Letter to the Editor: Response to Education as Not Being a Human Right
In response to Matthew Noyes editorial on higher education not being a human right.
First off, I find your use of the word “slavery” both comical and ironic in comparison to your quotation of Thomas Jefferson. As a slave owner, he advocated for liberty and freedom while also owning slaves and justifying the subjugation of black people, based on his theory that they were inferior. He was, in other words, a hypocrite who did not believe that all people deserved the same liberty or free will that he advocated for himself and his contemporaries. In fact, all but for 4 of the first 16 American presidents were slave owners, including all the founding fathers and therefore were actually guilty of “obeying an authoritarian construct.” I feel that these facts along with your use of loaded language undermine your position.
When it comes to free access to higher education, perhaps a better question would be “what’s best for our country?” It’s better to have a society of educated people. Many people state that there is a lack of jobs, but that is incorrect. There are jobs, but there is a lack of qualified people to staff them. I can’t help but feel that your opinion and that of Senator Ryan is one of convenience: it’s easy to expect charity to do the heavy lifting, but the reality is leaving education to philanthropy would not only leave many institutions and programs underfunded, but would also shift the focus from education to fund raising.
Instead I propose that the idea that there just isn’t enough to go around is a lie, that things like money and race are also a by-product of “authoritarian constructs,” and that the true interest of the government is not to serve the people, but to preserve power. This was true in Thomas Jefferson’s day, as well when he states that emancipation of slavery and the allocation of resources to benefit them would “divide us into parties, and produce convulsions” (Notes on the State of Virginia, 1782). In this event, an educated populace is not in its best interests because smart people are harder to control that ignorant ones. This is how it can justify making claims of liberty, justice, and freedom for all and then making exceptions. If you want an example of that, look no further than the amount of money spent on corporate welfare versus individual welfare.
The failure of the Excelsior program lies not in its intentions, but the status quo. Maybe free education for all is un-American, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Editor’s note: Matthew Noyes’ article was not an editorial.