Some of you might have heard or read that I am a fellow who said that it is a strange paradox that, in the society created on individual freedom, parents should be compelled to send their children to school. Now I said that; but at the same time, I said that it is a paradox we gladly enjoy or put up with because we know we cannot have a free society unless we have an educated and literate public or citizenry. This is part of the quote that somehow has been overlooked here and there.
Now, you might even have heard that I have described public education, or aid to education – it has come out both ways – as a tool of tyranny. Well, I did say something similar. I said education is the bulwark of freedom, but removed too far from the control of parents and local government, it can become a tool of tyranny.
Public education, in my opinion, is the responsibility of state and local governments. I believe that a diversity in education makes for a strong overall educational system, and I believe it minimizes the danger of an educational system becoming a propaganda system. And that brings me to my position with regard to federal aid to education.
I am only too aware that the federal government has preempted much of the tax base, and this has made it necessary for us to turn to the federal government for aid. Since the federal government created the need in the first place, it follows that the federal government has the responsibility to help meet that need, and in truth, it would seem that they are doing just that … except that when we have federal aid to education … when it is forthcoming … the gift is not unconditional. It comes with strings attached......
Now we in California, I believe, know better than a bureau or agency in Washington what the educational needs are of California. By the same token, we in Sacramento should recognize that you at the district level know better than we do the problems and the needs of your district. Now one of the reasons that school districts have a financial problem, perhaps is because, in recent years, Sacramento has imposed conditions and requirements on the local districts without, at the same time, providing the money to pay for those programs and those requirements. (Applause) The legislators will report in the morning whether they joined that applause...
...Education must be sustained and improved and money to make this possible must come from a system of taxation whereby all the citizens bear equitably a share of this burden.
Now, much as I may wish to learn about the intricate details of California’s vast educational system, I am sure that no one person has, or can have, a complete knowledge of the school system that has been designed to educate millions of young people, children, and adults … a program that is costing billions of dollars a year. Nor can one man find the answers to all the problems by himself. I will seek the advice and counsel of many, but high on the list will be the counsel of those who teach. I depended on you too many years for the answers to quit now.
But I want to see more problems solved at the local levels. I want to see teachers, administrators and school board members working together with regard to curriculum, selection of textbooks, student discipline, assignment, salaries and benefits.
There's more to highlight, but read it for yourself at http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/govspeech/01111967a.htm