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Aug 21 2013

Chuck Norris on Jefferson and Education

Chuck Norris’ latest column for the Worldnetdaily is entitled “Would Jefferson approve today’s public education?” But in fact, there isn’t a word in the column about that subject. All he does is offer a bunch of quotes from Thomas Jefferson about the importance of an educated citizenry in a democracy.

But is today’s public education what he and other founders were imagining it could be back then?

The answer is: Yes and no.

Yes, Jefferson foresaw that public education would teach a broad range of basics. But, no, he didn’t imagine academia would be run by the federal government or that it would turn into limited indoctrination camps for political correctness and secular progressivism.

There was nothing more important for Thomas Jefferson than the education of the public. For him, the preservation of our very republic was dependent upon it.

As far back as 1787, he wrote to James Madison: “Above all things I hope the education of the common people will be attended to; convinced that on their good sense we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty.”

And nearly 25 years later in 1810, after two terms as president, he penned, “No one more sincerely wishes the spread of information among mankind than I do, and none has greater confidence in its effect towards supporting free and good government.”

And it goes on and on like that, with quotes from Jefferson about how important education is and not a single sentence that actually addresses the question in the headline. He promises more in his next column, but I wonder if he will mention that when Jefferson created the University of Virginia he quite intentionally did not include a theology department. I’m guessing not.

12 comments

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  1. 1
    unbound

    I assume Chuck will demonstrate how Jefferson created UVA on the premise of making substantial profits as well. I’m sure UVA was not supposed to support the young adults of Virginia, but instead focus on getting out of state students and international students where they could rack in much higher fees. Come on Chuck, I’m absolutely sure that Jefferson really meant to make education a for-profit business, right? Right?

  2. 2
    howardhershey

    Not to mention Jefferson’s role in the Northwest Ordinance, which included a mechanism for funding for public (not private) schools.

  3. 3
    smhll

    Is a “limited indoctrination camp” better or worse than an UNlimited indoctrination camp?

  4. 4
    greg1466

    Yes, Jefferson foresaw that public education would teach a broad range of basics. But, no, he didn’t imagine … it would turn into limited indoctrination camps.

    Probably a true statement. And I would suggest that this is precisely why we do not allow religion to be taught in public schools. If you want your child indoctrinated into a limited worldview, you need to pay your own way for a private school.

  5. 5
    Loqi

    Once again, this is a case where you can read “political correctness” and just mentally remove the first word. At the end of the day, they’re really against correctness.

    Facts don’t agree with my ideology, therefore facts are the enemy. They are propaganda disseminated by my enemies and must be kept away from children. Education is indoctrination. /religious right thought process

  6. 6
    Loqi

    @smhll #3
    UNlimited is worse because it has UN involvement. You see, other countries are scary places full of communism and satan, so an organization of other countries is pretty much the scariest thing imaginable.

  7. 7
    piegasm

    Pretty sure he thinks it does address the question. It’s a simple case of the word “education” not meaning what Chuck Norris thinks it means. If you change “education” to “teaching religious dogma” throughout the piece, it becomes self evident that Jefferson would disapprove.

  8. 8
    abb3w

    when Jefferson created the University of Virginia he quite intentionally did not include a theology department

    Technically correct, though slightly imprecise in a manner seeming to verge on sloppy Attitude Bolstering. Departments were a later development in the university, for one thing; initial appointments were mostly of individual professors in particular fields. Jefferson’s orginal plan did omit the appointment of a professor of divinity/theology; his initial notion was instead to have a professor of ethics, who would teach the basic points of agreement: the existence of God, and the moral obligations which were universally agreed — which might seem “humanist” ethics.

    He defended this on grounds of church/state separation, but did also later suggest sects might each establish their own separate religious schools on the confines of the University. (This plan did not go through; though there was a rotating chaplaincy appointment for some time.) What did go through from the outset was his consulting with Madison as to what volumes of theology should be purchased for the UVA library, so that it would not be deficient on the subject. To date, there still is no “theology” department at the school; rather, UVA has a “Department of Religious Studies” — a nuance some of its denizens remain prickly about.

    Nohow, a key core of what Norris appears to be complaining about — secular education — was indeed one of the things Jefferson was in favor of and criticized for.

    When it was known, therefore, that he was about to establish an institution of learning, without a clergyman at its head, with no provision for religious instruction and for enforcing attendance on religious exercises[...]. Many good people sincerely believed that he was about to establish a school for promulgating infidelity. They argued thus : They do not teach religion, therefore they teach no religion, therefore, they teach infidelity. It was a simple argument, whatever maybe said of its logic.

  9. 9
    Christoph Burschka

    Chuck Norris doesn’t study history; he makes it. (Up.)

  10. 10
    DaveL

    It’s hard to imagine what some historical figure’s opinion would be of something so alien to his experience. Norris here seems to simply imagine Jefferson as a modern brother-in-arms in the conservative movement, albeit imbued with the authority of antiquity. Frankly, I think if Norris were to ask Jefferson’s opinion of “political correctness and secular progressivism”, the latter would have no idea what the former was talking about.

    If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, I think several things about the education system would shock him, but it would have little to do with “secular progressivism.” For one thing, the sheer number of students and the broadening of higher education beyond the well-heeled, the education of young women alongside young men, the rise of STEM, the tight and tightening bonds between education, employment, and debt, and the scope of college athletics.

  11. 11
    caseloweraz

    And it goes on and on like that, with quotes from Jefferson about how important education is and not a single sentence that actually addresses the question in the headline.

    Well, sure; Norris has to bring readers back to peruse Part 3, so they can be exposed once again to ads warning about “Feinstein’s sinister agenda” and the 2013 dust bowl that will “bring massive riots.”

  12. 12
    oranje

    @3: You only have collision coverage with the limited, not comprehensive.

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