We Need Public Education

I think that public education is a fundamental institution in our democracy. Free public education—open to all, free to all, controlled by democratic means—is a central promise of our democratic society. Its purposes are civic, not just utilitarian; it exists to strengthen our democracy and our society. I believe it is wrong to privatize it. We must continue to have schools that are the center of their communities, where children are students, not products, and parents are citizens, not customers.

There is a strong rationale for public support of public education. As Robert Hutchins once wrote, they are part of the res publica, the public thing. Like public parks, public libraries, and fire departments, they are part of our communal responsibility. We must strengthen them, make them far better than they are now. To blame them for all the ills of our society, for all the demographic changes of the past generation, for all the burdens imposed by courts and legislatures, is wrong. To destroy them would be a civic crime.

From Diane Ravitch, We Need Public Schools and Democratic Governance

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