DECEMBER 20, 1958
HYDE PARK—I went to Brooklyn this week to accept the second annual award of Samuel J. Tilden High School given in memory of the school's former principal, Abraham J. Lefkowitz.
Last year the pupils voted the first award to former U.S. Senator Herbert Lehman, so I feel proud to be associated with him in the minds of these young people.
Mr. Lefkowitz must have been a remarkable person, and the deep impression he left behind made the school's faculty and pupils feel they wanted to recognize his interest in other people and in humanity in general.
Afterwards, I wanted to visit some of the other new New York schools which have been attacked by City Comptroller Lawrence E. Gerosa for their extravagance in design and construction.
I personally have always felt that the quality of teaching is more important than the adequacy of the buildings, and if Mr. Gerosa's attack had been coupled with a desire to raise the salaries of teachers, I think I would have felt differently about it.
But when it is a question of economy, I feel that one should find out what can be eliminated from a school without depriving the faculty and pupils of real advancement.
They must have adequate classrooms, laboratories, shops and play facilities. And if they are deprived of beauty, this is not economy, for many of the school pupils come from homes where there can be little privacy and little beauty. I think there is an obligation to give them a little of both in their schools.
In designing schools, I think it would be well, too, for the architects to consult the teachers, for I am sure they could make some worthwhile suggestions.
I believe in the need for economy in all governmental budgets, but in practicing economy we must be careful not to lose anything of essential good or essential need, especially for youth. This holds true particularly for city governments, which do not deal in any way with defense budgets—exception for civilian defense, where I am sure cuts can be made.
While on the subject of schools I would like to mention one thing which is still unfinished business in the schools of New York City, namely, the decision of the New York State Commissioner of Education and the courts that teachers shall not be forced to inform on others under threat of dismissal.
The New York City Board of Education and the Board of Higher Education, through the corporation counsel, are carrying the cases of city teachers who refuse to be informers to the Court of Appeals in an effort to get a reversal of the state commissioner's decision.
This seems to me to be a deplorable attitude on the part of the New York City board.