I am here to remind you about what should be obvious to every conservative and every libertarian in the United States.
The greatest enemy of freedom in American history has been the public school system. From the middle of the 19th century, beginning in Massachusetts, the public schools have been used to remove the authority of education from parents. This project was begun at taxpayer’s expense. By the end of the 19th century, it was beginning to be made compulsory across America. This was social control on a level never seen before in America. The model was Prussian education, which was statist to the core.
The philosophy of the statists who designed America’s public schools was messianic. R. J. Rushdoony’s 1963 book, The Messianic Character of American Education, goes through the primary sources of three dozen of these social experimenters. The footnotes are detailed. These men were open about what they were attempting to do: reform the American people and American society through tax-funded education. They disagreed with each other on the proper pedagogical methods, but they were unified in their agreement that the state, not parents, should be in charge of the education of all children. The state would then become the redeeming agent of society. It would replace churches and families as agents of redemption.
THE GREAT REVERSAL
We have seen a shutdown of the public schools since mid-March. Nothing in American history can compare with this as a direct assault on the messianic statism of American humanism. The parents have accepted it. The teachers have moved to online education. There has been no protest.
What hard-core libertarians and hard-core conservatives and hard-core Christian parents have been calling for ever since the early 1960’s has been achieved by fiat executive orders by governors. They did it. We didn’t do it. They have received voter support for this. We were laughed at.
The teachers still control the content and pedagogy of education. What they have lost is social control. But the heart of the public schools has always been social control.
The yellow school buses no longer cruise in the mornings and afternoons through American towns and cities. Back in 2004, I wrote about the yellow school bus as a symbol of social control. You can read my article here.
The school bells no longer ring. Students are not forced to go from class to class in high schools.
The teachers are no longer disciplinarians. Students are not forced to line up in an orderly fashion. The students are not forced to play together outside.
For the first time, parents can see exactly what is being taught to their children. They can see the quality of the teachers. They can learn about the content of the educational materials. This has never happened before.
They have another option. They can substitute homeschooling. This can be online homeschooling free of charge. They can switch to the Khan Academy. Overnight, the quality of the educational program will rise. At that point, they don’t need the teachers anymore. Khan’s program rests on structured testing. Students can be taught all year round, so they can graduate at age 16 or 17 if they start young enough in the program.
Parents could switch to the Ron Paul Curriculum, but not many parents are aware of this. Also, the parents would have to pay. That eliminates most of them.
It doesn’t matter. The parents are now in full control. The schools cannot send out truant officers, if truant officers even exist anymore. There are no means of judicial control over what parents allow to be taught in their own homes.
This has transferred more power to the people than any single event in American history.
This is historically unprecedented. It could not have been foreseen on February 29. Yet here it is.
I don’t think that the educators recognize what is taking place. They don’t recognize the degree of authority over education that they have lost in the last eight weeks.
What amazes me is that libertarians, conservatives, and Christians also do not perceive the extent of the setback that has been suffered by the entire public school system, including its underlying ideology. Social control over education has now shifted from the state to parents. Some of these parents are never going to surrender it back to the state.
Nobody is talking about this in the mainstream media. Everybody thinks it’s temporary. But, for millions of students, it is not going to be temporary. The parents are going to switch. There are about 55 million students enrolled in K-12 schools in America, and only about 2 million of them are homeschooled. That figure is going to go up faster in the next 12 months than it has ever gone up before.
Classroom-based education is based on state-regulated social controls, but online education isn’t.
ATTITUDES TOWARD HOMESCHOOLING
The public’s attitude towards homeschooling has switched dramatically. A recent poll indicates that over half of Americans are now favorable towards homeschooling.
Parents who had never considered the possibility of homeschooling have been forced to adopt it. Parents who thought it was radical or inefficient have been forced to adopt it. The teachers are now proving in full public view that online education is as good as classroom-based education.
From this point on, the educrats will not seriously be able to argue that online education is inferior to classroom-based education. Parents will know better.
The governors did it. That is the magnificent fact. They closed the most important institutional system of long-term social control in America. They didn’t ask permission of the legislatures. They just did it.
If things go really well, the governors will not reopen the public schools in fall. They will reopen everything else, but not the public schools.
I can dream, can’t I?
But even if they do reopen the schools, the schools will never be the same. The governors will not reopen the schools in such a way that they will ever get back to what they were in February. Post-February 2020 will go down in American history as the era in which the public schools were finally reformed. If the projected reforms are carried out, we will see either the bankrupting of school districts across America or the defeat of the teachers’ union.
I can dream, can’t I?