PUBLIC SCHOOLS, HOME SCHOOLS, AND PRIVATE SCHOOLS
Many years ago someone observed that many parents raise their children but do not educate them. People sup together, play together, travel together, but they do not think together. Hardly any homes have any intellectual life whatsoever. The cause of this decay of the family's traditional role as the transmitter of tradition is the same as that of the decay of the humanities: nobody believes that the old books do, or even could, contain the truth. Fathers and mothers lack self-confidence as educators of their children and have lost the idea that the highest aspiration they might have for their children is for them to be wise. Most parents do not know what they believe and do not even have the self-confidence to tell their children of their values. Thus they cannot control the atmosphere of the home and have even lost the will to do so.
For the past fifty years the public school system has had an utter inability to distinguish between what is important and what is unimportant. This is promoted as a “failure,” but the evidence shows that it is not an accident. The universities tell us that what students bring to their higher education, in passions, curiosities, longings, and especially previous experience, has changed, because their elementary and secondary education has changed. The objective of the public schools, under the pretext of education, is steering “the intended behavior of students into the way students are to act, think, and feel as the result of participating in some unit of instruction. . . It includes objectives which describe changes in interest, attitudes, and values, and the development of appreciations and adequate adjustment.” 1
Almost every student entering the university believes, or says that he believes, that truth is relative. If this belief is put to the test, one can count on the student's reaction: he will be uncomprehending. The danger he has been taught to fear from absolutism (certainty, or exactness) is not error, but intolerance. Relativism (“one opinion is as good as another”) is necessary to openness, and openness is the only essence which all primary education for more than fifty years has dedicated itself to inculcating.
Students of relativism, or openness, cannot defend their opinions, of course, when they have been indoctrinated to sustain many allegiances without contradiction. They cannot understand the issues, so they are easy to propagandize when “everything is open and relative.” Consequently, there are various impostors whose business it is to appeal to the young, because the political regime always needs citizens who are in accord with its fundamental principle. Albert Shanker, the son of Russian immigrants, who spoke no English as a boy yet became president of the American Federation of Teachers and a member of the Trilateral Commission, put it this way: “Public schools do not exist to please Johnny’s parents. . . They do not even exist to ensure that Johnny will one day earn a good living. . . In short, public schools exist to create citizens.” 2
Remember Mikhail Gorbachev’s book Perestroika which praised Lenin for his glasnost? Glasnost in Russian means, literally, "openness," and according to Gorbachev “is an effective form of public control.” 3 He equated openness with the “socialism” (i.e., communism) that was under Stalin and Lenin, and with Russia’s “democracy” today. It was Lenin who referred to the plan for taking over nations as outlined in Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto (1848) as “the conquest of democracy.” It was Lenin who coined the term “democratic centralism” to denote strict guidance 4 from a small center and broad participation of a large number of people flowing from this guidance. More and more we also hear our own political leaders and the media describe our Republic as a “democracy,” while most people don’t realize that one dictionary definition of democracy is “openness.” Our government is supposed to be a Republic 5, not a democracy. “Democracy is mob rule, such as that which crucified Christ. The February, 1993, Evangelical Methodist stated, ‘Democracy is when two wolves and one sheep vote on what to have for lunch.’” 6
In the 1932 report of the National Education Association Committee on Social-Economic Goals of America, which functioned for five years, chairman Fred J. Kelly wrote, “The chief instrumentality to mold public opinion in the interest of national goals is education.” In 1934 Willard E. Givens, Superintendent of Schools in Oakland, California, and Executive Secretary of the NEA the following year, had this to say: “Many drastic changes must be made. . . Subject matter will be considered instrumental and not an end in itself .. thus ending the narrow, academic, non-functional subject courses . . Attitudes are the desirable objectives. . . Controversial issues must be discussed in the schools.” This was when communism was the controversial issue. Inasmuch as the socialist objectives are now established, any opposition to what is now being taught in the schools is “controversial.” 7
In 1971 the federal bureaucracy defined to the states that all schools were day care facilities and defined what day care standards the states must adopt. 8 These standards linked increased school costs and unasked for, unwanted, yet mandatory programs through back door administrative guidance policies and procedures to federal requirements and made those mandatory guidelines a condition of funding. 9 The government then buried those conditions in the Social Security laws, and gave complete control to the White House without Congressional or public scrutiny, because the original Paperwork Reduction Plan Act of 1980 (44 USC 3501 and following) gave the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) the power to control the form and content of agency rule-making, and to keep information dealing with regulatory reviews secret from Congress and the public. 10
In addition, Executive Order 12291, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan, provided for presidential oversight of the regulatory process of present and future regulations “designed to implement, interpret, or prescribe law or policy [emphasis added] or describing the procedure or practice requirements of . . any agency specified under 44 USC 3502(1).” The Order stated that the Director of OMB “shall have authority . . to prescribe criteria” for requiring any set of rules. The Director of OMB was subject to the Presidential Task Force on Regulatory Relief and was given wide authority under the Paperwork Reduction Plan Act and the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 4 USC, 601 ff. 11 Any effort that would require the OMB to make information dealing with all regulatory reviews available to Congress and the public or to restrict OMB’s control was opposed by White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu and White House counsel C. Boyden Gray. 12
Years later, relating his experience with the federal government and the G. I. Bill, Bob Jones University head wrote, “We have been fighting them since 1968, for it was then that our students lost the right to use G. I. benefits, simply because we would not sign the Act of Compliance which would bring us under federal control and dictatorship.” 13 The “Act of Compliance” was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was limited to a specific program or activity of an institution. But the real blow to academic freedom was the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Grove City College v. Bell (named for President Reagan’s Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell) in March, 1984, which ruled that private schools are subject to government regulations even if they receive no direct federal funds.
By this time the series of three books providing background information for A Study of Schooling in the United States was finished, which described the planned re-education program of American school-age children and their unwilling parents, obstacles to a smooth transition to a global society. The ten financial backers included the U.S. Office of Education, the National Institute of Education, and eight foundations, among them the Charles F. Kettering and Rockefeller Foundations, original financiers of the international Trilateral Commission, formally established in 1973. 14
What was really scary was the Civil Rights Restoration Act (PL 100-259) which became law on March 22, 1988, and was broadened to “correct the defects” in the enforcement of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by applying the Grove City College principle to entire institutions, directly or indirectly, not just to the programs and activities. This is why some colleges still today will not accept students who rely on federal grants or government loans to pay their tuition.
Commenting on the Civil Rights Restoration Act, George Roche, president of Hillsdale College in Michigan said, “It is one of the most sweeping impositions of federal power over free Americans that has ever been seriously proposed. The principle sponsor was Senator Ted Kennedy. Note well its enforcement. They might as well announce, ‘You take our money, we own you!’” Dr. Roche continued: “The law targets all indirect recipients of federal funds. . . It was argued: ‘Oh, no, the law wasn’t meant to go this far; we will always use a narrow interpretation.’ But the law does go this far! And the power will be used. I don’t think there is a case in history when government, given such power, has not ultimately used it.” Dr. Roche also said, “Think about this, too, as you contemplate what everybody knows to be true: Bureaucratic management of education goes up and up; the quality of education goes down and down. If and when the last vestiges of private purpose and charity and skills in education are shot down, education itself must fall. For education is a continuing process, a transmission of knowledge and values from generation to generation When the last real schools are gone, who will educate the next generation of educators? The U. S. Department of Education? Forget it!” 15
The next month, on April 28, 1988, the Hawkins-Stafford Elementary and Secondary School Improvement Amendments of 1988 (PL 100-297), commonly known as HR 5, amending and re-authorizing President Lyndon Johnson’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, 16 became law. Seeming to completely ignore Article X of the Bill of Rights 17 of our Constitution by stating “now it is the right time for the Federal government to fulfill its role in education reform,” 18 the new law re-authorized, revised, consolidated, and added to the provisions of Chapter 1 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981 and Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. It affected all children, from birth to age 24, in every school attendance area, defined as “the geographical area in which the children who are normally served by that school.” 19 In fact, it contained a by-pass provision which allowed the Secretary of Education to circumvent any state law 20 in order to “assist” 21 in the education of each child who lives in any school district. The reasoning is, that all local school districts receive financial aid, so, therefore, all children who live in those districts must be allowed to participate in the “services, purposes, and benefits” of this bill. 22 Not only could the secretary by-pass any existing state laws or agencies “unwilling to provide for such participation,” 23 he could make any regulations necessary to ensure compliance, consulting with no one “in emergency situations.” 24 The law affected elementary and secondary “day or residential school” children and their parents, 25 and it specifically included private schools, 26 whose students “shall receive the services” of the provisions and regulations of PL 100-297.
By 1991 the U.S. Department of Education would be proclaiming in America 2000: An Education Strategy Source Book that “the definition of ‘public school’ should be broadened to mean any school that serves the public and is held accountable by a public authority.” Contrary to what we were told, 27 the America 2000 plan was not developed by the National Governors’ Association. Education insider Chester Finn, Jr. was the chief architect of America 2000, which was unveiled while Lamar Alexander was President Bush’s Secretary of Education. It appeared in conjunction with the Learning for All: Bridging Domestic and International Education conference held in Alexandria, VA, Oct. 30-Nov. 1, 1991, attended by 136 countries. First Lady Barbara Bush was the Honorary Chair. This was the second of ten Bridging Education into the Future international conferences on education sponsored by the World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF, the United Nations Development Program, and 23 co-sponsors. The same America 2000 was reintroduced with a new name as Goals 2000 during the Clinton administration when Richard Riley was Secretary of Education.
On May 23, 1991, the government went a step further when the United States Supreme Court upheld in Rust v. Sullivan the principle that when the government offers funds, it may include as a condition of funding that those who receive money or favors must refrain from disseminating certain kinds of information, or expressing certain points of view. The Court endorsed a further expansion of the government’s power to specify the content of the activities it subsidizes. “Rust v. Sullivan did not cut into the right to receive information, but the right to give it! Now, ‘in the public interest’ can include not only what ones does but what one says. Justice Blackmun acknowledged that the government may call on recipients of subsidies to relinquish some of their constitutional rights. Never before has the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the suppression of speech simply because that suppression was a condition upon the acceptance of public funds. . . Value-neutral funding is impossible. The more such precedents the government sets, the more it becomes protective of its power to control the beneficiaries. Power feeds on itself. Control through funding bypasses all constitutional limitations. To be free of government control, one must be independent of the government. Simply ‘reforming’ the system by attempting to guarantee the independence of the recipients of the money isn’t a viable solution. . . Government funding and government control of private activities go hand in hand. To keep private activity free, its financing must be kept private.” 28
In 1989, when George Herbert Walker Bush was president, his first Secretary of Education, Lauro F. Cavazos, held a White House Workshop on Education. Cavazos outlined how he and the President planned to restructure America’s system of elementary and secondary education through what they called site-based management. 29 “Site-based management,” which does not mean local control, is educational jargon which is deliberately chosen to neutralize the issue and mislead the public. 30 It means a shift of responsibility away from an elected local school board to a non-elected committee made up of specific staff, administrators, and “lead/master” teachers who have total authority in regards to staffing, staff development, curriculum decision, materials and textbook selection, school organizational structure, length of school day, length of class periods, subject configuration or approach, budget, or instructional decisions or practices to “meet the mental health needs of emotionally disturbed children.” This new “empowerment,” introduced under the euphemism of “school-centered education,” 31 was in the public schools by the early nineties, when all parents and taxpayers lost all local control except for mundane housekeeping decisions.
Even one’s state constitution offers no protection. In 1991 U.S. District Judge Marion J. Callister ruled in an Idaho case that “the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause prohibits states from using their own constitution to block federal law. As the Supremacy Clause makes clear, the laws of Congress which are made in pursuance of the Constitution will prevail whenever there is a direct conflict with the constitutional law of a state.” 32 Today we are seeing the results of what George Roche called “bureaucratic management of education.” In Texas these results supposedly are measured by the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS).
But, “TAAS is a minimum proficiency test, not an achievement test. A perfect score means the student has met minimum expectations. In Texas, only 50% of a school’s students must pass to be deemed an acceptable school. Passing the TAAS is achieved at a 70% standard. In other words, one is allowed to miss 30% of questions (ostensibly the hardest 30%). This is not so much of a problem with an achievement test. . . but is particularly problematic with a minimum proficiency test. By allowing students to miss 30% of the hardest questions, then that student is passing the test even though she is only able to answer questions that are one, two, or three years below grade level.” 33
“What the new, improved TAAS scores conceal is that scores required to pass the TAAS have been dropping. While the passing score is officially 70%, that score is not the raw score, but rather a score converted from the raw score according to a formula based on the perceived difficulty of the test. The true score required to pass a TAAS test may be as low as 50%. Tucked away on the Texas Education Agency’s student assessment page is the TAAS raw score conversion table . . Consider also that the TAAS is multiple-choice with no penalty for a wrong answer. . . If a student is able to eliminate some unreasonable answer choices, and many Texas students spend an ungodly amount of time learning this multiple-choice test-taking strategy, he may be able to pass even if he knows less than one quarter of the answers.” 34
“The ‘Texas Miracle’ as measured by TAAS is seriously overstated as witnessed by every independent measure of performance: Iowa’s Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), SAT9, SAT, ACT, TASP or even NAEPS, as well as by longitudinal attrition rates and dropout rates. . . The need for remedial education for 90% of Texas graduates attending community colleges, and 66% of students attending state universities, confirms these findings. Estimates of social promotion on the order of 30% further attest to unresolved problems at all grade levels. . . In math, our minority kids lag behind white kids, Texans lag the U.S., and the U.S. lags the world. . . Neither English or social studies core course performance is predictive of college readiness. . . 42% of Texas youth drop out of school. . . ‘Whole language’ for teaching reading is a failed experiment; ‘reformed math’ (often called ‘fuzzy math’) is repudiated by 200 distinguished scientists and mathematicians. . . No one has been held accountable– no one has been blamed, much less fired. . .
“The educators who direct Texas public education have not demonstrated the business and profession skills, nor the academic qualifications and standards necessary to efficient and effective oversight of the system. Unproven fads of the ‘progressive’ education agenda have been relentlessly promoted by Texas educators in the face of the preponderant evidence of the superior performance of traditional instruction in knowledge and skills. . . Ideology is given priority over educational achievement of Texas youth. . . The arrogance of professional educators often denies participation in the education debate by persons who often are far better educated and more knowledgeable . . than the educators themselves. Parents and citizens should not be treated as ignorant nuisances. . . Such attitudes of ideological certainty have also resulted in virtual censorship of dissent within the public education system, often enforced by sacrifice of professional standing and ostracism for any educators who tell it like it is, and criticize or challenge the system. . . The reliability of the educators who oversee the TAAS tests and reporting of results at the TEA and many of the districts is worse than the TAAS test itself. Intent to deceive the public is clearly shown by misrepresenting TAAS standards, excessive TAAS exemptions, teaching to the TAAS, and even tampering with results. The blatant misinforming of the public on education performance clearly evidenced by IDRA dropout rates and TAAS scores . . presents an intolerable abuse of public trust [and] is clearly fraudulent.” 35
So why are some home schooling parents, who have opted out of the public schools for a multitude of reasons, trying to get laws passed so they can opt right back in again to participate in public school extra-curricular activities, special lab or classes, or have access to public school libraries? And why are some private and church schools willing to accept government monetary enticements, so they too can be planned, programmed, and budgeted by a central controlling agency? 36 To parents who have been paying taxes to support government schools it sounds wonderful to be able to reap some benefit from that. But stop and think: The state has its fangs into private and home schools now. What will it be like when home and private schools participate in public school activities and accept government favors? “How much imagination does it take to see what is coming? Can you imagine the kinds of controls in store for schools that are set up to permit an escape hatch for the crumbling state educational monopoly–the most horrendous visible failure of socialism in America?” 37
The truth of the matter is, once home and private schools become part of government-financed facilities or programs, they can no longer remain “private,” because through government laws, regulations, and conditions of funding they will be nationalized and homogenized with their public counterparts. “And therein lies the trap! It will be government’s way of harnessing ‘all the stray cats,’ in order that they may be conditioned to think and act alike as wholly owned subsidiaries of the state and a bureaucratic agency for the propagation of ideology and the enforcement of ‘standards.’ And standards will be devised by the same old coalition and manufacturers of gimmicks and publishers of pseudo-books who do know exactly what they want, and exactly how to get it.” 38
We end this article with random excerpts from Richard Mitchell’s analysis of the American public school system and his penetrating attack against what passes for education today: