On the Investment in Education

National Educational Assn. 1924

Coolidge, now the President, addresses the National Educational Association less than four years after the speech given below.

The state has undertaken to provide public education and in that great task it is being more and more successful. It is a task of idealism, of course, one in which the work performed must, as in all great enterprises, to a very large extent merit the compensation that is received by those who perform it. 

Yet there ought to be a deep and abiding appreciation on the part of the public toward our teachers, toward our superintendents, and toward all those who are engaged in the instruction of the young. One of the ways in which that can not only be secured but met is by showing that appreciation by making an investment in it. I think we read that, where the treasury is, there the heart is. And that is a principle that has come down to us through the ages. And it’s true. If you want an interest in any project, get someone to make an investment in it and then their interest always follows their investment…


I am not yet an old man. I went to school in a little country schoolhouse and I think I have said before that I suppose no teacher that I had up to the time that I went to an academy could secure employment anywhere now in Massachusetts. Educational facilities are increasing. In that little schoolhouse, ungraded, they taught the elements of reading, writing, and arithmetic. They didn’t think of going into any of the things that modern education goes into. There wasn’t the need for it. There wasn’t the requirement that made it necessary. 

But we are undertaking to look at education in a broad way, in an inclusive way, not only for the purpose of instructing the intelligence, the brain in the elements of education, but we are also doing a great deal toward the instruction of the hand, because we realize here in New England that there is the elementary education that is necessary for us and that there is the vocational education that is necessary for us because the public is undertaking only the idealistic side but is doing what it can along the practical side in order that those who leave our public schools may have the skill with which to take up the various vocations that we follow here in New England and carry them to a successful conclusion. 

It is a broad and all-inclusive plan on which you are working of laying the foundation of the individual in order that he may come into the realization of a higher life in the industry in which he is engaged, in the ideals that he follows, and in everything that touches and makes up our modern efficiency. 


The Coolidges receive honorary degrees during the sesquicentennial of Phillips Academy, 1928. The couple is flanked by Alfred Ripley (left) and principal Al Stearns (right). Photo credit: Leslie Jones Collection.

I said it was important – I doubt very much if there is anything of equal importance or any importance at all besides the work that you are carrying on. It is a satisfaction to me to know that that is being more and more recognized every day, that people, the public are not satisfied merely to build the schoolhouse, furnish it out with all the equipment with which our modern schoolhouses are furnished, but they see the necessity of putting into the schoolhouse men and women equipped in every way to be an inspiration to the children over whom they have jurisdiction. 

There isn’t any way of teaching unless a teacher can inspire the respect, confidence, perhaps the affection of those with whom they come in contact and that can’t be done – I come back to that time and time again, without making a sufficient outlay of money. So I believe that you who are engaged in education are entitled to look with a great deal of satisfaction on the accomplishments of the last two years. There has been a raising of the standards of life, I think, in every direction. 

It will be for you to meet that great requirement, to live up to it to see it and to direct and to point it into channels that will look for the public welfare. The increase of civilization and the bringing of the men and women of the future into the possibility of living useful, beneficial, yes, holy lives in the communities where they reside. 

— Calvin Coolidge, excerpt of an address given to the Educational Conference, State House in Boston, November 13, 1920

For Coolidge, the question for education comes down to what are we building? It is not the schoolhouse, home room or facility alone. Who are we building on the inside?

6192823293_9e031897ef_b CC in Vermont Hills

On True Journalism


CC with cameramen

There never was a time in our history when the importance and the responsibility of the press were greater than at the present day. A true journalist is not a realist, but an idealist.

Art lies in depicting the character, in telling the meaning of the thing that is either painted, spoken or written about, and so journalism lies in telling the people the character of the news of the day and interpreting to them its meaning, in order that they may get the real and the true meaning of the things that are passing on about them from day to day.

It is the choice of that which is essential and the rejection of that which is accidental, and there never was a time when there was more need, more necessity for those who can teach the people by the voice of the word and through the journals of our country than the present.

— Calvin Coolidge, excerpt of address given to the National Editorial Association, May 31, 1920

On Every Call of Duty


Hall of Flags, Massachusetts State House, Boston.

This is the final and concluding service of work begun by your organization at the outbreak of the last war. It has been a service worthy of great commendation by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. You were at once called out for the purpose of doing guard duty here in the Commonwealth along the water front and along the avenues of transportation. Later than that it was your organization that responded to the call for help that came to us as a result of the great calamity in the city of Halifax, and a splendid response was made, excellent not only for its kind but especially for its promptness. 

Again during the epidemic of influenza that swept over the Commonwealth with such disastrous results the authorities, — civil authorities, health authorities of the Commonwealth and cities and towns, turned to you for assistance in meeting the strain and stress of those days, and had it not been for your organization it would have been with great difficulty that that epidemic could have been checked, or that those suffering from it could have been adequately cared for. 

Again in the Fall of 1919, when disorder threatened the City of Boston, it was to the State Guard that the government of Massachusetts turned for the purpose of restoring to this city that orderly government which we are accustomed to live under in this Commonwealth, calling the entire force out, which remained in service from the very first part of September up to the latter part of December. 

Boston National Historical Park

The stained-glass skylight in the Hall of Flags featuring the seals of the original 13 states with the Algonquin of Massachusetts at center. Photo credit: Steven Markos.

A most notable service has been performed by the State Guard of Massachusetts. I know of no other Guard of any of the States of our Union that has rendered more prompt, more efficient response to every call of duty than that which has characterized the officers and men of your organization. 

As the Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I know that I voice the general approbation of all her citizens in extending to you her congratulations upon your service, and in offering you sincere thanks for the way in which that service has ever been performed. 

These stands of colors that have marked the headquarters of your brigades in the field and behind your troops have marched from time to time, will be gratefully received by the authorities of the Commonwealth, treasured and cherished in accordance with that for which they stand as an everlasting emblem. For the present it is the desire of the Commonwealth that the officers of the different units should maintain them in their charge until a fitting place is provided for their assembling under the roof of the State House of this Commonwealth. We receive the colors for that purpose, and ask you to keep them for that purpose in behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, whose government you have preserved, and whose standing among the other states of the nation you have at all times enhanced, ennobled and glorified. 

— Governor Calvin Coolidge, receiving flags of State Guard in the Hall of Flags, December 23, 1920