The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• Lyndon B. Johnson
Special Message to the Congress on Education: "The Fifth Freedom."
February 5, 1968

To the Congress of the United States:

In two centuries, America has achieved-through great effort and struggle--one major educational advance after another: free public schooling; the Land Grant Colleges; the extension of the universities into the Nation's farms and homes; the unique venture that has placed a high school education within the reach of every young person.

I believe that our time--the mid-1960's-will be remembered as a time of unprecedented achievement in American education.

The past four years have been a time of unparalleled action:

--The Congress has approved more than 40 laws to support education from the preschool project to the postgraduate laboratory;

--The Federal Government has raised its investment in education to nearly $12 billion annually, almost triple the level four years ago.

The real significance of what we have done is reflected, not in statistics, but in the experiences of individual Americans, young and old, whose lives are being shaped by new educational programs.

Through Head Start, a four-year-old encounters a new world of learning.

Through Tide I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a disadvantaged youngster finds essential extra help--and school becomes a more rewarding place.

Through the Teacher Corps, a bright and eager college graduate is attracted to teaching and his talents are focused where the need is greatest.

These programs--all of them new--are enriching life for millions of young Americans.

In our high schools, students find that once-empty library shelves are filled; the most up-to-date laboratory equipment is available; new courses, new methods of teaching and learning are being tested in the classroom.

A student who sets his sights on college is more likely than ever before to find help through Federal loans, scholarships and work-study grants.

Today's college student is more likely than ever to live and learn in new dormitories, new classrooms, new libraries and laboratories.

Today, thousands of parents who in their youth had no chance for higher education can say with certainty, "My child can go to college."

Above all, we can see a new spirit stirring in America, moving us to stress anew the central importance of education; to seek ways to make education more vital and more widely available.

That new spirit cannot be fully measured in dollars or enrollment figures. But it is there nonetheless. The achievements of the past four years have sustained and nourished it.

Yet for all our progress, we still face enormous problems in education: stubborn, lingering, unyielding problems.

The phrase, "equal educational opportunity," to the poor family in Appalachia and to the Negro family in the city, is a promise-not a reality.

Our schools are turning out too many young men and women whose years in the classroom have not equipped them for useful work.

Growing enrollments and rising expenses are straining the resources of our colleges--and the strain is being felt by families across America.

Each of these problems will be difficult to solve. Their solution may take years--and almost certainly will bring new problems. But the challenge of our generation is to lead the way.

And in leading the way, we must carefully set our priorities. To meet our urgent needs within a stringent overall budget, several programs must be reduced or deferred. We can reduce expenditures on construction of facilities and the purchase of equipment. But, many of our urgent educational programs which directly affect the young people of America cannot be deferred. For the cost--the human cost--of delay is intolerable.

These principles underlie my 1969 budgetary recommendations and the proposals in this message. My recommendations are tailored to enable us to meet our most urgent needs, while deferring less important programs and expenditures.

ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION

It took almost a century of effort and controversy and debate to pass the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The great question was this: Can there be a system of large-scale aid to education which does not diminish the independence of our local schools and which safeguards the rich diversity of American education?

In 1965 such a law was passed. Today it is at work in nearly 20,000 school districts: strengthening State and local school boards, local school officials and classroom teachers, and improving the quality of education for millions of children.

It may take a decade or more to measure the full benefits of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. But already evidence is mounting to support my belief that this is the most significant education measure in our history.

Last year, Congress extended this law, the bedrock of all our efforts to help America's schools.

This year we have an opportunity to make that law a more efficient instrument of aid to education; to make it more responsive to the needs of the States and communities throughout the country.

I urge the Congress to fund Title l of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act well in advance of the school year, so that State and local school officials can make their plans with a clear idea of the resources that will be available.

Our resources are not unlimited--and never will be. So it is all the more important that in assigning priorities, we focus our aid where the need is greatest.

That firm principle underlies a six-point program which I am proposing to Congress under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and other authorities:

1. Two innovative programs to help America's youngest and poorest children have been proven in practice. I propose that funding for the Head Start and Head Start Follow Through programs be stepped-up from $340 million to $380 million.

2. Last year, Congress authorized a special program to help Mexican-American, Puerto Rican and other children who are separated by a language barrier from good education. I propose that we launch this bilingual education program with a $5 million appropriation.

3. We are still doing less than we should do to prepare mentally retarded and physically handicapped children for useful lives. I propose that our special programs for the handicapped be increased from $53 million to $85 million.

4. We must rescue troubled boys and girls before they drop out of school. I propose full funding--$30 million--for a new Stay in School program, which will help schools tailor their own programs, from new and exciting methods of instruction to family counseling and special tutoring, to turn potential drop-outs into high school graduates.

5. Upward Bound, a program for poor but talented students, has directed thousands of young Americans into college who might otherwise never have had a chance. I propose that Congress increase funds for Upward Bound to serve 30,000 young Americans this year.

6. Adult basic education classes last year gave about 300,000 men and women an opportunity to gain new earning power, new self-respect, a new sense of achievement. I propose that Congress provide $50 million for this vital program.

If we can invest vast sums for education, we must also be able to plan and evaluate our education programs; to undertake basic research in teaching and learning, and to apply that research to the classroom. For these efforts, I propose appropriations of $177 million next year.

NEW STRENGTH FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION

Whatever else we expect of the local school, we demand that it prepare each student for a productive life. The high school graduate who does not enter college needs not only knowledge enough to be a responsible citizen, but skills enough to get and keep a good job.

One and a half million young men and women will leave high school and enter the labor force this year--in a time of high employment, when skills are at a premium.

Too many of them will find that they have no job skills---or only marginal skills, or skills which are not really needed in their communities,

A high school diploma should not be a ticket to frustration.

We must do more to improve vocational education programs. We must help high schools, vocational schools, technical institutes, and community colleges to modernize their programs, to experiment with new approaches to job training. Above all, we must build stronger links between the schools and their students, and local industries and employment services, so that education will have a direct relationship to the world the graduating student enters.

I recommend that Congress enact the Partnership for Learning and Earning Act of 1968.

This new program--streamlining and strengthening our vocational education laws--will:
--Give new flexibility to our system of matching grants, so the States can concentrate their funds where the need is greatest;
--Provide $15 million for special experimental programs to bridge the gap between education and work: for alliances between schools, employment services and private employers; for new summer training programs combining work and education;
--Totally revise and consolidate our existing vocational education laws, reducing paperwork for the States, the schools and other training centers;

--Encourage the States to plan a long-range strategy in vocational education.

TRAINED PROFESSIONALS FOR OUR SCHOOLS

The value of all these measures--and indeed, the effectiveness of our entire school system--depends on educators: teachers, teacher aides, administrators and many others,

It would profit us little to enact the most enlightened laws, to authorize great sums of money--unless we guarantee a continuing supply of trained, dedicated, enthusiastic men and women for the education professions.

To advance this essential purpose, I purpose --That Congress provide the funds needed to train nearly 45,000 teachers, administrators and other professionals under the Education Professions Development Act of 1967.
--That Congress authorize and appropriate the necessary funds so that 4,000 of our best and most dedicated young men and women can serve our neediest children in the Teacher Corps.

HIGHER EDUCATION

The prosperity and well-being of the United States--and thus our national interest-are vitally affected by America's colleges and universities, junior colleges and technical institutes.

Their problems are not theirs alone, but the Nation's.

This is true today more than ever. For now we call upon higher education to play a new and more ambitious role in our social progress, our economic development, our efforts to help other countries.
We depend upon the universities--their training, research and extension services-for the knowledge which undergirds agricultural and industrial production.

Increasingly, we look to higher education to provide the key to better employment opportunities and a more rewarding life for our citizens.

As never before, we look to the colleges and universities--to their faculties, laboratories, research institutes and study centers-for help with every problem in our society and with the efforts we are making toward peace in the world.

STUDENT AID

It is one of the triumphs of American democracy that college is no longer a privilege for the few. Last fall, more than 50 percent of our high school graduates went on to college. It is our goal by 1976 to increase that number to two-thirds.

In the past four years, we have significantly eased the financial burden which college imposes on so many families. Last year, more than one student in five attended college with the help of Federal loans, scholarships, grants and work-study programs.

But for millions of capable American students and their families, college is still out of reach. In a nation that honors individual achievement, financial obstacles to full educational opportunity must be overcome.

I propose the Educational Opportunity Act of 1968:
--To set a new and sweeping national goal: that in America there must be no economic or racial barrier to higher education; that every qualified young person must have all the education he wants and can absorb.
--To help a million and a half students attend college next year through the full range of our student aid programs, including guaranteed loans.
--To strengthen the Guaranteed Loan Program by meeting the administrative costs of the banks who make these loans. With a service fee of up to $35 for each loan, this program can aid an additional 200,000 students next year, bringing the total to 750,000.

--To provide $15 million for new programs of tutoring, counseling and special services so that the neediest students can succeed in college.
--To unify and simplify several student aid programs-College Work-Study, Educational Opportunity Grants and National Defense Education Act Loans--so that each college can devise a flexible plan of aid tailored to the needs of each student.

AID TO INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING

Today, higher education needs help.
American colleges and universities face growing enrollments, rising costs, and increasing demands for services of all kinds.

In 10 years, the number of young people attending college will increase more than 50 percent; graduate enrollments will probably double.

Our first order of business must be to continue existing Federal support for higher education.

I urge the Congress to extend and strengthen three vital laws which have served this nation well:
--The National Defense Education Act of 1958 , which has helped nearly two million students go to college and graduate school.

--The Higher Education Facilities Act of 1963, which has helped nearly 1,400 colleges and universities meet growing enrollments with new classrooms, laboratories and dormitories.
--The Higher Education Act of 1965, which, in addition to its student aid programs, has strengthened college libraries, involved our universities in community service, and given new vitality to 450 developing colleges.

I also urge the Congress to fulfill the commitment it made two years ago, and appropriate funds needed for the International Education Act. This Act will strengthen our universities in their international programs--and ultimately strengthen the quality of the men and women who serve this country abroad.

We must apply more effectively the educational resources we have. We must encourage better cooperation between the Nation's colleges and universities; and we should move to increase each institution's efficiency by exploiting the most advanced technology.

To serve these purposes, I recommend the Networks for Knowledge Act of 1968.

This pilot program will provide new financial incentives to encourage colleges and universities to pool their resources by sharing faculties, facilities, equipment, library and educational television services. It will supplement the effort launched last year by the National Science Foundation to explore the potential of computers in education.

I also recommend three new measures to strengthen graduate education in America.

First, we should increase the Federal payment available to help graduate schools meet the cost of educating a student who has earned a Federal Fellowship. At present, Federal Fellowship programs are actually deepening the debt of the graduate schools because this payment is too low.

Second, we should launch a new program to strengthen those graduate schools with clear potential for higher quality. With enrollments growing, we must begin to enlarge the capacity of graduate schools. This program will underwrite efforts to strengthen faculties, improve courses and foster excellence in a wide range of fields.

Third, I urge the Congress to increase government sponsored research in our universities. The knowledge gained through this research truly is power--power to heal the sick, educate the young, defend the nation, and improve the quality of life for our citizens.

A STRATEGY FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

The programs I am presenting to the Congress today are aimed at solving some of the problems faced by our colleges and universities and their students in the years ahead. But accomplishing all these things will by no means solve the problems of higher education in America.

To do that, we must shape a long-term strategy of Federal aid to higher education: a comprehensive set of goals and a precise plan of action.

I am directing the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to begin preparing a long-range plan for the support of higher education in America. Our strategy must:
--Eliminate race and income as bars to higher learning.
--Guard the independence of private and public institutions.
--Ensure that State and private contributors will bear their fair share of support for higher education.

--Encourage the efficient and effective use of educational resources by our colleges and universities.
--Promote continuing improvement in the quality of American education.
--Effectively blend support to students with support for institutions.

Such a strategy will not be easy to devise. But we must begin now. For at stake is a decision of vital importance to all Americans.

EDUCATION AND THE QUALITY OF LIFE

Every educational program contributes vitally to the enrichment of life in America. But some have that enrichment as their first goal. They are designed not to serve special groups or institutions, but to serve all the American people.

We have tested in the past three years a new idea in government: The National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities.

That experiment has been an impressive success. It has proved that government can indeed enhance the Nation's cultural life and deepen the understanding of our people.
--With modest amounts of money, The Humanities Endowment has promoted scholarship in a wide range of fields and quickened public interest in the humanities.

--The Arts Endowment has brought new energy and life to music, drama, and the arts in communities all over America.

I believe the Foundation has earned a vote of confidence. I urge that the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities authorization be extended.

We have acted also to launch an historic educational force in American life: public broadcasting--non-commercial radio and television service devoted first and foremost to excellence.

Last year the Congress authorized the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This year we must give it life.

I recommend that the Congress appropriate the funds needed in fiscal 1968 and fiscal 1969 to support the initial activities of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Last year I stressed the importance of a long-range financing plan which would ensure that public broadcasting would be vigorous, independent and free from political interference or control. The problem involved is complex. It concerns the use of the most powerful communications medium in the world today. It should not be resolved without the most thorough study and consultation.

I am asking the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of the Bureau of the Budget--who have been studying this problem since the law was enacted--to work with the Board of Directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the appropriate Committees of the Congress to formulate a long-range financing plan that will promote and protect this vital new force in American life.

THE FIFTH FREEDOM

On January 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt set forth to Congress and the people "four essential human freedoms" for which America stands.

In the years since then, those four freedoms-freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear---have stood as a summary of our aspirations for the American Republic and for the world.
And Americans have always stood ready to pay the cost in energy and treasure which are needed to make those great goals a reality.

Today--wealthier, more powerful and more able than ever before in our history-our Nation can declare another essential human freedom.

The fifth freedom is freedom from ignorance.

It means that every man, everywhere, should be free to develop his talents to their full potential--unhampered by arbitrary barriers of race or birth or income.

We have already begun the work of guaranteeing that fifth freedom.

The job, of course, will never be finished. For a nation, as for an individual, education is a perpetually unfinished journey, a continuing process of discovery.

But the work we started when this Nation began, which has flourished for nearly two centuries, and which gained new momentum in the past two Congresses--is ours to continue-yours and mine.

LYNDON B. JOHNSON
The White House

February 5, 1968

Citation: Lyndon B. Johnson: "Special Message to the Congress on Education: "The Fifth Freedom."", February 5, 1968. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=29182.
 
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