Since the early 1980s, America’s ex-offender class has been growing exponentially. Being a “criminal” in the eyes of the law is now becoming just a variation on the American-citizenship norm.
John A. Humbach
Professor of Law, Pace University
White Plains, N.Y.
The War on Public Schools
In the October issue, Erika Christakis argued that the current debate over public education underestimates its value—and forgets its purpose.
Erika Christakis is right that “We ignore public schools’ civic and integrative functions at our peril,” but she misses a broader and timelier conclusion: We ignore the civic and integrative functions of any American school, public or private, at great peril to our democracy.
The private school where I work includes a more diverse student body than public schools that secede from larger systems to avoid desegregation. Our liberal faith-based school promotes open inquiry into the role of religion and spirituality in American civic life, an urgent topic that many public schools can’t touch. Many private schools are more dedicated to teaching students critical-thinking skills for intelligent democratic policy making than are public schools that prohibit accurate teaching of climate and evolutionary science. We will have different models of financing and organizing schools in this country for the foreseeable future. Let’s support all schools preparing students to participate civilly and productively in our wonderfully chaotic democratic conversation, and call out those public and private schools prioritizing narrower political ends that further imperil our already fragile future.
Los Angeles, Calif.
I was struck to read in "The War on Public Schools" that it wasn't until 1642 that anyone in North America bothered to pass a law that all children must receive an education.
While this may be true for European colonists, compulsory education was a part of pre-Columbian Aztec society. A basic Google search shows that the Mexica Aztecs are well known to have instituted universal compulsory education by the 16th century.
As someone who grew up near American Indian reservations, I was most definitely not taught about the brutal genocide and destruction of rich, complex societies that had to take place for my family to live on the land it now claims as its own. It saddens me to see that such a lackluster consideration of American history has also infected the editing room.
3. The Christmas Truce on the Western Front in 1914. Allied and German soldiers left their trenches to sing carols together and exchange small gifts.
— Robert C. Hodge
2. The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on Good Friday, 1865.
— Leslie Ellen Brown
1. George Washington crossed the Delaware River on the night of December 25, 1776, to launch a surprise attack the next morning on an isolated garrison of Hessian troops, who had spent the night celebrating Christmas. The quick victory upped morale and encouraged Continental soldiers to reenlist.
— Astrid K. Redmond
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