Saving Section '16'



IN REAL LIFE, I was a real estate broker. In my fantasy world, I write. While the two may trigger a left brain vs. right standoff, sometimes a concept meets in the middle. Or as they say in Virginia, “follow the Three Notched Road until you come to the tall red oak tree, then go southwest forty paces until you reach the stream that will take to you the river.”

In real estate, this descriptive nomenclature of the Metes & Bounds System is passed down in the property deeds, and it remains one of two ways of describing a property. By necessity, it measures land located amidst random geographic impediments, e.g. through the big woods and over the river as a logical means of defining boundaries.

The other method is the Rectangular Survey System. When the Northwest Ordinance Act of 1785 was created by the new U.S. Government, it was necessary to develop the new land

and raise revenue to pay off Revolutionary War debts. Surveyors were sent to the vast Northwest to stake out the new territory for sale. The result was a rectangular grid of individual townships, six miles by six miles in area. Each township, or every 36 square miles, was further divided into thirty-six lots, each lot contained one square mile of land. Within every township was a specific location earmarked for public education. Section 16, in the middle, was intended for the site and scene of education. Far away from the federal government, the new frontier would assume the responsibility for educating its children.

Section 16 symbolizes self-governance, and until President Carter formed the Education Cabinet, the individual states assumed the role of educating its citizens. The land upon which the one-room schoolhouses were built was the government’s one-time ante in the role as Sugar Daddy. Developing the type of schools for each township was the fiscal responsibility of the citizens, and over time, they would unite to form state departments for ‘advising’ public education.

Take a drive through the Michigan countryside and you might happen upon an abandoned school in Section 16. But since 1969, and when the federal government got into ‘the very big (think lobbyists, teachers’ unions) business’ of education, American students have been hijacked by bureaucrats. The federal government, and its agents, have little understanding of what local residents want or need to educate their children. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that No Child Left Behind and Common Core have been utter failures in improving achievement in the classroom.

Copyright 2022 SEVEN DAYS IN CARRINGTON,all rights reserved. Photo of Shearman School from A HISTORY OF THE MARSHALL PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM.

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