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Jewish Groups Urge Federal Aid for School Construction

Six major national Jewish organizations and 32 local Jewish community relations councils today jointly urged the “speedy enactment” of legislation to provide Federal assistance for the construction of public school buildings in a statement submitted to the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, which has been holding hearings on several bills for such aid.

The Jewish organizations declared that because of the inadequacy and inequality of financial resources among the states, almost one-quarter of the public school buildings in the nation are more than 50 years old, and that one out of every five children is housed in a building below minimum safety standards.

The Jewish community relations agencies recommended that the pending bills be amended so as to provide that no school constructed with Federal funds “shall deny admission to segregate, or otherwise discriminate against any pupil because of race, creed, national origin or ancestry.” In addition, they urged that the Commissioner of Education be empowered to withhold payments from any state which failed to comply with this provision.

“In the absence of such a sanction,” they declared, “the prohibition of segregation which we propose merely expresses what the Supreme Court has already ruled is implicit in the Constitution. The sanction we propose is just and is likely to assure that prohibition against segregation in Federally aided schools will not become a dead letter but will be given practical effect.”

Joining in the statement were the American Jewish Congress, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish War Veterans, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the United Synagogue of America and the 32 regional, state and local councils affiliated in the NCRAC, their joint policy-forming and coordinating body, which released the statement.

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