Thomas Jefferson on Public Education


0001_jeffersonPart One: APRIL 3, 2012

A question of some doubt might be raised…as to the rights and duties of society towards its members, infant and adult. Is it a right or a duty in society to take care of their infant Members in opposition to the will of the parent? How far does this right and duty extend? — to guard the life of the infant, his property, his instruction, his morals?

Jefferson answered his own questions thusly: “It is better to tolerate the rare instance of a parent refusing to let his child be educated, than to shock the common feelings and ideas by the forcible transportation and education of the infant against the will of the father.”

Part Two: MAY 1, 2012

…unlike most other republican advocates of state schooling, who emphasized the need to teach children the virtue of obedience to the American government, Jefferson stressed the need for vigilant citizens who would constantly be on guard against the ambition of rulers. America, like all other countries throughout history, would always be in danger of degenerating into tyranny, and only an educated citizenry would be able to recognize the telltale signs and thereby stop dangerous politicians in their tracks, before tyranny could become firmly established.

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