Public education, democracy, and the future of America
From the beginning of the American republic, some Founding Fathers pushed for the establishment of an institution they thought crucial to the success of democracy: public education.
Self-government would require informed citizens, they felt. Important decisions would be in the hands of farmers and tradesmen, not courts and kings.
That meant the nation’s youth – the citizens of tomorrow – needed to learn the history and operation of republics. They needed practice disagreeing, debating, and then moving forward together, whether their views won or lost.
The “prospect of [a] permanent...