JANUARY 22, 1960
NEW YORK—There are a number of things I have been meaning to mention in my column for sometime. One of them is that the second annual Variety Week will be marked from February 8 to 14.
The Variety Clubs International to date has contributed some $78,000,000 to help handicapped and homeless children throughout the world, regardless of race, color or creed.
On this past January 10 the Variety Children's Research Foundation was dedicated in Miami, Fla. Seventeen scientists will lend their efforts through this foundation toward discovering the causes of virus diseases of all kinds.
The Variety Club of Washington, D.C., has done much for the Children's Hospital there, and the Variety Children's Cancer Research Foundation in Boston, known as the "Jimmy Fund," has done very good work under its director, Mr. William Koster. Mr. Koster is interested in every community project that is designed to improve the lives of children.
Show business has always been warm and kindly in matters where the heart is appealed to, and children, particularly ill and handicapped ones, touch the heart very deeply. So, I should like to pay tribute to the Variety Clubs International, whose efforts are successful because of the people in show business and I hope that their celebration week this year will be as successful as it has been in the past.
Now I want to talk about something else that touches our children in a different way and at an older level. The subject was brought to my attention by a letter from a New York State parent, who is concerned about a problem that must be facing many other parents in other states of the Union. It is in regard to college scholarships.
In New York State awards for state scholarships were last revised in 1955. The rules provided for state-wide examinations, and the state made grants to those students in each county, in fixed numbers, who attained the highest marks. These scholarships were, of course, awarded only to those students who attended New York State colleges recognized by the Board of Education and they ranged in value from $250 to $700, depending on the parents' income. Slightly higher amounts might be awarded in science and mathematics scholarships.
Since these scholarships were set, however, all colleges have increased their tuition rates and there are now, I am told, further increases being put through. In many cases these increases may completely upset the educational budgets of the youngsters whose parents cannot afford to increase what they are now giving them. To do so might mean to deny themselves and possibly other children in the family some of the necessities of living.
Therefore, some young people may be forced to leave school, or to go only part time. Yet, the demand in every type of employment for college-bred people is becoming more general.
My correspondent asks if it would not be possible to raise the scholarships so that they will match the increase in costs at various universities and colleges. This, of course, would mean additional appropriations, and it would have to come out of taxes.
It looks to me, though, that this would be the only fair thing to do, for a democracy whose children cannot get an adequate education is not going to be a real democracy, and we had better face this fact and act realistically.