A thorough education is a life-long process, involving the whole person, including the moral, spiritual, and emotional dimensions as they relate to the multiple types of intelligences.
The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 (in Article 3) put it very simply: “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
That was written over 200 years ago, when our nation was much more homogeneous. Today, we have a wide diversity of thought about “religion, morality, and knowledge.” Given such diversity, can the one public school be expected to fulfill the same goals that our founding fathers envisioned were necessary? Probably not.
The only just solution to the kind of schools that are “necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind” are those schools that parents can choose for their children. Why parents—and not the state?
In 1857, the people of Oregon approved our constitution, which includes the article that the government would provide funds for every child to have a basic education. In addition, the government has also properly recognized the natural preeminent rights of parents and legal guardians to direct the lives of their children, including their education. Therefore, parents, not the state or teachers’ unions, have the right to determine the best kind of education for their children.
School choice today—for every family, not just the wealthy—is “necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind.” Schooling options must safeguard the physical, moral, spiritual, and emotional dimensions of each child. Excellent schools will do that while providing the opportunity to learn academic content and skills necessary for each child to prosper in his or her own life and community.
“Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
Northwest Ordinance of 1787