MAY 26, 1949
NEW YORK, Wednesday—Ethel Dammrich, the New York City school teacher who recently resigned to operate a country store in Esbach, Pa., a community of 40 families, bade her farewell to the big city yesterday. She had been supervisor of the Youthbuilders teaching staff in the public schools and she resigned because she felt that her work was being interfered with by certain religious influences. The Youthbuilders is an organization that stimulates the youngsters to think about public questions and work out in their local surroundings their problems in a manner which would make them better fitted to meet bigger problems on a wider scale as they grow older. In her interview with reporters Miss Dammrich said something that I think is worthy of some thought. Here it is:
"It's a pity that there's so much fear in our school system. I resent pressure interference that makes so many teachers unhappy. I'll not be tied to any board of education, but I'll certainly not be idle whenever there's a free hour in my country store."
We would all deplore with her any kind of fear in the teaching staffs of our schools. Teachers should be free to think for themselves. They should exert leadership in the communities where they live and they should not be afraid to take up new ideas, or to go deeply into any question that touches the life of the day. If they are limited in what they dare to say and do, they are apt to become narrow and circumscribed in their interests. And that is the last thing that young people find interesting.
I think it is fortunate for Miss Dammrich that she is interested in running a country store. She will have plenty of variety in life and certainly much to keep her busy. In some ways living in a small place has just as many problems attached to it as teaching in a school in a big city school system!
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There was a statement made not long ago as to the United States' attitude on methods of implementation in the Covenant of Human Rights, which the Commission is now working on, that I think should be corrected.
The United States never has really suggested the establishment of an international court of human rights whose decisions would have legally binding effect, as was stated in the article which I read. This was a suggestion originally made by Australia. The United States always has felt that it would be difficult to establish such a court and for that reason has suggested instead the setting up of panels which can be drawn upon in order to form conciliation boards. These boards would hear cases brought by one state against another in the event of any violation of the Covenant.
We are moving rather slowly on the Covenant. Yesterday we passed Article 5, but the word "arbitrarily" was taken out of the first paragraph, which now reads: "No one shall be deprived of his life."
Originally the suggestion had been to end the paragraph with the word "arbitrarily," in which case the rest of the article would have made some sense. As it now stands, I am afraid that it is a contradictory statement. But these things happen, no matter how carefully you explain the reasons for including a certain word.