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The Power of Public Schools

This week is Public Schools Week, so it’s a great time to share some of the things that make public schools important and wonderful. Public schools are and have always been a microcosm of our communities. They are where poor and rich students sit side by side, eat together, ride the same buses and have access to the same teachers, books, and media of any given community.

High School Graduates holding diplomas

From public schools, we develop our plumbers and our doctors, our electricians and our car designers, our merchants and our delivery workers, our ministers and scientists, and our next generation of teachers. 

Regardless of one’s ethnicity, gender, defined abilities, or economic privilege, in the public school one can gain access to what serves their interests: the great thinkers of all time, the keys to the math-cosmos, the strategists and changers of all history, the stories of our inventors and creators, and the deepest understandings of the human condition and heart. 

Without our public schools the progress we have made as a civilization, from engineering to medicine, to space and the depths of the ocean would not have been possible. All of our human accomplishments are seated in a kindergarten classroom, an eighth grade class, and a high school graduation before they come to the Pulitzer or Nobel prize, the Capitol, or the board room. 

In 1900 only 4% of people graduated from high school. By 2019 90.1% of people in the US had graduated by 25 Across a similar timeline people’s life spans increased from 47 years to 79. 

During that same period we developed flight, went to the moon, and now probe the depths of the universe with our telescopes. We wiped out the worst communicable diseases that decimated our communities, and we built highways that connect the nation. Our infrastructure brought water, heat, and electricity into virtually all homes and now connects us to the rest of the world in an instant. We learned how to provide mass food production that allowed people to do a wide variety of jobs and avocations. 

It is no accident that during the time period of mass education, both the timelines of our most massive progress and a major life expectancy-gain occurred simultaneously. 

Our public schools are our treasure, and our gateway to the best possible future. They hold the potential to solve our most difficult problems, and the chance to fulfill our brightest dreams. 

We must care for our public schools, support them, and pour our best ideas and hearts’ desires into them. Only by doing that will we develop the future we and our children hope for. 

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