Sunday, February 21, 2010

I am Thankful for Public Education

Free, universal, compulsory education is one of America’s greatest gifts to the world. The Northern Humanists recognized the need for universal education if their dream of God’s Kingdom on earth was to be fulfilled. Everyone needed to be able to read the Bible. They wanted it but they could not achieve it. They lacked the social structures and economic resources to attain the goal.

Coming out of the spirit of European humanism, the founders of the United States recognized the need for universal education. They understood a literate populace was necessary for the great experiment in democracy to survive. But it took decades before Horace Mann developed a workable system that made universal education a possibility. In short, communities were required to develop schools which were funded by land grants from their states. Local School Boards governed education under the oversight of state officials. The model was so successful it spread across the nation and was exported around the world.

There can be no doubt the development of free, universal education was the foundation for the spread of democracy around the world and that it was one of the greatest advances for humanity. Yet, it is not without its problems, but that is the subject for another blog.

I was blessed with some very good people who were my teachers in school. In Elementary School I had Mrs. Smith followed by Mrs. Clark, Mrs. Durbon, Mrs. Million, Mrs. McCaskel, and Mrs. Hunt. In Junior High Mr Thurman and Mrs. Robinson was wise and encouraging. In High School Mr. Harper and a couple of others fueled my interest in learning.

My point for this entry is simply that there are untold thousands of committed and compassionate teachers who serve the public good by teaching our children. It is a good but difficult vocation. Every day they communicate personal worth and the value of knowledge to children without regard to their race, gender, or social standing. They instill hopes and dreams to those who are offered so little by the rest of society. I am thankful for every public school teacher who maintains a positive influence in spite of unruly students, apathetic and abusive parents, bureaucratic paper work, and ever expanding expectations. In spite of the pressure to teach to the test they continue to understand they are there to influence malleable lives for the better.

Cleveland, Tennessee
February 21, 2010

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