A recent letter to the editor says that the writer wants Thomas Jefferson-style government and says that it was without public education. Jefferson was one of the early strong supporters of public education and started the first public university, the University of Virginia. It was Jefferson who said that if one wants free government without free education, he wants what never was and never will be.
This writer said that Massachusetts had a literacy rate of 92 percent during the colonial period and says it is much lower now with "government" schools. Massachusetts had such a high rate of literacy precisely because it had public "government" schools at the time. The Pilgrims in Massachusetts in the mid-1600s started the first public schools with legislation that required all communities with 50 or more people to build a school supported by taxes. The Puritans did not like the fact that only the rich could get an education in England, which had only private schools, where the "free market could deal with the problem."The Pilgrims were the founders of this "socialist education," 200 years before socialism was even thought of. If we had not had public education for more than 100 years, by 1773, there would not have been any Shot Heard 'Round the World at Lexington and Concord.Without these educated, ordinary people, even our great Founding Fathers would not have been able to create our nation. I am fearful that, because we don't know our history as a people (because we are lazy), we may be doomed to repeat the errors of the past, one of which was not providing for a public education. A poorly funded or overburdened system will not function as well as we would like, but public education is not the cause of our problems. It was the cause of our freedom. If we lose it, we will lose our constitutional form of government.
David N. Cox