Education and Democracy
Public education is essential to democracy.
by Stephen Lendman
Democracy and an educated citizenry go hand in hand. Public education is the great equalizer. America's founders believed it was insurance against loss of liberty.
"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. And to render them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree."
Neil Postman perhaps is best known for saying "Americans are the most entertained and least informed people in the world." Most know little or nothing about what matters most.
Ignorance isn't universal, but a significant majority is affected. Postman served as chairman of New York University's Department of Culture and Communication. He also said:
"Public education isn't important because it serves the public. (It's) important because it creates the public."
Benjamin Barber believed the same thing, saying:
"Public schools must be understood as public not simply because they serve the public, but because they establish us as a public."
They give meaning to "we the people."
They develop better citizens and improve achievement. Most people agree. A 2003 America Association of School Administrators (AASA) poll showed 95% of respondents agree with the statement:
"We need to stand up for public education to make sure that public schools continue to fill their role as a cornerstone of the common good, providing the foundation for the civic society that is critical to our democracy."
AASA believes public schools belong to the public. Its Executive Director Paul Houston said: