Education in America

While today many people take public compulsory education for granted, few people know that it was not necessarily something good for this country. Public compulsory education as we know it today did not begin to exist until the 1840s. The founding fathers did not even mention education when they penned the Constitution of the United States. They had good reason. However, today a different “they” (the founders of public compulsory education) do not want us to know their reason behind “compulsory schooling.”

Prior to the introduction of public education with compulsory attendance, Americans were probably the most literate people in the world. Supported by the local communities, their law required the creation of what was called common schools. The common schools were the original public schools founded in New England and the adjoining areas that were created in the early days of the Puritan commonwealth as a means of insuring the faith from one generation to the next. The high literacy in America at that time came from the fact that Biblical authority required a high degree of Biblical literacy and this allowed the public to create a system of education leading to a manageable and moral social order. How could the Constitution improve on that?

  In addition to the common schools in the small towns, there were grammar schools in the larger towns where Latin and Greek were taught. By the time a student exited grammar school, he was more literate than most University post graduates are today. In fact, there is historical record of a graduate serving as a United States ambassador at the age of thirteen. This was not an unusual case. Very young individuals founded several of our well-known Universities in these early days. One of the keys to the success of the common schools was that they were local schools, financed locally, and controlled by local communities who set their own standards, chose their own teachers, and selected their own textbooks.

  Though common schools faded out for a short time, beginning around 1720 with the building of several private schools whose aim it was to teach more practical commercial subjects, this only lasted until the end of the American Revolution. Often, during war, many important issues take a lower priority. Around 1780, Massachusetts decided to reinstate the old school laws as it drafted its state constitution. They felt like this was necessary to maintain the continuity of their educational institutions. Soon after Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York State all followed suit raising state money for common schools and some private schools. In fact, the common schools were so “common” that there were vastly more free schools and charity schools, supported by school funds and private philanthropy, than the number of poor pupils requiring them.

The idea of a state-owned and -controlled education system was actually imported later from Prussia where an authoritarian monarchy used centralized, government-owned and -controlled schools along with compulsory attendance to further its own political and social agenda. During the mid 1800s, those who began to plant the seed of this shade of public compulsory education in the American soil made claims that the movement had to do with economics and academics, but quite obviously, this could not have been farther from the truth. As was mentioned earlier, this country’s system of education was deficient in neither of these areas. With the growth of what was an earlier form of public school system, in Boston, the public education advocates smelled opportunity. Boston was the only American city to have a public school system, which was not at all like today’s system. Literacy, for instance, was a requisite for entering the public grammar school at the age of seven and there was no compulsory attendance law. Even though this school system was installed, the private schools were flourishing, and most parents preferred them to the public ones. Even still, just having a public system in place was enough for the public compulsory education advocates to use in leveraging public opinion.

With Boston as their setting, in 1818 the advocates tried to make their case for expansion of the public sector by an unprecedented survey of its school children. This survey showed that 10% of Boston’s school children did not attend school. Despite the fact that this meant 90% of all the children in Boston did attend school, either private or public, despite the fact that there were no compulsory attendance laws, these figures did not seem to deflect the advocates from their ambition. It did not seem to matter either that some parents either did not want to send their children to the public schools and were not compelled to do so. The facts were that some children were needed to help out at home, such as farm children, and some were tutored or home educated.

Public compulsory primary school promoters used the Press to their advantage waging a public campaign that argued that the result of these children who were not in school would be criminals costing society more money than the cost of publicly funded compulsory primary schools. Their real aim was to get the public school system to include primary school aged children in the system. The result was not only to this end but also the appointment of the compulsory promoters to the primary school committee. This assured that further decisions worked to toward and in favor of their agenda.

What “they” don’t want us to know is that this expansion and control of the public sector through control of what the children of a society were taught was vital to the political and philosophical changes occurring in the United States during that period. More important than the inventions of the steamboat, the railroad, and the cotton gin, during this period prior to and during the industrial revolution, was the takeover of our great universities by Unitarians. This move turned places like Harvard from the high degree of Biblical literacy on which it was founded, which when tested resulted in a system of manageable and moral social order, into laboratories set up to experiment with pseudo-philosophy and secular humanist ideals. From that point on, the American culture would have as its basis for learning a man-centered philosophy that makes men into gods, denies faith in anything other than self, and lifts up worldly knowledge as a means to the perfection of mankind. By promoting the public and not the private or charity schools, these philosophers had an arena for keeping society’s children away from teaching that did not agree with Unitarian though. They felt it was more valuable to society to teach skills than moral character. These Unitarians felt that the church schools were dangerous and poisonous to children and society, which had already proven to be untrue. The Unitarians desired to replace the Biblical view of salvation with an avenue offered by secular humanists.

It is important to understand that the timing of this shift in education was not just a random occurrence. In 1818, a Scotsman proudly announced he had discovered the basic principle of moral improvement. We now know what it was. This Scotsman, Robert Owen, was later known as the father of Socialism. Owen’s discovery, that the earlier you begin training a child the better chance you have to mold his character, influenced the Unitarians to launch their campaign for getting society’s children of primary school age into the public compulsory school system. This became the first step in a plan to influence a whole society, a whole nation, to be molded to the government. This educational movement, called socialism, began to reform the character of man into the man of the future. Today, we recognize this man as the model “Soviet” man. Later, Owen came to America to form a communist colony at New Harmony, Indiana. This experiment itself was referred to as “an experiment in social reform through cooperation and rational education.” Though this experiment failed, this experiment is still proceeding today disguised as public compulsory education in America.

Even today, most of the non-public schools turn to theology to help explain why man does evil things. However, from its inception, the new secularized western culture, boiled in the slow pot of social reform, has turned from answers founded in theology to those theorized from psychology. One of those heavily influenced by psychology was Horace Mann. Mann became the first Secretary of the newly created Massachusetts Board of Education in 1837. He was versed in Owenism, Unitarianism, and Hegelianism among other politically and socially correct philosophies of the day. George Friedrich Hegel’s German philosophy helped usher in the Prussian state as the model for the new American public school system of compulsory education, with truant officers and all. Another French philosopher named Victor Cousin had published his report on the Prussian school system of his government that was translated and published in the United States around 1933. This was just the school system the Unitarians needed and copies were passed around to educators that were influenced to go this way. Cousin’s report smoothed Unitarians at Harvard toward Hegel’s philosophy, which flowered into the Transcendentalist movement. From this point on Horace Mann fought hard and won introduction of the Prussian system, known as “statism,” into the American public compulsory school system. The disguise came in the form of what is termed the State “normal schools.” The first State normal school was set up by Mann in Lexington, Massachusetts. With this, opposition grew strong against the idea of state-controlled teacher training until 1845, when the opposition was overcome. It was pretty much agreed among the constituents that linking of state power to teacher education was, as James G. Carter said, a tool to “sway the public sentiment, the public morals, and the public religion more powerful than any other in possession of government.”

What “they’ don’t want us to know is that today’s public compulsory education system is a large continuous and failing social experiment using our children as the guinea pigs. The school system has been, and is being, used as an educational tool for infiltration of socialist Unitarian thinking into the minds of the American people.

Excerpted from Samuel L. Blumefield’s book NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education.