This advertisement is one of a series studying our democratic American way of life
From across the sea, the Leader’s voice screams, “The purpose of education is to create the political soldier… in the case of female education, the main stress should be last of all on development of the intellect!”
As the logical fruit of such a creed, great books are burned, great teachers hounded into the grave or exile. The mass of German youth is taught not to think but to obey. Special schools train a few in the use of ruthless violence, deliberate dishonesty, and quack racial dogma so that they shall constitute an “elite” Fuehrer class — masters of the many in the Nazi plan of things to come.
No, Mr Hitler!
America, of course, rejects such a creed as barbarous and perverted.
We believe in the democratic definition of education — education as the process of stimulating free minds and preparing vigorous intellects for living effectively and co-operatively in a commonwealth of free persons. And as evidence of our faith in this creed, American education today is more vigorous, more important than ever before in our history.
Actually, our educational effort now is bigger than any single US business enterprise!
Our investment in the future
Education in this country employs more than 1,000,000 people. It spends some $2,000,000,000 a year. Its capital, invested in buildings and equipment, totals more than $12,300,000,000. By any such measure, it tops all major public as well as private undertakings!
More resources and a larger share of our national income than ever before go for the support of education and the maintenance of school facilities. The Federal Government has given the States an area larger than all of Italy in land grants for schools.
The highest proportion of our nation’s population in history is in the schools today. More than 30,000,000 Americans — about one out of four — are full-time students in schools or colleges; more than 90% of them in public institutions. Today the number of students attending college is more than three times what it was in 1920. Enrollment in our high schools has quadrupled since 1920, doubled since 1930.
We’re never too old to learn
And that’s by no means all. Beyond the regular school years, there are more than 29,000,000 people engaged in adult education. Their classes now run the whole gamut of both cultural and vocational subjects. In hundreds of towns, on the evenings when adult classes meet, high school halls are crowded with grown men and women — enjoying together the sympathetic companionship, the stimulus, the enlightening adventure of democratic group study.
Democratic American education is not perfect. But undeniably it is a living, adventurous, advancing force. Our fund of knowledge, both in subjects to be taught and in ways of teaching them, is constantly increasing!
We learn outside the classroom, too
American education now extends far beyond school halls. For example, on the radio, the “Town Hall” forums of open, lusty, controversial debate on urgent political, social, and economic issues, reach a week-by-week audience of 3,000,000 set-owners. The major radio networks regularly devote up to 20% of their total broadcasting time to genuinely educational programs – reaching each week an aggregate number of homes estimated at 15,000,000.
The great periodicals of this nation, too — as “living textbooks” — play an invaluable part in helping to inform, enlighten, and stimulate American minds, both young and old.
LIFE Magazine, for instance, offers to a weekly audience of more than 20,000,000 readers vividly presented facts, truth, reality concerning this complex world — the world they must understand if their way of life is to endure, to flourish, and to inspire all men of good will throughout the earth.
LIFE is proud of the contribution it is making in these crucial times toward the successful functioning of democracy. And, as “America’s Most Potent Editorial Force,” LIFE is dedicated to continuing this contribution both now and after these times of crisis have passed.