JULY 26, 1961
NEW YORK—I sometimes wonder whether we realize how quickly the demand for educational facilities is growing, not only in New York City and State but in many other states and cities in the Union.
This fact again was impressed upon me last week when I went to the New Paltz (N.Y.) State Teachers College, which is part of the state educational system. When I used to go there years ago, it was called a normal school and there were perhaps two or three buildings on the campus.
Now, a few years later, the college has students from 18 different countries, a new dormitory housing 300 women, and other new buildings going up on every side, including a beautiful new art building. These will be a great improvement on the makeshift buildings the college has been functioning with. And, at the same time, it has assembled a distinguished faculty of foreign professors as well as those from this country.
College President William Haggerty told me of the increasing demands for education and made it clear that he was doing all in his power to get the University of the State of New York to meet these demands. He even told me how much they appreciated having my son John on the board of the state university.
Mr. Haggerty himself was about to leave for educational meetings in New Delhi, where he was to remain for 10 days and return by way of Bangkok, Hong Kong and the Philippines. As I talked with him, I could not help thinking of the narrow interests and the humdrum existence of heads of the old normal schools as compared with today's opportunities for teachers to broaden their vision and know the world.
As is my annual custom, I spent my first hour at the college talking to the Retired Teachers Association, and I was asked the usual question: "What can we, as individuals, do to help preserve peace for our land?"
It seemed obvious my listeners had the opportunity to stimulate public opinion into a discussion of public affairs, and if they did not succeed in doing this, many other people would have an excuse for saying: "Who am I to try to enlighten this community?"
One of the great troubles in this country at the present time is that no one will take the initiative to awaken people to the changes in the world. It takes a great deal of trouble to be an informed citizen, and while I think the President of the United States has an obligation to talk to the people honestly and sincerely about the problems that face him, the people have to be able to understand the information he imparts.
One of the questions asked me at the State Teachers College meeting was whether the United States could ever persuade the Arab League members and the Arab states as a group to sit down at a table with Israel to discuss their difficulties and accept some kind of legal arbitration that would bring peace to that part of the world.
The answer is that the U.S. has never really tried to put any pressure on the Arab states to do this because our main objective has been to remain friendly with both sides. In fact, we have at times been more friendly with the Arab states than with Israel because the State Department has always been conscious of the rich oil deposits under Arab control.
Someday I hope we will realize the Arab states have nowhere else to turn than to this country and its allies to dispose of their oil, so we would be safe in trying to insist on a final peaceful settlement in that area of the world.