OCTOBER 10, 1959
HYDE PARK—On Thursday morning we left our hotel in Tulsa, Okla., by 8:30 and had a rather long flight into Cleveland, Ohio. My evening lecture was in Warren, which is about 52 miles from Cleveland, and because my Friday lecture was in the morning in Detroit I left Warren and took a plane from Cleveland to Detroit after my lecture. And so I arrived in Detroit before I left Cleveland—on account of the change on time!
This is a little confusing and only means really that you have less time to sleep! But my lecture in Dearborn was at 10:30 a.m. Friday followed by a luncheon, so I had plenty of time to sleep.
Miss Corr was able to get home on Thursday night which meant that I found some neat little piles of work awaiting me when I arrived Friday night.
You may perhaps remember that some time ago I wrote in this column about all the difficulties we had with the school budget in the town of Hyde Park. The group in the Board of Education, which had wanted to have a business manager, finally gave up the idea, as this seemed to be the only controversial point, and the budget went through with all the other items allowed for. Now I tell them they have an obligation this coming year to really explain the need for the new position they wished to create and I hope that they will.
In the meantime, because I wrote of our troubles I have received a number of letters from another area in New York State, namely Levittown, Long Island. One of the letters gives me so much detail as to their difficulties that I have decided to quote from it to give a picture of what can happen, in this case not because of apathy.
My correspondent writes: "Our PTAs, Citizens Committees, Civic Associations, etc., are far from apathetic but what can we do?"
The explanation of what occurred is simple: "Two new school bond issues and two sound school budgets were defeated here in the past school year.The main reason being high school taxes. We have a strongly organized opposition to schools and a strongly organized group elected a member of the board who is practically a fanatic and considers economy before education.
"We now have all the frills that are cut out in an austerity budget, but we have wiped out teachers so that our classes are far bigger than is recommended by the state. We have an average of 32 in a class and some classes will be as high as 35 to 40. Nothing can be done without the help of the state, but one group on our board refuses to allow us to petition the state."
It is not lack of concern on the part of the people in this case. It is apparently the inability of these people in the community who care about good education to be sufficiently well organized and reach the State Department of Education. The opposition group that is trying to pull education down is apparently very well organized.
These are situations which the state should investigate with care. And the state authorities also should take an interest in finding out how well fitted members of the boards of education are for the responsible positions which they hold.