The letter by David N. Cox in the Feb. 20 Readers' Forum leaves much to be said.

Public schools in the original colonies differed markedly from our present-day schools. They were largely controlled by the churches or by the clergy. Therefore they taught not only the three R's, but also the fourth R, Religion. This involved teaching ethics, morals and good citizenship. Thomas Jefferson had much more to say about education than was contained in that letter.In some colonies, the church was supported by taxation and founded and conducted the "public" schools. Under constitutional safeguards, this function became the responsibility of towns and districts. Only much later did the states assume financing and control of the schools through holding the "purse strings."

As control has shifted further from the parents and the community, the schools have come to fulfill less and less of the concerns of those parents. The intrusion of the federal government caused even more rapid erosion of the education of our children. To a great extent this accounts for the resurgence of home, private and parochial schools. If control of the schools is returned to the communities and districts, these alternative schools will not be necessary.

Most of the problems plaguing our generation stem from lack of belief in a Creator who will also be our judge of accountability for our actions, which was the philosophy of the Founding Fathers. We need a return to those basics of education advocated by them.

Francis E. and Deane P. Lawlor