Walt Whitman had something to say about American education when he spoke at the dedication of a new school in Camden, New Jersey, in 1874.
Only a lot of boys and girls?
Only the tiresome spelling, writing, ciphering classes?
Only a public school?
Ah! more—infinitely more . . . .
And you, America,
Cast you the real reckoning for your present?
The lights and shadows of your future—good or evil?
This Union multiform, with all its dazzling hopes and terrible fears?
Look deeper, nearer, earlier far—provide ahead—counsel in time;
Not to your verdicts of election days—not to your voters look,
To girlhood, boyhood look—the teacher and the school.
You can read the entire poem, "An Old Man's Thought of School," here.
Happy Fourth of July!