Early in our nation’s history, some taxpayers accepted the principle of public schooling but balked at government funding of schools.
The early proponents of public schools won the discussion by making some strong points:
They asserted that the education of all children is a vital public interest and, more to the point, a shared responsibility.
They believed that public funding was critical to give schools a consistent base of support and make them accountable to the American people.
These early advocates also felt that public funding would lessen inequities in education and that it would help ensure a basic level of quality among all schools.
They felt that public responsibility for education would improve opportunities for children whose schooling was neglected.
In 1903, the civil rights leader W. E. B. Du Bois wrote:
“Education and work are the levers to uplift a people. Work alone will not do it, unless inspired by the right ideals and guided by intelligence. Education must not simply teach work – it must teach Life.”
These points formed the strong basis for public schooling that endures to this day. Consistent public funding and a shared responsibility for educating all of our children must always remain core values.