Challenge: Which institution would I de-fund 100%?
I would eliminate all funding for education, including all of the military academies.
Most people would probably choose a federal program to eliminate. I wouldn’t. I think all government begins with self-government and then extends to three institutions: family, church, and state.
My slogan is “Politics fourth.”
Judicial sovereignty lies with the individual. Why? Because the individual is responsible for his own actions. If individuals do not govern themselves, there is not sufficient power anywhere else in society to force all men to do the right thing, or the predictable thing, or the sensible thing. The only reason why any institutional government works is because the vast majority of people under some governmental administration govern themselves on the basis of agreed-upon ethical and practical principles. In other words, if self-government breaks down, we are faced with either tyranny or chaos. Because people will not live in chaos, they will choose to submit to tyranny.
Second, I am a traditional conservative. I am therefore a disciple of Edmund Burke. I think the most government in life is not political. I think the most government has to do with voluntary associations, personal commitments on a face-to-face basis, and local organizations that deal with local problems.
Third, if I wanted to call myself a liberal, I would call myself a disciple of Alexis de Tocqueville, who took pretty much the same approach that Edmund Burke did when Tocqueville analyzed and described the American commonwealth of 1830.
A SUBSTITUTE CHURCH
I am convinced that the American public school system is a humanistic attempt to substitute the state for the church. This has certainly been the case in American history. Massachusetts was the last state to get rid of tax-funded churches, which it did in 1833. Four years later, it created the state Board of Education and began pursuing the tax funding of primary education.
The main goal of the Yankees in 1837 was essentially the goal of the Puritans in 1642, namely, to create the city on a hill that would serve as an operational model for the rest of the world. The Yankees were driven by the lust for money, social position, and political power, whereas the Puritans were driven by the fear of God and the conviction that men if left to their own devices, would run to sin and destruction with all deliberate speed. The Puritans wanted to achieve a decent society by means of controlling the impulses of sinful men. The Yankees wanted to achieve a decent society by not only controlling the impulses of sin but also by promoting righteous causes by means of state funding. The public school system was the first great Yankee experiment in this regard.
There were always opponents of the Yankees, but, region by region, state by state, county by county, municipality by municipality, they all adopted the Yankees’ central institution, the public school system. By hook or by crook — and in the case of the Civil War, by means of military conquest — the Yankees exported the public school system, and then, in alliance with New York City publishers, took over the production of textbooks that would be used to reshape the rest of the country along Yankee lines. New York publishers were in it for the money. The Yankees were in it for the reform possibilities. Of course, Yankee authors were always happy to get book royalties for their textbooks. They were content to let the New York publishers keep 90% of the revenues.
If you look at the history of textbook production, begin with the place of publication. You probably won’t know the names of the publishing houses, beginning in the 19th century, but you will recognize the cities. The cities are these: New York and Boston. This was not random. Also, it has not changed much over the years. You don’t see major textbook publishing houses located in Dallas, Seattle, Atlanta, St. Louis, or Denver. Maybe an occasional Los Angeles or Chicago firm sneaks in.
The public school system from day one has been run by Boston and New York. Educators earn their Ph.D. degrees from Harvard or Columbia. Columbia has the most influential of all the graduate programs in education. This has been true for over a century. Columbia Teachers College has been by far the most important training institution for public school teachers from the end of the 19th century until today. Its USP (unique selling proposition) is straightforward:
Teachers College, Columbia University is the first and largest graduate school of education in the United States and is also perennially ranked among the nation’s best. Its name notwithstanding, the College is committed to a vision of education writ large, encompassing our four core areas of expertise: health, education, leadership, and psychology.
The key figure was John Dewey. He taught at Columbia University. He set the pattern for Columbia Teachers College. Wikipedia correctly describes his position:
Known for his advocacy of democracy, Dewey considered two fundamental elements–schools and civil society–to be major topics needing attention and reconstruction to encourage experimental intelligence and plurality. Dewey asserted that complete democracy was to be obtained not just by extending voting rights but also by ensuring that there exists a fully formed public opinion, accomplished by communication among citizens, experts, and politicians, with the latter being accountable for the policies they adopt.
We are also informed of the following: “From 1904 until his retirement in 1930 he was a professor of philosophy at both Columbia University and Columbia University’s Teachers College. In 1905 he became president of the American Philosophical Association. He was a longtime member of the American Federation of Teachers.”
For anybody who wants to understand the history of American education, there are three authors to consider. One, Lawrence Cremin, is almost universally regarded by the academic community as the official expert in the history of American education. His books will give you the names and places. Second, you would be wise to read R. J. Rushdoony’s book, The Messianic Character American Education. It takes you through the writings of the two dozen founders of American progressive education. The title tells all: the public school system was the humanists’ self-conscious replacement of the churches. The third, written by one of the great public school teachers in modern times, John Taylor Gatto, is titled The Underground History of American Education. Gatto quit teaching in the public schools of New York City after he had won teacher of the year three times. His book shows you why American manufacturers wanted to control the public schools.
Americans think it astounding that people in Massachusetts in 1832 and people in Connecticut in 1815 still believed that tax money should be used to subsidize local Congregational churches. Yet the vast majority of Americans do not blink an eye at the idea that tax money should be used to fund the institution that correctly has been identified as America’s only established church. This is what Rushdoony called it in 1963, and this is what liberal historian Sidney Mead also called it in 1963 in his book, The Lively Experiment: The Shaping of Christianity in America. But the churches only really shaped the thinking of the public on Sundays, and only for a few hours. Attendance was not compulsory. The modern humanist state has established its church, and attendance is compulsory in most cases, five days a week, eight hours a day. They even send out yellow buses to bring the parishioners’ children into the churches.