Anti-public school
movement grows

By Julie Foster

A campaign to end government involvement in education has seen rapid expansion of its efforts in the wake of Dr. James Dobson’s advice to parents to remove their children from California public schools.

In the week following Dobson’s March 28 Focus on the Family radio broadcast, the Alliance for Separation of School and State reports the number of new signers to its Internet-based “Proclamation for the Separation of School and State” increased from an average of five per day to over 100 per day.

Alliance’s proclamation states simply: “I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education.” More than 15,000 individuals have electronically signed the proclamation, including Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan, Cato Institute President Edward Crane, Conservative Caucus founder Howard Phillips and best-selling “Left Behind” series co-author Tim LaHaye. A complete list of proclamation signers can be found on the group’s website.

As reported by WorldNetDaily, during his broadcast, Dobson said if he had children in California, he “wouldn’t put the youngster in a public school.” The traditional-values advocate added, “I think it’s time to get our kids out.”

Alliance’s proclamation also received a boost after radio advice guru Dr. Laura Schlessinger announced her agreement with Dobson during her April 9 broadcast. “I stand with Dr. James Dobson,” she declared. “Take your kids out of public schools.”

On the same day, popular Christian talk-show host Marlon Maddoux also gave his support to Dobson.

Founded in 1994, Alliance’s goal is the end of federal, state and local involvement with schooling, particularly in K-12 education. “We believe government has no role in financing, operating, or defining schooling or even compelling attendance,” states the group’s website.

Alliance President Marshall Fritz said, “Our mission is to reestablish parental control of education by eliminating the government control, which has led to propaganda masquerading as education.”

A non-profit, non-denominational organization, Alliance has set an ultimate goal of 25,000,000 signatures – enough to make the idea of school-state separation more appealing to “political movers,” states the group’s website.

Government schools, universally dubbed “public” (and sometimes “common”) schools, have come under intense scrutiny in recent years. Changes in education philosophy and social morals, as well as ever-increasing taxes to pay for government schools that produce dubious results, have brought the debate between public and private schools to a fevered pitch. Fritz’s organization has reached the conclusion that “common schools,” while appearing to be fair when they began in the mid-19th century, simply don’t work.

“The Common School wasn’t so bad for 100 years; they imparted the Protestant majority’s values to mostly Protestant kids. Some groups escaped (e.g., Christian Reformed, Seventh Day Adventist, and Catholics); others were small and took their lumps (e.g., Jews, atheists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses). The flaw of the common school only became clear to traditionalists when the tables were turned on them,” reads an Alliance explanation of what the group considers public schools’ fundamental flaw.

Over the last 50 years, “modernists” have controlled much of society, says Alliance, and are using schools to impart their idea of what is “good” – the definition of which often conflicts with those who call themselves “traditionalists.” Identifying itself with “traditionalists,” Alliance hopes to detach schools from all levels of government, allowing groups of like-minded individuals to educate their own children in their own way.

“Compromise is not possible: Some want prayer in school, some want condoms. Printing prayers on condoms satisfies nobody. Communities are split,” the group’s website explains.

Home-school advocates agree and have long sought separation from government education establishments.

“Home-schooling is a version of private-schooling. It is private-schooling,” said Karen Taylor, a trustee of the California Homeschool Network.

Though CHN has seen no discernible increase in home-schooling due to the Dobson and Schlessinger broadcasts, Taylor believes the current backlash against public schools is increasing awareness that home-schooling is a legitimate option to public schools. And the fact that Dobson and Schlessinger have now publicly become part of that backlash will help more parents find alternatives to government-sponsored education.

“Many people look to them for guidance and respect their viewpoints,” Taylor said.

But while private schools may be tolerated by public-school advocates, home-schooling is often rejected as ineffective and even damaging by critics.

Since 1988, the National Education Association has maintained the position that “home-schooling programs cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience.” This, despite the fact that home-schoolers consistently outperform their public school counterparts in standardized tests. The NEA is one of the largest and most powerful unions in the United States.

Alliance’s “Proclamation for the Separation of School and State” can be viewed and/or electronically signed at the organization’s website.

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