Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing the District of Columbia Elected Board of Education Act

April 22, 1968

School Board members, City Council members, Members of the Congress, ladies and gentlemen:

Today, democracy comes a bit closer to reality here in our Nation's Capital.

Today, we meet here to give the citizens of the District of Columbia the right to elect their own school board.

In the process, we will put nine good men and women out of work. They have done a splendid job. But--as they know better than anyone--selection by Federal court is no substitute for election by the people.

Education in this city has long been the direct concern of the people. Now it becomes the people's direct responsibility.

This has been a momentous year for the District of Columbia.

We have installed a mayor and a city council in city hall. The new government is responding to the needs and the hopes of the people--in day-to-day operations, and in crisis as well.

With this legislation, we will restore another basic right of popular government-the right of people to help shape the education of their children.

But this right will be hollow unless it is given strength and substance by better education.

We want to make our Capital City a showcase for the entire Nation.

We want to make the schools in the District of Columbia not just places where our children are kept, but where they can fully prepare for life and for full citizenship in this country.

We want the schools to serve all the citizens of the community, young and old alike, and serve them all year round.

We want to make the schools of the National Capital models for all the rest of America to follow.

The bill I sign today will bring us part of the way.

Now we must sustain the momentum of that progress. So I ask the Congress to give the people of the District of Columbia:

--the $155 million in the District budget to run better schools, to pay teachers better salaries, to build more and better classrooms; and

--the special $10 million appropriation to begin a new program of model community schools.

Washington should become--in every sense--a model city. It must be a place where democracy is enshrined not only in monuments, but in the lives of its people.

The people must be given the right to elect their own representatives in the Congress of the United States.

The people must be given the most basic right of all--home rule.

For almost four decades, as a resident of this First City, I have looked to the day when these rights would become reality.

Someday they will be. Of that I am sure. I am glad today we are meeting here in the Fish Room to take another step toward making them so.

Thank you very much for coming.

Note: The President spoke at 5:32 p.m. in the Fish Room at the White House. As enacted, the bill (H.R. 13042) is Public Law 90-292 (82 Stat. 101).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing the District of Columbia Elected Board of Education Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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