18th Century Advice: Thomas Jefferson on Education Reform
By: Elena Segarra From: Heritage.org
The original “Man of the People,” Thomas Jefferson, was born on April 13 in 1743.
Jefferson is best known for drafting the Declaration of Independence
, but he also wrote prolifically and prophetically on education. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be,” he wrote
in a letter to a friend.
Jefferson understood that freedom depends on self-government: the cultivation of self-reliance, courage, responsibility, and moderation
. Education contributes to both the knowledge and virtues that form a self-governing citizen. By proposing a bill
in Virginia that would have established free schools every five to six square miles, Jefferson sought to teach “all children of the state reading, writing, and common arithmetic.” With these skills, a child would become a citizen able to “calculate for himself,” “express and preserve his ideas, his contracts and accounts,” and “improve, by reading, his morals and faculties.”
Jefferson viewed this basic education as instrumental to securing “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” for Americans because it helps an individual “understand his duties” and “know his rights.”
Once taught reading and history, people can follow the news and judge the best way to vote. If the government infringes on their liberties, educated citizens can express themselves adequately to fight against it.
By providing equal access to primary schools, Jefferson hoped to teach children “to work out their own greatest happiness, by showing them that it does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed them, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.”
While Jefferson supported the idea of public education, he would not have placed schools under government supervision. Instead, he argued for the placement of “each school at once under the care of those most interested in its conduct.” He would put parents in charge.
"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by…[any] general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience.… No, my friend, the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to."
Taxpayers would provide the resources for public education; the community would arrange the schooling. Although we today face a very different set of challenges than Jefferson, his reasoning remains relevant: Those most concerned with the school’s performance, i.e., parents, will best manage education.
We spend more than enough on our struggling
education system. Empowering parents with control over dollars, instead of increasing the amount spent on schools, will improve educational outcomes.
During his lifetime, Thomas Jefferson had little success with his efforts to reform the American education system. Yet the principles he promoted hold true today: Our freedom depends on delivering a quality education to future generations. As we honor Jefferson’s birthday, let us also heed his advice and enable parents to make more of the decisions regarding their children’s education.
"We take choice for granted in our lives in every othere area, but really education is the most important thing. Especially as a parent, you want your kids to have a solid education."
"School choice is now at a tipping point. In the United States, more charter schools are cropping up, while tax dollars and voucher systems are now allowing the money to follow the child. Evidence indicates that these new educational options are effective, and less costly, in improving the quality of K-12 education.
"Kids in America have more choices today than they've ever had before. Every empirical study shows a positiive effect, and no study has found a negative effect."
Best-selling author, and nationally syndicated radio talk show host, Dennis Prager, recognizes that colleges and universities across the country don't teach the principles and values that make America great. It fact, many campuses champion destructive values and principles.
Dennis has set about to create a campus of five minute mini-courses that give us the education we need (and should have gotten). Ever-expanding, the Prager University curriculum (so far) is available below.
As with any curriculum, you and I probably won't agree with everything that's taught. But, in just 5 minutes, the courses offer unusually valuable understanding and insights.
Patriotic Moms will feature some of these 5 minute courses here on the blog. But in the meantime, just want you to know these wonderful lessons are available by clicking on the LEARNING tab above. iBuen Provecho!
Prager University CoursesLife Studies
The greatest of the "studies" is the study of life, not some abstract study. Keep studying it, and trust your common sense. These courses will give you some tools to make your life and the lives of those around you better.Psychology
Learn about some of the most important matters in psychology that will help you in your relationships and in understanding your other half.Wisdom of the Masters
Five minute video interviews with the seminal thinkers of our times, exploring their most important ideas. Interviews with the great British historian Paul Johnson, renowned American political scientist, Bruce Herschensohn, and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin have already been completed. Many more are planned.Religion/Philosophy
The more university education a person receives, the more likely he is to hold secular and left-wing views. With an effort to undo these anti-religious views, the following courses give rational, reasonable expression to the Biblical worldview and Judeo Christian values.Political Science
The following courses will give you the facts, history and common sense evidence to help you understand key political issues. These five minute courses are straight to the point with no political agenda.History
As we study history we learn how and why civilizations have developed and gain an insight into how to make the decisions necessary to proceed forward.Economics
The following courses will help you articulate how the only current social and economic system that aligns itself with the combined human spirits of achievement, ambition, self-improvement, individualism, self-esteem, and initiative is Capitalism.
This is the time of year when kids are going back to school.
Do you know anything about the things your kids are learning, the skill of their teachers, or of the quality of their education?
Public education has seen little change in the past several decades, despite diminishing results.
In these clips from his documentary, "Stupid In America'" John Stossel explores some better ideas.
"Free to Choose," a National Survival Kit
This video series is shared here in honor of Milton Friedman's 100th birthday!
How would you like to find a survival kit for freedom?
What would you give for such a valuable kit?
President Ronald Reagan has one for you. It's called "Free to Choose" by Milton Friedman.
In the video below President Reagan praises Nobel Prize winner, Milton Friedman, and the principles he teaches.
President Reagan said that Milton Friedman's work is "of rare importance," and his lecture series, "Free to Choose," teaches concepts that “led to our prosperity and have given us our freedom.”
In fact, Reagan calls "Free to Choose" a "survival kit for you, for our nation, and for freedom." The videos were made decades ago, but they are more relevant today than ever!
Below are all 10 "Free to Choose" lectures. Each video title is linked to the transcript for that video.
The videos and transcripts are a goldmine of valuable principles. I hope you enjoy them!
Note: Links to Milton Friedman's autobiography, and other great resources, are included after the "Free to Choose" videos.
(If you can't see all 10 videos, click the tiny red "Read More" link below.)
Don't let anyone fool you.
Common Core standards are mandating and shaping the curriculum our children are taught.
This video shows an example from a Literature and Writing Teacher's Guide for first grade.
Are they teaching great children's literature and what makes it valuable? No.
The lesson focuses on social justice activism -- for first graders! We're talking six-year-olds!!!
Students are taught to use emotional words because they have the most impact.
For example, in the workbook, kids are told to say "My mom always 'nags' me to clean my room." Instead of "My mom always 'tells' me to clean my room" -- because the word 'nag' has more emotional impact. (See 3:12)
The video also shows teacher guidelines for teaching Literature and Writing to third graders. Teachers are told to observe students and to record growth and change in individual student behaviors and attitudes in advocating ways to solve social problems, recognizing social problems, and so on.
Measure growth and change in behaviors and attitudes in advocating for social justice? (See 7:47)
In a literature and writing class for third graders?
In one of the most conservative states in the country?
Once radicals like Bill Ayers
controlled the creation of the standards , they gained virtual control of the curriculum. Major publishers (like Zaner-Bloser) have already matched their curriculum to the requirements.
The federal government has seized control of education from state and local governments and radicals are now indoctrinating our children
. All children will be tracked in a federal database. Charter school and home school students will be required to meet the same standards.
Moms, it's time for us to become tireless advocates for liberty, or we will lose the next generation of Americans to progressive government propaganda in the public schools.
Whatever else happens, we must teach and prepare our children to preserve liberty in America.
Japanese students learn to do complex calculations quickly without the need for paper or calculators. American students in contrast are flying kites and trying to feel good about themselves.
Students aren't taught, and don't begin to understand, why they should become highly skilled in complex math and science concepts. Or why they need to understand the real history of liberty and accomplishment in America. Or why they should prepare themselves with real skills to make a contribution in the real world.
The list of important deficiencies in our education system is long.
How can we fix American education?
And, on a more personal level as Patriotic Moms, how can we make sure our children receive an excellent education in the things that will matter most for them? How can we prepare them for the days in which they live?
The quality of our lives, in many ways, is determined by the quality of the questions we ask and the answers we seek.
In our work as Moms, few questions rival these in importance --
What will be the life's work of my children?
How can I help them prepare for their life's work?
What does a quality education consist of for my children?
As a Mom, have you ever worried about the "daily diet" of ideas your child is being fed in the public schools?
I know I have.
Some teachers clearly have an agenda they are pushing.
For example, a Virginia middle school teacher recently forced his students to research the backgrounds of the Republican candidates, find weaknesses in their positions, create a strategy to exploit them, and figure out how to report their findings and recommendations to the Obama campaign.
Parents were upset when they discovered the "assignment."
Click LIKE if you would be too.
For years, a unionized bureaucracy has controlled our schools. The quality of education has declined and kids have suffered. We can do better for our children. Charter schools, vouchers, home school and other options are now giving families a choice.
Are you skeptical of school choice programs? Do words like private schools, charter schools, vouchers, and tax credits make you uneasy?
In this video, Professor Angela Dills shares four things every parent should know about school choice, and why it may be a good option for you.