Rockwall ISD 2015 Bond Election – Drawing Focus To The Purpose Of Education

16 October 2015 ADelection_2015_-_school_bond_graphic

Let’s start with a headline in Blue Ribbon News

Rockwall Chamber endorses RISD Bond Package (31 August 2015)

The body of text says “The Board of Directors of the Rockwall Area Chamber Of Commerce has voted to endorse the upcoming Rockwall ISD bond referendum to be held on November 3rd.

Conclusion: Rockwall Chamber of Commerce wants RISD to borrow a quarter-billion dollars to enhance our school district as a means of drawing people to the City of Rockwall.

How this works for the cities of Rowlett, Heath and Fate, whose students attend Rockwall schools, I do not know. Will borrowing a quarter-billion dollars make life and commerce better for property owners in these three cities?

Last Saturday, addressing the Rockwall County Republican Men’s Club (RCRMC), Superintendent Jeff Bailey remarked that Rockwall ISD was a “destination”, implying the chief purpose of our public school system is to draw people to our community. Do people actually move here because of our schools? Yes, this is true of a lot of people, not true of many more. My family moved from Garland nearly 30 years ago for an entirely different reason. All four of our offspring came through Rockwall High School and they are proud of that fact.

Fundamental Misunderstanding of The Purpose For Which Our School District Exists

Dr. Benjamin Rush, a native of Pennsylvania, is the true father of free public education in America. Rush was a brilliant man who first met Benjamin Franklin in England where Rush earned his medical degree. Probably influenced by Franklin’s discussions around the British colonies, Dr. Rush moved back to Philadelphia.

Dr. Benjamin Rush - the Father of American Public Education
Dr. Benjamin Rush – the Father of American Public Education

He was no opportunist. Founding father John Adams ranked Dr. Benjamin Rush alongside George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. From, “[Dr. Rush] is also known as the “Father of American Medicine.” He was a founding member of America’s first Bible Society and is credited with helping begin the American Sunday School movement. He helped organize America’s first Anti-Slavery society and was a leader in the national abolition movement. He held multiple university professorships, and is properly titled “The Father of Public Schools Under the Constitution,” being an advocate for free public schools for all youth.”

Rush (not Limbaugh) was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and holds the distinction of being the only signer of that extraordinary document to serve in the American army as field surgeon.

Our schools of learning, by producing one general and uniform system of education, will render the mass of the people more homogeneous and thereby fit them more easily for uniform and peaceable government. – Dr. Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Rush promoted uniform (not standardized) public education to prepare each succeeding generation to govern the country.

I have read a lot about this Father of Public Education. Nothing recorded in history, his writings or things written about him suggest his intended purpose for free public education was to enrich merchants, provide workers for local industries or to elevate real estate values.

One young man who would become president one day had only one year of formal education growing up. In today’s world of education, he would be called “home schooled” by his stepmother who imparted to him a love of reading. As a young man he joined the Army, later studied law, became a political leader in his party and ultimately became President of the United States of America to preside over a nation divided on the issue of slavery.

As a side note to history, Abraham Lincoln was a Republican member of Congress before advancing to the White House. He never voted “present” and he was never disbarred from serving in a court of law.

Imagine, if you will, a different outcome for America, if Abraham Lincoln had been molded to fit a job, instead of shaped to govern a country.

John White
Rockwall, Texas

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