I recently purchased a book at a
yard sale. The book is titled "Asylum for the Queen",
by Mildred Jordan, printed in 1948, exactly 50 years ago. I have
no idea what it is about, nor do I have any intention of ever
reading it. I bought the book for what is printed on the back
of the dust cover. The following paragraphs tell a story of 50
years of failed public education.
"The 5th Freedom"
When you have read this book, we
want you to think for a moment about what you have just done.
Actually you have done something very difficult, though you are
so used to it that it seemed easy. You had to be taught to do
this, and probably many teachers struggled with you before it
could be said that you could both read and understand what you
read. You owe those teachers a great debt. They gave you the key
There are other teachers, now, in
your neighborhood, who are trying to give this key to other children.
They are tired, discouraged people. Some will leave teaching this
year for jobs that have a shorter work day, which are decently
paid, which offer a better standing in the community and a more
normal private life. Unless the present trend is reversed, more
will leave next year, and the available replacements will be fewer
and worse prepared. The sad truth is that able young people are
avoiding this profession.
Every year thousands of normally
intelligent youngsters finish their schooling unable to do what
you have just done - read and understand a book. In overcrowded
classes, with overworked teachers, with textbooks that are too
few and too old, they will not have grasped the key.
This is the crisis in American education.
It is here, it is real, and it is dangerous beyond words.
As a nation we have joined in a
desire to realize the four freedoms.
But there is a fifth freedom more fundamental than any of the
others, and this is the FREEDOM FROM IGNORANCE. The ignorant man
is the easiest prey to want and fear. Freedom of religion means
little to him, and free press means nothing, for even if, technically,
he can read, he cannot understand what he reads. He is a danger
to himself, to you, to this country, and to the world.
You can help. Visit your local schools.
See what can be done to keep and attract able teachers. Support
Larger appropriations for salaries, equipment and textbooks. This
will cost you some time and money, and it will be the best investment
of both that you have ever made. Our teachers mold our nation's
future. Give them your help.
After 50 years, and billions of dollars, what has
Don't you think it's time we try another way to
educate our kids?
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