©2011 NewFoundations

The Educational Theory of Lyndon Baines Johnson

Molly Conway
Matthew Dorsch

LB Johnson

edited 1/7/19


“I shall never forget the faces of the boys and the girls in that little Welhausen Mexican School, and I remember even yet the pain of realizing and knowing then that college was closed to practically every one of those children because they were too poor.” - Lyndon B. Johnson (1965)

These words President Johnson spoke in the Strahan Gymnasium at Southwest Texas State College, Texas. They were spoken after the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965, in the place where he was first given the opportunity of higher education (Johnson, 1965). Johnson signed an Act that stipulated the largest federal funding for secondary education. He remembered not only his struggles and entrance into higher education, but the faces of all his students at the Welhausen Mexican School came alive. He remembered their struggles and the reality they faced after graduation. High school was the end of their education. These students were not given the same opportunities as others. Their background prohibited them from having the opportunity for higher education; Johnson identified this as a major flaw of the public education system. It is Johnson’s background and his work with these students which dictates his educational policies (LBJ Library, 2010).

Today, it is an oddity if we see a teacher rise to the ranks in a political party. In some states, laws restrict teachers from being able to back political candidates and become politically active. Lyndon B. Johnson is the exception. Johnson was born August 27, 1908 in Stonewall, Texas. In 1924, at age 15 he graduated from Johnson City High. Not being a strong student, he did not go to college, but performed odd jobs. In 1927, he returned to school, attending Southwest Texas State Teachers College. He took a brief break in the middle to serve as a Principal and teacher at Welhausen School, a Mexican-American School in south Texas. He returned and graduated in 1930 then took a teaching job at San Houston High School in Houston. Eventually, he would leave the world of education and enter the realm of politics (LBJ Library, 2010).

Johnson starts his political career by serving as secretary to Congressman Richard Kleberg. In 1935, Johnson served as Texas Director of the National Youth Administration. In 1949, Johnson was elected U.S. Senator. 1953. Johnson was elected Minority Leader of the Senate and then Majority Leader in 1955. In 1960, Johnson accepted the nomination to become John F. Kennedy’s running mate. Johnson became the thirty-sixth President of the United States after the assassination of John F. Kennedy (LBJ Library, 2010).

Johnson is mostly remembered for his foreign policy and the US involvement in the Vietnam War. However, when looking at his presidency as a whole, he introduced ground breaking domestic policies and programs that shaped and changed our federal government’s role in many ways. His domestic plan, known as “The Great Society” delved into many issues focusing on the elimination of poverty and racial injustices, giving the federal government a more active role and spending in medical care, urban problems, transportation, and education. The term “War on Poverty” was coined and served as a central idea in Johnsons decisions. This fed his domestic policies. It was his early work as a teacher, and his experience in working in poor communities, teaching at bilingual high schools which fueled what he saw as important in education.

Theory of Value
What knowledge and skills are worthwhile learning? What are the goals of education?

“Education is not a problem. Education is an opportunity”        -- Lyndon Baines Johnson

What knowledge and skills are worthwhile learning?

John Dewey and the Progressive Movement valued learning through doing. Both structured and spontaneous experiences were invaluable to the learning process (Cohen, 1999). Education is considered hands on, students learn best through doing, living and experiencing; therefore, the ideal established in schools is a place where students can develop their own knowledge through these unstructured and structured vocational type activities (Kilpatrick). Born in response to the Progressive Movement, is the Essentialist Movement (Cohen, 1999). It began by taking the principles of learning through doing and established a system of learning through Vocational training. An Essentialist curriculum would establish the essential core knowledge that all students should know to become a productive member of society (Bagley). It can be suggested that Johnson believed it to be worthwhile for students to learn. It is the practical essential knowledge that leads to productive members of society which allow for equal opportunities of success.

Johnson used education as an avenue to help eradicate poverty and provide an equal opportunity to have success in life. An educated person is a person who is able to be a productive member of society and also have quality of life. For those who enter schooling, they should leave with the abilities that are necessary to become a member of the working forces.
As Johnson’s mentor Sam Rayburn says, "Any jackass can kick down a barn but it takes a good carpenter to build one." They need the skills to be able to get and maintain stable work. The essentialist movement takes from the progressive movement and sets specific learning goals that range from skilled labor to logic rhetoric. They are taught respect for authority, perseverance, responsibility, practicality, patriotism, and character development (Cohen, 1999). An Essentialist education is meant to help maintain the dominant common culture. Schools reflect larger societal trends. The Correspondence Principle in sociology claims exactly this. The Correspondence Principle states that a school reflects the culture of the society in where it lives (Clabaugh, 2011). This is where Johnson slightly disagrees with the Essentialist Movement. Johnson’s early years as a teacher sparked his interest in using education to help those in less fortunate living conditions help improve their quality of life. Johnson would see this as an avenue to not maintain, but give everyone, the same educational opportunities.

After analyzing his speeches, it can be suggested that Lyndon Jonson believed that the most important aspect of knowledge was one’s access to it. Every child in the United States should have equal access to high quality public education. As a former teacher to underprivileged youth, Johnson saw the inequities in the education policy. A child cannot learn if the opportunity and resources do not exist for the child. Johnson claimed Education Reform as way to advance American society into what he called “The Great Society”. The Great Society Agenda was a way to end poverty and racial injustice across America. Johnson stated that the goal of education was to “enrich lives and enlarge talents”. Johnson (1963) asserted that learning must be “an escape from poverty”. In his speech, The Great Society, he emphasizes stimulating the love of learning and creation. The creation of The Head Start Program addressed the inequalities of education in city slums and rural areas. Head Start was used to give those in low income communities an opportunity to attend preschool like those living in communities with means. Johnson said he believed that everyone should start school with the same skill sets. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provided the first general federal aid for education. Johnson had strong agendas in order to end poverty and socio-economic gaps between races in the US. However, there was wide speculation on whether this Act actually provided the poor with the funds needed to succeed. The discrepancies in the legislature led to abuses of the ESEA funds, and reports later found that 15% of the funds were misallocated (Thomas & Brady 2005). There has also been research that suggests the ESEA was a step in the right direction, but was not based on any educational research, that validated its intent. He placed value on higher education in order to help American youth and society competes with foreign countries in math and science, and to expand the manpower of the US workforce. The signing of the Higher Education Act of 1963 enabled the federal government to establish opportunities to all who desired an education beyond high school.

What are the goals of education?

"In many places, classrooms are overcrowded and curricula are outdated. Most of our qualified teachers are underpaid, and many of our paid teachers are unqualified. So we must give every child a place to sit and a teacher to learn from. Poverty must not be a bar to learning, and learning must offer an escape from poverty.” - Lyndon B. Johnson

The Great Society described a domestic policy grounded in fighting poverty and racial injustice sand also seemed to dominate the fundamentals of Education Policy. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act nearly doubled funds for both Primary and Secondary Education. What it did not do was establish a national curriculum. Johnson was not interested in the information that these students will be learning He believed this to be at the discretion of the state. Johnson makes sure that school and school programs are well funded in order to give equal opportunity to all its students. Title I is the “Financial Assistance To Local Educational Agencies For The Education Of Children Of Low-Income Families” Title II reads “School Library Resources, Textbooks, and other Instructional Materials.” The other follows in suit. This Act gave financial assistance for School Districts with a certain percentage under the poverty line. It also gave money for school resources and allotted grant money that State Departments could apply for. In addition to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Higher Education Act of 1965, gave money to lower income student through grants, student loans and work-study for higher education.

The program Head Start, as mentioned above, began as an eight week summer program. It later became a full year program after the realization that those eight weeks was not enough preparation (IL Head Start, 2006). Johnson used such programs and Acts in order to help give equal opportunity. According to Johnson, an educated student has the similar opportunities to succeed despite the community in which they live.

Theory of Knowledge
What is knowledge? How is it different from belief? What is a mistake? What is a lie?

There are different ways that one can define knowledge. Oxford dictionary defines knowledge in two ways (1) practical aspects of knowledge, “facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject; what is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information: the transmission of knowledge” and (2) the philosophical aspects of knowledge “Philosophy true, justified belief; certain understanding, as opposed to opinion (Oxford, 2011).” The first is simple. Knowledge is the information that an individual knows. It deals with cognition and understanding that an individual has, pertaining to their needs. The second takes the philosophical approach looking for the difference between logic and belief. Epistemic Logic is concerned with challenging four different paradoxes, including the Knowledge paradox. The paradox of Knowledge challenges the idea that everything can be known. It states that any truth is knowable. This assumption deals with the omniscience principle which states all truth then must be known. We know that the there is an existence of unknown truths; therefore not everything is known, so all truths cannot be known (Brogard, 2009).

Most of all we need an education which will create an educated mind. This is a mind not simply a repository of information and skills, but a mind that is a source to create skepticism, characterized by a willingness to challenge old assumptions and to be challenged, a spaciousness of outlook, and convictions that are deeply held, but which new facts and new experiences can always modify (1965, July 21).-- Lyndon B. Johnson

Johnson’s remarks to the delegates at the White House Conference on educations outline a clear picture of what knowledge is. Included in his views are both the practical views of knowledge as well as philosophical views of knowledge. By his admission that the mind is not only a “repository of information and skills (Johnson, 1965, July 21),” Johnson was admitting that part of knowledge is information and skills. It is the factual information that is important for students to learn in school. Johnson believes an education is the solution to prevent children from falling into poverty and helping provide an opportunity for a better life. This is done by being able to know both specific facts and skills that are necessary in life and in the work force. However this is not the only thing that Johnson defines as knowledge.

Not only should the skills and facts be recalled but students must be able to manipulate and judge the facts. They are able to think rationally and challenge the “factual” information that is uncounted on an everyday basis, The Knowledge Paradox states that we know that we do not know everything and therefore not all facts are known. So how does one accumulate and acquire the unknown facts? This is done through challenging our old assumptions to find new truths (Johnson, 1965, July 21). Through experiences and learning, people gain the ability to judge and create new truths or re-justify old ones.

Belief is different from knowledge. Knowledge is what is known, the facts; belief is what one assumes until it is justified. Once a belief is justified it is then considered knowledge. Johnson believes that part of being an educated person entitles that they create new knowledge by challenging existing beliefs and finding their own beliefs.

What is a mistake? What is a lie?

A mistake then is when someone accepts information on the basis that someone tells them it is truth without using their knowledge base to justify and challenge the fact. Johnson would not define the incorrect presentation of information as a lie, unless it is considered baseless and unfounded. If it has no grounds and cannot be rationally explained, it is a lie. A mistake is when an individual is to accept said lie without challenging, or accepting the information without rationally examining it themselves. It is the fault of the individual if they blindly accept information as facts without justifications.

Knowledge is not something which threatens to overwhelm us. Knowledge promises to be our salvation, and we must seek after it, and we must nurture its growth, and we must spread it, spread it among all of our people so each one of them have some of it.

- Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964

Lyndon Johnson had strong ideals and believed that knowledge would preserve liberty. During The Great Society Speech, Johnson (1963) spoke of “the wisdom to use wealth to enrich and elevate our national life and to advance the quality of American civilization.” According to Johnson (1965), knowledge is having the capability to take information and use it for the good of all people, while encouraging innovation and creation. A true sign of wisdom is realizing the quality of goals not the quantity. This is the basis for how we should use our knowledge, which is gained through learning, imagination and equality. Johnson was concerned about the ways which knowledge is gained and used. He intended the same quality of knowledge to be available to all people.

Theory of Human Nature
What is a human being? How does it differ from other species? What are the limits of human potential?

What is a human being?

“It may be, it just may be, that life as we know it with its humanity is more unique than many have thought."
-- Lyndon B. Johnson                                                                                                                                             

"I am concerned about the whole man. I am concerned about what the people, using their government as an instrument and a tool, can do toward building the whole man, which will mean a better society and a better world."                                                                                                 - Lyndon B. Johnson

Johnson saw humans each as an individual. Society and humanity is built from the masses of unique human individuals. They make their own decisions, but it is the responsibility of the whole to help everyone. If one is to become a cancer to society, it is societies’ responsibility to rehabilitate or eliminate the problem. A great society is built of great leaders. Therefore it is the society and its government’s responsibility as humans to do whatever it can to help educate the whole individual, so that they have the opportunity to make the best societal based decisions.

What are the limits of human potential?

“To this end equal opportunity is essential, but not enough, not enough. Men and women of all races are born with the same range of abilities. But ability is not just the product of birth. Ability is stretched or stunted by the family that you live with, and the neighborhood you live in--by the school you go to and the poverty or the richness of your surroundings. It is the product of a hundred unseen forces playing upon the little infant, the child, and finally the man (1965).”
-- Lyndon B. Johnson

Johnson is an idealist and realist. His statements were evidence that he believed the human potential is limitless. Everyone has the opportunity to achieve. Johnson believed that everyone can have the capability to be a productive member of society. While he did claim human potential is limitless, it is contingent on the following factors: family, neighborhood, school and
Poverty. Johnson believes Schools and Poverty are correlated. The best way to solve the “War on Poverty” is a good education. The Correspondence Principle states that the school is a microcosm for the society in which it is found (Clabaugh, 2011). Each the above factors serve as a stumbling block preventing students from reaching their full potential, it is not until we fix these problems that students will able to achieve the ideal.

“Well, I would say that I would like for the children that I bring into the world or children that I could influence to feel that people are their mission—doing something for people”  
-- Lyndon B. Johnson (1965)                                                                                                                                      

                 When speaking about the Vietnam War Johnson remarked “We know that most people’s intentions are good. We don’t question their motives...” Although Johnson was discussing warfare, he still speaks to the inherent goodness of man. Therefore, it can be supposed that Johnson believed that humans are innately good and that each individual has an inherent right to equality. Through his years as a Senator and President he fought for justice of all people. Justice, he believed, was the right for all to have freedom and liberty. His social policies demonstrate a strong regard for Social responsibility. He attempted to create a social conscious of American society. He felt that the humans’ scope of responsibility went far beyond the individual, but should reach to the entire human race. In fact Johnson (1965) stated that “ the satisfaction that is most satisfying and gives you the biggest kick and thrill and the greatest enjoyment is doing something for humanity and helping lead and develop and watch it grow”. Johnson believed that education was the key to building a socially responsible society.

“Men are shaped by their world. When it is a world of decay, ringed by an invisible wall, when escape is arduous and uncertain, and the saving pressures of a more hopeful society are unknown, it can cripple the youth and it can desolate the men.”-- Lyndon B. Johnson, (1965)

In a commencement address at Howard University on June 4, 1965 Johnson spoke of the despair of men. He supposed that environmental and societal factors have a strong influence on man. When humans experience despair and dejection it alters their behavior and their values. Hopelessness and misery are obstacles to prosperity and success. Lyndon Johnson fought to change these harsh realities through his legislation and the creation of social welfare institutions. However, this was not an easy battle to win, and ignorance and prejudices remain today. Johnson saw education as the path to change destiny for the oppressed and the poor. In the quote below Johnson (1965) continues to comment on the effects of despair on humans referencing the African American fight for equality.

There is also the burden that a dark skin can add to the search for a productive place in our society. Unemployment strikes most swiftly and broadly at the Negro, and this burden erodes hope. Blighted hope breeds despair. Despair brings indifferences to the learning which offers a way out. And despair, coupled within differences, is often the source of destructive rebellion against the fabric of society.

There is an obvious limit to human potential, and despair impedes growth. The despair in this case caused by other humans, through ignorance and prejudices. Johnson’s actions and words describe a holistic society, a community rather than a bunch of individuals. It seems that when the community mentality of social responsibility is not present, humans fail each other.

Theory of Learning
What is learning? How are skills/knowledge acquired?

Learning is the acquisition of both knowledge and skills that are important for an individual to have to lead a successful life. Johnson defined learning as an escape from poverty. Learning gives an opportunity for those to escape from difficult circumstances and have what he sees as a productive life (Johnson, 1963). Learning is obtaining the necessary skills and knowledge that one needs to eliminate poverty.

Learning is also the ability to think rationally and make decisions based on presented information. It is taking the skills and knowledge learned and building a new knowledge base by using the tools to acquire new information (Johnson, 1965, July 21).

How are skills and knowledge acquired?

Both schooling and experience are important factors that Johnson believed facilitates learning. Johnson thought School was central to students’ success later in life (1965). He proposed and used federal funds to help make education not only more accessible, but to help give equal opportunities to the same education. The Head Start program was to help students in low income families give their children a better chance to succeed in elementary school. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act gave federal funds to those in need for school programs. The Higher Education Act lends federal funds through grants to help those pay for college. All these Acts and programs demonstrate Johnson’s commitment to education as the tool to help prevent and fight poverty.

But it is not just schooling which leads children to acquire knowledge. It is life experience and taking the tools that are learned in school, rational thinking and reasoning, that continue one’s own education. It is the decisions that individuals make that add to their knowledge base. It is their jobs and training that they receive, it is the conversation and actual living that help acquire knowledge and skills to be a successful member of society.

Lyndon Johnson, a former educator himself, put all his faith in the possibilities of education. As a college Debate professor at Texas State University- San Marco, he challenged his students to perform to their best ability. He made the comment that textbooks were a basic skill, but practicing the skill allowed them to learn and to win their debates. Experience is important in learning, and Johnson gave his students those future experiences through practice, not just reading and memorizing Debate technique. Johnson had very high and clear standards of his students. Johnson (1965) spoke of taking the opposite side of an argument and “just about stomping the student” and “humiliating them until they were able to do it themselves”. He was a tough teacher, but as he stated he “always made it clear that he loved them” (Johnson, 1965). He seemed to care for his students and made a point to know these students outside of the classroom. They acquired their skills and knowledge through experience, and feedback and from being challenged to do better. Having high and clear expectations also helped these students to learn. Using his teaching style to gain insight on his learning theory, one might conclude: Johnson believed that learning is best done through experiences, in which there are high and clear standards that allow the learner to progress to a higher level (McKay, 1965)

Theory of Transmission
Who is to teach? By what methods? What will the curriculum be?

"But more classrooms and more teachers are not enough. We must seek an educational system which grows in excellence as it grows in size. This means better training for our teachers. It means preparing youth to enjoy their hours of leisure as well as their hours of labor. It means exploring new techniques of teaching, to find new ways to stimulate the love of learning and the capacity for creation (1963)." - Lyndon B. Johnson

The person who teaches is a qualified teacher. This is something that Johnson believed he knew something about. He went to college to become a teacher. He attended a program that taught him skills to become a teacher (2010). The problem is that many who teach do not get the proper or necessary training that is needed. It belittles the profession. Johnson believes everyone who is qualified should have an opportunity at higher education. Those who succeed and are trained effectively should teach. Every person has their own natural strengths. If a person is both and naturally talented and well trained, then they are a qualified to be a teacher.

Johnson is vague on what methods are needed to be used as a teacher. Being a politician he presses for “new techniques of teaching…new ways to stimulate the love of learning (Johnson, 1963).” It is idealist and he never actually proposes techniques. He believes it to be the responsibility of the qualified teacher to use their best judgment to help their class learn. It is important, also, for people to research new methods that are best practices for the classroom setting. He believed in rational thinking and, therefore, in professionals, doing research to find these best practices to help to help the classroom teacher facilitate learning.

What will the curriculum be?

"The fifth freedom is freedom from ignorance. It means that every man, everywhere, should be free to develop his talents to their full potential - unhampered by arbitrary barriers of race or birth or income. We have already begun the work of guaranteeing that fifth freedom (1968).”      -- Lyndon B. Johnson

Johnson believed in a twofold curriculum. On one side practical skill are necessary. The skills that one needs to lead a successful life. Whether it is a trade, vocational training or other skill/ knowledge based learning. Students who graduate High School should be able to graduate being able to enter the work force and be a productive member of society. However, school is not just a place to learn practical life skills. It is a place for people to learn a way of thinking and reasoning. People need to be able to learn how to make rational decision (Johnson, 1965, July 21). Not all students’ education should end at High School. There are those that need and should continue to Higher Education and those who are qualified should be able to attend Colleges and Universities. We need critical thinkers, scientists and teachers. We need people who can produce quality work in all fields and so part of a curriculum needs to focus on thinking and the knowledge needed to be able to attend higher education.

Johnson makes it clear that it is not his or the federal government’s job to make decision on the everyday curriculum of the school. It is the job of the individual school to decide what the needs of their attending children are. What is it that they need to succeed?

Lyndon Johnson’s experience as a teacher gave him insight into educational practices and fueled his passion for education reform. As a teacher he was actively involved and engaged in his student life outside of school. He knew his students. He also had high academic standards for his classes and pushed students beyond their potential (McKay, 1965). These experiences led him to the fight for an equal high quality education for all. Johnsons firm beliefs on equity were their foundations of his reforms as President, all educators should prescribe to these ideals and work to diminish prejudice.

In 1965 Johnson passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provided federal funding to impoverished schools. Johnson (1965) articulated some of the goals of this Act:

By passing this bill, we bridge the gap between helplessness and hope for more than 5 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 time 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.

Johnson does not specify any distinct methods, but the manner of his wording suggests that the “new teaching techniques” refer to research based strategies. Other resources suggest he relied on, and worked closely with, members of his Education Cabinet. By investigating the methods Johnson used in his classroom, it could be said that learning is best done through experience, as he did with His Debate team mentioned in the previous section (McKay, 1965). Forty years later, this landmark reform is known as the controversial No Child Left Behind Act.

Johnson also stressed the importance of the Arts and the Humanities on society. He supported the creation of the “National Foundation for the Humanities,” to ensure that these concepts would not be forgotten in lieu of science. In an address at Brown University, Johnson (1964) commented:

And there just simply must be no neglect of humanities. The values of our free and compassionate society are as vital to our national success as the skills of our technical and scientific age.           

He called upon the students to take action and ensure they “seek the truth”. He felt these values needed to be taught in school. The Arts and Humanities should be included in the curriculum in the same manner as Science and Mathematics (Johnson, 1964). His socialist ideals suggest a curriculum that creates an aware and responsible youth to the greater society.


Theory of Society
What is Society? What institutions are involved in the educational process?

It is important to look at Johnson’s Great Society Agenda in order to analyze his beliefs on the nature of Society. The Great Society was founded on “abundance and liberty for all”. Johnson called the people to action to help alleviate the injustices that had developed in American society. The fundamental principles of this Great Society were: ending Poverty and Racial injustices, protecting Nature, and providing quality Education for all. He stated that he believed in this socialistic view of Society.

The speech must be considered political rhetoric and not fact, it is impossible to know his true beliefs, so we must look further to see the actions that followed the powerful and idealistic words and slogans used in his public speeches. During the first years of his presidency, Johnson had strong Domestic Policies and found ways to pass legislation that supported the values of the Great Society. He chose to continue Kennedy’s mission to provide equality to all Americans. He was able to form necessary relationships with key politicians to successfully pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He also passed the Voting Act, created Head Start, and mandated funding to Equal Education Projects.

It is reasonable to suggest that Johnson had a consensus view of society. He seemed to say that each individual has to have a part in the society. However they should all have equal roles and equal access to the services and resources of a society. Each individual can work to create harmony, or a “Great Society”. Johnson (1965) also referred to a “Creative Federalism” a sort of co-op between the federal and local authorities:

The solution to these problems does not rest on a massive program in Washington, nor can it rely solely on the strained resources of local authority. They require us to create new concepts of cooperation, a creative Federalism, between the National Capital and the leaders of local communities.

His ideas are optimistic and revolutionary, calling on America to be responsible for all its citizens. His commitment to this society is evident in the amount of federal spending on domestic policies and programs. During his presidency, spending doubled from 6 billion to 12 billion dollars, and the rate of poverty also declined (Miller Center of Public Affairs, 2011). However, the battle for Equal Rights in America caused massive turmoil within the society and in the government. There were devastating race riots and protests, and the culminating event of Martin Luther King’s assassination.

There was no consensus among Society on equality and the battle continues today. His domestic polices had the possibility to revolutionize American society. Unfortunately Johnson’s shift in focus to foreign affairs dominated the remainder of his presidency and would be the demise of the Great Society. The legacy of American involvement in the Vietnam War would become Johnson’s legacy and ultimate failure.

Theory of Opportunity
Who is to be educated? Who is to be schooled?

As mentioned throughout the course of this paper, Johnson claimed that his domestic policies gave an equal opportunity to all. In his speeches and in his actions one can see the truth in his statements. Federal spending increased to help impoverished school districts in poor urban areas and sought to help the young minds of American. The Voting Act of 1965 ensured that all Americans had the opportunity to take part in American Democracy. It suspended the use of literacy tests that were used to keep African Americans from voting, and provided federal registrars to enroll Black voters.

This act alone speaks to Johnson’s claims of reaching equality among all Americans. He worked to ensure the basic rights to all, and the Voting Act gave blacks a voice in the South, and voting turnout actually tripled in the next four years. Many traditional southerners disagreed with Johnson’s liberal actions and actually left the Democratic Party (Miller Center for Public Affairs). Johnson was not only speaking about opportunity for all, he was creating opportunity

Theory of Consensus
Why do people disagree? How is consensus achieved? Whose opinion takes precedence?

As President of The United States, Johnson desired consensus as all Politicians do. Johnson spoke of the importance of a unified America, in his inaugural speech after the assassination of JFK. This patriotic ideal often occurs after a tragedy and helps to gather people to a common cause. In this speech Johnson remarked,

The time has come for Americans of all races and creeds and political beliefs to understand and to respect one another. So let us put an end to the teaching and the preaching of hate and evil and violence. Let us turn away from the fanatics of the far left and the far right, from the apostles of bitterness and bigotry, from those defiant of law, and those who pour venom into our Nation's bloodstream.

I profoundly hope that the tragedy and the torment of these terrible days will bind us together in new fellowship, making us one people in our hour of sorrow.

Johnson spoke to this idea of consensus throughout his Presidential term. Consensus is achieved by working together to reach common goals. He worked closely with all levels of government to achieve the many social programs he passed. His social programs and fiscal spending are also evidence of his beliefs that all people should have the opportunity to success, education and to right to participate in democracy.

Lyndon Johnson’s presidency began with a tragic event, and so it would end with the tragic Vietnam War. These devastating events have clouded the social gains his policies helped develop. It has been the intent of this project to look further into the domestic policies that helped to reform public education and provide equal opportunities to all American people


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