Editor’s note: In Part 2 of this three-day series, WND’s Vice President and Managing Editor David Kupelian shows how and why America’s public school system has been intentionally transformed into the bedeviled mess it is today. In Part 1, he takes the reader on a harrowing guided tour of education hell.
“Why Christians don’t belong in government schools” is excerpted from the November issue of WND’s Whistleblower magazine, titled “THE FLIGHT FROM PUBLIC SCHOOLS.”
Of all the attempts to explain what has gone wrong with the U.S. government’s school system, one of the most genuine, authoritative and perceptive is that of John Taylor Gatto, former New York City and New York State teacher of the year.
After spending his life in the educational trenches, this 30-year veteran public school teacher wrote “The Underground History of American Education.” In it, he brilliantly explains how “educational leaders” could utterly corrupt America’s school system – and thereby many of the nation’s children – with the apparent best of intentions, thinking they were doing the great work of advancing civilization.
Gatto transports us back to the smoke-filled rooms of the late 19th century:
- Somehow out of the industrial confusion which followed the Civil War, powerful men and dreamers became certain what kind of social order America needed. This realization didn’t arise as a product of public debate as it should have in a democracy, but as a distillation of private discussion. Their ideas contradicted the original American charter but that didn’t disturb them. They had a stupendous goal in mind – the rationalization of everything. The end of unpredictable history and its transformation into something orderly.
… The first goal, to be reached in stages, was an orderly, scientifically managed society, one in which the best people would make the decisions, unhampered by democratic tradition. After that, human breeding, the evolutionary destiny of the species, would be in reach. Universal institutionalized formal forced schooling was the prescription …
If your head is already spinning and you’re tempted to relegate this to the conspiracy bin, don’t – this is real.
Gatto goes on to name names:
- In the first decades of the twentieth century, a small group of soon-to-be-famous academics, symbolically led by John Dewey and Edward Thorndike of Columbia Teachers College, Ellwood P. Cubberley of Stanford, G. Stanley Hall, and an ambitious handful of others, energized and financed by major corporate and financial allies like Morgan, Astor, Whitney, Carnegie, and Rockefeller, decided to bend government schooling to the service of business and the political state – as it had been done a century before in Prussia.
And what were the motives of this group?
- After the Civil War, utopian speculative analysis regarding isolation of children in custodial compounds where they could be subjected to deliberate molding routines began to be discussed seriously by the Northeastern policy elites of business, government, and university life. These discussions were inspired by a growing realization that the productive potential of machinery driven by coal was limitless. Railroad development made possible by coal, startling new inventions like the telegraph, seemed suddenly to make village life and local dreams irrelevant. A new governing mind was emerging in harmony with the new reality.
The principal motivation for this revolution in family and community life seems on the surface to be greed, but appearance concealed philosophical visions approaching religious exaltation in intensity – that effective early indoctrination of all children would lead to an orderly scientific society, one controlled by the best people now freed from the obsolete strait-jacket of democratic traditions and historic American libertarian attitudes.
Forced schooling was the medicine to bring the whole continental population into conformity with these plans so it might be regarded as a “human resource.” Managed as a “workforce.” No more Ben Franklins or Tom Edisons could be allowed; they set a bad example.
Wait a minute! Where do God, the Bible, the Ten Commandments and the traditional American spirit of independence fit into this scheme?
They don’t. A core change in American values – one that didn’t involve God or absolute values – was being birthed in secret.
That’s right, in secret. For while most of us are reasonably familiar with America’s history as it encompasses politics and elections, medical and scientific advances, fashions and cultural trends, wars and revolutions, we are only dimly aware of the most important modern revolution of all. That is, the tumultuous overthrow, by the self-anointed elite intellectual “leader class,” of Western Judeo-Christian values and beliefs in favor of an atheistic, “scientific” worldview.
I’m not going to detail how the “progressives,” as they called themselves, managed to insinuate their new philosophy into many of the major institutions of the Western world – it’s been exhaustively documented by others. Suffice to say that the progressives – socialists all – profoundly influenced by “experimental psychology,” which regarded humans as merely animals, as well as by Darwin’s theory of evolution, which also regarded humans as merely animals, based their new approach to governance on science, evolution and psychology. And their No. 1 goal was to transform America through its education system, which they did by taking control of the teachers colleges, textbook publishers and other institutions.
Do you get it? These are not people who are deliberately trying to destroy youth. They are, rather, people who fervently believe, with a religious zeal, in a radically different worldview than the one in which you believe, in which most Americans believe – indeed, radically different from the one on which this nation was founded and which has underpinned every bit of its moral and economic success.
It is the classic spiritual war between two great, cosmic worldviews competing for the minds and souls of each man, woman and child. One view is based on humility and faith in the Divine Creator, and a moral imperative to love and obey His laws of life at all costs. The other worldview is based on prideful rejection of God in favor of man-as-god, who by his enlightened philosophies (communism, socialism, humanism) and his scientific advances intends to create heaven on earth.
‘A stranger’s attention’
“That may all be true,” you might say, “but I still don’t see any of this stuff going on in my child’s school. He goes to class, he has good teachers, he gets good grades and stays out of trouble. And he loves band. So, what’s the problem?”
As a matter of fact, I didn’t have any classes in death education either, nobody taught me how to be an Islamic jihad warrior and I never was forced to read lesbian poetry. My education was pretty void of these unsavory influences. (Although … I did have New Math stuffed down my throat. But I loved math, so it didn’t really bother me.)
No, while each and every one of these modern-day educational outrages has propelled government schools toward new lows – they’re not the core problem with public school.
Gatto points with stunning eloquence to the core problem.
To set the stage, listen to how and why he departed from public school teaching in 1991: “After planning and bringing about the most successful permanent school fund-raiser in New York City history, after placing a single eighth grade class into 30,000 hours of volunteer community service, after organizing and financing a student-run food cooperative, after securing over a thousand apprenticeships, directing the collection of tens of thousands of books for the construction of private student libraries, after producing four talking job dictionaries for the blind, writing two original student musicals, and launching an armada of other initiatives to reintegrate students with a larger human reality, I quit.” At the time, Gatto was New York State teacher of the year.
“An accumulation of disgust and frustration which grew too heavy to be borne finally did me in.”
When all is said and done, Gatto doesn’t blame the grotesque psychological experiments and failed pedagogic approaches and school crime sprees that steal headlines. Rather, he points to the subtle, soul-killing power of forced government schooling, the devastating effect on each child’s not-so-hidden genius of sitting at a desk in a classroom all day for one’s entire youth.
- The strongest meshes of the school net are invisible. Constant bidding for a stranger’s attention creates a chemistry producing the common characteristics of modern schoolchildren: whining, dishonesty, malice, treachery, cruelty. Unceasing competition for official favor in the dramatic fish bowl of a classroom delivers cowardly children, little people sunk in chronic boredom, little people with no apparent purpose for being alive.
The net effect of holding children in confinement for twelve years without honor paid to the spirit is a compelling demonstration that the State considers the Western spiritual tradition dangerous. And of course it is. School is about creating loyalty to certain goals and habits, a vision of life, support for a class structure, an intricate system of human relationships cleverly designed to manufacture the continuously low level of discontent upon which mass production and finance rely.
The bottom line, says Gatto:
- Spiritually contented people are dangerous for a variety of reasons. They don’t make reliable servants because they won’t jump at every command. They test what is requested against a code of moral principle. Those who are spiritually secure can’t easily be driven to sacrifice family relations. Corporate and financial capitalism are hardly possible on any massive scale once a population finds its spiritual center.
If the government’s education system – like most of what the government does these days – is dangerous to our freedom and happiness, how then are we to educate our children?
NEXT: In tomorrow’s third and final installment of “Why Christians don’t belong in government schools,” David Kupelian offers a penetrating and personal look at homeschooling, its appeal, its phenomenal growth, and why it may hold the last, best hope for preserving America’s survival as a free republic.
Editor’s note: “Why Christians don’t belong in government schools” is excerpted from the November issue of WND’s monthly Whistleblower magazine. Titled “THE FLIGHT FROM PUBLIC SCHOOLS,” it focuses cover-to-cover on the ever-worsening government education system, and explores the homeschooling revolution.
Read David Kupelian’s “Important letter to WND readers.”