One Hundred Reasons to Abandon Public Education Now

In a recent article, I noted in passing that "there are a hundred compelling reasons for removing your children and grandchildren from the public schools, regardless of any practical or financial inconveniences this may cause you."  My choice of the round figure one hundred was purely a rhetorical flourish -- there are actually far more than a hundred reasons to abolish public education, one child at a time if necessary. 

By way of proving this point, I offer the following list for your consideration and dissemination:

(1) John Dewey.  "The father of modern education" -- including modern Soviet education.  Critic of Western rationalism, socialist, enemy of ethical individualism.

(2) Bill Ayers.  Weatherman communist, Deweyite -- and influential voice in early childhood education. 

(3) "Benevolent" would-be oligarchs explicitly conceived of modern compulsory schooling as a means of forcibly stunting intellectual growth in order to produce a submissive worker class.  (See below) 

(4) Standardized curricula and testing.  Coerced uniformity of goals and methods -- the "death panel" of education.

(5) Reduces family home to glorified bunkhouse for state-raised children.  (See below)

(6) Undermines family's historical role as nature's buffer between individual and state.

(7) Sex education.  Mechanistic reduction of sex spells the death of Eros -- life's central mystery -- and hence of sublimated passions, high art, and the pursuit of wisdom.

(8) Psychiatric branding and drugging of non-compliant children.

(9) "Gun-free zones."  Public school: "Hundreds of weak, undefended targets here."

(10) Benjamin Franklin.  Little formal schooling; a printer's apprentice at twelve.

(11) Jane Austen.  Little formal schooling; read books and wrote stories at home.

(12) Alexander Pope. Little formal schooling; major poet and literary critic at twenty-three.

(13) John Keats.  Medical apprentice (and orphaned) at fourteen, professional surgeon's assistant at twenty, licensed apothecary at twenty-one, greatest English poet of his era at twenty-three (dead at twenty-five). 

(14) Under compulsory schooling, only two entries in Keats' biography (item 13) would have been possible -- "orphaned" and "dead at twenty-five."  Think about that.

(15) School environment designed to make life easier for teachers, not better for children.

(16) Public school teacher certification requires "successful" indoctrination in government-approved pedagogy.  (See items 1 and 2)

(17) Public school teachers belong to powerful unions with radical leftist leadership and agendas.

(18) Rare talented, earnest teachers are completely hamstrung by government/union social and academic goals.

(19) "Barack Hussein Obama, mm, mm, mm."

(20) Obama Youth singing "Yes We Can."

(21) Bullying.  Anti-rational mass children's education fosters coercion, mob intimidation.

(22) Anti-bullying programs.  Government creates Lord of the Flies; proposes to correct it by creating Nineteen Eighty-Four.

(23) Government classroom encourages mindless obedience and uniformity ("Because I say so!") -- training children in subservience to irrational, generic authority.

(24) Emphasis on group activities and forced sharing discourages individual initiative and respect for others' property and achievement.  "You didn't build that."

(25) Socialization: a progressive catchword which means learning how to mold oneself to the shape of any presiding majority, i.e., conformity.

(26) Fear: the constant emotional undercurrent for "different," "quiet," or "unpopular" children thrust into the midst of hundreds of their "peers" and told to "get along."

(27) Power lust: one of the two common means of reducing the fear of being trapped among an irrational collective.  (See items 23-26.)

(28) Bootlicking, currying favor: the other common means of reducing fear. 

(29) Homeschooling.

(30) Thomas Jefferson.  Studying multiple languages and the natural world at nine years old under a Presbyterian minister.

(31) David Hume.  Entered University of Edinburgh at twelve.  Completed the most important philosophic treatise of the Scottish Enlightenment at twenty-six.

(32) "It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education." -- Albert Einstein

(33) "In the first place, God made idiots.  That was for practice.  Then he made school boards." -- Mark Twain

(34) "Wherever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education.  It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery." -- Benjamin Disraeli

(35) "Academies that are founded at public expense are instituted not so much to cultivate men's natural abilities as to restrain them." -- Baruch Spinoza

(36) "Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening.  The average American [should be] content with their humble role in life, because they're not tempted to think about any other role." -- William T. Harris, U.S. Commissioner of Education, 1889  (See item 3)

(37) "Peer pressure."  The moral intimidation of a child whose character is not yet firmly established, by an ever-present group with the power to condemn with ostracism.

(38) 12,000 hours (counting only mandatory class time) of wasted opportunities for family guidance and conversation, practical skills development, remunerative employment, apprenticeships, reading, exploration of nature, and musical training.

(39) Unrelenting boredom.  Stifles natural curiosity -- "the devil's playground."

(40) "The children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone would be interdependent." -- Dewey

(41) Nationalized standards, e.g. America's new Common Core.  Imposing universal, increasingly idiosyncratic standards is intended to render alternative education practically impossible.

(42) History curriculum designed by post-Marxist revisionists.

(43) The entitlement mentality.

(44) Natural attachment to the "provider."  Abstract state replaces concrete parents as the object of future obligation and duty.

(45) "Gender role" and "alternative lifestyle" lessons.  (See item 7)

(46) Unceasing Marxist critique of Western civilization: sexism, systemic oppression, capitalism is racist, the rich get richer, etc.

(47) Public education requires lowest common denominator approach.  Stifles natural intelligence.

(48) Discouraging female modesty.

(49) Discouraging male admiration for female modesty.  (See item 7)

(50) Ayn Rand's essay on education, "The Comprachicos."  (I first read it while hiding out in my high school library, probably cutting class.  It is the one Rand essay I've recalled frequently as an adult.)

(51) The downward ratchet of expectations and achievement.  (See item 47)  Most teachers are products of the public system at earlier stages.  The results:

(52) English teachers who never cared for poetry beyond Bob Dylan.

(53) History teachers who teach Oliver Stone or Howard Zinn, but have never read Tacitus or Gibbon.

(54) Music teachers whose idea of broadening their students' horizons is the "Mission Impossible" theme or "Imagine."

(55) Teachers too ignorant and incompetent to discern or meet the interests or character of their students.  My 10th grade English class, which by chance was comprised of only boys, was forced to read the clammy pop-psychological novel Ordinary People.  One day, when we were being particularly ornery about it, our teacher finally stormed out on us, after screaming furiously, "This is one of the greatest novels of the 20th century!"  Even then, I could only wonder whether she knew any others.

(56) "All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education." -- Sir Walter Scott

(57) Man-made global warming indoctrination.  Anyone who works with government-educated children in any developed nation on Earth encounters this intractable faith.

(58) Typical age of entrance at Scottish universities during the 18th century (i.e., the Scottish Enlightenment): fourteen.  Hume, Francis Hutcheson, and Adam Smith all attended at fourteen or younger.  (Scotland's beloved national poet, Robert Burns, never attended university, and was mostly home-educated.)

(59) The U.S. federal Department of Education's budget for primary and secondary education alone was over $40 billion in 2012 -- more than the entire national budget of Singapore.  Results?  See the other ninety-nine items on this list.  Tax expenditure on education rises continuously; civilization nosedives continuously. 

(60) Thomas Edison.  Judged addle-minded by his teacher; withdrawn from school and educated by his mother; began a nomadic life of entrepreneurial endeavors and scientific experiments at twelve.  Today, he would be on Ritalin at six, urged to make friends by his mother, and likely bored out of his skull and a failing student throughout his teens.

(61) "Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality." -- Beatrix Potter

(62) How can coercion to surrender your child to a state-controlled school regimen until young adulthood be squared with a belief in individual liberty?

(63) "Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted." -- Vladimir Lenin

(64) John Taylor Gatto's Underground History of American Education.

(65) Imagine twelve years of being forcibly prevented from doing anything of any practical importance.

(65) Artificially prolongs childhood, stunting character development.  (See item 3)

(67) Thinking is by definition a private enterprise.  Great thinking is often likened to being alone on a mountaintop.  Public education seeks to prevent children from ever really being alone, or climbing. 

(68) "In our dreams...people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands." -- Occasional Letter Number One, General Education Board, 1906.  (See item 3)

(69) "From my cold, dead hands."  As I have said before, if you stand proudly against state confiscation of your firearms, how can you not feel at least as strongly about state confiscation of your children?

(70) Public schools are deliberately calibrated to limit spiritual achievement, by waiting out (i.e., wasting) the natural period of boundless energy and enthusiasm that drove men to self-development in the pre-public school era.

(71) Feminism.

(72) Political correctness.

(73) "Fairness."

(74) "Diversity."

(75) "Creativity."

(76) "Individuality."

(77) "Truth is relative."

(78) Banning Christmas.

(79) The moral ratchet: Yesterday's vice, today's "experiment," tomorrow's "basic right."

(80) Drugs.  America has its first proud drug-user president -- there is no turning back within the public system.

(81) Textbook publishing oligopoly.  Crony capitalism makes government curriculum decisions a racket, in addition to being a joke.

(82) "High quality, public education is a human right." -- NEA website.  "The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory." -- UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1959.  (A compulsory "right"?)  Doesn't this make private or home schooling a rights violation?

(83) A monopolistic pyramid disperses corruption at the top throughout the affected community.  And monopoly breeds corruption.

(84) Parents are now increasingly relegated to the roles of funding machines and support workers for state child-rearing.

(85) The push for public pre-schools.  The trajectory: universal, compulsory government raising of children from the beginning of language use to the completion of character formation and thought process habituation. 

(86) "The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother's care, shall be in state institutions at state expense." -- Karl Marx

(87) Answer to "learning social skills" argument: family, church, neighbors, hobby or study groups.

(88) Answer to "learning about real life" argument: public school is the antithesis of real life. 

(89) If "real life" looks increasingly like public school, that's because universal public education has formed a society in its image: infantile, amoral, collectivist, driven by fear, power lust, and pandering.

(90) Education requires a desire for knowledge; desire requires a sense of need; concrete circumstances give rise to need.  Compulsory schooling withdraws a child from such concrete circumstances; everything is abstract and impractical.  No need; no desire; no education. 

(91) "The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all, it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality." -- H.L. Mencken

(92) Genuine education breeds self-reliance; public school breeds dependency.

(93) "Every educated person is a future enemy." -- Martin Bormann, Hitler's personal secretary

(94) Compulsory government schooling is the exception, historically speaking.  It has not always existed.  It need not exist.

(95) Public education did not make modern prosperity possible -- exactly the opposite, in fact.  As Tocqueville warned, modern prosperity weakened men's resistance to the siren song of "soft despotism."

(96) Private schools, religious and secular, exist.

(97) "I can undo the school's damage at home."  If the government mandated that your child be force-fed rotting "state food" for each meal, would you say, "No problem -- I can feed him healthy food on weekends"?  Then how do you justify allowing the state to force-feed its spiritual rot to your child's mind?

(98) "I can undo the school's damage at home."  All of it?  Are you completely certain?  Children indoctrinated under totalitarian regimes go home after class, too.  Their parents probably tell themselves the same thing -- but they, unlike you, have no choice.

(99) A better car or your child?  A bigger home or your child?  Early retirement or your child?  Freedom to do as you please or the child you freely chose to bring into the world?

(100) Every child who attends a public school will be less than he might have been, and the deficit -- in reasoning, knowledge, character, sensibility, motivation -- can never be fully overcome.  (And yes, I include myself among the victims.)  This monumental waste of valuable time and invaluable emotional energy is irreversible.  Can you live with that?

There is my list.  Please add your own ideas.  Who knows?  Perhaps every hundred reasons will persuade one family to withdraw a child from a government school.  One soul rescued from irreparable harm -- that seems worth the effort.

In a recent article, I noted in passing that "there are a hundred compelling reasons for removing your children and grandchildren from the public schools, regardless of any practical or financial inconveniences this may cause you."  My choice of the round figure one hundred was purely a rhetorical flourish -- there are actually far more than a hundred reasons to abolish public education, one child at a time if necessary. 

By way of proving this point, I offer the following list for your consideration and dissemination:

(1) John Dewey.  "The father of modern education" -- including modern Soviet education.  Critic of Western rationalism, socialist, enemy of ethical individualism.

(2) Bill Ayers.  Weatherman communist, Deweyite -- and influential voice in early childhood education. 

(3) "Benevolent" would-be oligarchs explicitly conceived of modern compulsory schooling as a means of forcibly stunting intellectual growth in order to produce a submissive worker class.  (See below) 

(4) Standardized curricula and testing.  Coerced uniformity of goals and methods -- the "death panel" of education.

(5) Reduces family home to glorified bunkhouse for state-raised children.  (See below)

(6) Undermines family's historical role as nature's buffer between individual and state.

(7) Sex education.  Mechanistic reduction of sex spells the death of Eros -- life's central mystery -- and hence of sublimated passions, high art, and the pursuit of wisdom.

(8) Psychiatric branding and drugging of non-compliant children.

(9) "Gun-free zones."  Public school: "Hundreds of weak, undefended targets here."

(10) Benjamin Franklin.  Little formal schooling; a printer's apprentice at twelve.

(11) Jane Austen.  Little formal schooling; read books and wrote stories at home.

(12) Alexander Pope. Little formal schooling; major poet and literary critic at twenty-three.

(13) John Keats.  Medical apprentice (and orphaned) at fourteen, professional surgeon's assistant at twenty, licensed apothecary at twenty-one, greatest English poet of his era at twenty-three (dead at twenty-five). 

(14) Under compulsory schooling, only two entries in Keats' biography (item 13) would have been possible -- "orphaned" and "dead at twenty-five."  Think about that.

(15) School environment designed to make life easier for teachers, not better for children.

(16) Public school teacher certification requires "successful" indoctrination in government-approved pedagogy.  (See items 1 and 2)

(17) Public school teachers belong to powerful unions with radical leftist leadership and agendas.

(18) Rare talented, earnest teachers are completely hamstrung by government/union social and academic goals.

(19) "Barack Hussein Obama, mm, mm, mm."

(20) Obama Youth singing "Yes We Can."

(21) Bullying.  Anti-rational mass children's education fosters coercion, mob intimidation.

(22) Anti-bullying programs.  Government creates Lord of the Flies; proposes to correct it by creating Nineteen Eighty-Four.

(23) Government classroom encourages mindless obedience and uniformity ("Because I say so!") -- training children in subservience to irrational, generic authority.

(24) Emphasis on group activities and forced sharing discourages individual initiative and respect for others' property and achievement.  "You didn't build that."

(25) Socialization: a progressive catchword which means learning how to mold oneself to the shape of any presiding majority, i.e., conformity.

(26) Fear: the constant emotional undercurrent for "different," "quiet," or "unpopular" children thrust into the midst of hundreds of their "peers" and told to "get along."

(27) Power lust: one of the two common means of reducing the fear of being trapped among an irrational collective.  (See items 23-26.)

(28) Bootlicking, currying favor: the other common means of reducing fear. 

(29) Homeschooling.

(30) Thomas Jefferson.  Studying multiple languages and the natural world at nine years old under a Presbyterian minister.

(31) David Hume.  Entered University of Edinburgh at twelve.  Completed the most important philosophic treatise of the Scottish Enlightenment at twenty-six.

(32) "It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education." -- Albert Einstein

(33) "In the first place, God made idiots.  That was for practice.  Then he made school boards." -- Mark Twain

(34) "Wherever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education.  It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery." -- Benjamin Disraeli

(35) "Academies that are founded at public expense are instituted not so much to cultivate men's natural abilities as to restrain them." -- Baruch Spinoza

(36) "Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening.  The average American [should be] content with their humble role in life, because they're not tempted to think about any other role." -- William T. Harris, U.S. Commissioner of Education, 1889  (See item 3)

(37) "Peer pressure."  The moral intimidation of a child whose character is not yet firmly established, by an ever-present group with the power to condemn with ostracism.

(38) 12,000 hours (counting only mandatory class time) of wasted opportunities for family guidance and conversation, practical skills development, remunerative employment, apprenticeships, reading, exploration of nature, and musical training.

(39) Unrelenting boredom.  Stifles natural curiosity -- "the devil's playground."

(40) "The children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone would be interdependent." -- Dewey

(41) Nationalized standards, e.g. America's new Common Core.  Imposing universal, increasingly idiosyncratic standards is intended to render alternative education practically impossible.

(42) History curriculum designed by post-Marxist revisionists.

(43) The entitlement mentality.

(44) Natural attachment to the "provider."  Abstract state replaces concrete parents as the object of future obligation and duty.

(45) "Gender role" and "alternative lifestyle" lessons.  (See item 7)

(46) Unceasing Marxist critique of Western civilization: sexism, systemic oppression, capitalism is racist, the rich get richer, etc.

(47) Public education requires lowest common denominator approach.  Stifles natural intelligence.

(48) Discouraging female modesty.

(49) Discouraging male admiration for female modesty.  (See item 7)

(50) Ayn Rand's essay on education, "The Comprachicos."  (I first read it while hiding out in my high school library, probably cutting class.  It is the one Rand essay I've recalled frequently as an adult.)

(51) The downward ratchet of expectations and achievement.  (See item 47)  Most teachers are products of the public system at earlier stages.  The results:

(52) English teachers who never cared for poetry beyond Bob Dylan.

(53) History teachers who teach Oliver Stone or Howard Zinn, but have never read Tacitus or Gibbon.

(54) Music teachers whose idea of broadening their students' horizons is the "Mission Impossible" theme or "Imagine."

(55) Teachers too ignorant and incompetent to discern or meet the interests or character of their students.  My 10th grade English class, which by chance was comprised of only boys, was forced to read the clammy pop-psychological novel Ordinary People.  One day, when we were being particularly ornery about it, our teacher finally stormed out on us, after screaming furiously, "This is one of the greatest novels of the 20th century!"  Even then, I could only wonder whether she knew any others.

(56) "All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education." -- Sir Walter Scott

(57) Man-made global warming indoctrination.  Anyone who works with government-educated children in any developed nation on Earth encounters this intractable faith.

(58) Typical age of entrance at Scottish universities during the 18th century (i.e., the Scottish Enlightenment): fourteen.  Hume, Francis Hutcheson, and Adam Smith all attended at fourteen or younger.  (Scotland's beloved national poet, Robert Burns, never attended university, and was mostly home-educated.)

(59) The U.S. federal Department of Education's budget for primary and secondary education alone was over $40 billion in 2012 -- more than the entire national budget of Singapore.  Results?  See the other ninety-nine items on this list.  Tax expenditure on education rises continuously; civilization nosedives continuously. 

(60) Thomas Edison.  Judged addle-minded by his teacher; withdrawn from school and educated by his mother; began a nomadic life of entrepreneurial endeavors and scientific experiments at twelve.  Today, he would be on Ritalin at six, urged to make friends by his mother, and likely bored out of his skull and a failing student throughout his teens.

(61) "Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality." -- Beatrix Potter

(62) How can coercion to surrender your child to a state-controlled school regimen until young adulthood be squared with a belief in individual liberty?

(63) "Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted." -- Vladimir Lenin

(64) John Taylor Gatto's Underground History of American Education.

(65) Imagine twelve years of being forcibly prevented from doing anything of any practical importance.

(65) Artificially prolongs childhood, stunting character development.  (See item 3)

(67) Thinking is by definition a private enterprise.  Great thinking is often likened to being alone on a mountaintop.  Public education seeks to prevent children from ever really being alone, or climbing. 

(68) "In our dreams...people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands." -- Occasional Letter Number One, General Education Board, 1906.  (See item 3)

(69) "From my cold, dead hands."  As I have said before, if you stand proudly against state confiscation of your firearms, how can you not feel at least as strongly about state confiscation of your children?

(70) Public schools are deliberately calibrated to limit spiritual achievement, by waiting out (i.e., wasting) the natural period of boundless energy and enthusiasm that drove men to self-development in the pre-public school era.

(71) Feminism.

(72) Political correctness.

(73) "Fairness."

(74) "Diversity."

(75) "Creativity."

(76) "Individuality."

(77) "Truth is relative."

(78) Banning Christmas.

(79) The moral ratchet: Yesterday's vice, today's "experiment," tomorrow's "basic right."

(80) Drugs.  America has its first proud drug-user president -- there is no turning back within the public system.

(81) Textbook publishing oligopoly.  Crony capitalism makes government curriculum decisions a racket, in addition to being a joke.

(82) "High quality, public education is a human right." -- NEA website.  "The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory." -- UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1959.  (A compulsory "right"?)  Doesn't this make private or home schooling a rights violation?

(83) A monopolistic pyramid disperses corruption at the top throughout the affected community.  And monopoly breeds corruption.

(84) Parents are now increasingly relegated to the roles of funding machines and support workers for state child-rearing.

(85) The push for public pre-schools.  The trajectory: universal, compulsory government raising of children from the beginning of language use to the completion of character formation and thought process habituation. 

(86) "The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother's care, shall be in state institutions at state expense." -- Karl Marx

(87) Answer to "learning social skills" argument: family, church, neighbors, hobby or study groups.

(88) Answer to "learning about real life" argument: public school is the antithesis of real life. 

(89) If "real life" looks increasingly like public school, that's because universal public education has formed a society in its image: infantile, amoral, collectivist, driven by fear, power lust, and pandering.

(90) Education requires a desire for knowledge; desire requires a sense of need; concrete circumstances give rise to need.  Compulsory schooling withdraws a child from such concrete circumstances; everything is abstract and impractical.  No need; no desire; no education. 

(91) "The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all, it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality." -- H.L. Mencken

(92) Genuine education breeds self-reliance; public school breeds dependency.

(93) "Every educated person is a future enemy." -- Martin Bormann, Hitler's personal secretary

(94) Compulsory government schooling is the exception, historically speaking.  It has not always existed.  It need not exist.

(95) Public education did not make modern prosperity possible -- exactly the opposite, in fact.  As Tocqueville warned, modern prosperity weakened men's resistance to the siren song of "soft despotism."

(96) Private schools, religious and secular, exist.

(97) "I can undo the school's damage at home."  If the government mandated that your child be force-fed rotting "state food" for each meal, would you say, "No problem -- I can feed him healthy food on weekends"?  Then how do you justify allowing the state to force-feed its spiritual rot to your child's mind?

(98) "I can undo the school's damage at home."  All of it?  Are you completely certain?  Children indoctrinated under totalitarian regimes go home after class, too.  Their parents probably tell themselves the same thing -- but they, unlike you, have no choice.

(99) A better car or your child?  A bigger home or your child?  Early retirement or your child?  Freedom to do as you please or the child you freely chose to bring into the world?

(100) Every child who attends a public school will be less than he might have been, and the deficit -- in reasoning, knowledge, character, sensibility, motivation -- can never be fully overcome.  (And yes, I include myself among the victims.)  This monumental waste of valuable time and invaluable emotional energy is irreversible.  Can you live with that?

There is my list.  Please add your own ideas.  Who knows?  Perhaps every hundred reasons will persuade one family to withdraw a child from a government school.  One soul rescued from irreparable harm -- that seems worth the effort.