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Unveiling the Socialist Undercurrents in American Education: A Call for Educational Freedom
The Nature of Public Schooling
Public schooling in the United States, often perceived as far removed from socialist ideals, ironically shares several characteristics with socialist education systems worldwide. Underlying the public education structure lies a web of principles that align with socialist principles despite the popular belief that the United States has never embraced socialism. Timothy Egan, a New York Times columnist, recently noted this paradox in his op-ed (for a comprehensive examination, refer to my articles “A Life of the Lie on Socialism” and “Socialism in America, 31 Years Ago”).
Government Control in Education
It is crucial to understand that public schooling, operating across all fifty states, resembles educational systems in nations like Cuba, North Korea, and Vietnam, recognized for their socialist ideologies. The term “public schooling” might be more accurately described as “government schooling” or “state schooling” due to its ownership and administration by state and local governments. To illustrate, if these governments managed churches, they would hardly be termed “public churches” or “state churches.”
Public schooling places education under the direct purview of the government. In countries with fully socialist systems like North Korea, the government mandates that every child receive their education solely within government institutions. However, the United States has introduced a somewhat different approach. Although parents are required to ensure their children receive state-approved education, they are granted two alternative pathways: private schools and homeschooling.
The Evolution of Educational Alternatives
Notably, homeschooling has emerged as a relatively recent choice. Before the 1980s, the exclusive options were public and private schools. Parents who dared to homeschool their children faced legal repercussions, including imprisonment and fines, until they adhered to the law, which mandated enrolling children in public or private schools.
The late 1970s even witnessed a tragic incident in Utah when state officials took the life of John Singer due to his unwavering commitment to homeschooling, citing it as “resisting arrest.” This grim episode underscores the state’s authority in educational decisions.
Despite the availability of alternative options, most parents still opt for public schooling, often due to financial constraints or the impracticality of homeschooling. In many instances, private schools unintentionally mirror the characteristics and ideologies of public schools to safeguard their state-issued licenses. Additionally, in most states, homeschooling parents must periodically meet with state officials to demonstrate compliance with state education standards. Failure to meet these standards or dissatisfaction with the education provided may result in a mandate to enroll children in the public school system, further highlighting the government’s influence on educational choices.
Whether in Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, or the United States, the education system is grounded in compulsion. Compulsory attendance laws compel parents to subject their children to a state-approved education, with non-compliance subject to threats of incarceration and fines.
A Top-Down Approach
In public schools, every participant, including teachers, functions as an employee of the state. The state defines the curriculum and selects the textbooks, resulting in a top-down, command-and-control structure akin to the military.
Public schooling could aptly be labeled as “military-lite,” given that students are mandated to attend and receive a government-sanctioned education. Furthermore, public schools often emphasize regimentation, deference to authority, and obedience to orders, mirroring military values.
Impact on Young Minds and Ideological Influence
The most concerning aspect of public schooling lies in its impact on young minds. From birth to age six, children exhibit an innate curiosity about life and the world, eagerly embracing knowledge with wonder. They incessantly question, seeking answers to the ubiquitous “Why?” However, this natural love of learning is often extinguished by the time they complete their twelve-year stint in public schools. While they acquire memorization and rote skills, they lose the inherent enthusiasm for learning they once possessed. For some, it takes many years, if ever, to rediscover their genuine selves.
This transformation marks the arena of indoctrination. American students are consistently taught that they live in a free country with a thriving “free-enterprise” system. Each day, they pledge allegiance to a nation that promises “freedom and justice for all.” It is intriguing to ponder how many graduates of America’s public schools are aware that the Pledge of Allegiance, which many still recite with loyalty as adults, was crafted by a self-professed socialist named Francis Bellamy.
Upon completing their education within this socialist system, students are firmly convinced that the United States has never been and will never become a socialist nation. Their adherence to this narrative, often in denial of reality, underscores the remarkable “success” of public schooling.
A Libertarian Perspective
This divergence highlights one of the defining characteristics of libertarians: the ability to break free from years of state indoctrination, allowing them to recognize socialism when they encounter it. Libertarians advocate for an educational system based on liberty, free markets, and parental control—an education system that separates school from state.