Schools all over the country were overcrowded and falling apart. But the South wasn't wild about Truman's plan to remedy it.


Schools all over the country were overcrowded and falling apart. But the South wasn't wild about Truman's plan to remedy it.
Schools all over the country were overcrowded and falling apart. But the South wasn’t wild about Truman’s plan to remedy it.

CBS Radio – Cross Section: USA – Federal Aid To Public Schools – May 29, 1948 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

In 1948, President Truman introduced several programs dealing with Social issues – among them was Federal Aid to Education. Along with Health (a plan for Universal Healthcare was under consideration only days before World War 2, yet was shelved until after the war, but President died before it went ahead – and President Truman pledged to bring it up during his Administration), and housing, Education was a crucial issue facing many. Schools were dilapidated, classrooms were overcrowded, the Baby Boom was well underway and it was only going to get worse in the coming years.

So President Truman proposed a Federal Aid To Education Bill and was urging Congress to pass it since his State of The Union in January of 1948. The Senate passed the bill, but the House buried it. And President Truman sent a note to Congress, urging its passage before they adjourned.

The Bill in question provided a subsidy for local School systems; it would cost roughly $300 million a year and it would set up a national minimum amount of money to spent on every school child in the country. The Senate bill set the figure at $50.00 per student per year, even though the national average was more like $125.00 a year. But many schools were spending as little as $20.00 per student, especially in the South. President Truman warned Congress that, unless the bill was passed, there was a very strong chance of a complete breakdown of the school system in America.

Opinions varied – from absolutely essential to “we don’t need a Federal subsidy” – especially those from the South, who balked at the Truman proviso that aid to education applied to all school children, regardless of race.

This program, part of the weekly radio series Cross Section: USA, looked at the issue from most sides, including the South, where resistance to passage was very strong.

The issue of affordable, quality education have been particularly acute over the years – and that resistance to improving our educational system has always been with us – as has the downside of illiteracy as the result of cuts and the slashing of programs.So to remind you that education has always been an issue, and that the importance of it has always been around, as well as resistance to any Federal Aid, here is that episode of Cross Section: USA – as it was originally broadcast on May 29, 1948.

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