“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” *
What a snob. What an elitist! What a Republican… wait. Oops. He was a Democrat, wasn’t he? I was looking through some quotes from President Jefferson, because I had been hearing way too much about how Jefferson was the master planner of the modern public school system, and how he wanted every child to be educated at the expense of the state. If Jefferson is your hero in this regard, please read on.
But if you want to remain ignorant to the fact that Thomas Jefferson was an education snob that really couldn’t imagine the idea that all children should complete their education and go on to college… maybe you should move on.
Let’s take a look at what I found! We’ll warm up with several quotes that make Sara Palin seem like a moderate:
“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”
“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
Holy cow! Jefferson was a Tea Party hate monger!
“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”
“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
Now this is where we get into the subject of Government Run, Taxpayer Funded Schooling. Taxpayers are subsidizing the propagation of ideas they find abhorrent. They have been doing so for generations. And now it’s time to think about going back to the type of public schools Jefferson really wanted.
At BigEye.com, in a post called, Thomas Jefferson’s plan for “Public” Schooling, Albert Jay Nock was quoted extensively. Nock gives us a different–and probably more accurate–perspective of how Jefferson thought public education should work: [emphasis added]
For some reason that I have never been able to discover, Mr. Jefferson seems to be regarded as a great democrat; on public occasions he is regularly invoked as such by gentlemen who have some sort of political axe to grind, so possibly that view of him arose in this way. The fact is that he was not even a doctrinaire republican, as his relation to the French Revolution clearly shows. When Mr. Jefferson was revising the Virginia Statutes in 1797, he drew up a comprehensive plan for public education.
Each ward should have a primary school for the three R’s, open to all. Each year the best pupil in each school should be sent to the grade-school, of which there were to be twenty, conveniently situated in various parts of the state. They should be kept there one year or two years, according to results shown, and then all dismissed but one, who should be continued six years. “By this means,” said the good old man, “twenty of the best geniuses will be raked from the rubbish annually” — a most unfortunate expression for a democrat to use! At the end of six years, the best ten out of the twenty were to be sent to college, and the rest turned adrift.
(Read Nock’s entire essay at the Ludwig von Mises Instutute)
Well! I am certainly all for Jefferson’s plan for educating the youth of America! I’ll fill you in on all the particulars next time you get all excited about how Jefferson wanted our schools to be just like they are now.
* Special thanks to the first person to comment on this article for the clarification of the first quote attributed to Jefferson. The actual quote, found here, says pretty much the same thing, only with a lot more words. But since the quote I found above is getting enough traction to warrant an “official” site to make the corrections… I thought I’d let it stand.