Vin Suprynowicz

The Libertarian

Vin Suprynowicz

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Three months ago, Nevada held an election. The Democratic candidate, state Sen. Dina Titus, wanted to grab millions more in tax moneys (you thought it would all be free?) and use it to impose mandatory all-day compulsion schooling for 5-year-olds. She ran against a pleasant congressman and former airline pilot named Jim Gibbons, who said he’d prefer to study the results of a current pilot program before committing to such a huge scheme.

Titus lost. Does that mean her plan to grab every 5-year-old out of Nevada homes under threat of armed force is dead?

Oh, please.

Gov. Gibbons’ weak-kneed “Let’s study it” may postpone the inevitable for a few years, but government-funded mandatory schooling from age 4 to 18 (or will it be 22?) will arrive -- and bankrupt us -- in our lifetimes.

What will the ”studies” show? The same thing studies of the federal “Head Start” program show: universal government-run kindergarten improves academic performance in first grade among the kind of kids who didn’t used to attend kindergarten, but all such improvement washes out by the sixth grade.

Given that the main function of the government schools is to slow everyone down and level everyone out, this should hardly come as a surprise.

No net gain for a price of millions: One would think that makes universal tax-funded kindergarten a non-starter. But parents will overwhelmingly enthuse over the prospect of getting someone else to fund their all-day child care a full year earlier, and the program will be adopted with much glee and celebration.

At no point in this “study of the results” of all-day kindergarten will anyone mention the ongoing growth of social pathologies among the young -- violent crime, vandalism, unwed pregnancy, drug use, a thorough scorn for their parents’ beliefs and standards, and a total absence of historical context as they’re led by the nose to demand a new government “program” to solve each new manufactured “crisis.”

Even though these unpleasant and very costly outcomes track perfectly with the growing amount of time kids have spent in government-run “schools” over the past 70 years, most Americans will look at you like you’re nuts if you posit any CAUSAL relationship between these problems and locking our kids up in mandatory youth propaganda camps for ever more hours, days, and years.

What is “kindergarten”?

Friedrich Froebel opened the first kindergarten, in Germany, in 1840, as a means of “socializing” children, writes Joel Spring, in “The American School, 1642-1885.”

“As the name implies, the kindergarten was conceived as a garden of children to be cultivated in the same manner as plants.”

The idea was borrowed and brought to America in 1873, when the first kindergarten opened in St. Louis. Its purpose, according to its superintendent, William Torrey Harris, was not literacy, but to rescue children from poverty and bad families by bringing them into the school system early in life.

Education historian Marvin Lazerson, in his study of the Boston school system, found 19th century administrators there saw kindergarten as an indirect means of teaching slum parents how to run good homes. The goal was always to increase the child’s time under government supervision, and to do away with “idle time” -- by which these experts meant any time out of school -- since (in the words of a Massachusetts superintendent of schools in 1897) “Idleness is an opportunity for evil-doing.”

Mr. Spring comments: “By the early twentieth century the school in fact had expanded its functions into areas not dreamed of in the early part of the previous century. Kindergartens, playgrounds, school showers, nurses, social centers and Americanization centers turned the school into a central social agency in urban America. ...Within this framework, the school became a major agency for social control.”

“Today’s advocates of “early intervention” and year-round schools seem to share that objective,” comments Sheldon Richman, author of the 1994 book “Separating School and State.”

In discussing this subject I often turn to the words of former New York City (and state) Teacher of the Year John Taylor Gatto, because he learned the reality of modern-day compulsion schooling in the trenches, on the front lines -- and because his research stands unrefuted.

In Gatto’s talk “Nine Assumptions of Schooling -- and Twenty-one Facts the Institution Would Rather Not Discuss” (see he asks:

“Did you know that in Sweden, a country legendary for its quality of life and a nation which beats American school performance in every academic category, a kid isn’t allowed to start school before the age of 7? The hard-headed Swedes don’t want to pay for the social pathologies attendant on ripping a child away from his home and mother and dumping him into a pen with strangers. ... Did you know that the entire Swedish school sequence is only 9 years long, a net 25 percent time and tax savings over our own 12-year sequence? ...

“Did you know that Hong Kong, a country with a population the size of Norway’s, beats Japan in every scientific and mathematical category in which the two countries compete? Did you know that Hong Kong has a school year ten and one half weeks shorter than Japan’s? How on earth do they manage that if longer school years translate into higher performance? ...

“Or did you know that in Flemish Belgium with the shortest school year in the developed world that the kids regularly finish in the top three nations in the world in academic competition? Is it the water in Belgium or what? Because it can’t be the passionate commitment to government forced schooling, which they don’t seem to possess. ...

“If you trust journalism or the professional educational establishment to provide you with data you need to think for yourself in the increasingly fantastic socialist world of compulsion schooling, you are certainly the kind of citizen who would trade his cow for a handful of colored beans.”

“Shortly into the 20th century American schooling decided to move away from intellectual development or skills training as the main justification for its existence and to enter the eerie world of social engineering,” Mr. Gatto explains, “a world where ‘socializing’ and ‘psychologizing’ the classroom preempted attention and rewards.

“Once this design was in place -- and it was firmly in place by 1917 -- all that remained to reach the target was a continual series of experiments on public schoolchildren, some modest in scope, many breathtakingly radical like ‘IQ tests’ or ‘kindergartens’, and a full palette of intermediate colors like ‘multiculturalism’, ‘rainbow’ curricula and ‘universal self esteem’. Each of these thrusts has a real behavioral purpose which is part of the larger utopia envisioned, yet each is capable of being rhetorically defended as the particular redress of some current ‘problem’.

“But the biggest obstacle to a planned society is parents. Parents have their own plans for their own kids. ...”

So kids must be wrested away from their parents and taught that it’s really the state that has their best interests at heart, from the earliest possible age.

And once parental authority is undercut, delinquency becomes inevitable, Gatto reports.

“Delinquent behavior is a direct reaction to the structure of schooling. It is much worse than the press has reported because all urban school districts conspire to suppress its prevalence. Teachers who insist on justice on behalf of pupils and parents are most frequently intimidated into silence. Or dismissed.”

In Chapter 15 of his masterwork, “The Underground History of American Education,” ( Gatto goes into detail:

“The push to extend ‘day care’ further and further into currently unschooled time importantly assists the formal twelve-year sequence, ensuring utmost tractability among first graders. ...

“The social pathologies we associate with modern children are natural byproducts of our modern system of schooling which produces:

“ * Children indifferent to the adult world of values and accomplishment, defying the universal human experience laid down over thousands of years that a close study of grown-ups is always the most exciting and one of the most necessary occupations of youth. Have you noticed how very few people, adults included, want to grow up anymore? Toys are the lingua franca of American society for the masses and the classes. ...

“ * Children with a poor sense of the future, of how tomorrow is linked to today. Children who live in a continuous present. Conversely, children with no sense of the past and of how the past has shaped and limited the present, shaped and limited their own choices, predetermined their values and destinies to an overwhelming degree.

“ * Children who lack compassion for misfortune, who laugh at weakness, who betray their friends and families, who show contempt for people whose need for help shows too plainly. Children condemned to be alone, to age with bitterness, to die in fear.

“ * Children who can’t stand intimacy or frankness. Children who masquerade behind personalities hastily fabricated from watching television and from other distorted gauges of human nature. Behind the masks lurk crippled souls. Aware of this, they avoid the close scrutiny intimate relationships demand because it will expose their shallowness of which they have some awareness. ...

“ * Dependent children who grow up to be whining, treacherous, terrified, dependent adults, passive and timid in the face of new challenges. And yet this crippling condition is often hidden under a patina of bravado, anger, aggressiveness.”

Sound familiar? Want more of the same? Dragoon every Nevada kid into the mandatory government homogeneity camps at the age of 5.

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