MAY 24, 1958
HYDE PARK—After a tiring trip in the West, I was happy indeed to arrive back in my little New York apartment from Bismarck, N.D. I had planned to write today about the last few days of this trip, but a more important matter has come up that I want to discuss.
This matter is the shelving by the House Education and Labor Committee of the school construction bill that would provide Federal money to help the states improve their school situation by adding more classrooms before the overcrowding becomes more intolerable than it already is.
How Representative Graham A. Barden of North Carolina, committee chairman, can permit this is beyond my understanding!
The parents of this country should protest through every organization at their command, for their children are going to pay the price of schools so overcrowded that teachers cannot give them adequate attention.
It is a fact that under present conditions the curriculum of the schools is deteriorating and that children, of necessity, will be less interested in learning and have less respect for education because the government of their country does not think it worth paying for.
No democracy can succeed, according to Thomas Jefferson, unless it has an educated people. And we cannot educate citizens under the conditions that our government is now forcing on the people of the country.
An article in the June Esquire magazine tells of some of the things that happen when people do not consider learning important, and these things are happening to our young people today.
The author gives an appalling quotation from Dean William C. Warren of the Columbia School of Law on the shortcomings of college graduates who are entering Law School.
It looks as though it is not until our young people reach graduate school that they begin to realize that education was not intended to be mere play but that it is hard work and preparation for life, and that to succeed in the world of today our children must learn during their educational years to conquer difficult subjects.
If the Federal government does not take its responsibility for helping the states with their educational problems, or if the States refuse to accept this aid for fear they will have some type of interference, then we are going to fall behind.
It is because we are not willing to pay more for our education and to give it more serious thought that I think we are finding our juvenile delinquency problem constantly becoming more serious.
If we do not pay for children in good schools, then we are going to pay for them in prisons and mental hospitals. There is a distinct tieup, I think, between the increase of juvenile delinquency and the inadequacy of our public schools.
Of course, this is not the only factor entering into our problem, but it is certainly one of the most important. It seems to me a terrible waste of human material which we are condoning at the present time, but I don't know if it is possible to bring home to our parents how serious this waste really is for our nation.