Public Education & Democracy
Because the Founding Fathers understood that self-governance requires an educated electorate. They believed that a state funded and operated system of public schools makes it possible to guarantee equal access to education, something a private system could not achieve. For these reasons education is a paramount function of state government. Every state constitution makes a provision for a system of public education. (See Derek Black, School House Burning). Education is so important that public education is the only state function that the Ohio Constitution requires the state legislature to fund.
Photo by Susan Kaeser
The League of Women Voters believes every citizen should be protected in the right to vote; every person should have access to free public education that provides equal opportunity for all; and no person or group should suffer legal, economic, or administrative discrimination.
LWV is an organization fully committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in principle and in practice.
A basic principle of the League of Women Voters is that every person deserves access to a high-quality public education. It is as fundamental to citizenship as is the right to vote. Public education is not a consumer item, but a resource for the common good that serves a civic purpose - effective self-governance. The beneficiaries of public education are not just the students, but the communities where they live, the work places that employ them, and a functioning society.
Since the 1983 release of the report, “A Nation at Risk,” education policy has become politicized and ideological. Work force development has replaced preparation for citizenship and equal opportunity as, the primary purpose of education. Our nation’s long-standing commitment to the common good has been eroded by advocates for individual rights, smaller government, lower taxes, and competition. They have advanced a narrative of public school failure to justify greater accountability for public schools with high-stakes testing, and the diversion of public funds to pay for options previously funded by individuals. A well-funded public system must now compete for resources with private, religious, and quasi-public-schools. This long-term assault has put public education itself at risk.
Public education and democracy go hand in hand in another way. The free exchange of ideas is essential to education for citizenship. In a democracy all students deserve to be treated with dignity, valued for who they are, and have their history honored and voices heard. This must be central to the content of a public education and the daily life of the classroom.
These fundamentals for learning, just like public education itself, are under attack from a well-funded and orchestrated national movement to censor education, whitewash history, intimidate educators, and remove local control over the curriculum. Education has become the latest battle ground for political gain at the expense of authentic learning, substantive intellectual development, and the needs of students. It is a second front in the battle for high quality education