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The debate is engaged!

Posted By Elizabeth Farah On 09/01/2001 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

The following is the correspondence exchanged between a reader and myself regarding my last column.

MY COLUMN:
Government can’t educate without destroying the very object of education: the search for truth. Either government employees dictate “truth” to the formative youth or the government employee insists that objective truth does not exist. Either alternative is ludicrous and unthinkable to the rational mind.

HIS RESPONSE:
Do you mean to imply that no one after attending public school has the capability or interest in searching for truth?

MY COUNTER:
No.

HIS RESPONSE:
If you are making that claim, I would be interested in seeing any objective data to support it. Otherwise, you’ve simply made an assertion of your point of view that cannot be countered. Do you mean that the process of public education destroys the search for truth? As support for this claim you allow for only two alternatives for the approach to truth in public schools, but this is simply a false dichotomy, a ploy that is ludicrous and unthinkable to the educated mind. Other alternatives are, in fact, available within the context of government schools.

MY COUNTER:
Such as?

MY COLUMN:
By its very nature, government is hostile to any authority higher than itself. God, being that authority, will eventually be removed from all subjects in order to lift up the state by marginalizing or eradicating the reality of God.

HIS RESPONSE:
True, and the same is true in other contexts, such as employment in private companies. If it is incumbent upon believing parents to remove their children from public schools, must they also steer their children toward religious vocation, or only to companies owned and managed by religious people? Aren’t you simply pointing out the obvious, that the world is opposed to God? What did Jesus mean by not asking for his followers to be taken out of the world, but rather leaving them to be in the world but not of the world? You seem to be proposing that God’s people live on the world but not be in it.

MY COUNTER:
Education and occupation/work/profession are two different animals. In the former, we form and impress upon the formative, impressionable minds and hearts of children. We train and inculcate. The synonym to teach is indoctrinate. We prepare them for their lives in maturity. Their beliefs, habits and intellect are formed in this period.

On the other hand, employment does not require indoctrination in subjects of worldview. The employed is not 5 years old! I must say, I don’t agree with the view that Christian children are to be sent into the arena to defend their worldview before they have learned their worldview. As parents, we cannot protect our children when they spend eight hours in an institution.

Also, if one chooses to be employed by another person, they are performing a service in exchange for compensation. This exchange is voluntary. The government does not command us to work as it commands us to learn. The government doesn’t dictate what job we do and for whom we are employed – because government has no right to do so. The same holds for education.

MY COLUMN:
Government is power and force. Inherently, government only checks its growth when forced. One way to consolidate its power is to indoctrinate youth in their most formative years, as that “philosophy” will never be eradicated. Lenin said: “Give me a child for the first five years of his life and he will be mine forever.” And Lincoln said: “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of governance in the next.” We reject established religion and state-controlled press in our nation, yet the single greatest guarantee of those two evils is government education.

HIS RESPONSE:
I suppose you can define government as power and force if you wish, but it makes for poor argumentative sport to try countering someone’s private definitions.

MY COUNTER:
This is not a private definition. The state’s only ability to govern is found in its monopoly on legal force. Governments create law. Law is enforced by force. The purpose of civil government is to protect the rights of the people using force against anyone who would infringe on another’s rights. It is that simple. I didn’t innovate that concept.

HIS RESPONSE:
[The rest of the paragraph consists of loosely related but logically-unconnected observations.]

MY COUNTER:
Thanks for the literary critique. Regarding the logically-unconnected observations by Lenin and Lincoln: Their points are powerfully related! I’m not quite sure how you miss their message. The habits and beliefs of men and woman are formed in their youth. If you teach a child to be a communist, he will be a Marxist when he is grown. If you teach him to love freedom, he will love freedom all his life. Those who run governments today do so in the philosophy in which they were trained as children. In America, that training time is spent primarily in government institutions.

HIS RESPONSE:
Regarding indoctrination and Lenin, perhaps effort should be put into helping parents maximize the five years before kindergarten in preparing their children’s minds to make the most of concerted education, regardless of where it occurs.

MY COUNTER:
Here you state that the government also knows better than the parent how to maximize a child’s first five years! My goodness, why does the government even allow us to procreate? Do you think parents don’t know how to prepare their children? Prior to the government-mandated education system, parents across this country trained the most literate society in history. Before a child was allowed to attend many private schools or tutorials, they were required to know how to read, write and do basic arithmetic. Guess who taught them? Right! Their parents. But today, with more money, training, regulation and equipment than ever before, children graduate after 12 years … illiterate!

HIS RESPONSE:
Regarding governance, religion and the press, perhaps the solution to bad philosophy is the involvement of people with better philosophy, and perhaps some might find themselves more influential working from within rather than critiquing from without. Each has his or her calling, of course – thus, it seems unlikely that any can legitimately circumscribe the sphere of action for another.

MY COUNTER:
I believe that compulsory education and government-controlled education are unconstitutional. I also believe that because government schools have nearly eradicated our heritage of freedom, I have the right to speak out against supporting the institution with our children’s attendance.

MY COLUMN:
Government-controlled education is a means to an end – not an end in itself. A parent will sacrifice many things in defiance of tyranny: name, position, money, power. But when it comes to our kids, the state knows our Achilles’ heel and it will use that to its advantage. The threat of social-services thugs invading the homes of innocent Americans to wrest the children from the parents’ arms in retaliation or for purposes of in intimidation has been exhaustively documented. (Just look at some of the stories we run on WorldNetDaily or those chronicled by the Home School Legal Defense Association.)

HIS RESPONSE:
Is any process of education an end in itself? Isn’t the end of education, the state of being an educated person – which is to say, one with a grasp of a body of knowledge who also understands how to seek and find the truth about a given matter? Thus private education is a means to an end, as is home-schooling. Or does that miss the point of this statement? One might infer that the mention of “social-services thugs,” “retaliation” and “intimidation” is meant to suggest that the education establishment has a partner in child social-services organizations in attempting to prevent families from escaping the government-education process. Though I’m sure anecdotal evidence could be multiplied, the rapid growth in the number of kids in alternative-educational settings, with established legal sanction, soundly refutes that notion.

MY COUNTER:
The state educates to maintain and expand power and control.

I always wonder about the disregard for the real people who are labeled “anecdotal.” I wonder how anecdotal the children felt as they were taken from their parents because the state didn’t want to “allow” the parent to educate their own kids.

Let’s pause here and reflect on this reality. Across the country, governments outlawed home education – the form of education that was in place for hundreds of years before governments created their own monopoly! They put parents in jail and terrified children! But why? If what I am saying is untrue, why would the state do that? To protect its turf, its control mechanism and their jobs.

The “rapid growth” of home-schooling is evidence that a great sacrifice was made by many. Today across the country, judges, principals, social-service workers and the police are attempting to stop parents from home-schooling. I don’t know why that fact does not make you gasp.

MY COLUMN:
Government-controlled education allows government to set the standards of what is taught and how it is taught. Is government able to teach anything that will contradict its own interest? The answer is a resounding “no!” Government cannot self-critique. If a child objects, they are made an object of ridicule and disgust by government-school educators and students. Now I ask you, is that the role of republican government?

HIS RESPONSE:
This point, while true, carries little weight because parents are not limited to government-established standards, even if their children are in the government’s schools. As far as the government’s interests, there is still a free press (I refer here mainly to substantial book-publishing houses rather than news outlets) which provides ample critique if people are willing to pursue it. As to ridicule of children who protest, obviously this is not the role of government, but neither is it a necessary aspect of government education. It’s simply a feature of taking a stand against prevailing culture, which could happen to a child at the park or on a sports team as easily as in a classroom.

MY COLUMN:
All human endeavor is morphed or molded by the unnatural insinuation of government. A few examples: Children now view government as their ultimate authority, not their parents and God. Peers are the intimates of children whereas, in times past, parents and siblings held that position of intimacy. Children once worked with their parents or as apprentices – now the state forces us to delay adulthood until the 20s with devastating effect. High taxes necessary to support government education and its resulting societal decay have forced mothers out of their homes and created latch-key children in an endless and vicious cycle. Work, research, relationships, loyalties, beliefs, maturity, dress, language, religious belief and leisure activities, health related choices, the very perceptions of reality, have all been perverted by the introduction of government-controlled education.

HIS RESPONSE:
The main claim can be true, though it is not necessarily true, and all of the supporting statements are unsupportable generalizations, to which I would offer my own family as a counter example.

MY COUNTER:
Your family could be considered “anecdotal.” Joking aside, how was Bastiat’s “The Law” written before computerized statistical analysis? or Locke’s “On Civil Government?” My point? Prior to our modern era, common sense, reason and sound judgment could be used to argue a thesis. Today, we have millions of self-proclaimed experts, spouting self-supporting statistics and we have less intelligent debate then ever before.

HIS RESPONSE:
The last sentence could be as accurately completed by substituting “capitalist economics,” “television,” or “the Internet,” among others for “government-controlled education.” It is logically inadequate to attribute all these changes to government education.

MY COUNTER:
We have had a free market since the foundation of our republic. Television and the Internet contribute to the decline but certainly were not the genesis. Someday I will write a column on the state-by-state decline which occurred as each introduced compulsory government education. The statistics are staggering.

MY COLUMN:
I would love for every American whose child is currently in government school to counter these statements or begin planning their own curriculum.

HIS RESPONSE:
Well, having committed the time to counter your statements in some detail, perhaps I might be able to justify it by making your article suggested reading for an argumentation and persuasion class (with your permission of course), asking students to do the same exercise. In the meantime, I’ll continue to manage my daughters’ education, especially their reading list, to continue forming their minds so that they will be able to analyze truth claims effectively, whatever the source of those claims. Best regards in your ongoing and future endeavors.

MY COUNTER:
Permission granted with one request: Allow your students to read as many of my columns as they want. Thanks! It’s been fun.


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