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Letter to the Commissioner of Education on the School Dropout Problem.

September 15, 1963

[ Released September 15, 1963. Dated September 14, 1963 ]

Dear Commissioner Keppel:

I have read with great interest your memorandum of September 5 supplying preliminary data on the intensive campaign waged this summer to prevent school dropouts and to encourage our young people to secure the highest possible level of education and training. It is gratifying that over 10,000 young people in 20 cities who were identified as probable dropouts indicated they would return to school.

These impressive figures are the result of the joint efforts of counselors, school superintendents, local officials, the U.S. Office of Education, the Advertising Council, radio and TV stations, newspapers, welfare workers and private citizens throughout the country. All who participated deserve the thanks, not only of the thousands of students who will lead richer and more productive lives, but of the entire nation.

Your observations regarding the need for a continuing program to ensure that those who have returned to school this month will remain there are obviously sound. Certainly the same intensive effort should be directed towards that goal, and the Federal Government should, of course, do everything within its authority to encourage such efforts.

In addition, I would hope that the experience and understanding of the problem gained this summer will enable the schools and the Government to make the necessary preparations for an even more effective program next summer, and the years to follow. Your report demonstrates, in an impressive manner, that a comparatively modest expenditure of funds, coupled with wide public interest, can bring really dramatic results in reducing school dropouts.



[Honorable Francis Keppel, Commissioner, Office of Education, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Washington, D.C.]

Note: Commissioner Keppel's memorandum, also released, reported on the results of the 1963 Summer Dropout Campaign, financed by the President's allocation of $250,000. This fund was distributed in sums ranging from $300 to $20,000, to 63 communities in 23 States and the District of Columbia.

The Commissioner also reported that school systems were planning curriculum changes and special programs tailored to the needs of dropouts, and that public welfare agencies in 33 States and the District of Columbia had responded to a request for special drives to keep teenagers in school.

John F. Kennedy, Letter to the Commissioner of Education on the School Dropout Problem. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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