Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Public Education: Born on the Fourth of July – Live Long and Prosper

Public Education: Born on the Fourth of July – Live Long and Prosper:

Public Education: Born on the Fourth of July

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[This post is from July 4, 2013. I’ve updated it to reflect the current year, updated some links, and made a few other minor changes.]
“The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.” — John Adams
JOHN ADAMS
The quote above from John Adams, who began his adult life as a school teacher in Massachusetts, is a clear indication of his belief in the importance of a public education system which would educate everyone…by “the whole people” for the benefit of “the whole people.” He also specifically declares that it is to be done at public expense — public funding for public schools.
On the 241st anniversary of the declaration of our nation’s independence it’s worth noting that public education is not something new. It’s one of the basic foundational institutions of our democracy supported by the authors of the nation.
Adams himself was well educated and cared about public education. He made two assertions which would likely dismay “reformers” in their quest to privatize public education. First, as the quote above makes clear…
…the federal government has a clear responsibility for education that includes paying for it.
Second…
That a primary purpose of education is to “raise the lower ranks of society nearer to the higher.”
The public pays for it. The public supports it. The purpose is to equalize the education of the citizenry.
THOMAS JEFFERSON
The education of the citizenry was so important that even Adams’ political rival, Thomas Jefferson, declared in his 1806 State of the Union address that the government should support public education.
…a public institution can alone supply those sciences which though rarely called for are yet necessary to complete the circle, all the parts of which contribute to the improvement of the country and some of them to its preservation.
Jefferson proposed a constitutional amendment to fund public education. When that never materialized he directed his attention
…to his beloved state of Virginia. He developed a comprehensive plan for education which encompassed elementary, secondary, and university levels.

Jefferson believed the elementary school was more important than the university in the plan because, as he said, it was “safer to have the whole people respectfully enlightened 
Public Education: Born on the Fourth of July – Live Long and Prosper:

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