It’s well worth contemplating what these people have said about state and institutional schooling.
Quotations are listed alphabetically by person.
Hilaire Belloc, English historian (1870-1953):
“The ‘Modern Mind’ feeds. The animal is nourished or it could not live. All moods must thus receive regular sustenance or perish. What is the food which aliments the ‘Modern Mind’? It absorbs two forms of nutrition—one from the imposed elementary school, one from the popular press. Between them they secure the continuity and permanence of the “Modern Mind.” These two instruments were unknown to the past; they are of strong effect on the present. They are of effect throughout the whole of the modern European and American world, and their effect is increasing.” – Survivals and New Arrivals (Rockford, Ill.: Tan Press:1992; originally published in 1929) accessed online 6/11/2020 at https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/survivals-and-new-arrivals-1158
“This first principle upon which universal compulsory instruction is based is the idea that a certain minimum of instruction in a certain category of learning is the first essential to right living. Other things come after; but a knowledge of these, at least, is indispensable to man and society, and must therefore be imposed on all by force. This category includes letters, that is, reading and writing, elementary arithmetic, by which ordinary civic occupations are carried on, some very general knowledge of the past and of contemporary nations, their geography and character, the whole tinctured with the (today) inevitable religion of Nationalism and a vague general ethic, humanitarian and therefore (unwittingly) positivist.
“These having been imposed upon every child of the community by force, whether the parents are willing or unwilling, its other activities, such as religion, seem subsidiary. They may or may not be engaged in, and whether they are engaged in or not is indifferent to society and therefore to the State.
“The Catholic conception of human nature is actively at issue with this. According to it, the first, the most necessary thing, is the teaching of the children, affirmatively, as a divine truth necessary not only to the conduct of its own life, but also to that of all society, the doctrines and the particular, defined, morals of the Catholic Church.
“In comparison with instruction in that one prime essential, nothing else counts. It is good to be able to read and write and cast up simple sums; it is better still to know something of the past of one’s people, and to have a true idea of the world around one. But these are nothing compared with the Faith.” – Survivals and New Arrivals (Rockford, Ill.: Tan Press:1992; originally published in 1929) accessed online 6/11/2020 at https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/survivals-and-new-arrivals-1158
Joel Belz, publisher, World Magazine:
If it’s wrong—and it is—for the government to intrude into the churches of our nation, to reshape and affect their basic doctrine and teaching, then it is just as wrong for that same government to be the sponsor of the worldview and values of 90 percent of all our nation’s children. – World Magazine, October 9, 2004
Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld, educator, author:
The sad truth is that public education has destroyed the American dream for countless numbers of young people by preventing them from acquiring those academic skills needed to achieve success.
Clint Bolick, director, Alliance for School Choice:
Our K-12 system of public schools … represents perhaps the largest socialized delivery system outside of Communist China. And the results are all too predictable. – Leviathan: The Growth of Local Government and the Erosion of Civil Liberty
Louis-Rene Caradeuc de la Chalotais, French magistrate (1701-1785):
I claim the right to demand for the Nation an education that will depend upon the State alone; because it belongs essentially to it, because every nation has an inalienable and imprescriptible right to instruct its members, and finally because the children of the State should be educated by members of the State. – Essay on National Education
As important as where federal involvement in school choice should occur is the design of that involvement. In many other countries that provide public support for student sin private schools, that assistance has typically been followed by substantial government regulation, including the obligation that private schools teach the same academic curriculum as the public schools. Unfortunately, we are increasingly seeing that pattern play out in private school choice programs in the United States through requirements for the administration of particular standards-based tests. (https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/rightsizing-fed-ed-principles-reform-practical-steps-move-right)
G. K. Chesterton, English writer, publisher (1874-1936):
Our educational authorities have already made sure that the system is rigid without making sure it was right. They have already achieved universality but have not unity. They have arranged to teach history without considering what history teaches; they have obtained powers of compulsion for teaching the truth to everybody; and then, looking into their own minds, have found that the truth is not in them. – Illustrated London News, June 12, 1920
What is education? Properly speaking, there is no such thing as education. Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another. Whatever the soul is like, it will have to be passed on somehow, consciously or unconsciously, and that transition may be called education. … What we need is to have a culture before we hand it down. In other words, it is a truth, however sad and strange, that we cannot give what we have not got, and cannot teach to other people what we do not know ourselves. – Illustrated London News, July 5, 1924
The purpose of Compulsory Education is to deprive the common people of their commonsense. – Illustrated London News, September 7, 1929
The only persons who seem to have nothing to do with the education of the children are the parents. – What’s Wrong with the World, p. 308
Frank Chodorov, writer, publisher (1887-1966):
The more subsidized it is, the less free it is. What is known as “free education” is the least free of all, for it is a state-owned institution; it is socialized education – just like socialized medicine or the socialized post office – and cannot possibly be separated from political control. – Why Free Schools Are Not Free
C. C. Colton, English writer (1780-1832):
Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared, for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer. – lacon: Reflections, No. 322
Communist Party Education Workers Congress (1918):
We must create out of the younger generation a generation of Communists. We must turn children, who can be shaped like wax, into real, good Communists…. We must remove the children from the crude influence of their families. We must take them over and, to speak frankly, nationalize them. From the first days of their lives they will be under the healthy influence of Communist children’s nurseries and schools. There they will grow up to be real Communists. (1918)
Elwood P. Cubberley, American educator, former Dean of the Stanford University School of Education (1868-1941):
Only a system of state-controlled schools can be free to teach whatever the welfare of the State may demand.
Democratic National Platform (1892):
We are opposed to state interference with parental rights and rights of conscience in the education of children as an infringement of the fundamental Democratic doctrine that the largest individual liberty consistent with the rights of others insures the highest type of American citizenship and the best government. – from the Democratic National Platform of 1892 in opposition to compulsory attendance laws
John Dewey, American educator, philosopher (1859-1952):
The children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone would be interdependent.
Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister (1804-1881):
Wherever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery.
Tammy Drennan, Alliance for the Separation of School and State senior writer:
Don’t wait for the perfect moment to break free — there isn’t any. Don’t let officials, relatives or anyone else intimidate you into sacrificing your children. If you want to help public schools, give them your money, give them your time, give them your house and your car — but don’t give them your kids. There’s a world of support out there for home schoolers. If you can’t home school, find a decent private school and sacrifice for your kids’ education like you would for that fancy car you want or that vacation or entertainment center or big house. Whatever you’d sacrifice for the thing you most want in life, sacrifice ten times as much for your children.
John J. Dunphy, author, poet:
I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers that correctly perceive their role as proselytizers of a new faith… The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and new — the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent with the promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of “love thy neighbor” will finally be achieved. – The Humanist magazine, Jan/Feb 1983
Friedrich Engels, co-author of Communist Manifesto (1820-1895):
The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother’s care, shall be in state institutions at state expense. – “Principles of Communism” (1847) – draft of what became the Communist Manifesto
Gerald Ford, former president of the United States (1913-2006):
A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have. – in an Address to a Joint Session of Congress, August 12, 1974
Marshall Fritz, founder of the Alliance for the Separation of School and State (1943-2008):
In all countries, in all centuries, the primary reason for government to set up schools is to undermine the politically weak by convincing their children that the leaders are good and their policies are wise. The core is religious intolerance. The sides simply change between the Atheists, Catholics, Protestants, Unitarians, etc., depending whether you are talking about the Soviet Union, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, America, etc. A common second reason is to prepare the boys to go to war and the girls to cheer them on.
It may be a jarring statement, but for more than three full lifetimes—the 220 years from the 1620s to the 1840s—most American schooling was independent of government control, subsidy, and influence. From this educational freedom the American Republic was born. Now, after 150 years of tax-financed schooling, we see more and more children failing to grow into responsible, caring, competent adults. A movement is growing to reclaim the American tradition of family responsibility in education by returning to the separation of school and state.
Charter schools are just public schools on a slightly longer leash. A dog on a long leash is still a dog on a leash.
I want every child in America, especially the children of the poor, to be able to go to a better school than they do today. And I think separation is the way to do it.
For more than 220 years – from the 1620s to the 1840s – most American schooling was independent of government control, subsidy, and influence. From this educational freedom the American Republic was born.
We birthed this republic a lifetime before there was any compulsory attendance in America, and since the beginning of the compulsory attendance legislation in 1852, I think we’ve seen much of the essence of this republic slip between our fingers. In a free country, the state does not compel the parents to send their children to school. We are not the chattels of the state.
Public schools are based on four false premises: 1. Welfare works, 2. Socialism works, 3. Parents have insufficient wisdom, and 4. We can teach character without mentioning God. We need to replace those false premises with truisms, and the truisms I suggest are: 1. Responsibility works, 2. Freedom works, 3. Parents have more wisdom than politicians, and 4. To teach character, we must integrate three factors: the reason for morality, examples of morality, and instruction in morality.
Today’s schools are trying to teach kids to be good, but if Johnny says, “Why should I be good, Mrs. McLumphy?” she cannot give him a real, significant answer. Everything she says is shallow, because to give a significant answer is to undermine some segment of that classroom. So we are pretending we can teach children how without teaching them why.
Our society is falling like a streamlined brick into a cesspool of violence, into a sort of hedonism on steroids, into a shortsightedness that will truly become a culture of death. We look with disgust at Andersonville, Aushwitz and the gulag: if we do not reverse this culture, we are looking at our future. State schools are the reproductive organs of statism. The separation of school and state is part of the reversal of the idolatry of government.
When the Pharisee admitted the coin was made in the image of Caesar, Jesus told him to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. I ask my fellow Christians, ‘Are your children made in the image of Caesar? If not, why do you render these innocents to Caesar for six hours per day, 180 days per year, for 13 years? – quoted in the Plano Star Courier
The formation of a child into a responsible adult is a full time activity.
See Tammy Drennan’s full interview with Marshall Fritz.
William Lloyd Garrison, American newspaper editor and abolitionist (1805-1879):
Nothing is gained, everything is lost, by subordinating principle to expediency.
John Taylor Gatto, award-winning teacher and author:
Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents…. – The Underground History of American Education
The shocking possibility that dumb people don’t exist in sufficient numbers to warrant the millions of careers devoted to tending them will seem incredible to you. Yet that is my central proposition: the mass dumbness which justifies official schooling first had to be dreamed of; it isn’t real. – The Underground History of American Education
School is the first impression children get of organized society. Like most first impressions it is the lasting one. Life is dull and stupid, only Coke provides relief. And other products, too, of course. – The Underground History of American Education
Growth and mastery come only to those who vigorously self-direct. Initiating, creating, doing, reflecting, freely associating, enjoying privacy–these are precisely what the structures of schooling are set up to prevent, on one pretext or another. – The Underground History of American Education
Who besides a degraded rabble would voluntarily present itself to be graded and classified like meat? No wonder school is compulsory. – The Underground History of American Education
Our form of compulsory schooling is an invention of the state of Massachusetts around 1850. It was resisted – sometimes with guns – by an estimated eighty per cent of the Massachusetts population, the last outpost in Barnstable on Cape Cod not surrendering its children until the 1880’s when the area was seized by militia and children marched to school under guard. – The Underground History of American Education
William T. Harris, U.S. Commissioner of Education 1889-1906 (1835-1909):
Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening. The average American [should be] content with their humble role in life, because they’re not tempted to think about any other role.
Helen Hegener, author, co-publisher, managing editor Home Education Magazine:
Our tightly controlled educational system mocks the promise of democracy. With a closed educational system we simply cannot have an open political system. The current situation allows the government and big business to manufacture and maintain our culture for us, and in turn, control remains in the hands of the experts and institutions. The ability to change this situation is in the hands of the individuals and families who understand why change is necessary. – Alternatives in Education
Auberon Herbert, English writer, member of Parliament (1838-1906):
The course that will restore to the workmen a father’s duties and responsibilities, between which and themselves the state has now stepped, is for them to reject all forced contributions from others, and to do their own work through their own voluntary combinations. Until that is done no workman has more, or has a claim to have more, than half rights over his own children. He is stripped of one-half of the thought, care, anxiety, affection, responsibility, and need of judgment which belong to other parents. – State Education, A Help or a Hindrance? (1850)
Aldous Huxley, English writer (1894-1963):
A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers…. The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. – forward to Brave New World, 1946 edition
Ivan Illich, Austrian philosopher (1926-2002):
Two centuries ago the United States led the world in a movement to disestablish the monopoly of a single church. Now we need the constitutional disestablishment of the monopoly of the school. – Deschooling Society, p. 16
Walter Karp, journalist, writer, historian (1934-1989):
Something had to be done quickly or democracy might one day break out. Educational leaders quickly worked out a solution. Let the secondary schools teach the children of workers what was fit only for workers. As Woodrow Wilson, president of Princeton, sternly advised the Federation of High School teachers: ‘We want one class of persons to have a liberal education and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity in every society, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.’ Since there was no way to stop ‘the masses’ from entering high school, the only way to meet the crisis, in short, was to prevent them from learning anything liberating when they got there. – Textbook America
David Kelley, philosopher, author:
It is out of character for a country that prides itself on intellectual freedom to put the education of its young in the hands of the state. – “Learning the Hard Way,” p. 17, Barron’s, February 17, 1986
Dr. D. James Kennedy, founder of Coral Ridge Ministries (1930-2007):
I would say to you, dear friends, it may require some sacrifice, but I urge you to send your children to godly schools… to Christian schools that they might receive a godly Christian education. If you send them off to some public school, keep in mind that you are shooting dice with your children’s eternal souls. It is a gamble that no Christian should be willing to make. – Training Your Children
Don’t send an eight-year-old out to take on a forty-year-old humanist. … I have never seen any more unhappy people than fathers or mothers who have come to me and said, “Where did we go wrong? We gave him everything, and now he’s turned his back completely on everything we believe.” Yes, you gave him everything but a Christian education. – Training Your Children
Dwight R. Lee, Research Fellow at The Independent Institute and Professor of Applied Economics at Johns Hopkins University:
If the move to purely private schools begins to accelerate, the public school lobby can, and surely will, protect its privileged position by embracing educational vouchers. As strange as it may sound to advocates of educational vouchers, if the voucher approach to education ever becomes a serious political possibility, it will be as a means of reducing competition in education, not increasing it. – The Freeman, July 1986
Bernard-Henry Levy, French philosopher, journalist:
The United States has a capacity for resistance and survival that is incredibly stronger than what we have in Europe. The school system is a wreck, but in the States citizens from the left and the right, Protestants and Catholics, Jews and atheists, take things in hand and say, We’re going to save the children because the institution is falling apart. â€“ in France Today
Horace Mann, First Secretary of Education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, “Father” of public schooling (1796-1859):
After a child has arrived at the legal age for attending school,â€“whether he be the child of noble or of peasant,â€“the only two absolute grounds of exemption from attendance are sickness and death. The German language has a word for which we have no equivalent either in language or in idea. The word is used in reference to children, and signifies due to the school; that is, when the legal age for going to school arrives, the right of the school to the childâ€™s attendance attaches, just as, with us, the right of a creditor to the payment of a note or bond attaches on the day of its maturity. â€“ Life and Works of Horace Mann: Vol. III (Boston: Life and Shepard Publishers, 1891)
We who are engaged in the sacred cause of education are entitled to look upon all parents as having given hostages to our cause. – [Separating School & State, p. 48].
H. L. Mencken, journalist, essayist (1880-1956):
The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-face for the urge to rule it. – Minority Report, p. 247.
All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him… One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among themâ€¦ The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himselfâ€¦ Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. – Smart Set (December 1919)
John Stuart Mill, English philosopher, economist (1806-1873):
A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, an aristocracy, or a majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body. – On Liberty
Richard Mitchell, founder and publisher of The Underground Grammarian (1929-2002):
Where once a tyrant had to wish that his subjects had but one common neck that he might strangle them all at once, all he has to do now is to ‘educate the people’ so that they will have but one common mind to delude. â€“ The Underground Grammarian
Far from failing in its intended task, our educational system is in fact succeeding magnificently, because its aim is to keep the American people thoughtless enough to go on supporting the system. â€“ The Underground Grammarian
National Education Association:
Far too many people in America, both in and out of education, look upon the elementary school as a place to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. – Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, National Education Association Yearbook, 1947
Education for international understanding involves the use of education as a force for conditioning the will of the people. – Education for International Understanding in American Schools, page 33 (1948)
Schools will become clinics whose purpose is to provide individualized, psycho-social treatment for the student, and teachers must become psycho-social therapists. – “Education for the ’70s,” Today’s Education, January 1969
National School Boards Association:
“The public policy interest in conducting surveys to gather information to help students outweighs any privacy right to not disclose personal matters.”
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Palmdale School District opinion, November 2, 2005:
[O]nce parents make the choice as to which school their children will attend, …their fundamental right to control the education of their children is, at the least, substantially diminished. The constitution does not vest parents with the authority to interfere with a public schoolâ€™s decision as to how it will provide information to its students or what information it will provide, in its classrooms or otherwise. See Yoder, 406 U.S. at 205. Perhaps the Sixth Circuit said it best when it explained,
“While parents may have a fundamental right to decide whether to send their child to a public school, they do not have a fundamental right generally to direct how a public school teaches their child. Whether it is the school curriculum, the hours of the school day, school discipline, the timing and content of examinations, the individuals hired to teach at the school, the extracurricular activities offered at the school or, as here, a dress code, these issues of public education are generally ‘committed to the control of state and local authorities.'”
James R. Otteson, author, professor of philosophy and economics:
If it would be wrong for the government to adopt an official religion, then, for the same reasons, it would be wrong for the government to adopt official education policies. The moral case for freedom of religion stands or falls with that for freedom of education. A society that champions freedom of religion but at the same time countenances state regulation of education has a great deal of explaining to do. – Freedom of Religion and Public Schooling
Petronius (d. circa 66 CE):
I’m sure the reason such young nitwits are produced in our schools is because they have no contact with anything of any use in everyday life. – The Satyricon
Lawrence W. Reed, president for the Foundation for Economic Education:
Others from both the business and university communities told the author what education reformers have long understood: government schools are doing a poor job of imparting critical thinking skills. Logic and reason have largely been supplanted by appeals to emotion. In place of rigorous analytical processes, students are asked to tell how they feel about a particular issue. The â€œself-esteemâ€ craze that has swept public education essentially produces students by the boatload who donâ€™t really know much, donâ€™t know that they donâ€™t know, but feel real good about their ignorance. – “The High Cost of Government Schooling,” Centre for Individual and Economic Liberty, posted March 29, 2010.
John D. Rockefeller, founder of the General Education Board (1839-1937):
In our dreams…people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from their minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. – The Underground History of American Education, p. 45
We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science… The task we set before ourselves is very simple…we will organize children…and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way… – The Underground History of American Education, p. 45
Dr. Benjamin Rush, Signer of Declaration of Independence and early reformer (1746-1813):
Let our pupil be taught that he does not belong to himself, but that he is public property. Let him be taught to love his family, but let him be taught at the same time that he must forsake and even forget them when the welfare of his country requires it. – from Separating School & State, How to Liberate America‘s Families by Sheldon Richman, p. 37
Alan Schaeffer, president, Alliance for the Separation of School & State:The error – the fatal flaw of government involvement in schooling – is compulsion. The reason for the existence of the Alliance is to say that this one-size-fits-all schooling should not be forced on us.
What the Alliance is concerned with is the nature and causes of the deep and critical failures of public schooling. There is a root, and it emerges for those willing to take an honest and somewhat in-depth look at the history and stated purpose of compulsion government schooling from its inception. If our analysis is true, then all people are in some way diminished by this educational behemoth, if only by having one’s neighbors diminished by it. Quite the opposite of feeding inquiry, the true purpose of state schooling, easily established by reading the words of its founders, was always control. The common school removed from discussion many aspects previously universally inseparable from the project of acquiring an education. Compulsion government schooling was never a mechanism of defending freedom but one of truncating it.
Simply put, families are the solution. Families are the ones who can actually reduce the number of public schooled children in the near term. Parents are still legally free to remove their children. Each family who chooses this becomes a building block of the future we hope for and at the same time contributes to the infrastructure of educational alternatives we will need when the exodus does occur. Families lack confidence in their vocation as family. Actually, this confidence has been systematically stolen over generations of conditioning by “experts”. We’ve been robbed! I can’t help thinking, “If only they knew how this trick was accomplished, they could see what was lost in the transaction of accepting handout schooling – they would be empowered to regain what was lost.” This would pull back the curtain and we would see the wizard pulling the levers of power. Giving the family confidence in itself is crucial not only to my cause but to all cultural-recovery causes. Homogeneity does not serve people, but rather those who wish to control people. Each family that chooses independence and knows they can never go back is a victory in an insidious and desperate battle. What you do in your own home may make more difference in Washington than what you do in Washington! Washington has one strategic advantage â€“ the status quo. The assumptions that drive people’s decisions are largely the ones handed to us by government over generations. The job is to change those assumptions. The mess of government schooling we find ourselves in is, well, messy. There is no clean solution that has no cost to anyone. But the cost is only the debt incurred from so long doing the wrong thing which is founded on the wrong idea. It is therefore essential that wherever we pour our energy, it is founded on the right idea. Persevering in doing what is right will, in time, make up this deficit. Don’t wait for a better governing structure to fix society – govern yourselves! Good actions and ideas bear good fruit, just as surely as we are now reaping the bad consequences of bad ideas – no matter how good the intentions of the many truly dedicated school people.
School Reform News:
Does your school have high academic standards (Percent saying “yes”)?
71% of principals
60% of teachers
38% of students
– Report in the January 2002 issue of School Reform News
Albert Shanker, late president, American Federation of Teachers (1928-1997):
It’s time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody’s role is spelled out in advance, and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It’s no surprise that our school system doesn’t improve: It more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy. – “Reding, Wrighting & Erithmatic,” New York Times, Where We Stand, July 23, 1989
Tom Shuford, teacher, journalist (1945-2008):
America‘s great social, political and innovative strength is in decentralization. But that strength, the American spirit, is shackled, to disastrous effect, in the field of education, where the key tenets of socialism, central planning and state monopoly prevail. – Wall Street Journal, August 2, 1996
Thomas Sowell, economist:
Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good. In area after area – crime, education, housing, race relations – the situation has gotten worse after the bright new theories were put into operation. The amazing thing is that this history of failure and disaster has neither discouraged the social engineers nor discredited them. – Is Reality Optional?
John Swett, Superintendent of California Public School System 1862-1867 (1830-1913):
[T]he child should be taught to consider his instructor… superior to the parent in point of authority… The vulgar impression that parents have a legal right to dictate to teachers is entirely erroneous… Parents have no remedy as against the teacher.
Kathy T., Homeschooling mother from Humble, TX:
Keeping my kids home hasn’t been easy, but it is the best decision I ever made.
(See the rest of her story)
Alexis de Tocqueville, French author of Democracy in America (1805-1859):
Education… has become in most countries at the present day a national concern. The state receives, and often takes, the child from the arms of the mother to hand it over to official agents; the state undertakes to train the heart and to instruct the mind of each generation. Uniformity prevails in the courses of public instruction as in everything else; diversity as well as freedom is disappearing day by day. – Democracy in America, Volume 2, Fourth Book
William M. Tweedie, EFL Education Specialist, Salalah College of Technology:
Teaching isn’t evident unless there is learning, but learning happens regularly without teaching. – http://prime-learning.weebly.com/
Royce Van Norman, teacher (1929-2008):
Is it not ironical that in a planned society of controlled workers given compulsory assignments, where religious expression is suppressed, the press controlled, and all media of communication censored, where a puppet government is encouraged but denied any real authority, where great attention is given to efficiency and character reports, and attendance at cultural assemblies is mandatory, where it is avowed that all will be administered to each according to his needs and performance required from each according to his abilities, and where those who flee are tracked down, returned, and punished for trying to escape – in short in the milieu of the typical large American secondary school – we attempt to teach ‘the democratic system’? â€“ “School Administration: Thoughts on Organization and Purpose,” Phi Delta Kappan 47 (1966):315-16
Bob Wise, Former governor of West Virginia, President of Alliance for Excellent Education:
The reality is in this country, we’re facing what I call a General Motors moment. We don’t have as much money as we did to spend on education. We’ve not had great outcomes from what we did spend . . . This is one of those true moments in history where all of us must be doing better, and all of us must be willing to make major changes. – “Stats underscore push for state education change ,” The Charleston Gazette, wvgazette.com, posted May 23, 2010
Want more quotations?
Below, our senior writer, Tammy Drennan, has gleaned even more quotations about education from other sources. They do not all have hard citations. Take them for what they’re worth.
The Illinois Loop website is full of quotations and other information about education. The Illinois Loop is an informal group of about 200 parents, teachers, school board members and others, mostly in the suburbs around Chicago. Their massive collection of education quotations is well worth exploring. Here are some quotations from their website:
Does your school have high academic standards (Percent saying “yes”)?
71% of principals
60% of teachers
38% of students
– Report in the January 2002 issue of School Reform News
Our K-12 system of public schools … represents perhaps the largest socialized delivery system outside of Communist China. And the results are all too predictable. – Clint Bolick, director, Alliance for School Choice, in his book, Leviathan: The Growth of Local Government and the Erosion of Civil Liberty
The purpose of Compulsory Education is to deprive the common people of their commonsense. – G. K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News, September 7, 1929
We must love our children’s hopes and dreams and prayers more than we love the institutional heritage of the school system. – Willard Daggett
Independent self-reliant people would be a counterproductive anachronism in the collective society of the future where people will be defined by their associations. – John Dewey, 1896
Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming where everyone is interdependent. – John Dewey
If you spend your own money on yourself, you care how much you spend and how well you spend it. If you spend your own money on someone else, you care how much you spend, but you don’t care how well it is spent. If you spend someone else’s money on yourself, you don’t care how much you spend, but you do care how well it is spent. And finally, if you spend someone else’s money on someone else, you don’t care how much you spend, and you don’t care how well it is spent. That is government. – Milton Friedman
The NEA’s ultimate goal is to tap the legal, political and economic powers of the U.S. Congress. We want leaders and staff with sufficient clout that they may roam the halls of Congress and collect votes to re-order the priorities of the United States of America. – Terry Herndon, NEA Executive Director, 1973
It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error. – Robert H. Jackson, justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1950
The Fourteenth Amendment protects the citizen against the State itself and all of its creatures – Boards of Education not excepted. … Probably no deeper division of our people could proceed from any provocation than from finding it necessary to choose what doctrine and whose program public educational officials shall compel youth to unite in embracing. – Robert H. Jackson, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1943
It is out of character for a country that prides itself on intellectual freedom to put the education of its young in the hands of the state. – David Kelley, “Learning the Hard Way,” p. 17, Barron’s, February 17, 1986
There was a day, within our lifetimes, when public officials stood in school doorways in an attempt to keep some students from entering. Now we have the sad spectacle of others symbolically standing in school doorways attempting to keep any students from getting out. – David W. Kirkpatrick
Education for international understanding involves the use of education as a force for conditioning the will of the people. – National Education Association, Education for International Understanding in American Schools, page 33 (1948)
Schools will become clinics whose purpose is to provide individualized, psycho-social treatment for the student, and teachers must become psycho-social therapists. – National Education Association, “Education for the ’70s,” Today’s Education, January 1969
Far too many people in America, both in and out of education, look upon the elementary school as a place to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. – Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, National Education Association Yearbook, 1947
It’s time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody’s role is spelled out in advance, and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It’s no surprise that our school system doesn’t improve: It more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy. – Albert Shanker, late president, American Federation of Teachers, “Reding, Wrighting & Erithmatic,” Wall Street Journal, October 2, 1989
We do not need any more preaching about right or wrong. The old ‘thou shall nots’ simply are not relevant. Values clarification is a method for teachers to change the values of children without getting caught. – Dr. Sidney Simon, creator of the “Values Clarification” curriculum, which sold over 400,000 copies
Education … has become in most countries at the present day a national concern. The state receives, and often takes, the child from the arms of the mother to hand it over to official agents; the state undertakes to train the heart and to instruct the mind of each generation. Uniformity prevails in the courses of public instruction as in everything else; diversity as well as freedom is disappearing day by day. – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume 2, Fourth Book
The only real measure of a teacher’s competence, over time, is whether parents want the services of that teacher. – Unknown
The English Teachers Network in Israel on the Internet (ETNI) – was founded by David Lloyd in 1996. The aim of ETNI is to provide an English Teachers Network on the Internet which serves as an English teachers professional support group (both by teachers and for teachers) and helps teachers work with the Internet in their classroom. ETNI is constantly developing and reinventing itself as a “Virtual Educational Community” where teachers discuss pedagogical issues and contribute their ideas and experience to the ETNI website. Here are a few quotations from their website:
The authority of those who teach is often an obstacle to those who want to learn. – Cicero
In large states public education will always be mediocre, for the same reason that in large kitchens the cooking is usually bad. – Friedrich Nietzsche
The Liberty Tree website contains famous quotes, quotations, sayings, phrases, idioms, proverbs, and axioms about Liberty and the Responsibility that comes with it.
The test of every religious, political, or educational system is the man that it forms. – Henri-Frédéric Amiel
The notion that the church, the press, and the universities should serve the state is essentially a Communist notion. In a free society these institutions must be wholly free – which is to say that their function is to serve as checks upon the state. – Alan Barth
…why should we then expect government schools to teach children to question the authority of government? – Neal Boortz
I claim for the nation an education that depends only on the State, because children of the State must be raised by members of the State. – Louis-René de Caradeuc de La Chalotais
It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery. – Benjamin Disraeli
I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers that correctly perceive their role as proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being… The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and new — the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent with the promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of ‘love thy neighbor’ will finally be achieved. – John J. Dunphy