July 1, 2009 8:40AM

Mr. Jefferson Regrets

Thomas Jefferson was an advocate of public schooling, after a fashion. He knew that an educated public was the only protection against government abuses, and he assumed that a state‐​run, state‐​funded school system would provide that essential education. If he could only see public schooling today. 

The Arizona‐​based Goldwater Institute has just released a study on the civics knowledge of that state’s high school students. Matt Ladner, Goldwater’s head of research, administered the same trivial test that’s given to immigrants applying for citizenship, using the same trivial pass/​fail threshold. [I know it’s trivial, ’cause I took it a few years ago.] The results of Goldwater’s little experiment… Oh. My. God. Becky:

  96.5 percent of AZ public high school students failed

Honestly, why did anyone — especially Thomas Jefferson — ever imagine that a government monopoly would be a good way to educate kids about a democratic republic and protect them from abuses of government power?