Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Departments of Labor, and Health, Education, and Welfare Appropriation Act, 1968.

November 09, 1967

SOCIETY'S fundamental work is the purpose of this bill:

--education of our children and the conquest of disease,

--health care for mothers and children and security for the elderly,

--training for men and women who need the skills for decent jobs.

This bill appropriates $13.2 billion for the Department of Labor and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. This compares with $4.06 billion in the 1960 bill and $5.69 billion in the 1963 appropriation bill. In 4 years we have doubled our efforts and in 7 years tripled them.

While Congress gave careful consideration to our requests--and honored most of them--one aspect of this measure disturbs me.

The bill reduces by almost two-thirds the funds we requested for the Teacher Corps-from $36 million to $13.5 million.

This reduction is small in the context of a $13 billion appropriation. But its impact will fall on thousands of young Americans in classrooms across the Nation.

The Teacher Corps, I believe, is one of the great educational ideas of our time.

Its promise is to help rescue what could become a lost generation.

Its purpose is to bring the best teachers to poor children in cities and rural areas, to compensate for years of disadvantage.

This program has weathered fierce political attack. In 1965 when it was first proposed, 95 percent of the House Republicans tried to vote it down. That opposition has continued. The survival of the program against these heavy odds has been a legislative triumph. Not only has the program survived-- it has succeeded.

Our request this year to advance this highly successful program was modest by every realistic standard. We sought only 2,500 new teachers to carry forward the work so well begun. But because of the drastic reduction in funds, the Teacher Corps has been put on a starvation diet of 350 new teachers.

The effect of this cut cannot alone be measured in dollars and cents. No price can be set on the promise which might have enriched a young life, but did not--because the right teacher was not there at the right time. There is no way of gauging the loss when an idea cannot reach the classroom--and so fails to inspire a young mind.

I sign this bill, however, with the satisfaction that it will help us proceed with the Nation's basic work, at a pace three times that of just 6 years ago.

Note: As enacted, the bill (H.R. 10196) is Public Law 90-132 (81 Stat. 386), approved November 8, 1967.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Departments of Labor, and Health, Education, and Welfare Appropriation Act, 1968. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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