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Education versus Indoctrination

“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 a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.” H. L. Mencken

Increasingly, parents are abandoning public schools and turning to either private schools or home schooling. Contrary to what many people believe, the impetus for this trend has less to do with religion, and more to do with the quality of the education, and an aversion to indoctrination through curricula designed more to do with politics than essential intellectual skills. The awareness of those trends in public education became apparent during the pandemic when public schools shut down and turned to virtual instruction, which exposed to parents what was being taught. The reaction was a tsunami of parental involvement at school board meetings and increased demand for some sort of financial relief for alternative education, mostly in the form of vouchers.

The market size of the private school industry in the US grew 1.2% per year on average between 2017 and 2022. While public schools have existed in parts of the US since the mid 1800s, most states started in the early 1900s given the trends for compulsory education around that time. Prior to that education was almost entirely privately supported and controlled throughout the United States. While many of these schools were operated by religious organizations, there were also numerous secular institutions. Financial support was by directly paid tuition and alumni contributions. These private schools successfully turned out students who could properly read and write, and were knowledgeable of geography and civics. This system was widely diverse with various educational philosophies and a wide degree of experimentation making regimentation of instruction virtually impossible. The percentage of literate persons was not only large and increasing, but this diversity by its very nature enriched our culture.

As the trend toward public education grew, two phenomena resulted. First, the growth of government involvement and the resulting school taxes which financially limited the ability of many parents to enroll children in private schools, creating an ever increasing monopoly on education. Second, standardization of curricula and teaching methods created regimentation. Limiting choice to regimented instruction is not only a violation of essential liberties, but a dangerous manipulation of what constitutes the intellectual foundation of children. If there was any silver lining to the pandemic, it was the parental reawakening of responsibility for their children’s education.

While this growth of parental involvement is a positive development, the financial restraints are still a huge impediment for most Americans to exercise the liberty of free choice in this most basic need for their children. While progress on this issue is being made, it unfortunately faces huge resistance from government and the teacher’s unions, a crony partnership that has less to do with the wellbeing of children but more the perpetuation of their own power.

The alternative for parents who, until their financial rights are restored, do not have the ability to send their children to a school of their choice, but have the time, there’s home schooling. The latest census found homeschooling households jumped from about 3% pre-pandemic to about 11% by the fall of 2020, with current growth accelerating. Home schooling in the 1980s and 1990s was mostly among white religious conservatives. However, according to current CRPE research, it is becoming far more diverse with Black, Asian and Hispanic homeschoolers growing dramatically and with widely varying motivations.

Whether the parental choice is private or home schooling, the motivations are consistently about two concerns, i.e., the quality of public education, and the political manipulation of curricula. According to recent studies, including Colin and Alma Powell’s America’s Promised Alliance, public schools experience a 30% rate of students failing to graduate high school, hardly an endorsement for public education. The very idea of having government controlling education is creating a dangerous opportunity for its politicization. Joseph Stalin, a dictator well aware of the power of government controlled education, said “Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.”

The arguments from politicians and teachers unions against parental choice provides a clear insight as to their motivations to manipulate education as a power tool in shaping their image of society, not in providing what is best for our children. It is parents that have the right and the responsibility for the welfare and education of their children, and it is this awakening among Americans that provides us the best hope for the future of liberty in our society. We need to provide the intellectual basis for our children to think for themselves in order to create a citizenry that again engages in civil discourse, devoid of the “cancel culture” endemic in our current environment; to do this we need education and not indoctrination.


Author: jvi7350

Politically I am an independent. While I tend to avoid labels, I consider myself a Libertarian. I find our politics to have deteriorated to a current state of ranting tribialism, and a growing disregard for individual rights; based on the axiom that silence is consent, I choose instead to speak out and therefore launched this blog.

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