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The following tape recorded program is distributed through the facilities of the National Association of educational broadcasters. Oral essays on education a dynamic radio series designed to present leading personalities of our society as they attempt to discover the scope of problems which confront modern education. This week Dr. James CENTERA of Michigan State University College of Education interviewed Senator you've heard Humphrey from Minnesota as the senator candidly views the here and now of American society and education. And now here is Dr. In America we don't seem to be united in our concept of education there are several points of view constantly being expressed about education. And Senator I would ask you to give us a little background in information about both our shortcomings in our strengths in our educational field and their objectives here in this country and
let's if you will start out with the student who is a little better than average the gifted student who has something to contribute. And it's in a embryo capacity while he's in our educational system. Do you think we're serving this kind of student to the best of our capability now. Well I can only give you a layman's opinion and I know that opinion would be no I don't think we're doing it anywheres near enough to serve that kind of student. There is some experimentation going on. There were these Russians that made us reexamine ourselves in many areas so that it's almost seems ironical but or paradoxical but because of the of what we had a fear of the Communist challenge we are starting to re-examine our own capacities and maybe making some improvements out of sheer fear of competition. I would hope that we might move into the field of education with a better motivation than fear. We would
be interested in education if because of what it does for the for the mind and the body in the spirit and in making a richer life for the individual. But speaking of this gifted student very few high schools as we call them are our secondary schools are equipped today for the gifted student. This takes extra teachers. It takes a little better program planning. It really takes a kind of a it takes a readjustment in the thinking of the local school board. Many times and I'm surely of superintendents and principals the officers of the schools because your school system is no better than those that give a direction and that that direction comes not merely from the superintendent who is the professional educator but sometimes from the lace school board exercise considerable control over patterns of education. What I'm trying to say is we have to change our thinking all the way along the line or at least
change some emphasis on it. You cannot slow down the whole educational program to mediocrity to meet the average. You must be able to break your educational program up into packets or packages so that the gifted student will have a chance to keep pace with people of his standard and his capacity. The student that's a slower learner learner who may very well be a good citizen and may have much to contribute to the community life should not be pressed too hard to keep up with the with a gifted student. It's better to have them in a in a in a in a grouping that meets their needs and their capacities. So what I'm really getting at is that you just got to have a better staff in your school system. I I must say that it always grieves me a great deal to see. All too often the best teachers the best facilities the broadest curriculum the finer extra curricular activities and facilities in the
areas of communities or neighborhoods where the people who are there have the finer homes and have the private means of providing these things. Maybe out of turn it around what I'm saying is I think the better schools ought to be where people can least afford them. Well now you're putting your finger on a question that immediately comes up the question of cost. Yes there you go the other day Mr. Bush Chester Bowles said after all are only four ways in which we can support our educational system in this country it's by private means is one choice and we can choose to do this or we wish local state and federal support of the other three. Yesterday we've seen several movements some of which have been sponsored by you. Yes or in terms of a trend toward a federal support of our educational systems under various kinds of capacities the National Defense Education Act of 158 is another example.
Do you see a trend in this direction that is a positive movement. Do we need to look and will we receive satisfaction from federal support. Well I don't think federal support is the answer. All the way I think federal support has a role to play now but as a former mayor and as one who is of a city anyone who interested in local government you must as you said a moment ago we have to finance education and the whole problem the big problem today is that the finance base the base the resources from whence education is financed have taken a dramatic change for example most education has been financed on the property base property tax base. Well the cost of education today is just too great for that. Therefore we've had to supplement what we call local education funds with state aides and where does the state get it. The state gets it from the income tax or from an excise
tax or from a severance tax or from a sales tax. Now this in a sense was breaking with the traditional pattern of education. The state never used to provide for the education we left that to the local school district. But in vast areas of America today the local school districts are utterly incapable financially of taking care of educational needs because of the change in the property base. There be one big factory for example in a community of 10000 people or 5000 people. Now if you're only going to tax the the homes and the property and the factory as a real estate in terms of real estate you're not going to get enough money therefore you have to find other ways of taxing local income taxes excise taxes sales taxes and so forth. Now I do feel that on tell we are able to re-establish to restudy and re-evaluate our whole financial base for local government. That the federal government will have a tremendous role to play here.
I'm not opposed at all to federal aid. Education is a matter of fact I strongly support it because after all the student is a citizen of the United States not just of the state. Plus the fact we're living in a mobile society today. Are there are there are millions of Americans literally on the road every day. They're moving they're going from place to place. Plus the fact our nation is more integrated every day economically socially culturally therefore it is important that we have good schools in Minnesota as well as in Mississippi or vice versa. It is important that we have good schools in South Dakota as well as South Carolina or vice versa. Who knows tomorrow that you may be living in South Carolina and a week later you may be living in California. Therefore from the needs of the nation and from the needs of the citizen of the nation it is important that there be a standard of education that is at least approximated all across the land. So that you have a minute at least minimum standards that will meet the basic needs of the
individual then you can improve on those and go higher here and there in certain areas so they are so I support federal aid education for close school buildings school facilities laboratories but also for teacher salaries because I'm going to throw out something here that some of my educator friends won't like. I don't think that the real test of an educational structure is to build a school building that will last 50 years. And if I could do something for the cause of education I think it would be to speak this frankly and I think we'd be better off to build much more modest school facilities and use the money for laboratory equipment for books and libraries for music for extra curricular activities for psychiatry psychologists for medical care in the school for the for physical fitness for mental fitness all that goes with really building the body of education because education is more today than just the fundamentals of reading writing and arithmetic even though that's important.
What I'm getting at is many ups taxpayer is frightened out. Voting for school bombs and opposes federal aid because they see us build these tremendous beautiful schools and they are called They're called by the taxpayers association extravagant. They're there or they're the people can always find that you put a door knob on that was a bit more expensive than the door knob that you have over at the local community hall or something and this causes you trouble. I think we ought to learn how to build schools of modest construction costs that are safe clean well-lighted sanitary and are functional. The reason I say this is because you never know 10 years from now that whole population may have left. I've seen this happen I saw it in Minneapolis a few years ago we had junior high schools in Minneapolis when I was mayor that were on occupied or partly occupied and people were saying well we ought to close them up. And then all at once there was the we now find that we need more junior high schools and you can go in one area I noticed the other day I was
some time ago I was back in my home city and there was an old old school there over on the east side that had been closed for several years. And here lo and behold it's all been refurnished. It's now occupied. It's an integrated school by the way I notice the youngsters coming in and out of that school. And it's now one of the most active schools and when I was there as a student at the university. It was closed and used as a WPA project Center for a long time then it was completely closed up completely and many people wanted to tear it down. Some of us said well let's leave it it may we may need it for something else it's a pretty good structure. So what I'm getting at is I think we can appeal to the taxpayer and to the citizen who is hard pressed today on all of these economic fronts by saying look we're going to build a school that will meet the real housing needs of education and then we're going to put that extra money in new books visual aids audio AIDS
in people that can in consulars. Why I can think of my own experiences my own family. One of the schools where my daughter attended school. Public school there was one concert for the whole Sophomore class of IB that sophomore class had seven eight hundred thousand students. Well now this is ridiculous. It takes more than one concert to just well have none. I think they get to see their concert about once a year maybe the number of students let's say around 700 or 500 you can't do you need more consulars than that and you need good ones. And if I want somebody Crean with my child's mind and personality I want a well-adjusted person and I want a teacher that is sound of mind and spirit and body and I'm willing to pay for it. And I think this is what you have to talk to the people about. If you can convince people that their children are getting good people as teachers they'll pay for them providing that you don't have too
many of what I call the the fringes on the on the construction. I believe that there ought to be federal scholarships in education for gifted students who find it difficult to follow the paths of education in higher learning and higher education. But the incentive ought to be there that day if they can qualify it by study. If they develop the capacities then we have something to offer them and they'll have to maintain a high level of educational performance high grades in order to continue there. There are federal scholarship and by the way I know a lot of people feel old the federal government doesn't need to give any scholarships or all kinds of scholarships around well there aren't all that there aren't enough. That's just talk. What is more I think we ought to have an America a sort of national pride in being able to obtain a federal scholarship. Take for example today we have young men and women that are getting National Science Foundation grants.
Now every time one of those grants is made. Your name and the name of an individual appears in this local paper that of Dr. Jones receives a National Science Foundation grant. This is an honor or a third right fellowship or scholarship. This is an honor and I would like to see the day that when students graduate from high school that instead of just being selected as one of the best football players for the state or basketball players and I like basketball and football and I have little or no time with these people that figure that we ought not to have football and basketball I like it I think youngsters like it do. But I'd like to be able to have it in the schools that they when they prayed up for their honors on the graduation day that the superintendent or the president the school board also announces that Sally Jones is today the recipient of a federal scholarship to go to a university of her own choice because of what because of her outstanding performance as judged by the board of
judges of this community. And this will become a badge of honor and it will place education high on the roster of American of what we call American success. That's what we need to do we need to give more dignity to education a sense of personal and national pride about it. Now you've used the terms here. Investment money investment in our children in our school systems and this incentive funds these somehow given the impression that you get returns you do from these what kind of returns do you get. Well that many people would want to justify this investment strictly on financial returns and you can do that too. It's a fact I'm sure that if you're if you have the money to invest in an education for medical education that the odds are that you're going to have a greater return but you're going to have to work hard and you're going to have to sacrifice a long time. And therefore our doctors are entitled to a good return. Our
lawyers are our engineers. Actually we are approaching a stage when everybody because of automation because of the techniques of modern industry that even the worker in the factory who frequently was it was said that didn't really need to have an education. Today he must be a skilled worker. There is very little room left for an unskilled worker in the American economy and this skilled worker requires at least the least intellect some intellectual discipline that comes out of of out of education. So education is an investment in economic return. The Chamber of Commerce has a bulletin that it puts out guesses on a continuing basis. It's a good one it shows that the community where there are the higher educational standards where there's the where the citizenry has the better education educational background that that community in the main. There may be some exceptions has a higher standard of living our gross national product is
tied to education. This means that our revenues are tied to education. This means that our the defense of our country investment why you can spend the billions of dollars for defense but without educated people to operate these complex machines and to develop these complex machines there is no defense so that it is a fact that the word investment for education is a natural word and it ought to be used we ought never to talk about expenditures for education. You don't spend for education you invest for education. You spend to go to the nightclub you spend the go to the movie you spend to go to the races but you invest in health you invest in education. You've given us a good idea for a purpose involved here which has some moral significance. What about political significance and I'm using this word in the way it should be used I think here and involves the life and
future of our country and its relationship with other countries here. We can talk about pay off in money our investment and what this means to us and how we'll get our returns we can discuss and it's pretty clear and evident that this means a good deal to us in succeeding generations. And within our own country. Now what about the relationships of our country to the world. We we've got we must understand these this world not merely on the point of where they where people live on the map. That isn't the most important thing it isn't even too important to understand. Do you know about the color of their skin. But it is important to know about people's background their experiences their cultures their orientation. It is important know of their of their of their heritage of their tradition of their history. I think that the greatest thing that could be done for the United States of America today is an intensive course in Asian African and Russian culture and history.
This is what we need. We can start out with Russia I was there and I felt a great inadequacy even though I'm a graduate student in history. I didn't know enough Russian history because Russia today Communist Soviet Russia today is not only communism it's its mother Russia and its and its Communist Russia its Peter the Great and Lenin. It's it's the Russia of the czars in the Russia of the commissar. It's the Russia of music of literature of science these Russians have been a fantastic people for centuries and we Americans know so little about them. And when you negotiate with the Russian Communists today. He really isn't much different than when you negotiated with a member of the Czarist regime. They have patterns they have they have a history. And in order to really understand what you're dealing with you have to go back in depth. That isn't good enough just to go back to Lenin Lenin is on top of everything else all the way down from the ages. And it isn't a veneer I don't mean that but
it's an amalgam of Lenin ism Plus the Russian ism of the of the of the Russia vote. Well so we need to understand these people and this is where international education comes in and you know you can't understand people by just reading about them you have to bump into them. You have to see them. You have to shake hands with them you have to look at them. You have to talk to them. You can read about them you can think about them. You can visualize them but until you are with them you never really fully understand them. Senator and you alluded once to a situation or an experience that happened to you when you landed at the Moscow airport. I'd like to have you discuss this and explain just what it was the did occur there and if this had any effect or relationship in several of the other proposals about exchanging students back and forth with between our country and some foreign countries if you would. Yes. When I arrived at Moscow airport in late November one thousand eight hundred and fifty eight.
The sight of literally thousands it seemed to me at least many hundreds of young people milling around that airport from the many distant countries of the world was something that I shall never forget. I had been in the Western European area Scandinavian countries France and England and Germany and Switzerland. But I had not seen in those countries the amount of attention to young people that I witnessed on that first night at the Moscow airport. Here's what I saw. Getting off the plane and coming into this huge air terminal there were literally many hundreds of young people from Africa from Asia from the Middle East in particular and some from Latin America. These were young men and women between the ages I would say of maybe 16 to 30. And they were there every day in ever increasing numbers because this was not just a unique one night experience.
I found out that this was characteristic of the Moscow airport. Day in and day out I saw for example huge airplanes coming in the kind that Mr. Khrushchev traveled to in the United States traveled into the United States that you won 14 or whatever it is I forgot the number of of the four engine jet prop plane. Carrying as many as 150 to 200 students coming in and the students coming out of that plane in a constant stream. There were jets there were regular conventional and propeller aircraft by a half dozens on the on the ramp and one after another and I would also call to your attention that these students were not just being accepted into Moscow. They were being greeted. There were functionaries officials of the Soviet government of the city of Moscow of Moscow University of the interest agency all out to the airport
with camera crews television cameras photographers reporters radio recording instruments to to interview these young people as they came to Moscow. In other words what the Russians are doing is making Moscow if they have their way the intellectual in the cultural center of the world and they are in determined to do it now I saw the same thing all through the city of Moscow in the days that I was there. The tremendous emphasis upon young people and particularly upon young people from other countries filling their universities their technical schools or vocational schools. But more importantly just coming into Moscow as an experience in the communist world coming there for a week six weeks two months a year whatever the prescribed period might be under the arrangements that were made. To what extent do we follow something like this in this country. Admittedly we can learn from several other kinds of operations. Do you feel that if we this is a minor extent do you feel that we should be
doing more of this lines of students. Yes I I truly do. And I must say that I feel that we should step up the whole cultural exchange program not merely students but the entire cultural exchange program for adults and students and young people in the fields of education science literature music the arts the humanities all the way along the line the cultural exchange program has genuine merit we have everything to gain from it and I think nothing to lose if our case is as good as we say it is if our belief in freedom is as strong as we say it is. If democracy is powerful and as strong as we say it is and I think it all is then we have nothing to fear from this kind of competition or this kind of exchange. Now in the student field I think this is very important because the people that come in as students are the potential leaders of the of the countries from where they come. These are the young people that will ultimately be the
leaders in government in the military in science and in their own educational structure in their own community life. And there is no way that I know of to be to influence a young mind any more than in a college or in an educational experience. Therefore I would broadly I would expand a great deal to exchange program and all of its aspects but I would step up the educational exchange program many fold. In fact for many months following my trip to the Soviet Union I encouraged and discussed and urged that we step up the exchange programme with the Soviets of the into the thousands. I think it would be well to have hundreds yes thousands of students come in from behind the Iron Curtain to Western universities not just the United States I might add. Because this isn't a struggle in which we are the only participant for freedom. There are still great universities in the other free countries of the world great technical schools and great laboratories and scientific establishment. And we Americans would make a serious
mistake if we tried to take on ourselves the whole burden of this contest. I suggest that we broaden our front so to speak and reckon remember that we have allies. We have all sorts of people in the British the French the German the Dutch the Belgium the Scandinavians the Irish the whole of people all over as well as in the Far East. Our friends in the Philippines in our course are sister state now the Hawaiian Islands. There are so many places that we can bring students and let them experience the tremendous inspiration of free freedom and I would hope that we would do that. The experience you're talking about that they would have here would not be an idealized experience what it is to be a straight forward every day regular experience in exactly what goes on in our educational institutions. Oh yes I don't think there ought to be any sort of synthetic program specially designed program for students of foreign extraction.
I think they ought to come in and see what we are do what we do live with us and we with them learn from them and they from us. This may be a little rough on occasion and the edges may get a little ragged but it's better that way because this is the only way that the visiting student can really appreciate or learn to understand what we mean by this so-called American way of life when all of that in place. It's the only way they can really understand us and of course an exchange program means that we have some of the go there to U.S. you know the capacity of another nation to absorb students must always be taken into consideration. I'm not advocating however that our capacity is great. And that we ought to raise high the standard of education as a as it as a sort of symbol of America's greatness and of America's of the American contribution to civilization. I have felt that it would be good for future generations to be able to read in the history books of their day that America
was no one not for the H-bomb or the A-bomb but really was no one for having bringing it for having brought light to our enlightenment to the world and not merely the light of the nuclear flash but the Enlightenment to the mind in the enrichment of the Spirit. It seems that this is what can be done to a greatly expanded program of educational exchange. That was Minnesota's Senator Hubert Humphrey discussing the here and now of educational needs in our mobile American society. Senator Humphrey was interviewed by Dr. James in terror of the Michigan State University College of Education. Next week Dr. Arthur S. Adams the president of the American Council on Education will be interviewed on a wide range of subjects already raised in this series will be with us the oral essays on education was produced by Wayne S. Wayne and Patrick Ford distribution is made through the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the end he Radio Network.
Oral essays on education
Hubert Humphrey
Producing Organization
Michigan State University
WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Senator Hubert Humphrey on "The Here and Now."
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The thoughts of distinguished Americans in a survey of American eduction.
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Interviewee: Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978
Interviewer: Tintera, James
Producing Organization: Michigan State University
Producing Organization: WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-3-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:34
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Chicago: “Oral essays on education; Hubert Humphrey,” 1960-12-02, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 25, 2024,
MLA: “Oral essays on education; Hubert Humphrey.” 1960-12-02. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 25, 2024. <>.
APA: Oral essays on education; Hubert Humphrey. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from