JUNE 27, 1959
HYDE PARK—One of the complaints that seems to turn up often in my mail is that housing under construction today costs more than the average American wage earner can pay.
One of my correspondents contends that the building industry is capable of providing housing, for instance, with modern facilities at a cost which civil service employees could afford if capital could be made available at a reasonable interest rate.
This seems to be a financial problem that would require some study, but it should be a challenge, nevertheless, for government and private industry to furnish decent housing for everyone.
Perhaps the remedy is to be found in government-insured mortgages, and the suggestion has been made that perhaps some of the government-controlled funds could be invested in this type of building.
I am in no position to know if this is feasible, but it is undoubtedly true that housing is very scarce for people in this country earning an average small wage. In New York City, for instance, it seems to me that the greater number of housing units under construction are for the higher-income group. This leaves large segments of our population with inadequate housing.
On Thursday, I went to Manhattan School on New York's West 52nd Street, which is one of the city's "600" schools for problem children. Under the supervision of their fine principal, Irving M. Boroff, they were holding their Honor Society program.
David J. Jackson did a good job as master of ceremonies and the Glee Club sang well. Jackie Robinson made a good speech, and since many of the boys there are Negroes with a few Puerto Ricans, his presence there must have meant a great deal to them.
I thought the system of having an Honor Society, with the boys having to earn their awards, was a good one, and I was interested in the fine-looking group that received them.
Mrs. Lillian Rashkis, director of the "600" schools, spoke with great pride in these schools. But again I found that the secret of success lay in the small classes. A teacher with classes of only 12 to 14 pupils can give them individual attention.
Wouldn't it be cheaper and wiser to increase the number of teachers in our regular schools than to have these special schools?
If we face the fact that early training is important, why not have all-day neighborhood schools in all the junior grades? Wouldn't we then be getting better material in our high schools?
Fewer children would be appearing in our courts, and perhaps we could cut the ever-increasing population in our reformatories, which cost us far more than we would pay out in improvement of our schools.