(cont'd)

Now, so far we have not recognized in this country either this right of every boy and girl, all the little ones sitting at that fence, to all the education they can take, nor have we recognized this responsibility. Almost a million boys and girls drop out of school each year, or they are pushed out by forces beyond their control. They face a jobless future. Every year more than 100,000 school graduates with proven ability drop out and do not even go on to college for one reason: because they cannot afford it. How many world leaders how many great Admirals, how many imaginative Generals, how many Presidents and Senators and Congressmen, educators and presidents of great universities we lose we do not know. But we do know that more than 21 million youngsters now in grade school -- 21 million -- one out of every 9 -- will end their education short of college in a technological age when all the skill that they can acquire is not necessary just for them, but is essential to our survival. We do know that one out of nine is going down the drain unless you do something about it. Science and technology have moved so swiftly that advanced education is no longer a luxury just to be enjoyed by the child of the banker or by the children of fortunate families. In this afternoon of our life, as you sit here, I say to you that it is a necessity for every American boy and I repeat and try to drum it into all of our heads that it is the right of every American boy and girl. To deny it to the children of poverty not only denies the most elementary democratic equality, it perpetuates poverty as a national weakness, and it denies our democracy and our great free enterprise system of government -- it denies them the educated citizens that we must have if we are to lead and stay in the forefront of the other 120 nations in the world.

So what of it? We must, therefore, prepare the next generation for the great decisions that it will have to make. When I was a boy, my grandfather moved away 50 years before I discovered America from the prairies of Texas to the hills in order that he could enjoy more freedom. He wanted to get away from the trains that passed through every night and disturbed him. He went out into a new, uncharted wilderness, and he chose well, because he settled Johnson City almost 100 years ago and there hasn't been a train that has come through there since. But in the day and age now in which we live, it is not the question that the old-timers said when they did bring the first train to the prairie where they were, "They will never get it started, and if they get it started, thev will never get it stopped." Here in the State where we will send our first American to the moon, we must think in terms of the 21st Century and the 22nd Century, and not the 18th Century and the 19th Century.

And ask yourself tonight whether you want your grade-school Florida boys, and you want your high-school Florida girls competing with the ruthless Communists who have Ph.D.'s, and expect them to out-produce them, to out-think them, and to out-lead them.

In the last century, we decided in this country, in a very forward step, on a certain amount of free education for all children. Well, that decision, that decision more than any other, put American in the forefront of civilization's advance in the world. So I think it is time now, I think it is past time, for a new, adventurous, imaginative, courageous breakthrough, for a new revolution in education in America. I am old enough to remember some of the voices of gloom and doom that opposed universal free education. I remember some of my State Legislators talking about the loss of their freedoms when we passed a compulsory attendance law in our State. But I would remind you that the freedom that we lost by educating our children is nothing to compare to the freedom we would lose if we didn't educate them. Universal free education through high school -- that was the decision of a century ago. But it no longer meets the test of the current times. The high school boys are not going to keep the Cape Canaverals functioning in the year 2000. So our goal must be to open the doors of higher education to all who can possibly meet that standard and qualify.

The proud achievement of the GI Bill -- and it doesn't seem to me that you ought to have to go into uniform and go to boot camp, and spend two or three years in the service in order for your Government to have an interest in your education. And yet there is not a Member of Congress today that would look back on that GI Bill and say, "We made a mistake in making that great adventure and that great decision." The GI Bill challenges us to programs of loans and scholarships enabling every young man and woman who has the ability to move beyond the high school level. So I think we just must not rest until each child, GI or no GI, boy or girl, rich or poor, has the opportunity to get the kind of education that he needs and that his country needs for him to have in order to defend him. And I think it is a little wiser policy to do a little better planning to take the boy out of the cotton field and train him in his normal high school years and his college years to develop himself, rather than to issue an emergency order and jerk him off overnight and send him on a train to a boot camp and then try to teach him how to fire a missile or handle a B-52 over Moscow without much notice.

So there is no real disagreement, I think, in this country about what I am talking about. We all want very much to do these things. But we are not doing them. We have stumbled in our efforts. Why? Because of various differences, because of lack of initiative, because of budget problems, because of the differences that we have had regarding segregation, because of the difficulties we have had about the relationship of public and private schools, because of the concern that I referred to a little earlier about local responsibility, and State responsibility, and Federal relationships. These have been difficult problems. They are still difficult. But if we are going to be the leader of the world, and if we are going to survive in this world, they must be worked out. And we can, and we will, and we must find ways of working cooperatively together to achieve our common purpose.

Now, finally, we must turn the genius of science and technology to the service of education as we have to the service of medicine and other disciplines. The planners of the Florida Atlantic University have placed very special emphasis on bringing significant innovations to the methods of education. You are moving far toward making the partnership between campus and country stronger, so that the harvest of the future will be more fruitful for all of our people.

President Williams, a great challenge awaits you and this faculty. You are starting here today new, which I think gives you infinite opportunity. The road ahead is, as I must have implied, not easy for a new university. But I urge you to remember the admonition: "Let us not be weary in well doing; for in due reason we shall reap." The past is your teacher, but it holds you in no bondage.

So I join you this evening in dedicating Florida Atlantic University to the responsibility of preparing the sons and daughters of Florida to meet the future, to meet it on its own terms, and on yours.

A great son of Georgia came to Texas to become on of the early Presidents of the Republic of Texas. He said in words that I shall always remember, and that I would hope you would not forget, "Education is the guardian genius of democracy. Education is the only dictator that free men recognize. And education is the only ruler that free men desire."

Now I must go along. I want to tell you what a pleasure it has been to be here with you. You are one of the modern States of America. The rest of the country looks to you folks who have come here from all the States of the Union, and those of you that were born here to lead us into a fuller and better life. And your sons that represent you in the temples of justice and who are your spokesmen in the legislative chambers of the Nation, are among the most dependable and most enlightened. I know that you would want to be able to say that about your grandsons and about your grandchildren's children, too. So I implore you to recognize before it is too late that while the Soviet Union can put up Sputnik I, and while were are debating about it, Sputnik II is saying "Beep, Beep, Beep" in the sky, that we are sometimes mighty slow to start, but mighty hard to stop. We don't need argumentation about the desirability of preparing our children to think and to act with judgment. But remember, whether it is the man that picks up the telephone on the end of the hot line that is calling from Moscow, or whether it is the man that sits there with the responsibility of his thumb close to that button, who must act on a moment's notice, that no man's judgment on any given question is any better than the information he has on that question. And he can't get all the information he needs in this space age hunting and fishing. He can't get all that he needs on the football field or the baseball diamond. He has to get it in grade school, high school, in college, in graduate work, because Americans must never be second to anyone.

END