Last Saturday Bonnie came in and told me we had to go vote.  This vote had slipped up on me but we hurriedly drove to the fire station to cast our ballot.  I consider voting to be a moral affirmation to honor those that gave their lives so that we would have the ability to decide the direction of our government.  The vote on Saturday had only one item to vote on and that dealt with taxes for the continued operation of our school system in Louisiana.  While a simple yes or no vote was required, the subject of the vote is possibly one of the most important aspect of civilization as a whole and specifically determines the future of America.  This is the education of our populace.

The roots of education in America run deep; as deep as man himself.  Education in prehistoric times consisted of parents or family members showing and telling children what was required to survive.  There was no formal written language and man relied on the ability of family to train the children.  As civilization progressed the education of the population became more structured.  Farming, construction, military and trades were taught to children but for the most part it was part of the family unit education process.

About 3,500 BC the ability to write appeared.  The Egyptians developed their hieroglyphic form of writing.  When they developed paper from the papyrus plant, they then had the ability to capture thoughts for future reading and thus education could be advanced.  Still it was the elite that had the benefit of any type of formal education.  Following the Egyptians, Mesopotamia in what is now Iraq began schooling the prominent children.  Scribes were paid to teach the children to write.  The working class was left out.

Two thousand years after Egypt developed hieroglyphic writing, the Phoenicians from what is now Lebanon developed their alphabet and passed it around the Mediterranean while on trading missions.  At this same time China was developing its own alphabet and was beginning formal education of seven year old boys.  China began a more open philosophy for citizen education.

As civilizations advanced so did the education of the masses.  Still Europe in the 1600s did no mandate child education.  That happened in the more open culture of the fledgling English colony of America.  New England required that towns set up schools for it inhabitants.  By the mid 1700s girls began attending the public schools.  Most of the schools were single rooms with all students being instructed by a lone teacher. In the late 1800s and early  to mid 1900s these were prevalent in rural Louisiana and every small community had its own school.  There were no busses so schools had to be close enough for the students to walk.

Louisiana led the nation in several innovative education endeavors.  In the early 1900s Huey Long was admitted to LSU but was unable to attend.   He could not afford the text books that had to be purchased for both high school and college.  When Huey was elected governor he passed the law that the state would provide free text books to all its high school students.  Louisiana had the first free textbooks in America.   Later he established colleges throughout the state so that any student that wanted a college education would be within commuting distance to a school.

The future of our nation lies in the ability to educate our children.  It has taken thousands of years to get to where we are today.  It is important for us to continue to support our teachers and educators that are building our future.

In the late 60s bumper stickers began to appear that said, “IF YOU CAN READ THIS, THANK A TEACHER”.  How true.



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