Click on the link here for Audio Player – America United Program – Should Federal Aid To Education Be Expanded? – May 29, 1949 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
In 1949 access to a good, or even adequate education, depended on where you lived and what your economic circumstances were. There was no uniform policy on education where students in rural areas got an educational equivalent to students in urban areas. President Truman sought to remedy that by introducing a bill to the 81st Congress that expanded Federal Spending to Education as a way to bridge the gap. Oddly, it was a debated issue – not that everyone wasn’t in agreement on expanded Federal Aid, but some felt aid should be given to the individual states to decided how to implement those improvements. Others argued there was a need for the Federal Government to step in to equalize the inequality among local school districts, that states were not doing the job – most notably states in the South.
It was also argued that many states were spending only 2% of their income on education, particularly those schools in the South, and this was down from the 4 1/2% which was spent before World War 2. So even if Federal Aid was expanded and the states were responsible for seeing that additional aid be spent equalizing the quality of schools and education, would they in fact do it? One of the points being argued in Congress was an accountability from the states to ensure the monies would go to the appropriate schools. Some wanted those responsibilities removed, thus making those states receiving funding not accountable for reporting where those funds were spent.
In this half-hour discussion program, part of the America United series from NBC Radio – the general consensus was that schools in poorer areas were woefully inadequate and in need of modernization and that getting qualified teachers was difficult, bordering on impossible.
And sixty-five years later, the subject of education and funding is still a bone of contention – and it’s still difficult to find good teachers.
Some things just never change. Here is that America United broadcast from May 29, 1949.