Johnson's Remarks on Signing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Johnson City, Texas
April 11, 1965

I want to welcome to this little school of my childhood many of my former schoolmates, as well as some of my dear friends from the educational institutions of this area. My attorney general tells me that it is legal and constitutional to sign this act on a Sunday, even on Palm Sunday. My minister assured me that the Lord's day will not be violated by making into law a measure which brings mental and moral benefits to millions of our young people. So I have chosen this time and this place for two reasons.

First, I do not wish to delay by a single day the programs that strengthen this nation's elementary and secondary schools. Second, I felt a very strong desire to go back to the beginnings of my own education, to be reminded and to remind others of that magical time when the world of learning began to open before our eyes.

From our very beginnings as a nation, we have felt a first commitment to the ideal of education for everyone. It fits itself into our Democratic creed. For too long political acrimony held up our progress. For too long, children suffered while jarring interests caused stalemates in the efforts to improve our schools. Since 1946, Congress tried repeatedly and failed repeatedly to enact measures for elementary and secondary education. Now, within the past three weeks, the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed the most sweeping educational bill ever to come before Congress. It represents a major new commitment of the federal government, to quality and equality in the schooling that we offer our young people. By passing this bill, we bridge the gap between helplessness and hope for more than five million educationally deprived children. We put into the hands of our youth more than 30 million new books, and into many of our schools their first libraries.

We reduce the terrible lag in bringing new teaching techniques into the nation's classrooms. We strengthen state and local agencies which bear the burden and the challenge of better education, and we rekindle the revolution—the revolution of the spirit against the tyranny of ignorance.

As the son of a tenant farmer, I know that education is only valid in its passport from poverty, the only valid passport. As a former teacher—and I hope a future one—I have great expectations of what this law will mean for all our young people. As President of the United States, I believe deeply no law has signed or will ever sign means more to the future of America. We have established the law. Let us not delay in putting it to work.