I am scheduled to give a talk on teaching teachers in April. I taught in the School of Education at Stevens Point for more 37 years. Generally, to teach in a college school of education, one needs experience as a teacher in the Kindergarten to 12th grade levels. We do have private schools in the US, on every level from prekindergarten to graduate and professional schools but I have never taught in any of them. I taught the 5th grade for four years before becoming a fulltime doctoral student supported by public scholarships. Therefore, just about my entire life has been spent as a public employee. So, nearly all of the dollars I have ever earned came from the public.
When I pay my taxes, I realize I am participating in the same money exchange that has supported me all my life. I haven't watched or listened to the Obama talk "You didn't build that" but I have heard of the speech and I accept the idea. The public, the collective effort to create and maintain schools, as well as police, highways, postal services, the armed forces, the science projects and many, many other activities and benefits that I and millions of others use. One of the services that has meant the most to me is the libraries.
When I first learned to write my name, I met the requirement for a public library card in my own name. My mother took me right downtown to the Enoch Pratt Free Public Library where I did indeed write my name and came out of that impressive building with my own library card. Walking home from the 3rd grade, I passed a branch of the public library and I visited all those books often. Walking home from the 6th grade and all through junior high, I stopped off in another branch of the same library.
We didn't download books through the air like a cellphone call (what's a cellphone?) but we read them and lugged them and respected them and enjoyed them deeply, fiercely. Thanks to public effort and public support and public employees.