Quotations from Lyndon B. Johnson about
Remarks at the University of Michigan ("Great Society Speech")
(The Presidential Papers, Item 357)
"A third place to build the Great Society is in the classrooms
of America. There your children's lives will be shaped.
Our society will not be great until every young mind is
set free to scan the farthest reaches of thought and imagination.
We are still far from that goal.
"Today, 8 million adult Americans, more than the entire
population of Michigan, have not finished 5 years of school.
Nearly 20 million have not finished 8 years of school. Nearly
54 million - more than one-quarter of all America - have
not even finished high school.
"Each year more than 100,000 high school graduates, with
proved ability, do not enter college because they cannot
afford it. And if we cannot educate today's youth, what
will we do in 1970 when elementary enrollment will be 5
million greater than 1960? And high school enrollment will
rise by 5 million. College enrollment will increase by more
than 3 million.
"In many places, classrooms are overcrowded and curricula
are outdated. Most of our qualified teachers are underpaid,
and many of our paid teachers are unqualified. So we must
give every child a place to sit and a teacher to learn from.
Poverty must not be a bar to learning, and learning must
offer an escape from poverty.
"But more classrooms and more teachers are not enough.
We must seek an educational system which grows in excellence
as it grows in size. This means better training for our
teachers. It means preparing youth to enjoy their hours
of leisure as well as their hours of labor. It means exploring
new techniques of teaching, to find new ways to stimulate
the love of learning and the capacity for creation."
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Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union
(The Presidential Papers, Item 2)
"Our third goal is to improve the quality of American life.
"We begin with learning.
Every child must have the best education our Nation can
Thomas Jefferson said no nation can be both ignorant and
free. Today no nation can be both ignorant and great.
"In addition to our existing programs, I will recommend a
new program for schools and students with a first-year authorization
of $1,500 million.
"It will help at every state along the road to learning.
For the pre-school years we will help needy children become
aware of the excitement of learning.
"For the primary and secondary school years, we will aid
public schools serving low-income families and assist students
in both public and private schools.
"For the college years we will provide scholarships to high
school students of the greatest promise and greatest need
and guarantee low-interest loans to students continuing
their college studies.
"New laboratories and centers will help our schools lift
their standards of excellence and explore new methods of
teaching. These centers will provide special training for
those who need and deserve special treatment."
Special Message to Congress: "Toward Full Educational
(The Presidential Papers, Item 9)
"In 1787, the Continental Congress declared in the Northwest
Ordinance: 'schools and the means of education shall forever
"Every child must be encouraged to get as much education
as he has the ability to take.
We want this not only for his sake -- but for the nation's
"Nothing matters more to the future of our country: not
our military preparedness -- for armed might is worthless
if we lack the brainpower to build a world of peace; not
our productive economy -- for we cannot sustain growth without
trained manpower; not our democratic system of government
-- for freedom is fragile if citizens are ignorant."
"In 1838, Mirabeau B. Lamar, the Second President of the
Republic of Texas and the Father of Texas education, declared:
'The cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy.
It is the only dictator that free man acknowledges. It is
the only security that free man desires.'"
"We are now embarked on another venture to put the American
dream to work in meeting the new demands of a new day. Once
again we must start where men would improve their society
have always known they must begin - with an educational
system restudied, reinforced, and revitalized."
Recorded remarks on the Message on Education
(The Presidential Papers, Item 10)
"Education is 'the guardian genius of our democracy.' Nothing
really means more to our future, not our military defenses,
not our missiles or our bombers, not our production economy,
not even our democratic system of government. For all of
these are worthless if we lack the brain power to support
and sustain them."
"Remarks before the National Conference on Educational Legislation."
(The Presidential Papers, Item 89)
"'Human history, ' H.G. Wells once wrote, 'becomes more
and more a race between education and catastrophe.' You
and I cannot be indifferent to the outcome of that race.
We care deeply about the winner. Because we do care so deeply
about the winner, that is why we are all in the East Room
of the White House today.
"I don't think that I need to tell you how important to
the outcome of that race is the education legislation that
is now before the Congress. I hope that it is important
enough that most of you have studied it in detail. I hope
that you understand that it represents the very best thinking
that the leading educators of this country can produce.
"Way back last summer I asked some of the most outstanding
educational minds in this Nation to tackle this problem.
I gave them a single instruction: find out how we can best
invest each education dollar so that it will do the most
good. Your support and the support of every leading education
group proves that they did their job better than I had hoped,
because for the first time we have succeeded in finding
goals which unite us rather than divide us.
"The experts spent a great deal of time and study working
out a formula which would be fair to every State and fair
to every county and fair to every child, and would put the
education dollar where that dollar is needed most, now.
"We decided that our first job was to help the schools
serving the children from the very lowest income groups.
Those families constitute the number one burden, the number
one burden in this Nation on the school systems.
"We know that they cannot bear their share of the taxes
to help pay for their education. And unless those children
get a good education we know that they become dropouts and
they become delinquents and they become taxeaters instead
of taxpayers. We know that they will join the unemployed.
That is why we put top priority on breaking the vicious
cycle that today threatens the future of 5 million children
in this great land of opportunity which we talk about so
Statement by the President Announcing the Calling of a
White House Conference on Education
(The Presidential Papers, Item 291)
"Education is the key to opportunity in our society, and
the equality of educational opportunity must be the birthright
of every citizen.
"No other challenge concerns me more than this one. None
is of greater importance to the American people."
Remarks to the Delegates to the White House Conference on
(The Presidential Papers, Item 374)
"Education will not cure all the problems of society, but
without it no cure for any problem is possible."
"Most of all we need an education which will create an
educated mind. This is a mind not simply a repository of
information and skills, but a mind that is a source of creative
skepticism, characterized by a willingness to challenge
old assumptions and to be challenged, a spaciousness of
outlook, and convictions that are deeply held, but which
new facts and new experiences can always modify."
"It means an educational system which does not simply
equip the students to adjust to society, but which enables
the student to challenge and to modify, and at times reject,
if necessary, the received wisdom of his elders."
"For it was only after I could become President of this
country that I could really see in all its hopeful and troubling
implications just how much the hopes of our citizens and
the security of our Nation and the real strength of our
democracy depended upon the learning and the understanding
of our people."
Remarks After Signing Bill Providing Funds for Programs
Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
(The Presidential Papers, Item 527)
"We have always believed that our people can stand on
no higher ground than the school ground, or can enter any
more hopeful room than the classroom. We blend time and
faith and knowledge in our schools - not only to create
educated citizens, but also to shape the destiny of this
Remarks at Southwest Texas State College Upon Signing the
Higher Education Act of 1965
(The Presidential Papers, Item 603)
"This Congress did more to uplift education, more to attack
disease in this country and around the world, and more to
conquer poverty than any other session in all American history,
and what more worthy achievements could any person want
to have? For it was the Congress that was more true than
any other Congress to Thomas Jefferson's belief that: 'The
care of human life and happiness is the first and only legitimate
objective of good Government.'"
Special Message to the Congress on Education, "The Fifth
(The Presidential Papers, Item 54)
"On January 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt set
forth to Congress and the people 'four essential human freedoms'
for which America stands.
"In the years since then, those four freedoms - freedom
of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom
from fear - have stood as a summary of our aspirations for
the American Republic and for the world.
"And Americans have always stood ready to pay the cost in
energy and treasure which are needed to make those goals
"Today - wealthier, more powerful and more able than ever
before in our history - our Nation can declare another essential
"The fifth freedom is freedom from ignorance.
It means that every man, everywhere, should be free to
develop his talents to their full potential - unhampered
by arbitrary barriers of race or birth or income.
already begun the work of guaranteeing that fifth freedom.
"The job, of course, will never be finished. For a nation,
as for an individual, education is a perpetually unfinished
journey, a continuing process of discovery.
"But the work we started when this Nation began, which has
flourished for nearly two centuries, and which has gained
momentum in the past two Congresses - is ours to continue
- yours and mine."
Statement by the President on the 10th Anniversary of the
National Defense Education Act
(The Presidential Papers, Item 473)
"History may well record that we served liberty and saved
freedom when we undertook a crash program in the field of
education . . .. I hope this bill is only the forerunner
of better things to come.
"First, this law - the National Defense Education Act -
ended years and years of debate about one controversial
question: 'Shall the Federal Government, with all its massive
resources, get directly involved in aiding American education?'
The answer this law gave was a loud 'Yes!' - and thus
we paved the way for a new era of support for education
in America. This law, in fact, helped make possible more
than 50 new education laws passed in my administration.
"Second, this law has become a special symbol of our Nation's
most important purpose: to fulfill the individual - his
freedom, his happiness, his promise."