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The Libertarian

Vin Suprynowicz

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Last time, one Carol A. Davis wrote in: “Since Mr. Suprynowicz is allowed to take almost a half of a page making, just one more time, the RJ’s constant point that ‘public schools just ain’t no damn good,’ ” (March 26) “why doesn’t he enlighten us some more. I want to hear all about the educated populace at the time of our Founding Fathers which he refers to in his closing paragraph. Who was educated and who wasn’t? To use this argument, Mr. V., you should be willing to back it up with facts. Prove you are correct, please, I want to learn.”

Last week, we began by citing some of the findings of New York City and State (government school) Teacher of the Year John Taylor Gatto, from his book “The Underground History of American Education” (available free Online at www.rit.edu/~cma8660/mirror/www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.htm -- and I heartily recommend you peruse the original.)

Ms. Davis will doubtless object that this is only one source -- though Mr. Gatto has impeccable credentials and his research is well documented.

OK, here’s more. At www.educationreview.homestead.com/GovSchool.html, Matthew Brouillette, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, writes:

“According to author Barry Poulson, ‘Private education was widely demanded in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Great Britain and America. The private supply of education was highly responsive to that demand, with the consequence that large numbers of children from all classes of society received several years of education.’ (Barry W. Poulson, ‘Education and the Family During the Industrial Revolution,’ in Joseph R. Peden and Fred R. Glahe, eds., ‘The American Family and the State,’ San Francisco: Pacific Research Institute, 1986, p. 138.)

“Not only was private education in demand, but it was quite successful. Literacy in the North rose from 75 percent to between 91 and 97 percent between 1800 and 1840, the years prior to compulsory schooling and governmental provision and operation of education. In the South during the same time period, the rate grew among the white population from between 50 and 60 percent to 81 percent. (Sheldon Richman, Separating School & State, p. 38.) ...”

This year, by comparison, a study by the American Institutes for Research found that more than 75 percent of students at 2-year colleges and more than 50 percent of students at 4-year colleges in 2006 “lack the skills to perform complex literacy tasks, such as comparing credit card offers with different interest rates or summarizing the arguments of newspaper editorials.” These are today’s college kids, mind you -- supposedly the cream of the American crop, youths on whose schooling our unionized government propaganda camps have squandered more treasure per pupil than any other society in history. Any other project of this size that failed so badly would be dynamited. Unless, of course ... the schooling institution is doing precisely what it was designed to do.

After the 1840s, Mr. Brouillette reports, “Government control of schooling was intended to bring education to a larger segment of the population, but the result was that it simply pushed aside existing private schools without substantially increasing overall enrollment rates. As tax expenditures on the government system increased during the mid-1800s, more parents were drawn away from tuition-charging schools while the percentage of the child population being educated remained essentially constant. Government usurpation of schooling did little to increase educational access for children. Rather, it simply shifted the responsibility of education from the family to the state. (Andrew J. Coulson, ‘Market Education: The Unknown History,’ New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1999, p. 83.)

“Modern educators argue that state intervention was, and remains, necessary in order to unify American society,” Mr. Brouillette continues. “It is regularly contended that government schooling has been key to bringing together various racial, religious, and political groups; and that society would otherwise become polarized and antagonistic to one another. However, based on the experiences of the 1800s, this belief is not only wrong but is exactly backwards. Author Andrew J. Coulson writes:

“ ‘Prior to the government’s involvement in education, there were nondenominational schools, Quaker schools and Lutheran schools, fundamentalist schools and more liberal Protestant schools, classical schools and technical schools, in accordance with the preferences of local communities. Some had homogeneous enrollments, others drew students from across ethnic and religious lines. In areas where schools of different sects coexisted, they and their patrons seldom came into conflict, since they did not try to foist their views on one another. They lived and let live in what were comparatively stable, though increasingly diverse communities. It was only after the state began creating uniform institutions for all children that these families were thrown into conflict.

“ ‘Within public schools, many parents were faced with an unpleasant choice: accept that objectionable ideas would be forced on their children, or force their own ideas on everyone else’s children by taking control of the system. It was this artificial choice between two evils that led to the Philadelphia Bible Riots, the beatings of Catholic children, the official denigration of immigrant values and lifestyles in public schools and textbooks, and laws which would today be viewed as utterly unconstitutional, forcing the Protestant Bible on all families. The unparalleled treatment of black families by the government schools, which persisted for over a century, does nothing to lighten this grim picture.’ (Ibid., p. 85.)”

The purpose of “modern, industrialized, compulsory schooling was to make a sort of surgical incision into the prospective unity of these underclasses,” John Taylor Gatto concludes in “Against School: How public education cripples our kids and why,” published in the September, 2001 edition of Harper’s. (http://www.spinninglobe.net/againstschool.htm.) “Divide children by subject, by age-grading, by constant rankings on tests, and by many other more subtle means, and it was unlikely that the ignorant mass of mankind, separated in childhood, would ever re-integrate into a dangerous whole.” (Dangerous, that is to say, to the planned domination of the corporate elites.)

That’s right, schools are divisive. They’re all about ranking and dividing. When you were in school, could you tell the “popular” kids from the nerds? If cultivating fertile minds -- as opposed to stressing herd unity and obedience -- was ever the goal of these institutions, why are the bright kids so ostracized?

The purpose of government schooling, Gatto learns from Alexander Inglis’s 1918 book, “Principles of Secondary Education,” is “to watch over and control a population deliberately dumbed down and declawed in order that government might proceed unchallenged and corporations might never want for obedient labor.

“That, unfortunately, is the purpose of mandatory public education in this country. And lest you take Inglis for an isolated crank with a rather too cynical take on the educational enterprise, you should know that he was hardly alone in championing these ideas. ... Men like George Peabody, who funded the cause of mandatory schooling throughout the South, surely understood that the Prussian system was useful in creating not only a harmless electorate and a servile labor force but also a virtual herd of mindless consumers. In time a great number of industrial titans came to recognize the enormous profits to be had by cultivating and tending just such a herd via public education, among them Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.”

The result? “We have become a nation of children,” Gatto offers as our cultural epitaph, “happy to surrender our judgments and our wills to political exhortations and commercial blandishments that would insult actual adults.”

This week and last, I have cited many sources, though necessarily in much abbreviated form. Surely whether a reader chooses to seek them out and study them at more length, or responds by harrumphing that “I certainly don’t believe that; we’re just having a little temporary problem with these Mexican kids; I suppose he wants to go back to slavery times when blacks weren’t allowed to read,” will best allow us to judge whether he or she truly “wants to learn” why our government youth internment camps are producing an ever higher percentage of functional illiterates ...

Just as they were intended to.