Public Education: Reinforcing the Foundation of Democracy

EKU Online > Public Education: Reinforcing the Foundation of Democracy

Public education is the cornerstone of our democracy, and with that fact comes enormous responsibilities and obligations.  As public educators, we have a responsibility to teach critical thinking skills to produce an informed, educated citizenry. This charge has its roots as far back in history as Socrates and John Dewey. 

The Importance of Education

The importance of an informed, educated citizenry cannot be overstated. Democracy is more than the right to cast a vote. It is also the responsibility to understand and analyze the concepts that inform policies and governance. To have full comprehension of what you are voting for and the impact it will have on your life and the lives of others. Yet, in witnessing the events of the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, there is evidence that we, as public educators, are failing in our responsibilities. 

The Brookings Institution has identified 345 election-denying candidates running for office in the 2022 midterm elections, despite zero evidence of any widespread election fraud in the 2020 election.  When you combine the participants of the January 6 incident to the number of election candidates provided by the Brookings Institution, it can be argued that it’s likely a large number of those individuals are products of the public school system and a breakdown in its mission.

Are Schools Upholding Their Mission?

As public educators, it falls to us to turn an introspective eye toward our own schools and districts. Are these institutions upholding their mission? Are our colleagues and administrators supporting and working toward producing individuals with critical thinking skills, including the ability to look at evidence, determine its veracity, reflect on this new information, and make informed judgements in light of—and not contrary to—the evidence?  If not, how can we come together as public educators to fix the breakdowns, fill our educational gaps and get our mission back on track?

As a public institution that prepares public school teachers and leaders, we are committed to developing a new cadre of school leaders who support and encourage teachers who effectively teach critical thinking skills. Supporting a new generation of citizens who value and appreciate the democratic principles upon which this country was founded.  We accept the responsibility of preparing school principals, district administrators, and superintendents who value knowledge and will unashamedly lead local communities in their commitment to the historic roles of public education. Creating an educated population that values knowledge, evidence, and facts.  The future of the United States of America depends on an educated citizenry—and that responsibility falls upon us.

Dr. Raymond A. Lauk

Assistant Professor and Educational Leadership Programs Coordinator

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