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APRIL 20, 2012 - Directory photo Tom Arcaro. (Photo by Kim Walker)

Kim Walker

APRIL 20, 2012 - Directory photo Tom Arcaro. (Photo by Kim Walker)

Guest column: Job training or education?

1 Comment | Leave a Comment

“Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. And to render them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree.” — Thomas Jefferson, 1782, Notes on the State of Virginia


As an educator — and more importantly, as an American citizen — like Jefferson, I believe that improving the minds of people is a critical function of our nation’s educational system.

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Not True Sir

This article uses one quote from Jefferson to defend a liberal arts education. However, the author works at Elon (a private school that turns away many of the great unwashed), so his background should be taken into account when reading this article. Yet, this professor's students often come from systems that look more like the Franklin model than the Jefferson model. Let’s look at what Jefferson proposed, in his own words, and then you decide if that’s what we want for our kids: First, we would be educated free-of-charge until the third grade, and after that, we’re on our own. If you won the lucky parentage contest (i.e. daddy has money), you could continue your education. Here’s what Jefferson really said: "the great mass of the people will receive their instruction… Each district would have a primary school and a tutor who is supported by a tax on the people of the district. Every family in the district would be entitled to send their children to the school for three years, free of charge. A family could continue sending a child after three years, but the family would have to pay for it.” And here’s what Jefferson thought of middle-graders: “After about two years, the "best genius" from each grammar school would be selected to continue another six years studying these subjects, while the rest would be dismissed. According to Jefferson, "By this means twenty of the best geniusses will be raked from the rubbish annually, and be instructed, at the public expence, so far as the grammer schools go.” Anybody want to send their middle-grader to this sort of "weed-out-purgatory"? I don't. Raked from the rubbish? This sounds like a system that is designed to create a 1-3% group of landowner-thinkers and a large group of sharecroppers to me. --Armynurse

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Bless your heart
Bless your heart