1984: Thread

grarpamp grarpamp at gmail.com
Sat Nov 6 01:28:38 PDT 2021

The History of Private Schools: How American Education Became a
Political Battleground


    “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”
    Adolf Hitler

Public schools are so ubiquitous and ingrained in American culture
that one could easily be forgiven for thinking that we, as a nation,
have always had them. However, public schools are a relatively recent
invention. Federal funding for public schools is a recent anomaly,
dating back to the days of President Jimmy Carter. His successor,
President Ronald Reagan, famously tried to dismantle the Department of
Education to no avail.

Public schools being an arm of the state are indoctrination centers.
This becomes increasingly true as basic skills such as the old “three
Rs” of “reading, writing and ‘rithmatic” are jettisoned in favor of
climate change, critical race theory and gender ideology – all of
which are now part and parcel of a public education in the United
States. As if this weren’t troubling enough, public schools are
largely funded by property taxes on housing. These taxes, which are
paid generally on a bi-annual basis, are confiscated from people whose
children do not even attend public schools. What’s more, these taxes
require people to effectively pay rent on owned property under penalty
of losing their homes.

We do not have to look far for an alternative to the world of public
schools. Throughout most of American history, education has been the
purview of parents, the church, and other private institutions. The
rise of public education in the United States is a story of violence
and coercion that is largely hidden from the public record. After
reading this, you will never view public schools in the same light
ever again.
Table of Contents

    Public vs. Private vs. Vouchers: How It All Works
    The Pre-History of Public Schools in the United States
    Private Schools: A Refuge from Statism
    A Brief History of the Department of Education
    How Federal Education Funds Are Allocated
    How Public Schools Indoctrinate
    Freedom of Education: In the United States and Abroad

Public vs. Private vs. Vouchers: How It All Works

Before we get into the meat of the matter, it is worth explaining some
things about public education, private education, the voucher system,
and how each of these works.
Related Podcast

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    5.7 million students are enrolled in private schools,
approximately 10 percent of all students in the K-12 system.
    Between the year 1991 and 2015, the proportion of non-religious
schools in the United States has grown greatly, from 14.8 percent to
21.8 percent.
    Catholic schools are still the leader, but their market share has
declined significantly from 53 percent to 38.8 percent.
    In 2016, 1.69 million children were homeschooled, making up 3.3
percent of all children of school age.
    This is an explosive growth from the year 1990, when only 250,000
children were educated at home.
    As of December 2016, there were 14 states with traditional school
voucher programs.
    Other private market alternatives to school vouchers include tax
credits and education savings accounts.
    When these are added into the picture, there are 27 states with
some kind of educational choice program.

All told, 10 states provide vouchers for children to attend private
schools as of 2019. Vouchers are either coupons directly paid to
private schools or tax credits that reimburse parents at tax time.
President Donald Trump has said that he wants to distribute $20
million in federal education dollars as block grants to states that
would take the form of school vouchers.
The Pre-History of Public Schools in the United States

The History of Private Schools: How American Education Became a
Political BattlegroundUnsurprisingly, public education in the United
States was primarily a regional phenomenon in the earliest days. New
England was known as one of the first places with public schools.
However, these were not “public” in the sense that we think of public
schools today. First of all, the schools were not compulsory. While
Massachusetts and other New England states did have compulsory
education laws, these did not mandate the use of the public schools
nor any other education method for that matter. They only required
what was called “proper education,” which in many cases might not have
included basic literacy.

In the South, tutors were the most common means of education for the
planter class. During the colonial period, it was not uncommon for
such upper-crust Southerners to send their children overseas to
England and Scotland for their education at a boarding school.

For the most part, where people received formal education, it ended at
eighth grade. Secondary education was not commonplace for the majority
of Americans until the mid-20th century. According to A Cyclopedia of
Education (4 vol. 1911), every state had some kind of publicly funded
elementary school education by the year 1870.

Teaching was not a profession most sought out. It was mostly work for
single women who lived in the school district. The primary
qualification was knowing how to make the most out of the limited tax
resources available to the schoolmaster. With the development of
two-year normal schools (career academies for unmarried middle-class
women), teaching became increasingly professional. There were now
specified training academies for teachers. According to Jurgen Herbst
in The Once and Future School: Three Hundred and Fifty Years of
American Secondary Education, most public school teachers in Northern
states had degrees from normal schools by the year 1900.

The important thing to note is that prior to the establishment of
compulsory education in the United States, there was greater freedom
for parents to determine how best to educate their children than
probably anywhere else in history. Teachers were not required to have
certificates. Licensing boards did not exist, nor did regulatory

Even in the early days of public education, there was much more
freedom, even for those who attended public schools. The entire
curriculum, as well as the person teaching it, were under the control
of the local school board, not federal or colonial bureaucrats. Part
of this flowed from the Puritan/Calvinist ethic. There was no central
authority when it came to determining the meaning of The Bible. Nor
was there any central authority for education, for many of the same

Upon the establishment of the United States, only one American city
had a public education system, and it was not a “system” in any sense
we would recognize today. First, it was not compulsory. Primary
education was largely left to the private “dames schools.” Literacy
was required to enter grammar school at the age of seven. What’s more,
the trend was toward more private schools. Most people throughout the
commonwealth preferred private schools, with the exception of Boston
and it’s Boston Latin, which was widely respected as an elite
education institution and feeder to Harvard University (which was
founded in part with a public grant).

In 1818, Boston began its push to shutter the popular private schools
and force the state’s children into compulsory, publicly funded
schools. There was too much juvenile delinquency, and this was linked
to a lack of compulsory education. A committee appointed a
subcommittee (of course) and a survey of the state’s educational
system was carried out. Here’s what it found:

    The eight public schools in Boston had 2,360 pupils.
    The 150 private schools shared over 4,000 pupils between them.
    Of children between the ages of four and seven, 283 children did
not attend school.
    Of children over the age of seven, 243 attended no school.

A couple of extrapolations spring out from this. First of all, over 90
percent of Boston’s children were in some kind of school. What’s more,
the private schools offered a much lower student-to-teacher ratio on
average than the publicly funded schools. Finally, charity schools
existed to cover the needs of pupils whose families could not afford
either private or public schools, which, at that time, collected
tuition fees in the same manner public universities and college do

The solution was not to provide subsidies for the children whose
parents could not afford the public and private schools which already
existed. Instead, Massachusetts embarked on the radical enterprise of
forcing every child into the public school system – every child, that
is, other than those who could afford to go to the elite private
academies that were de rigueur for the bluebloods of Boston.

Screaming children were literally ripped from the arms of their
parents and sent off to public schools. As if this were not horrifying
and totalitarian enough, the new public schools of Massachusetts
largely disseminated the Unitarian religious philosophy which had
ousted Calvinism from Harvard in 1805. Further, they looked to the
Prussian school system – centralized, with truant officers, grades and
uniform curriculum – as their model for what public education ought to
look like.

Thus, in 1852, Massachusetts became the first state to mandate
compulsory education of children in primary school. New York became
the second state in 1853. By 1918, all American children were required
to go to school at least through eighth grade.
Private Schools: A Refuge from Statism

The History of Private Schools: How American Education Became a
Political BattlegroundNot everyone sent their children to the new
public schools. However, it became increasingly more difficult to open
private schools. Where once there were no regulations, now there were
a host of regulations designed to make private education of children
difficult and public education easy.

An extreme example of this is when German-language schools were
shuttered in the propaganda lead up to the United States’ entry into
the First World War. At this time, Germans were the largest minority
in the United States. What’s more, German was used as a lingua franca
for members of both the Jewish and Austro-Hungarian diaspora living in
the United States. Thus, many in the United States took part in public
and private German-language schools.

In a real-life example of what a nationalization of education in the
United States would look like, all of the German language schools were
shuttered, state by state. This targeted not just German-language
schools, but also German literature, German citizens’ associations and
even the instruction of German in schools. In 1916, the number of
students studying German was 25 percent. Five years later in 1921, a
scant one percent of all schools taught German at all.

Many of the German-language schools were independent of the public
school systems. At the outbreak of World War I, they were painted as a
sort of Third Column for the German Empire. When they were shut down,
they did not recover and an entire way of life went away with them –
the rich German culture, which had existed in the United States since
colonial times.

There is a more recent example of the government shutting down
schools. After integration, there were a number of so-called
“segregation academies” set up by parents who did not care for the
quality of the newly integrated schools. Their existence was
invalidated through both statute and court rulings, culminating in
Runyon v. McCrary (1976), the Supreme Court decision mandating that
private schools could not discriminate on the basis of race.
Previously, activists had used the courts to remove the tax exempt
status of schools using such criteria for admission.

None of this requires a moral defense of the positive value of
segregation. It is simply to point out that, much like the shuttering
of German language schools and so-called “segregation academies,” the
shuttering of private schools will likely come with a heavy dollop of
political witch hunt attached to it. View how the media began
pillorying Second Lady Karen Pence as somehow bigoted and backward for
teaching art at a private Christian school – quickly pivoting to
targeting Covington Catholic’s students for the crime of smirking
while white.

A movement against private schools and homeschooling in the United
States will likely be coordinated by the government along with the
corporate media, which acts as a sort of de facto official propaganda
A Brief History of the Department of Education

The History of Private Schools: How American Education Became a
Political BattlegroundThe state’s mechanism for school takeovers is
already in place – the Department of Education (DoE), created in a
fairly transparent quid pro quo between then Democratic Vice
Presidential nominee Walter Mondale and the National Education
Association (NEA), the largest labor union in the United States. This
was the first endorsement it had ever given for a presidential
candidate, support that they renewed in 1980, when Carter ran for
re-election against anti-DoE candidate and future President Ronald

One of Ronald Reagan’s most public and high-profile failures was his
inability to destroy the DoE. There was very little enthusiasm for the
creation of the Department of Education. However, there was virtually
none – other than Reagan and his Secretary of Education appointee
Terrel H. Bell – whose sole mission was to dismantle the Department
and replace it with something more like the National Science

Roughly 35 years later, the budget for the entire Department of
Education stood at $70.7 billion in 2016. This did not include an
additional $75 billion in pre-K education over the course of 10 years.

This is mostly spent on pushing a far-left agenda. The Mises Institute
has thoroughly documented the 35 years of leftist bias at the DoE.
Much of the civics curriculum is dedicated to a denunciation of
America’s Founding Fathers, and a focus on slavery, racism and
colonialism. The United States Constitution is not a core part of the
curriculum. Great works of American literature are routinely barred in
the public schools, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Moby
Dick, and The Great Gatsby.

It’s worth briefly noting that the National Education Association is
the largest union in the country and wields an enormous amount of
power when it comes to education policy in the United States. After
all, they got a cabinet-level department created. They have been
effectively able to prevent merit pay for teachers – credentials count
more than performance when calculating pay. In many states, union
membership is effectively mandatory, in as much as teachers are bound
by collective bargaining agreements.

Between 2004 and 2016, political donations by teachers unions grew
from $4.3 million to $32 million. 94 percent of all contributions,
going back to 1990, went to Democrats.
How Federal Education Funds Are Allocated

As one might expect, the entire process for allocating funds to
schools is Byzantine and difficult to understand. All told, states and
local schools aren’t really relying on federal funds to get kids
educated – most of the money for public schools comes from pernicious
property taxes, whereby the government effectively requires you to pay
rent on property that you already own. Approximately 10 percent of
state education budgets come from the federal government.

Funds aren’t allocated in any systematic way. They’re allocated on the
basis of State Education Agencies (SEAs) filing what are basically
grant requests from the federal government, based on anticipated
“needs.” Some income formulas are used in this process, but they do
not represent the whole of how funds are allocated. The SEAs allocate
their funds largely on the basis of income, to what are called Local
Education Agencies (LEAs). These agencies then allocate funds using no
less than four different formulas based on income and census reports.

The final result is that money is allocated for schools in a manner
that favors the least well performing. This is very much in keeping
with the radical, left-wing, redistributionist agenda of the teachers
unions. In the American public education system, there is simply no
mechanism in place that encourages excellence. There is only a system
which rewards mediocrity – the ability to pass a standardized test
that, it’s assumed, “everyone,” from the smallest town in rural
Mississippi to the ritziest neighborhood in Manhattan, ought to be
able to pass at the same rates.

Some states allocate need based on a “per-pupil cost.” Perhaps
somewhat unsurprisingly, the highest figure can be found in our
nation’s capital: the District of Columbia gets $19,000 a head for its
public school students. Some businesses exist to help school districts
navigate this difficult process to get the biggest share of federal
funds possible.

This is now the prerequisite to getting into college – passing the
standardized test. It’s worth noting that the largest expenditure of
federal funds on education is the Pell Grant, which has devalued a
college education significantly while driving soaring tuition fees.
How Public Schools Indoctrinate

Beyond all their other problems, public schools are also a mechanism
for indoctrinating children in far-left, anti-Christian and
anti-American ideologies. While it’s often clear how this works in
higher education, with its coterie of Marxist professors, it is less
clear how it works in primary and secondary education. Indeed, many
parents who are otherwise skeptical about the role of the government
in their lives might not know that even the humble public elementary
school is where the far-left indoctrination begins.

There is no shortage of extreme examples of this. For instance, four
states currently require “LGBT history” to be taught. You can easily
find curricula for teaching transgender ideology in elementary schools
online. Elementary schools have likewise begun teaching young children
about “white privilege” ideology. While all of these examples are
extreme, they are worthy of note. California, because of its size,
often determines what is taught in classrooms all across the nation,
because textbooks must sell there. What’s more, what is taught in
public schools in San Francisco and New York today will almost
certainly be taught in your town in just a few short years thanks to
the sheer “demand” (if we can even call it that) created by the
captive public school markets in these areas.

However, there is a more important issue of the role that public
schools play in indoctrinating children more generally than any one
specific and extreme example. It is necessary to pull back a bit from
the individual examples of our children being indoctrinated in values
hostile to our own and be critical of the role that public schools
play in indoctrinating children more generally.

First, we should talk about what we mean by “indoctrination.” This
does not simply mean “teaching children things we do not like.” We
mean imparting ideological information as knowledge without any regard
for critical thinking skills. It is the latter part of this that is
the most important: That critical thinking skills are not taught, but
an agenda. The lack of thought is key: Young people are given a world
view by another rather than working it out through their own reason
using available facts.

The alternative to this is not introducing conservative or libertarian
texts. This will only deepen the public education system’s role as a
propaganda outlet and will mean more political football with public
schools. What’s more, there is no reason to believe – that is, there
is no evidence – that public schools can be anything more than
indoctrination centers for the prevailing ideology of the time. No
less an authority than John Stuart Mill opposed state education on
these grounds.

We should note that it is not necessary to prove that all or even most
teachers are actively pursuing a certain agenda. We must only note
that the left-wing agenda has powerful proponents within the teachers
union and the Department of Education.

We must also stress that the problem is one much greater than simply
your children or another’s being indoctrinated with a hostile
ideology. The problem is a social one that leads to entire generations
not only vehemently opposed to Christianity, America and freedom, but
also entirely bereft of the critical thinking and formal logic skills
necessary to “think” their way out of the box.

To see the real-world consequences of this for society at large, one
need only turn on the news. We are reaping the results of ideological
indoctrination sown for the better part of the last 50 years.
Freedom of Education: In the United States and Abroad

The History of Private Schools: How American Education Became a
Political BattlegroundThe United States enjoys a great degree of
freedom of education when compared to other countries. This is
particularly true in Continental Europe, where homeschooling is either
extremely difficult, highly regulated, or completely verboten. In many
cases, where private schools flourish and homeschooling is allowed,
there are public resources available for those who choose to educate
their children outside of the state-sponsored school system.

While this might seem like another government handout, the reality is
quite a bit more nuanced. Tax victims – which is the proper name for
what is commonly labeled the more misleading “taxpayer” – have a prior
claim on the resources extorted from them through the method of
so-called “property taxes.” That they would make some effort to
reclaim this money, which is extorted specifically for the purpose of
statist indoctrination, is not untoward, nor is it any extortion on
their part. As long as public schools exist and property taxes are
used to pay for them, those who pay such taxes have a right to access
the funds, even if it is through tertiary channels such as vouchers
and grants.

Indeed, the usual suspects (teachers unions and educational
authoritarians) oppose vouchers for private schools and homeschooling.
Such programs, while they might take the form of a government grant or
subsidy, break up the state school monopoly and contribute to a larger
educational marketplace. As they are earmarked specifically for
private market schools (or exiting the market entirely through
homeschooling), they are, in fact, a superior form of educational
freedom to charter schools, which simply provide a greater choice of
schools under state fiat.

The United Nations is, unsurprisingly, not a supporter of either
private schools or homeschooling. The rights of parents to educate
their own children, whether at home or in a private education
institution, is limited by the United Nations Convention on the Rights
of the Child. Law professor David M. Smolin has written on this
subject. The rationale is that children have a “right” to education,
one that can only be provided by an allegedly impartial state. Their
parents, goes the argument, could potentially interfere in the
education of their own children.

Fortunately, the United States is not a signatory of the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

And it is, of course, worth noting that homeschoolers typically exceed
their government school counterparts in virtually all respects. In
fourth and eighth grade reading and math, Catholic schools
significantly outperformed public schools for both proficient and
advanced students. A Cato Institute report stated that private schools
out-performed public schools with regard to graduation rates, college
matriculation, future income and parent satisfaction. This is not
surprising, as homeschooled children and privately educated children
exist in a bona fide marketplace of ideas. The publicly funded
government schools show barely any divergence in terms of what they
teach. This is increasingly true thanks to programs like “No Child
Left Behind” and Common Core, both of which mandate a very narrow set
of ideas and concepts to be taught in public schools.

Whether or not to educate one’s children in the government school
monopoly is a choice every family must make. But, as with any
important decision, parents should take into account the totality of
the facts. The history of public education in the United States is one
of coercion, extortion, and indoctrination.

Beyond such ideological objections to the government school monopoly,
private schools tend to be safer, less violent, and better performing
than their government alternatives. After all, who is going to choose
to spend money on a school where their children are subject to
violence, poor education standards, and constant grooming for the
police state in the form of what are now ubiquitous active shooter
drills. As the Cato Institute points out, there are 30 years of
consistent evidence that private schools, beyond simply providing a
better learning environment through safety and greater alignment with
parent values, also provide a higher quality of education.

Even though not every family can afford a private education, private
schools and homeschooling should be considered as a serious
alternative. Evaluate the cost and benefits of homeschooling from the
perspective of a loss of income. Find private grants and scholarships,
in addition to the vouchers you might be eligible for. The point is to
think flexibly about it and see if this is indeed an option for your

Even where the cost is great, the tradeoff for removing your child
from the government school monopoly might be well worth it.


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