Skip to comments.How Did Government Get So Involved in Education?
Posted on 05/11/2009 8:06:40 PM PDT by Conservative Coulter Fan
The United States was founded, formed and grew to international prominence and prestige without compulsory schooling and with virtually no government involvement in schooling. Before the advent of government-controlled schools, literacy was high (91-97% in the North, 81% in the South), private and community schools proliferated, and people cared about education and acted on their desire to learn and have their children learn.
Mr. Matthew J. Brouillette, President of the Commonwealth Foundation in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and former Director of Education Policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, wrote:
From the outset of the first settlements in the New World, Americans founded and successfully maintained a de-centralized network of schools up through the 1850s...
For the first 150 years of America's settlement and the first 50 to 75 years of the nation's existence, government schooling as it is known today did not exist.
Today, few people ask how Americans, without the help of government education, came to tame an unsettled continent and eventually establish the freest nation in history.
Mr. Brouillette goes on to say:
Early America was arguably the freest civil society that has ever existed. This freedom extended to education, which meant that parents were responsible for, and had complete control of, their children's schooling. There were no accrediting agencies, no regulatory boards, and no teacher certification requirements. Parents could choose whatever kind of school or education they wanted for their children, and no one was forced to pay for education they did not use or approve of.
Americans were as innovative about education as they were about everything else. They started private schools, hired tutors, taught their children at home, taught themselves. As the country grew, private schooling of many varieties grew and complemented the many other options.
But there were always the reformers, the people who thought they knew better than everyone else and felt they had the right to force their views on others by law, if no one would cooperate otherwise.
From the PBS web site:
Public education today is a product of more than a century of reform and revision [mid 1800s to present]. In each era, visionary individuals have taken the lead and transformed the system to meet their ideals.
"Visionary individuals" is an overly nice term for people who consider themselves superior enough that they should have the right to force "their ideals" on all others.
One of these visionaries was Horace Mann, a lawyer from Massachusetts. He's often referred to as the father of public education because he was such a fervent reformer, but there were others before and after him.
Mr. Mann's hometown of Boston was a city of many private schools in the early and mid 1800s with attendance reported at 96% by a committee commissioned to study the issue.
But high attendance was not the goal of school reformers. Horace Mann helped establish a board of education in 1837, and by 1852, he had his compulsory schools and state schools from elementary through high school.
Power is tempting and many reformers and politicians fell to its lure. One state after another tightened its grip on American education. Parents who refused to comply sometimes found themselves at the sharp end of state militia bayonets.
Once the state grabs power in a particular area, it is only natural that unless people fight back the power will grow and freedom will slowly die. That's where we stand today.
Albert Shanker, former president of the American Federation of Teachers, said this:
It's time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody's role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It's no surprise that our school system doesn't improve: it more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy.
But Americans have not surrendered their freedom altogether. 27,000 private schools serve over six million students in America. Nearly two million students are home schooled. Tutoring services and learning centers number in the thousands. Community groups, churches and charities offer free tutoring. Parents pool their resources to run summer schools and special classes for their children.
Much more could be done if parents and students were not trapped in the web of government schooling. As it is, many parents are actually afraid to step into independence. Some are afraid because schools threaten or intimidate them. Some are afraid of the financial responsibility. Many simply are unaware of all the opportunities and possibilities available.
It is our goal to not only explain why government involvement in schooling is detrimental to students, families, society and liberty, but to provide families with ideas and resources to aid their path to independence.
The Long Answer:
Many people, possibly even most people, think or suspect that it's important for the government to control schools for a number of reasons:
It is certainly true that many of the founders and promoters of government schooling had these thoughts in mind as they petitioned legislators to pass compulsion laws and to levy taxes to support the new method of education. Horace Mann (often referred to as the father of public education) and others had a dream, and they had no qualms about using force to impose their vision of the future on a largely unsuspecting populace.
What most people don't know is specifically what this new dream entailed. Yes, the reformers wanted all children to be educated to a point. To the point of being useful as citizens and servants of the government and industry, but not to the point of becoming too independent to control. Here it is in some of their own words.
Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening. The average American [should be] content with their humble role in life...
- William T. Harris, U.S. Commissioner of Education in the late 1800s
The children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone would be interdependent.
- John Dewey, philosopher and education reformer of late 1800s-mid 1900s
Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order... In this way, the teacher always is the prophet of the true God and the usherer-in of the true Kingdom of God.
- John Dewey, philosopher and education reformer of late 1800s-mid 1900s
Only a system of state-controlled schools can be free to teach whatever the welfare of the State may demand.
- Ellwood P. Cubberley, former superintendent of San Diego schools and Dean of Stanford University School of Education (late 1800s-early 1900s)
'Parent choice' proceeds from the belief that the purpose of education is to provide individual students with an education. In fact, educating the individual is but a means to the true end of education, which is to create a viable social order to which individuals contribute and by which they are sustained.
- Association of California School Administrators
We who are engaged in the sacred cause of education are entitled to look upon all parents as having given hostages to our cause.
- Horace Mann, education reformer, abolitionist
And this is just a small sampling of hundreds of similar sentiments from education founders and reformers. But maybe Horace Mann said it best he believed his cause was sacred, and for that reason, he felt he had the right to force people to sign on. Not all parents handed their children over willingly, especially in Mr. Mann's home state of Massachusetts, where parents refused to comply with compulsory attendance laws and found themselves at the sharp end of state militia bayonets. Mr. Mann's dream had come true the state would enforce his plans for the future of all citizens.
But the dream has turned into a nightmare for families and society. Even Mr. Mann might be shocked at the results of his win for compulsory state schooling. When push comes to shove, people, and Americans in particular, don't take to force very well. They don't buy the idea that one man or a small group of men can know what's best for everyone. And they certainly don't believe he has the right to use the police power of the state to force his views on others.
But while people are busy working and living and supporting the state, while they're busy creating a successful economy, legislators and reformers are often busy working against the people. By the time the people realize what's happened, it's too late. The shock of finding themselves at the mercy of the state can take a while to subside, and by then the state has dug in its heels and reversing the encroachment of liberty is not so easy. Because people are so busy with life, they often do not have the time or resources to fight back. That is, until they just can't take anymore.
Thomas Jefferson said it best in the Declaration of independence:
...all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government...
Of course, Thomas Jefferson was specifically referring to the British. But he was also making a broad statement about unjust actions of government. People will put up with it for a long time, but not forever. When it finally reaches the point of being unbearable, people will rise up and take back their liberties. And just as the British fought desperately to keep their control, so will all other forms and levels of government when faced with a loss of power.
In the case of government schooling, the move toward freedom has already begun and is gaining steam. The parents of over eight million students already send their children to private schools or home school them. Many thousands more spend $25-$80 an hour on tutors to supplement or compensate for their children's public school experience.
But the question still remains, why should the government NOT control education? Here is a handful of good reasons to supplement the ones already listed in our "Short Answer" above (some merely elaborate on the points above). You will probably be able to come up with some more of your own.
There is one more reason that needs to be explored the famous (or infamous) problem of government endorsement of a religion.
Consider these things:
So, what lessons do public school students learn about religion? They learn the following, more often because of omission rather than any lessons they are taught in the classroom.
Non-religious students learn all of the above, though some of it does not apply directly to them. In addition, they learn that:
Religious students spend most of their weekdays, nine or ten months out of the year, seeing their beliefs marginalized or dismissed altogether. Non-religious students may avoid this pitfall, but they are encouraged to consider religion a trivial pursuit, rather than to engage in serious and respectful discussion about the one thing that has affected human history more than any other factor.
The only solution for parents who wish their children to grow up with a strong worldview that reflects their beliefs is to choose a form of schooling that is compatible with their faith. It is in private schools and home schools that all faiths can be discussed openly and freely, that the impact of religion on history and the meaning of life can be freely learned and debated.
Whether you are of a religious persuasion or not, the big questions of life -- questions about meaning and purpose, questions about the role of religion in history -- will be important to you, and you will want those questions addressed in such a way that your children will absorb your values and beliefs. It is one more reason, on top of many others, to choose independence from state schools.
This is known to most on FR, but the more people here are exposed to this information for the first time, the better.
Government being involved in education is a conflict of interest, in a democracy. Because education shapes voters, which shape government.
FDR created the Dept of Ed under pressure from the communist sympathizers & actual operatives working right under his idiot nose.
As early as the 1930’s the dept of ed’s agenda was to indoctrinate kids into socialism.
Most people don’t realize what their kids are learning, esp how much influence Bill Ayers has in “education”:
GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS THEN AND NOW
-- President William H. Harrison
We need seperation of school and state.
It’s fairly simple. Most likely, the Russians launched Sputnik and common people everywhere all were saying “Something must be done!”. Local school boards heard the complaints of the parents and said “Something must be done!”. County commissioners listened to the complaints of the school boards and said “Something must be done!”. Governors heard the complaints from the counties and all said “Something must be done!”. Senators heard what the governors were saying and said “Something must be done!”. The president heard their complaints, then went back to the senators and said “Something must be done!”
I’m for our Constitutional Republic...not a democracy, but I understand your point.
In midstate Pennsylvania all education was through parochial schools until the 1850’s.
Libertarian Party Platform:
Throw open the borders completely; only a rare individual (terrorist, disease carrier etc.) can be kept from freedom of movement through political borders.
Homosexuals; total freedom in the military, gay marriage, adoption, child custody and everything else.
Abortion; zero restrictions or impediments.
Pornography; no restraint, no restrictions.
Drugs; Meth, Heroin, Crack, anything new that science can come up with, zero restrictions.
Advertising drugs, prostitution, pornography; zero restrictions.
Military Strength; minimal capabilities.
If tomorrow, we increased public school funding a thousandfold, the students who care little about an education, still wouldn’t get one.
If tomorrow, we cut all public education money, the students desiring an education, would still get one.
No matter what we do, it all begins at home.
It is the nature of 'government' to control whatever the commoner will allow. It will seek to control every single aspect of our existence and penetrate every orifice of our body that we tolerate.The more liberty we give up, the more it will take.
This has been going on a long time.
Now we see the results.
Well, we need to look at the diffrent brands...there is classical liberalism and then you have the left libertarians and anarchists types. Abolishing borders or open borders essentially means you are abolishing the nation-state and relegating us to a global village...which to me is quite a radical departure and contrary to our founding as a republic. I certianly oppose radical individualism...which is beinjg thrust upon us by cultural marxism and is simply hedonism. I have many libertarian leanings, but I’m no libertine advocating social anarchy, which is why I’m a conservative.
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