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Separating School and State

 

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Basic Manual Speech 3:
Organize Your Speech

by Luke Setzer

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How "Public Education" Got Its Start

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The Price We Have Paid for It

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How To Bring It to an End

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What You Can Do about It Today

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"Close the Sale" and Ask for the Order

Clarifying Key Terms:
What Exactly Is "Public Education", Anyway?

The term "public education" has popularly come to mean "government-run, taxpayer-financed" (GRTF) education.  The reality is that most so-called "private" schools are, in fact, open to the public--for a price. They must do this in order to make money and stay in business, just like your local grocery store.  For the purpose of this presentation, we will use the term "GRTF schools" to distinguish them from all other schools.

Has Compulsory, GRTF Education Always Existed in America?

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No, it has not!
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The GRTF schools were not always part of American culture.

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There were no compulsory education laws enforced by any state government in the U.S. before 1850.

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Private education was in high demand and well-supplied by free markets before that time.

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Were GRTF Schools Needed to Fill a Shortage of Supply?
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Some data points (Sheldon Richman of the Cato Institute in Separating School and State):
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1650-1795
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Male literacy rose from 60% to 90%

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Female literacy rose from 30% to 45%

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1800-1840
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Northern literacy rose from 75% to 91%

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Southern literacy rose from 50% to 81%

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If poor people could not afford education, a subsidy program similar to food stamps would have satisfied their needs more readily than GRTF schools.

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The "Dark Lords of GRTF" (as I call them) had a specific goal in mind, and it was not the fostering of intellectual development in Americans.

Who Began Promoting GRTF Schools in America?

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Not all of the signers of the Declaration of Independence held to the lofty ideals of personal and religious freedom!
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Some saw children as merely moldable blobs of human dough to be shaped by the State for its own ends.

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Dr. Benjamin Rush (1786): "It is necessary to impose upon [children] the doctrines and disciplines of a particular church...Let our pupil be taught that he does not belong to himself, but that he is public property. Let him be taught...that he must forsake [his family] when the welfare of his country requires it."

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Does this sound like freedom or Big Brother?

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Literacy was on the rise, as was the standard of living.  Why change the system to GRTF?

How Did GRTF Schools Get Started in the United States?

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An opportunity presents itself!
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The Irish Potato Famine drove multitudes of Irish Catholics from their homeland to America in search of better opportunities in the 1830s.

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Protestant leaders in America felt a need to rescue the Catholic children from the Pope. They saw the use of compulsory State education as the means to that end.

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Horace Mann, the "father of the common-school movement": Mann used anti-Catholic animosities to convince many Protestants to hand their schools over to government bodies in exchange for the passage of compulsory attendance laws.
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Mann: "We who are engaged in the sacred cause of education are entitled to look upon all parents as having given hostages to our cause."

What Was the Model for GRTF Schools?

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The early American GRTF schools were modeled from the authoritarian Prussian schools--and have changed little in over 100 years.
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John Taylor Gatto in Dumbing Us Down (1992): "Prussia’s ultimate goal was to unify Germany; the Americans’ was to mold hordes of immigrant Catholics to a national consensus based on a northern European cultural model. To do that, children would have to be removed from their parents and from inappropriate cultural influences."

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Between 1850 and 1900, each state’s compulsory GRTF school system grew until it swallowed the large majority of children into its bowels.

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"You reap what you sow." Catholics formed their own parochial schools, leaving Protestants responsible for the GRTF mess we have today.

What Were the Intended Purposes of State Schooling?

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The overall mission of state schooling was to fulfill the statists’ dream of having all people be molded into Good Citizens willing to serve the State without question.

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Sheldon Richman in Separating School and State (1994) notes three purposes of compulsory state schooling:
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"The first...purpose of state schooling was not intellectual training but the conditioning of children ‘to obedience, subordination, and collective life.’"

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"Second, whole ideas were broken into fragmented ‘subjects’ and school days were divided into fixed periods ‘so that self-motivation to learn would be muted by ceaseless interruptions.’"

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"Third, the state was posited as the true parent of children."

Inevitable Long-Range Results of GRTF Schools in an Otherwise Free Society

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Attempts to enforce a single religious standard doomed to failure over long term by Constitutionally guaranteed religious freedoms.

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Court cases in 20th century gradually removed religious teachings from GRTF schools.

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Only subsequent alternative was to compartmentalize education further through the omission of moral instruction and the total absence of a coherent worldview.

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Result is worse than teaching a disagreeable worldview. Result is teaching no integrated worldview whatsoever, leaving the youngster helpless against peer pressure and other detriments.

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As one parent said, GRTF teaching today is "aggressively vacuous".

Inevitable Long-Range Results of Compulsory Education

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Albert Einstein on compulsory education: "It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty."

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Education today is commonly seen as a painful chore rather than a pleasurable adventure.

Summary of GRTF History

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Free markets worked well at providing widespread education prior to 1850.

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GRTF school advocates sought to mold young minds to a single standard, not provide useful education.

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Religious freedom doomed such attempts at character molding to long-term failure.

What Is the Condition of GRTF Education Today?

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Senator Edward M. Kennedy commissioned a study revealing that literacy in Massachusetts dropped from 98% in 1850 (just before education became compulsory there) to 91% in 1990.

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Expensive buildings; coercive teachers’ unions; bloated bureaucracies; heavy-handed, top-down management style; politicized, emotionally-charged, inflexible guidelines...all financed by an extortionist tax system.

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Bottom line: Not "getting what you pay for", but getting far less in terms of intellectual and moral development of your children.

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Why does this system still exist?

Four Modern Myths of GRTF Education

  1. "Character education can be separated from worldview education."

  2. "Socialism works."

  3. "Welfare works."

  4. "Parents lack sufficient wisdom."

Myth #1: "Character education can be separated from worldview education."

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False. It is impossible to supply a meaningful education without providing clear, consistent, comprehensible answers to the central question of why the child is learning certain material. The very concepts of religious freedom and the long legal tradition of separating church and state forbid offering such moral instruction in GRTF schools.

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The antithesis of this premise is that to teach character, we must integrate the reason for morality with examples of morality and instruction in morality.

Myth #2: "Socialism works."

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False. Activist Marshall Fritz of the Separation of School and State Alliance: "Socialism fails because it is immune to feedback from its customers, and because it arranges perverse incentives for its employees."

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The essence of socialism is "government ownership and administration of the means of production, whether goods or services." Today’s GRTF schools meet this definition.
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Schools actually get rewarded for poor performance by getting additional funds they claim to "need".

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Government can just coerce more money from taxpayers.

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"Putting the right people in charge" will make no long-range difference.

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Any attempt to reform GRTF schools is simply an attempt to conserve socialism--period!

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The antithesis of this premise is that freedom works.

Myth #3: "Welfare works."

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False. Marshall Fritz:
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"Like all falsehoods, welfare cloaks itself in sweet words, specifically, caring and helping. But to be plainspoken, our forebears bought into a falsehood: ‘Every child is born with a right to an education at his neighbor's expense, enforced by the power of taxation.’"

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"For most Americans, what follows is the most difficult sentence in this entire presentation: Public schooling, like public housing, is a form of welfare. Look at it this way: If a free lunch at noon is welfare, a free math lesson at 10:00 AM is welfare. One feeds the body, the other, the mind. If you educated your children in public schools, as did my wife and I, then I have a troublesome indictment: You and I are welfare kings and queens!"

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The antithesis of this premise is that "Responsibility works."

Myth #4: "Parents lack sufficient wisdom."

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False. In 1642, Massachusetts passed the Old Satan Deluder Act, mandating that a town of 50 or more families provide a school.
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False premise: "A geographical-collective has greater wisdom than parents, and parental decision-making duties should be shifted to that collective, i.e. ‘society’."

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The shifting of parental responsibilities from parents to the State is called paternalism.

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Today’s weak families are likely the result of 15 generations of accelerating paternalism.
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State paternalism does on a personal level what socialism does on a societal level: It weakens feedback on one’s own behavior patterns.

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The antithesis of this premise is that parents have more wisdom than politicians.

Should GRTF Education Be Reformed or Abolished?

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The GRTF school concept is flawed at the system level and cannot be reformed.

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Instead, it should be abolished completely.

What Organizations Support Separation?

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Ayn Rand Institute

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Separation of School and State Alliance

What You Should Do Today!

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Sign the "Proclamation for the Separation of School and State".

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Voice your opposition to GRTF schools to your political representatives at all levels of government.

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Research local private schools, parochial schools and home schooling resources.

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Remove your children from GRTF schools and place them into more appropriate environments that support your values.

Benefits of Separation from GRTF Education

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What will you experience once you withdraw your children from the coercive, socialist, paternalistic, amoral GRTF educational welfare system?
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A sense of control--no more pleading with school boards, politicians, or bureaucrats.

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A breakthrough to a new level of parenting.

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A stronger bonding with your children.

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A positive knowledge that you are making the right decision in accordance with your values.

In Conclusion...

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Resist temptation to "fix" government schools. They cannot be fixed any more than a pig can be taught to sing!

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Remove your children from those schools as soon as you can.

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Support those who advocate an end to such schools.
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Ayn Rand Institute

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Separation of School and State Alliance

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Enjoy this new dimension of parenting!

 

 

Objectivism 101
Objectivism 101