Signing of the Voting Rights Act

President Lyndon B. Johnson speaking before signing the Voting Rights Act [LBJ Library photo #A1029-11A by Yoichi Okamoto]

Education Building Renamed to Honor Lyndon Baines Johnson

Sep 17, 2007

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today honored President Lyndon Baines Johnson in a ceremony officially renaming the U.S. Department of Education building at 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W. in Washington, D.C. as the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building.

"President Johnson worked tirelessly to provide an equal education to all children," Secretary Spellings said. "Having his name on the Department of Education building is a daily reminder to all Americans that his goal is now our duty to pursue and achieve."

Rep. Gene Green of Texas and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas sponsored a bill to rename the building. President Bush signed the legislation in March 2007 authorizing the building name change. Today's dedication ceremony honored Lyndon Baines Johnson as a true champion of education and a strong advocate for students of all ages.

"More than sixty education laws were part of the vast number of legislative measures that made up the Great Society," said Lynda Johnson Robb. "But Daddy wasn't as interested in the number of laws he helped enact as he was in the number of lives those laws help enrich."

"My father believed education is the best passport out of poverty and a quality education is mankind's greatest hope for tomorrow," Luci Baines Johnson said. "No honor would have meant more to Lyndon Johnson than to be remembered for improving educational opportunities for all Americans."

This "teacher who became president" served his country as a Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy during World War II, as a Member of both houses of Congress, as Vice President of the United States and as the 36th President of the United States.

Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, in Stonewall, Texas. In 1927, he enrolled in Southwest Texas State Teachers College at San Marcos, Texas (Texas State University-San Marcos). He took a leave of absence for a year to serve as principal and teach fifth, sixth and seventh grades at Welhausen School, a Mexican-American school in the south Texas town of Cotulla. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in August 1930. After graduation he taught at Pearsall High School in Pearsall, Texas, and taught public speaking at Sam Houston High School in Houston, Texas.

Lyndon Baines Johnson became the 36th President of the United States on November 22, 1963, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. During his presidency he pursued numerous education initiatives and signed many landmark education bills into law.

In 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act (P.L. 88-352), which among its landmark provisions authorized federal authorities to sue for the desegregation of schools and to withhold federal funds from education institutions that practiced segregation.

In 1965, President Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (P.L. 89-10) at the former Junction Elementary School in Stonewall, Texas, where he first attended school. His first teacher Mrs. Kathryn Deadrich Loney sat beside him. This legislation provided programs to help educate disadvantaged children in urban and rural areas and it became a building block for the Improving America's Schools Act and No Child Left Behind Act. Later that year, he also signed the Higher Education Act (P.L. 89-329), which was the first program approved by the U.S. Congress for scholarships to undergraduate students.

Johnson's landmark contributions to education and this nation illustrate why he is being honored today with the renaming of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building.