by Al Benson Jr.
Years ago I had a friend, Rev. Ennio Cugini, who was the pastor of a small church in Rhode Island. Pastor Cugini has gone to be with the Lord now, but in many ways he was a beacon of light to Southern New England in the midst of a Unitarian-permeated society and in many areas he was ahead of his time.
I recall that back in the late 1960s and early 1970s Pastor Cugini talked much on his radio broadcasts about the history and the evils of the public school system. He felt it was un-American, which it was and is and even then he was aware of much of the propaganda from that system that paraded itself as education in classrooms. It was from listening to his comments and checking out sources he mentioned that my wife and I decided that our kids were never going to public school.
He had some trenchant observations about public schools, things most folks had never even begun to think about. For one thing, he concluded that compulsory attendance in public school was akin to having a captive audience, and he felt that compulsory attendance laws should be repealed. I agree with him. Oh, I can already hear people shouting “if the public schools were not open, why where would the kids go?” What these folks don’t realize is that by even asking that question they are admitting that public schools are little more than federally-funded and programmed babysitting services. Something that will keep the kids out of their hair!
Back in 2004, Barry Dean Simpson wrote an article that was posted on http://www.mises.org called “The Common School Movement and Compulsory Education” in which he made some interesting observations. He noted that Unitarian Horace Mann, in 1837, became the first secretary of the State Board of Education in Massachusetts. He said: “Mann led the fight to institute common schools, and his influence extended from New England to America as a whole.” Too bad! One of Mann’s primary reasons for wanting public schools in New England was that he wanted to undermine the influence of the church schools there. In other words, Mann, as a Unitarian was opposed to Christian education. He felt the “state” should run education and Christian influence on education should be done away with. Nobody in this age of political correctness says it that way, but that’s what Mann was really all about.
Mr. Simpson also observed that: “Not long after the Common School movement began, a new movement appeared. This new movement called for compulsory attendance. Massachusetts passed a compulsory attendance law in 1852…By the time Mississippi adopted it in 1918, every state in the nation had ratified compulsion. As was the case with public education, the reformers gave numerous reasons in support of compulsory education.” Immigration was one of those. Supposedly the public schools would teach the new immigrants the principles of “democracy.”
Now here comes the part we are never told. Simpson has said “But even if one believes that forcing kids into public schools will cure society’s ills, it must do so by increasing attendance rates. The common school movement only substituted public attendance for private attendance. Did compulsory attendance laws increase attendance in schools? The answer seems to be no.” Simpson cited a book written by John K. Folger and Charles B. Nam called Education of the American Population and he said “Their findings indicate that compulsion is a very weak factor in increasing attendance.” And he also quoted a Chicago economist, George Stigler, who also did not find any correlation between compulsion and attendance. And one more interesting little fact, Simpson stated also that: “He does note, however, that between 1900 and 1949, teacher salaries rose 709% while per-capita income rose by only 513%.”
So we have compulsory attendance laws that do not increase school attendance all that much, which means that most parents would have sought ways to have their kids educated even if they were not forced to. And Simpson asked the question–if compulsory attendance laws and public schools did not significantly lead to large increases in attendance then why have them at all? Then he got to where the rubber meets the road. He said: “Or maybe a better way of phrasing the question is to ask how a system of public and compulsory education would benefit the educators and politicians who advocated such a system.” Good question–one kids educated in public schools today will probably never think to ask.
That’s the real question. And the answer is control. The educators and politicians would control the educational destinies of the nation’s children and could mold those to benefit not the children, but themselves. When Karl Marx advocated “Free education for all children in public schools” he knew what he was doing. Unthinking and under-educated Americans today still don’t.
There are big bucks to be made if compulsory education is the rule of the day and that return can continue on into perpetuity provided the curriculum is such that the kids are taught to be good little socialist consumers who will never dare question authority. As the head of the NEA said in a speech quoted in the DVD IndoctriNation “It’s all about money and power.”
A good step toward taking their money and power away is to begin to work to repeal compulsory attendance laws in as many places as possible and to begin to make a return to private education (preferably private Christian education) more feasible for many folks.