JULY 24, 1961
WESTBROOK, Conn.—President Kennedy won a first round in Congress last week when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a 10 to 7 vote approved his request for authority to make long-term economic development loans totalling almost $9 billion and authorizing him to borrow this amount from the Treasury. Senator Fulbright, chairman of the committee, predicted afterward that the action would be sustained on the Senate floor, though it is always possible to cut the amount when the general debate takes place next week.
The committee had to show its independence by cutting the President's request for economic and military grant aid in the current fiscal year. I cannot help hoping that what cuts are made will be in the military budgets, which are beginning to seem to me entirely worthless. In a general way the committee vote was along party lines, though there were some differences which might be expected on the part of Senator Long of Louisiana and Senator Lausche of Ohio. Support for the Democrats came in one case from Senator Alexander Wiley, Republican of Wisconsin, but he had been former chairman of the committee and perhaps understood the problem better than some of the others voting.
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The state is taking a hand in the school situation which has developed in New York City. Dr. James E. Allen, Jr., State Education Commissioner, told the city Board of Education to take forthright and affirmative measures to improve the operation of the city school system. Everyone who has an interest in education and any connection with the Board of Education has probably been making it clear that very drastic changes are needed in the way the board has functioned.
An editorial Friday in the New York Times about Francis W. H. Adams, a member of the city Board of Education by appointment of Mayor Wagner since 1957, should be read, I think, by all other individuals who serve on the board or in other public capacities. Mr. Adams, who has undoubtedly been a more responsible member of the board than most, nevertheless expresses considerable "shock" about "conditions in the system and the conduct of personnel." Of course this would not be the case if Mr. Adams had been visiting the schools and in close touch with the people operating the schools and the building projects. Yet this is something very few people in his position on the Board of Education would feel was necessary in the fulfillment of their duties.
Actually, I think we need a much clearer definition given to all public servants as to what obligations are involved when certain appointments are accepted by the appointee. Even the Mayor elected by the people was shocked and surprised by the school conditions. He would not have been if the members of the board had been coming to him day by day with reports about these conditions. One cannot ask of the Mayor to keep constantly on a round of visits of schools, hospitals and other public buildings. But one of the best things a mayor can do is to drop in unexpectedly on different activities carried on in the city government. The feeling that the Mayor might drop in at any time might have a most salutary effect on the various municipal departments.
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It is a source of wry amusement that the cloak of education has been used by military officers who wish to sponsor a variety of right-wing talks to men under their command. One is glad to note that a memorandum from Senator Fulbright, Democrat of Arkansas, exposed this situation and brought a prompt directive from the White House placing restraints on this kind of "education."