Join us on July 20th to Reclaim Public Education

Dear Friends and Fellow Citizens of Idaho,

This past week, as we celebrated July 4th and commemorated our Declaration of Independence, we at the Reclaim Idaho campaign also celebrated one of the principal commitments of our Founding Fathers: Their commitment to the ideal of public education.
We should be careful not to whitewash our history. Our nation’s founders showed very little concern for the education of African-Americans, women, and many others. But we should never forget that men like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams—even though they were deeply flawed—were nonetheless firm believers in the idea of the free, common school, and they fervently rejected the age-old belief that education should be a privilege for the wealthy.
This is why John Adams, 4 years after the Declaration of Independence, wrote the principle of public education into the Constitution of Massachusetts. It was a duty of the legislature to make sure that “the opportunities and advantages of education" be spread widely, and that schools be maintained “in the various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people.” 110 years later, in 1890, Idaho included a similar provision in its own Constitution.
The question for us, today, is whether we still believe in the dream of public education. Is the commitment to a thoroughly educated citizenry still alive in the United States? Is it alive in Idaho? Or has this ideal become instead a relic of history—something written into our founding documents but far removed from our day-to-day practice?
If we continue to starve our schools of the funds they need; if we let the schools of rural Idaho crumble while the schools of suburban Idaho prosper; if we let quality education become a privilege for the well-to-do rather than the right of every Idahoan; eventually we’ll have to be honest with ourselves and admit that we no longer really believe in the principle of public education. Embarrassing as it may be, we will have to look back to Adams and Jefferson and admit that their dream is no longer ours.
An old saying by Senator Paul Wellstone comes to mind: “If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them.”
Let’s make 2017 the year when we reclaim the principle of public education. Join us on the evening of Thursday, July 20th, when we will officially launch our campaign at the Panida Theater with Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson. Tickets are available for $5 at Eve’s Leaves, Eichardt’s, and Baxters.
Hope to see you there!
Luke Mayville & the Reclaim Idaho Team
PS: If you like what we’re doing, please consider helping us cover organizing costs by donating here