Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks After Signing Bill Providing Funds for Programs Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

September 23, 1965

Twenty-one years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt issued an urgent call to Congress for Federal assistance to education in this country. He called this "our national obligation to all of our children." "This country," he said, "is great enough to guarantee the right to education adequate for full citizenship."

So today we are helping to write the answer to that historic challenge. I have just signed into law a bill providing supplemental appropriations for the Departments of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare. And more than $1 billion will go for programs that are authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which we signed a short time ago.

Today, we reach out to 5 1/2 million children held behind their more fortunate schoolmates by the dragging anchor of poverty:

--This act provides funds to pay for the teachers and the services to help overcome handicaps that cause our bright young minds to shut out the joy of learning.

--Today, we take a giant step forward-increasing the learning of the world by greatly enlarging the libraries of the schools.

--This act contains funds for school libraries, for school textbooks, and for school teaching aids.

So today, we strengthen the foundation of each school in every community of this Nation:

--This act will help finance supplemental educational centers and regional educational laboratories in order to bring new ideas and new techniques into the classrooms of our children.

And finally, today, we preserve an education system that is based on local and on State leadership:

--This act has funds to help State departments of education to develop and to strengthen their services.

I have directed Secretary Gardner and Commissioner of Education Keppel to do everything in their power, starting now, to speed the flow of funds to all State and all local education agencies.

But the Office of Education here in Washington cannot do this job alone. The main task now lies with the local school boards, with the parents, with the teachers, with the State school superintendents, with the State education commissioners.

You bear the responsibility for translating the vision of this law into the vitality of our country's education system.

And so to you, I have this to say: Act now. Get your plans made. Open your schools to the promise of these new programs.

I hope that not a single day will be lost. For in education, the time we waste today can mean a life wasted tomorrow.

We have always believed that our people can stand on no higher ground than the school ground, or can enter any more hopeful room than the classroom. We blend time and faith and knowledge in our schools--not only to create educated citizens, but also to shape the destiny of this great Republic.

Note: The President spoke at 11:04 a.m. in the White House Theater. During his remarks he referred to Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare John W. Gardner and Commissioner of Education Francis Keppel.

As enacted, the bill (H.R. 10586) is Public Law 89-199 (79 Stat. 831).

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 was approved by the President on April 11, 1965 (see Item 181).

On December 30, 1965, the White House made public an interim report to the President from Commissioner Keppel on the first 100 projects established under title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, designed to improve the schooling of children of low-income families. The report stated that these projects were benefiting 347,047 children in 12 States and that these were only the first of thousands of educational projects which would be established as a result of the legislation. The report summarized details of projects in Kayenta, Ariz., Minneapolis, Minn., Hatch Valley, N. Mex., Alton, Maine, and Houston, Tex. The text of the report is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. I, p. 628).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks After Signing Bill Providing Funds for Programs Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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