Yet I can see the Board of Education's difficulty. The whole question calls for some very serious thought. Somehow I have a feeling that we should be working on the factors which produce problem children and should not think we have done our duty when we have kept them from disturbing those who are more amenable in the classrooms.
I wish I could have heard Edith Hamilton speaking in Washington the other night on the stage of the National Museum. At the age of 90 it is quite a feat to make a speech at all; and to make one that is described as eloquent and witty is even more astonishing. But Edith Hamilton has always done astonishing things as a scholar and writer. She has led an interesting and exciting life. It is not surprising to find her refusing to go along with the trend "to make it the aim of education to defeat the Russians." She would want to do something better; and having been brought up in the Greek and Latin tradition one is not surprised to find her saying, "Clear thinking is not precisely what our art and thought stands most for." She insists that "the truths the Greeks discovered are not the kind that grow old-fashioned." She scorns knowledge easily acquired and feels that hard work and discipline are necessary to learning. She warns us that when the Greeks allowed softness and slackness and a desire for security and a comfortable life to dominate them, they lost their place of leadership, and she thinks we should learn from that.