Damn Socialists!!!!

Literary and Historical Notes:

It was on this day in 1944 that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the GI Bill of Rights. It was one of the most important and influential pieces of legislation ever signed by an American president, but the newspapers barely covered the story at the time. They were too busy reporting on the Allied invasion of Europe.

The law was originally designed as unemployment compensation for returning veterans, in case there weren't a lot of jobs available at the end of the war. A congressional committee threw in the idea that veterans should get money to go to college if they wanted to.

Even the supporters of thebill didn't think very many GIs would really want to go to college. Most of the soldiers came from working-class families, and there was no reason to think they wouldn't go back to those same working-class jobs on farms and in factories. Experts predicted maybe 8 to 12 percent of veterans would actually use the money for higher education.

In fact, about a million veterans applied for the money within the first year after the war, and ultimately 2.2 million veterans used the money to obtain higher education, many of them becoming the first members of their families to receive a college diploma. Before the war, about 10 percent of Americans attended college. After the war, that figure rose to about 50 percent.

And contrary to most expectations, the grade-point averages at most colleges went up with the influx of veterans, and dropout rates went way down. Professors at the time said that the veterans were the most serious and disciplined students they'd ever seen. The cost to taxpayers for the GI Bill was about $5.5 billion, but the result was 450,000 engineers, 240,000 accountants, 238,000 teachers, 91,000 scientists, 67,000 doctors, 22,000 dentists, 17,000 writers and editors, and thousands of other professionals. It helped spur one of the greatest economic booms in American history.

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