Contributed by Josh Fryfogle
The school system has failed. If it had succeeded, there would be no anti-intellectual sentiment in society.
I’ve been publishing this newspaper these last 11 years, with a unique purpose. To create a platform for local people to use their first amendment right to freedom of the press. To actually be the media.
In those eleven years, I’ve found that very, very few people are actually able to write a basic essay about their thoughts, concerns or causes. You would think with the billions of dollars spent on education in this country, and millions in this state, that everyone that graduates from middle school would have at least achieved this relatively basic skill set.
The freedom of the press was made a right because average people were expected to engage in it. But because the public school system has failed, miserably in this area, we do not have a populace that reads or writes. Sure, they have the elementary skills to do so at an elementary level, but the actual use of this skill to communicate ideas is almost completely lost.
The public school system should be teaching kids the difference between verbal and written communication, and preparing them to do both. Instead, we’re pumping out a bunch of kids that don’t know how to communicate. As a result, we see broken marriages (poor communication), broken institutions (poor communication), broken government (poor communication) and broken media (poorer communication).
This newspaper was created and maintained, I’ll admit, from a bit of naïveté on my part. I took for granted that I loved reading, and writing seemed like something that made sense to me. But I’ve always loved writing, since I was a kid. I’ve loved reading since I was learning the Bible as a boy. I love it, because it enables me to think more clearly, and to sort out my thoughts. Reading is the input, thinking is the process, and writing is the output. (That’s called the trivium, for those interested in how education used to work.)
I’ve met people that think that writing is something that “writers” do. Well, what are you? Can you write? Most people can, if they can read this short essay. Writing is something that comes with a public education. If you went to school, on the taxpayers dime, and you’re not making use of that skill to better you community - well, you might be a mooch.
Whether you think so or not, freedom isn’t free, and being free requires some upkeep. Soldiers have to take up arms, and possibly lose life or limb, so that you can be free. And freedom of the press is one of those freedoms that people die for.
And if you’re a teacher, and you spend more time on STEM and standardized tests than you do teaching these kids to engage the public discourse, well, you’re raising a generation of citizens who can’t defend your institutions of learning. Your union will indeed be nothing but thugs, if the students you graduate from your classes can’t actually use their education to express support for the public school system. And their inability to do so is a silent condemnation that system.
No matter what side of the fence you’re on with public education, you’ve failed. If you were educated properly, not only in the principles, but in the practice and application of your education, you would be using those freedoms consciously. You would be elevating your own knowledge and understanding, every chance you had. You would be writing what you’ve learned, adding your voice to a growing public dialog of free people, using their freedoms, freely.
But people say, “I’m not a writer.” Unless you were denied an 8th grade education, you are a writer. You might not be very good at it, but that’s a choice. And a waste of taxpayer dollars.
As a final note of contemplation, consider the implication of this:
The word “Library” comes from the same root word as Liberty - the Latin word “liber”. It means “the free one”.