FEBRUARY 19, 1960
NEW YORK—Senator Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson kept his promise and the civil rights issue came out on the Senate floor on schedule on February 15. To get it to the floor required some parliamentary maneuvering, however, and delaying tactics are still being tried by the Southern Senators. So, one must be grateful to Senator Johnson for the ability which he showed and which now makes it possible to start work on the bill.
Last year for more than eight months civil rights advocates tried to get a bill to the Senate floor from the Southern-dominated Judiciary Committee without success.
Of course, the Southerners feel that the civil rights bill is something they should not be asked to endure, and the fact that debate could now dominate Senate activities for the rest of the session is not a very happy prospect for them.
It must of necessity be a lengthy and bitter fight, and it is difficult for Republicans as well as for Democrats. It may make the coalition between Northern reactionary Republicans and Southern Democrats more difficult, since it will remove a bargaining point. Sensible people know that they cannot hope to obtain everything they want and they are concentrating on getting certain things that are essential as a next step.
Senator Johnson remarked that it was unlikely that the Senate could "satisfy the extremists on either side." No one will dispute that remark. It may be impossible, however, to get even the minimum that would satisfy many of those who want to feel that though we do not achieve everything we desire, still we are moving in the right direction.
We will hope for the best, and we can be grateful to the Senator for getting the bill to the floor where it is out in the open for discussion.
I wonder how many people noticed a little item from Australia the other day that spoke of using a two-way radio system to hold school classes for children isolated on faraway ranches.
This school of the air goes on from Monday to Friday. Participation is voluntary and tuition is free. Some of the children who range in age from five to 14 live 200 miles apart and may have no opportunity to mix with other children, so in her empty, soundproof classroom Mrs. Nance Barrett flicks a switch every morning and calls her attendance roll. And from as far as 400 miles away at Helen Springs, for instance, seven-year-old Harold Dixon tunes in his two-way radio and answers, "Listening, Mrs. Barrett."
This is the first "School of the Air" that I have read about, and it gives one a feeling that here in our country we could do a great deal more with television in classrooms than we are now doing.