During his State of The Union Address in 1948, President Truman put forth a program for Federal Aid to Education in the U.S. The subsequent bill was introduced in the Senate and passed but when it got to the House it languished in Committee (one suspects it had something to do with the "Do-Nothing Congress" Truman was so fond of saying), but it begged a larger question - What role should the government take in Social Services for the American people?
On this Saturday discussion program from CBS Radio, Cross Section: U.S.A. the subject, the first of a three part series on Social Programs in the U.S., Federal Aid to Education was brought up. Giving their viewpoints were a representative of the Banking sector, the Union sector and the Agriculture sector. Why Agriculture? Because in 1948 the access to quality education in rural areas was critical, and for many areas nonexistent. In 1948 the per capita amount spent on each school age child was $50.00. In some areas of the country it was $125.00, but in most rural and low-income areas it was as below $20.00.
Some felt the amount Truman was requesting (some $300 million per year) was far too low with the actual amount needed somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 billion. Others wondered if the Aid would go to segregated schools or private/parochial schools. Others felt it was no place for the Government to be involved, that it was a state and local matter. It's interesting that the representative of the Teachers Union indicated the overwhelming majority of funding for this set of programs would come from Property Taxes. And those of us in California during the post Prop. 13 era know that explains a lot.
Essentially arguments you hear over and over again now. Not in my backyard. Somebody else's problem, not mine. A bandaid on a bleed-out.
Same then - same now. Only the faces and rhetorical style have changed. Of course, nobody was screaming Socialism then. Maybe times have changed . . . .
Cross Section: USA with Dwight Cook, as broadcast on May 29, 1948 over CBS Radio.