America’s Founders Knew Democracy Requires Public Education

Even before the United States had a Constitution, its founders were advocating for the creation of public education systems. The United States was an experiment in democracy unlike anything the world had ever seen, turning away from government dominated by elites and hoping that the common man could rule himself. If this experiment had any chance of standing the test of time, the nation needed far more schools to prepare everyday citizens for self-government. As James Madison, the father of our Constitution, remarked: “a popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy.” Thomas Jefferson similarly argued that governments “deriv[e] their just powers from the consent of the governed,” but that it is education that makes that consent possible. President Washington, in his last annual message to Congress, added that expanding education was essential to the perpetuation

Read More