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Statement of Senator John F. Kennedy to the Adult Education Association of the U.S.A., Denver, CO

October 14, 1960

I welcome the invitation of the Adult Education Association of the U.S.A. to address your annual convention meeting this year in Denver, Colo. I regret that I cannot be present with you personally on this occasion, but in my view the role of adult education in our national life is so important that I wish to take advantage of your invitation to extend my personal greetings and best wishes to those who are engaged in this rapidly growing segment of our educational system.

It is important to note that in the platform hearings of the Democratic Party, your association, together with other important professional organizations, provided direct testimony about the importance of continuing education if we are to develop informed citizens who can participate effectively in the decisionmaking processes of our society.

It is a source of pride to me that the Democratic platform includes a pledge of "further Federal support for all phases of vocational education for youth and adults; for libraries and adult education; for realizing the potential of educational television; and for the exchange of students and teachers with other nations." Our party has also gone on record in support of "encouraging and expanding participation in and appreciation of our cultural life," and we have proposed a Federal advisory agency to assist in the evaluation, development, and expansion of the cultural resources of the United States.

A national campaign provides an opportunity to consider the facts and issues on major problems of our times: Peace and security, civil rights, educational opportunities, housing problems, problems of senior citizens, farm income, and other crucial concerns.

While farm income is one of our major economic problems, we must also move more vigorously to deal with the problems of our metropolitan communities, where more than 90 percent of our population growth is occurring. If our people are to live happy, prosperous, and fruitful lives in this urban age, we need educational programs as bold in concept and broad in scope as the cooperative extension movement which has done so much for rural America.

We need programs that will help all citizens to understand the problems created by urbanization. We need to find better ways to use the research and the educational experience of our institutions of learning in solving these problems. Adult educators in our universities and colleges, our schools, libraries and civic organizations, have a vital role to play in getting this job done.

We live in an age of rapid social change and unprecedented increase of new knowledge and scientific invention. In such an age we must do all in our power to strengthen our great system of formal education. But we must not stop there. We must also recognize that a free society today demands that we keep on learning or face the threat of national deterioration. We must educate people today for a future in which the choices to be faced cannot be anticipated by even the wisest now among us. We are on the frontier of an era which holds the possibilities of a new Golden Age in which the inroads of poverty, hunger, and disease will be lessened, in which through the extension of educational opportunities, men and women everywhere will have it within their power to develop their potential capacities to the maximum.

The agenda before the American people is great. The problems are complex. I believe that an America that understands the importance of "lifelong learning" will be able to deal with those problems more wisely and more vigorously.

I am, therefore, pleased to express my support of those who are working to strengthen the adult education programs of our universities and colleges, our schools, our libraries, and our voluntary citizen organizations. Your efforts are helping America to move forward toward greater strength and cultural vitality which can make our Nation once again a beacon light among freedom-loving people everywhere.

John F. Kennedy, Statement of Senator John F. Kennedy to the Adult Education Association of the U.S.A., Denver, CO Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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