Public education was based on three tenets: that every child should be in school until adolescence, that schools should be free to attend, and that government should pay for them through taxes. And behind the tenets was the belief that our political and economic systems depended on citizens who could read and write. The results have been historic, as literacy has spread today to nearly every adult. For this monumental achievement, you can thank government.
If you attended a state college or university, you benefited from one of America’s greatest investments in its people, the creation and expansion of affordable higher education. How did we get this network of 1,600 state colleges? Through a remarkable collaboration of the states and the federal government that began in the Civil War. It shows us federalism at its best.