A student field tests an interactive lesson at Colorado State University’s Education and Outreach Center. Photo by Vicky Jordan

By Victoria Jordan

In 1776, when Thomas Jefferson first proposed public education, he claimed: “a general diffusion of knowledge is essential to a free society.” A movement towards a free society that includes popular suffrage and compulsory education for all of its inhabitants required a civil war, constitutional amendments, U.S. Supreme Court decisions and the work of multiple educational reformers such as Horace Mann, Catherine Beecher, Booker T. Washington and John Dewey — just to name a few. Creating a system for free quality public education accessible by all U.S. inhabitants has taken over 244 years to advance and continues to this day.


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