One reason public schools get away with educational failure, year after year, is because they are run by school officials who passionately believe in what they are doing. As the great English writer C. S. Lewis wrote, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. Those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
Public-school true believers often fall into this category — for over a hundred years, education “experts” have been tormenting our children with public schools, allegedly for the children’s benefit. Like all true believers, these people believe that they know what is best for our children and society, and seek to enforce their beliefs on parents.
From the 1850s to the 1920s, public-school activists such as Horace Mann and John Dewey worked to create a public-school system like the one they admired in Prussia (Germany). Mann and Dewey considered public education a religion, with a holy mission to mold children and society. Simply teaching children to read, write, and do math was too commonplace a goal for them. Mann and Dewey wanted the schools to have total control over children’s lives. This meant removing parents’ influence over their children. Mann put it this way: “We who are engaged in the sacred cause of education are entitled to look upon all parents as having given hostages to our cause.”
Dewey also had a utopian vision for America and he wanted the common schools to achieve his vision. To create a socialist America, public schools had to mold generations of children into the habit of obedience. In his Pedagogic Creed of 1897, Dewey wrote, “Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth. . .”
Public Schools Expand Their Control Over Our Children
By the early twentieth century, public schools had expanded their functions into areas undreamed of in the 1850s. Schools took on the role of social agencies, with nurses, social centers, playgrounds, school showers, kindergartens, and “Americanization” programs for immigrants. Public schools became a major agency for social control.
Unfortunately, today’s public schools are fulfilling Mann’s and Dewey’s socialist vision with a vengeance. There is hardly any area of children’s lives that school authorities don’t push to control or manipulate. Politicians and public-school apologists in many states are now pushing programs that would make kindergarten compulsory. Public schools also now spend billions of dollars for psychological counseling, school-lunch programs, parent welfare-outreach programs, special-education classes, bilingual classes, early-childhood programs, drug and sex education classes, as well as programs for millions of “at-risk” or “special-needs” children.
This government-knows-best philosophy is the deepest reason why public schools get away with educational murder and can never be fixed. Many public-school apologists believe that your children’s education must be dictated by local governments and school authorities. By implication, they believe that parents are an annoyance at best, and at worst a danger to their children’s proper education. That is why public-school true believers will never voluntarily give up control over our children. They see themselves as noble idealists who know what is best for our children. That is why these “idealists” have contempt for parent’s rights.