Secretary Gardner, Commissioner Howe, ladies and gentlemen:
I have come here today not to call attention to the advancing age of the Office of Education, but rather to celebrate its next 100 years.
It was back in 1867, when another man named Johnson was President, that the Office of Education was set up in two small rooms and its first budget was $13,000. Congress soon decided that this was wasting the taxpayer's money and it voted to cut the Commissioner's pay by 25 percent. He was to get the princely salary of $3,000 per year.
Today your office space, your budget--and your Commissioner's salary--have all grown somewhat.
Your responsibilities have grown, also.
A long time ago, a colonial Governor of Virginia declared, "Thank God there are no free schools in America and I hope we shall not have them."
Well, we have raised our sights somewhat since then. We are no longer satisfied simply with free public education. We have declared as our national goal that every child shall have the chance to get as much education as he or she can absorb--no matter how poor they are, no matter what color they are, and no matter where they live.
You who are here today celebrating this birthday--this moth birthday--must play a very big part in helping us all reach that goal.
Dr. Hornig, nay Science Adviser, tells me that if we were using the new mathematics-the base 9 system--this anniversary should have been held in 1948. I am glad that we didn't because there is so much that we would not have been celebrating then. Besides, I was a candidate for the Senate in that year and I couldn't have been here.
In 1948, we would not be celebrating the education revolution that has transformed America. In 1948, the latest data would have shown that the typical American adult had only a little more than elementary schooling. Today we are fast approaching the time when the typical adult has completed his high school education.
In 1948, we would not be celebrating a nation where college education is already within the reach of most young people who desire it and who seek it.
In 1948, all the colleges and universities in America conferred 317,000 degrees. This year they will grant not 317,000 but 722,000 degrees--more than twice as many as they did in 1948. And over one million college students are being helped by the scholarships, loans, and work-study programs of the Office of Education.
So one million students are going to college this year who otherwise could not have gone except for the work that the Office of Education and the United States Government are doing in the higher education field.
In 1948, less than 25 percent of Americans aged 18 and 19 were in school. Today more than 4 out of every 10 that age are still in school or college.
In 1948, we would not be celebrating Federal aid to education--because we had just begun the long hard struggle in Congress to meet this great national need'.
Two days ago, I sent a message to Congress requesting $4 billion for the Office of Education in the coming fiscal year. This $4 billion is 122 times as much as we asked for in 1948. It is nearly twice the entire Federal budget in 1948 for all of its social welfare and health, housing and community facilities, labor and education.
Education has become big business in America. This year the schools and colleges of our country will operate at a cost of $50 billion--about 50 percent more than the entire Federal budget in 1948.
According to the new mathematics--the base 11 system--the next important birthday of the Office of Education should occur in 1988. So, I think it would be good if we started asking ourselves what kind of a celebration we are going to have in 1988.
Will those who join that birthday party feel as much hope as we do?
Will they claim that America is continuing to meet its education goals?
Will school children be finally free from the scars of racial discrimination in our land?
Will our country's classrooms be open to new ideas and new instruments of education?
Will our best college graduates be attracted to the teaching profession?
Will the partnership for education between Federal, State, and local government continue to grow stronger?
In large measure, the answers to these questions will be supplied by many of you who are in this audience today. Because of the men who lead you--John Gardner and Harold Howe--I have great faith and confidence in the answers you will give. You cannot work with these two men without catching some of their enthusiasm, some of their passion for education, and some of their dedication to making this a better land in which to live.
This is a happy moment for an ex-schoolteacher from Cotulla, Texas. Even though I have not mastered the new mathematics, I understand the basic equation of education: As we give in this generation, so will we receive in the next. Those who serve our Nation's schools are helping to shape our Nation's destiny.
So, I wish the Office of Education many, many more happy birthdays.
Thank you very much.