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Freedom in American Education

• Dave Myslinski

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” – Thomas Jefferson

Today we celebrate that, 238 years ago, our nation’s founders declared our independence, laying the foundation of our country. By signing The Declaration of Independence, 56 brave men stood up to an unresponsive and oppressive government that stripped Americans of basic rights and kept them as pawns under military control, and formally began their fight to create a new government, one created by and for the people, with the foundational principles of freedom and liberty. The risk was great—the penalty for this treasonous action against King George III would be death—but, as Patrick Henry passionately declared, “give me liberty or give me death.”

All too often, parents and their children face similar struggles in schools. Parents know how important it is for their children to receive a quality education, but they are ignored by an unresponsive and oppressive school system. And in attempts to provide the best education possible to their children, parents face risks of their own. Across the country, parents have been jailed for sending their children to better schools—but they know it’s worth the risk.

Students are lumped together by age and lack the freedom to experience a customized education. They are shuffled through the system, oftentimes lacking the foundational skill of literacy, setting those children up for a failed future. And teachers are forced to lecture to the average in their classes instead of harnessing the power of technology to amplify their work, bringing their expertise to each student.

Education needs its own Independence Day. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness … Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States…”

So with apologies to our Founding Fathers, Education’s Independence Day declares the following:

  • Parents need freedom from being forced to send their children to government-zoned schools.
  • Parents need the freedom to send their children to schools of their choice.
  • Children deserve the freedom to access the best educational opportunities available, regardless of location.
  • Children need the freedom that education provides, instead of being weighed down by the shackles of ignorance.
  • Teachers need to be free to structure their classes in ways that reflect the needs of individual students.

Our Founding Fathers understood the importance of education. They knew education was the key not just for personal prosperity, but for a free society. For the future of our country, we need to ensure our education system is responsive to the needs of who it’s intended to serve: students.


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About the author

Dave Myslinski

Dave Myslinski serves as a Communications Specialist for the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and was the State Policy Director for Digital Learning Now, focusing on digital education policies across all 50 states. Prior to joining the Foundation, he served as the Education Task Force Director at the American Legislative Exchange Council, where he focused on digital learning, K-12 education reform, and higher education policies on the state level. He is a coauthor of the Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress and Reform for ALEC, and currently serves on its Education Task Force Executive Committee and is a Vice-Chair of the Digital Learning Subcommittee. Dave has previously worked on state policies relating to health care and telecommunications. He is a graduate of Rutgers University. Contact Dave at