Rep. Gene Green remembers that in 1965, when he was a high school senior in Texas, his school got some new, state-of-the-art technology—a piece of audiovisual equipment.
After asking his principal how the school could afford it, “I remember being told that it came from new federal money,” Rep. Green, a Democrat who represents a Houston-area district, said in an interview this month.
Mr. Green considers the man he calls nation’s first “education president,” Lyndon B. Johnson, responsible for his school’s receipt of new equipment, as well as for a host of other federal education programs that have aided millions of students.
With that history in mind, the congressman has introduced a bill to name the Department of Education’s headquarters in Washington the Lyndon Baines Johnson Federal Building. The bill has attracted 19 co-sponsors, all from the 32-member Texas House delegation. All of the delegation’s 11 Democrats, and eight Republicans, have signed on.
Rep. Green cited President Johnson’s advocacy of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which authorizes federal aid for high-poverty schools and other federal K-12 programs, and the Head Start preschool program, also started in 1965.
Mr. Johnson also signed the Higher Education Act, which governs programs that provide billions of dollars in federal aid to colleges and universities and their students.
If Congress were to approve Rep. Green’s bill, it would make the Education Department’s headquarters one of several named after government officials.
The Department of Labor’s headquarters is named the Frances Perkins Building, after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famed appointee as labor secretary. The building that houses the Department of Energy’s headquarters is named for James V. Forrestal, the first secretary of defense. In 2001, the Department of Justice’s main building was named for former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
Education Department spokesman Chad Colby said the department had no comment on the prospect of naming the building.
A similar bill introduced by Rep. Green died last year. But he’s hopeful the bill might be enacted by next year.
“Lyndon Johnson’s first priority in life was education,” Rep. Green said. “So, the Department of Education building is a perfect fit.”