How much do you know about the history of education?
1) America has had tax-funded, compulsory public schooling from the beginning. True or False?
False. From the 1620s to the 1840s, virtually all schooling in America was run privately by churches and individuals. Indeed, Americans birthed this republic 50 years before the coming of government-run schools in the 1830s.
2) Without tax-funded schools, poor children were not be able to go to school and would fall further behind. True or False?
False. Those private schools were doing an excellent job for everybody, including the poor. In the non-slave states, literacy was higher in the 1830s than it is now. Indeed, for the first 200 years of our history, most schools would not accept children who could not read or count. They learned these things at home.
3) Without compulsory attendance, many children wouldn’t go to school. True or False?
False. History shows that without compulsory attendance, virtually all children in the non-slave states attended school, prior to the first compulsory attendance laws in Massachusetts in 1852.
History is essential to understanding where we are today. If our current tax-funded government schools weren’t created 1) to insure that all, including the poor received an education; 2) to increase literacy; or 3) to force everyone to go to school why do we have them?
Books have been written on this subject. Several different groups had several different reasons, but in short, our present system is an early attempt at social engineering. Prussia (a forerunner of Germany) had the first system of forced schooling, which was much admired by Horace Mann and the other Fathers of Public Schools. The Prussians had clear objectives:
1) Obedient soldiers for the Army;
2) Obedient workers for the mines and factories;
3) Subservient government civil servants and clerks for industry;
4) Citizens who thought alike about major issues.
By removing children from the influence of their parents at an early age they could more easily apply behavior-shaping techniques. The child was a blank tablet. Thinking was discouraged in favor of rote memorization. Children were discouraged from pursuing their own interests through fragmentation of wholes into “subjects”, fixed time periods, etc.
The ultimate goal was to unify the country under a centralized leadership, not to teach literacy. The Prussian purpose was collective. The historical American purpose was individualistic. Prussia had a rigid class society. America had fluid classes and an easy disrespect for authority. In Prussia, state schooling existed not for the benefit of the students or their families, but for the benefit of the state. ...
We can’t reform our schools because they aren’t really broken. They were founded on bad principles in the 1840’s, and they have succeeded in dumbing us down and socializing our independent spirit. Tax-supported government schools are not the way to educate the children of a free society. Today, more than ever, we need an entrepreneurial generation that can think independently. That is why we must separate School and State.
Editor’s note: Candidate Pate’s column was edited to fit a 500-word limit.
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