By Doug Newman

March 29, 2008

Posted at Freedom4um, Price of Liberty, Libertarian Enterprise, Growing Vertical, Rational Review and Novakeo.

Do you want to know the ultimate reason why government education fails? I will tell you. It is because the government runs it!

I read a column the other day by Debra Rae on News with Views entitled “Worldviews on Trial”. While she makes many excellent points, the following two paragraphs caused me to drop what I was doing and fire off this screed.

“The Christian worldview places God and His Word at the center of learning. After all, God is the source of all true knowledge, His Word is truth, and in Jesus are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. For these reasons, our founding fathers recognized the necessity of weaving biblical principles into every aspect of life—not least of which, public education.

“This may come as a surprise to many, but the 1948 Supreme Court established that traditional public education in the Western world is rightfully church-based, Bible-believing and piety-instilling (McCollum v. Board of Education).

Concerning the first paragraph, while not all our Founders may have been Christians, their worldview was far more Christian than that of about 98 percent of today’s Christians. Neither the Bible nor any of America’s Founding documents says word one about state education. Indeed, the Bible places the duty for education squarely on parents, not the state. (Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4)

Education is not one of the constitutionally enumerated powers of the federal government. (See Article 1, Section 8) The Tenth Amendment forbids Uncle Sam from engaging in any activity not expressly authorized by the Constitution. Moreover, the Ninth Amendment forbids federal compulsory attendance laws. To the extent that there were any government schools at the time of America's Founding, they were locally controlled and locally funded.

On the other hand, we do find government control of education as one of the 10 policy planks of the Communist Manifesto. From Plato to the French Revolution to the Communist Manifesto to the polite tyranny we now experience in the United States to the much harsher tyrannies of Nazism and Communism, government education is a centerpiece.

Contrary to McCollum, public education is not and cannot be “church-based, Bible-believing and piety-instilling.” To begin with, Christianity cannot be forced. (Revelation 3:20) You cannot “make Christian” what was never Christian to begin with. Moreover, the ultimate aim of government education is to instill loyalty to the state. BYU is run by the Mormon Church and, hence, exists to instill Mormonism; Notre Dame, Boston College and Georgetown are run by the Catholic Church and, hence, exist to instill Catholicism; state education is run by the state and – surprise! – exists to instill statism.

I just finished reading an absolutely fascinating book by John Taylor Gatto titled “The Underground History of American Education.” Taylor taught school in New York City for 30 years and three times was voted Teacher of the Year. He walked away from the classroom after he could no longer keep up the pretense he was living as a public school teacher. He calls school "a liar's world."

While the Founders forbade a federal role in education, this republic was very young when enthusiasm for government schooling took hold. Traditional "public education in the western world” has its roots in Prussia in the early 1800s after its defeat by Napoleon. The first compulsory attendance laws were in 1852 in – surprise! – Massachusetts. The first national compulsory attendance laws were enacted in 1918.

State education was never intended to be Christian. From the outset, it was there to demand conformity, dumb us down and pickle the brains of the young so they would subserviently and unquestioningly follow their government, corporate and media masters. (Insofar as state education has accomplished these things, it can be seen as a resounding success.) It was Darwinist by its very nature. I grotesquely oversimplify. To get the whole story, READ GATTO’S BOOK!

Henry David Thoreau once stated that “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking the root.” All this incessant blathering about political correctness, prayer, declining academic standards, evolution, creation, condoms, sex education, gay curricula, race relations, affirmative action, busing, standardized testing, bullying, guns, drugs, discipline, dress codes, Christmas celebrations and so forth merely hacks at the branches. The root of the problem is that we let the government run the schools and that we never question our presuppositions about government education.

And if you are of the Religious Right, it is not enough to elect Christians to the school board. Any reforms they may implement will last only until the next election cycle, when those evil, wicked, mean, nasty, condom-distributing, evolutionist, secular, humanist, America-hating, God-hating liberals win the election. We need to separate school and state. The problem isn't that "we kicked God out of the schools" but that we merged school and state.

I talked recently with a friend who said she would not home school her children. I told her the bottom line was this: they are her children and nobody else’s. Hence, it is her decision how she should educate them and nobody else’s.

In a free society, which we are not, parents could home school their kids without having to answer to Washington – or, for that matter, Sacramento or Denver or Little Rock or Trenton. Catholics could send their kids to St. Mary’s School; Baptists could send their kids to the Obadiah Baptist School; Jews could send their kids to the B’Nai Brith School; Mormons could send their children to the Joseph Smith School; Muslims could send their kids to the Allah Akbar School; and Hindus could send their kids to the Vishnu School; believers in Mungabunga could send their kids to Mungabunga School.

Non-religious folks could likewise educate their children as they saw fit. They could send their kids to the Whitney Houston School – “Where the children are the future” – or to the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young School – “Where we teach your children well” – or whatever.

Personally, I probably would not want my kids in a school named after David Crosby, but, again, the bottom line is that your kids are not my kids. They are not the government’s kids either. THEY ARE YOUR KIDS, SO IT IS YOUR RIGHT TO DECIDE HOW TO EDUCATE THEM. PERIOD.

As Archie Bunker would say, case closed.

Nothing that happens in government schools should surprise anyone anymore. It was set up to be this way a long time ago. Government education is a failure not by accident, but because it was designed to be. And until we return to the separation of school and state, we will keep having the same old problems. Will we ever learn?

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Freely Speaking: Essays by Doug Newman