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Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 22:15:08 -0700
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From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: The most pernicious battle is for the minds of children.
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>>Good and dutiful serfs must be trained early by the state.
>>>Whose Children?
>>>by William Norman Grigg
>>America’s parents are battling for the right to raise their kids
>>Those who educate are more to be honored than those who bear the children. 
>>The latter give them only life; the former teach them the art of living.
>>— Carolyn Warner, former Superintendent 
>>  of Public Instruction in Arizona
>>Each child belongs to the state.
>>— William H. Seawell, professor
>>of education at the University of Virginia
>>>Who are the primary stewards of children—parents, or state-appointed
>>>bureaucrats? Are parents, as John Locke wrote,
>>>instruments in God’s "great design" with "an obligation to nourish,
>>>preserve, and bring up their offspring"? Or are they merely
>>>temporary custodians of the state’s children, expected to provide
>>>lodging and meals during those brief periods when the
>>>children are not under the state’s direct supervision? Is the public
>>>education system intended to supplement the efforts of
>>>parents to educate their children, or to supplant the parents
>>>altogether? These questions were examined last fall in Colorado,
>>>and the answers are relevant to anyone who wants to understand the
>>>character and purposes of America’s public education
>>>Preserving Parental Rights
>>>In 1996, citing concerns about the state’s growing usurpation of
>>>parental authority, a coalition of conservative groups placed a
>>>proposed Parental Rights Amendment (PRA) on the Colorado ballot. Had the
>>>measure passed, that state’s constitution would
>>>have included specific recognition of the fact that parents have the
>>>primary responsibility "to direct and control the upbringing,
>>>education, values and discipline of their children," and pro-family
>>>activists in other states would have been emboldened to
>>>enshrine that principle in their own state constitutions. Of course,
>>>this prospect horrified partisans of the principle of parens
>>>patriae ("fatherhood of the state"), and in short order a
>>>counter-coalition of left-wing activists assembled to defeat the
>>>The anti-PRA lobby, which drew heavily from teachers’ unions, left-wing
>>>pressure groups, and hard-core homosexual activists,
>>>called itself "Protect Our Children" — a name reflecting the assumption
>>>that the state must protect its children from their
>>>parents. One major component of the anti-PRA coalition, the left-wing
>>>group that calls itself "People for the American Way,"
>>>condemned the proposed measure as an "attack on the freedom to learn"
>>>and protested that if PRAs were to pass in Colorado
>>>and elsewhere "communities would [be] paralyzed under the threat of
>>>lawsuits about virtually all the services and programs they
>>>provide" — a revealing objection, as it assumes that education requires
>>>the envelopment of schoolchildren in a web of
>>>state-provided services. Amid great acrimony, the Colorado PRA was
>>>But Colorado is not the only state to wrestle with a PRA. Last January
>>>the Virginia Senate rejected a proposed PRA. The
>>>measure’s opponents, according to the Newport News Daily Press,
>>>described it as a threat to "the health, safety and welfare
>>>of children." How would recognizing parental authority imperil children?
>>>According to Democratic State Senator Joseph V.
>>>Gartlan Jr., who opposed the measure, recognizing the primacy of
>>>parental authority to direct the upbringing and education of
>>>children would "throw into a tailspin society’s reasonable efforts to
>>>protect against abuse and neglect." This objection illustrates
>>>another tacit assumption at work in our public education system:
>>>Although parents are not the primary stewards of children,
>>>they are the primary threat to children.
>>>The rejection of a PRA by the Kansas state legislature in 1994 was in
>>>large measure a vindication of the idea that parents are a
>>>threat to their children. The significance of the PRA’s defeat in Kansas
>>>was not lost on Jim McDavitt, director of the Kansas
>>>Education Watch network. "With the defeat of the Parental Rights
>>>Amendment … every parent in Kansas was told by over
>>>half the legislators that they are not the primary decision makers in
>>>the lives of their children," McDavitt observed. "They are,
>>>however, as a group at large, considered capable and likely of criminal
>>>child abuse."
>>>During debate over the Kansas PRA, State Representative Denise Everhart
>>>declared, "I have a thousand stories of child abuse
>>>that I will recite on the House floor one at a time if I have to in
>>>order to keep this amendment from passing." A similar tack was
>>>taken by State Representative Rochell Chronister, who told her
>>>colleagues that "every time I see this amendment, I cannot help
>>>but think of those children that were burned alive by David Koresh in
>>>Waco, Texas." Taking their cues from this dishonest
>>>description of the Waco outrage, PRA opponents christened the measure
>>>the "David Koresh amendment."
>>>Abuse by the State
>>>Waco actually illustrates the dangers of entrusting the state with the
>>>role of protecting children. In that incident, the federal
>>>government sought to rescue children from alleged parental abuse by
>>>attacking their home with automatic weapons, tanks, and
>>>poison gas. But the Waco tragedy is not the only incident in which the
>>>state has abused children in the name of "protecting"
>>>On March 19, 1996 at the J.T. Lambert Intermediate School in East
>>>Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, 59 eleven-year-old girls were
>>>herded into the school nurse’s office, told to remove their clothes, and
>>>forced to undergo a genital examination. Many of the
>>>children began crying, only to be berated for acting like "babies." Some
>>>of them tried to escape. School authorities explained
>>>after the fact that the children were inspected for abnormalities or
>>>symptoms of venereal disease and that parents had been
>>>given an opportunity to exempt their children from the exam. However,
>>>several of the traumatized girls had been examined over
>>>the explicit objections of their parents.
>>>Katie Tucker, the mother of an 11-year-old girl who was forcibly
>>>examined, told the press: "The girls were scared. They were
>>>crying and trying to run out of the door, but one of the nurses was
>>>blocking the door so they couldn’t leave. My daughter told
>>>the other nurse that ‘My mother wouldn’t like this. I want to call her.’
>>>And they said, ‘No.’ And my daughter said, ‘I don’t
>>>want this test done.’ And the nurse said, ‘Too bad.’"
>>>Dr. Ramlah Vahanvaty, who performed the exams, responded to parental
>>>criticism by dismissing it as a product of "ignorance."
>>>"Even a parent doesn’t have the right to say what’s appropriate for a
>>>physician to do," Dr. Vahanvaty declared, insisting that
>>>the forcible violation of 11-year-old girls was "in the best interest of
>>>the children."
>>>Once again we are brought back to the central point of contention: Is
>>>the task of defining "the best interests" of children to be
>>>assigned to the state and its agents, or to the parents? This matter is
>>>not addressed in the U.S. Constitution — for reasons that
>>>are misunderstood by many. As Dr. Allan Carlson of the Rockford
>>>Institute observes, "The Founders understood the family to
>>>be the social unit that reconciled liberty with order, that kept the
>>>individual’s interests in balance with the interests of community
>>>and posterity." For this reason, Carlson writes, "family issues are
>>>avoided in the U.S. Constitution because they were
>>>irrelevant"; the federal government was given no jurisdiction over
>>>family life. The Founders understood and sustained Locke’s
>>>view that God "made parents instruments in His great design" and had
>>>"laid on the children a perpetual obligation of honouring
>>>their parents.... From this obligation no state … can absolve children."
>>>"Village" Children
>>>To the extent that government at any level had any role in family
>>>policy, it was to be a local responsibility. In contemporary
>>>America, however, "family policy" is defined by the central government,
>>>and the public school system is the primary means
>>>through which federal intervention in the home is facilitated. After
>>>all, as Hillary Rodham Clinton maintains, "It takes a village to
>>>raise a child" — "village" in this instance referring to the state.
>>>"In every country, government must be a partner in the effort on behalf
>>>of children," Mrs. Clinton declared in a June 6th address
>>>to the Second World Congress on Family Law and the Rights of Children
>>>and Youth in San Francisco. "Government can help
>>>ensure that children have a healthy start in life, a solid education,
>>>and skills they need to compete in a global economy." It is also
>>>government’s task, according to Mrs. Clinton, to "give parents the tools
>>>they need to be good parents" — and, presumably, it
>>>is government’s job to decide whether parents are doing an adequate job
>>>of raising the state’s children.
>>>The implicit assumption in Mrs. Clinton’s speech — namely, that the role
>>>of parents is to act as administrative agents for the
>>>state within the home — was made more explicit in remarks offered by
>>>Attorney General Janet Reno to the same gathering.
>>>According to Reno, the task of raising children involves nothing less
>>>than "reweaving the fabric of community around the
>>>youngsters who are at risk," a category which apparently includes all
>>>American children. "The first place we need to start is at
>>>home," Reno declared. "We know the risk factors for violence, and, even
>>>more importantly, we know what types of support,
>>>services, and sanctions children, youth, and families need to develop
>>>safely, without violence."
>>>Reno continued: "We are working together to give them a chance for a
>>>strong and tolerant future by doing everything we can to
>>>promote parenting skills, to provide proper preventive medical care in
>>>the early years, to provide them safe, constructive child
>>>care in the formative years, to provide them with the afternoon and
>>>evening programs that can make a difference, giving them
>>>the education they need to really become productive members of society."
>>>In Reno’s litany of "support, services, and
>>>sanctions," where could parents possibly fit in?
>>>But the Clinton Administration and its allies are not content merely to
>>>provide children with "afternoon and evening programs"
>>>and "safe, constructive child care." Throughout the country, school
>>>districts are developing "wrap-around support services" that
>>>begin with home visits from social workers — often before the child is
>>>born. Such programs as "Success by Six" in Minnesota,
>>>"Parents as Teachers" in Missouri, and "Open Doors" in Hawaii focus on
>>>getting agents of government into the home as early as
>>>possible and keeping them there during the pre-school years. "I cannot
>>>say enough in support of home visits," Mrs. Clinton
>>>enthused in her ghost-written opus It Takes a Village. The
>>>Administration’s Goals 2000 education program provides federal
>>>subsidies for such state-level initiatives as a means of ensuring that
>>>all children arrive at the doorstep of government schools
>>>"ready to learn" — meaning that they have become habituated to the
>>>state’s guiding influence in their lives.
>>>But the Clintonites have even greater ambitions for the state’s role in
>>>the lives of "its" children and the Administration’s 1995
>>>budget offered a revealing glimpse of its fundamentally totalitarian
>>>mind-set. In a preface to a section dealing with "Family
>>>Preservation and Support Funds" — which contained increases in federal
>>>funding for Head Start, child immunizations, and
>>>other "investments" — can be found the following remarkable
>>>As early as the fourth century B.C., the philosopher Plato stressed the
>>>importance … of investing in children from an early age.
>>>In The Republic, he discusses the type of poetry youth should learn,
>>>physical exercise they should undertake and diets they
>>>should follow.... He observes, "… the first step, as you know, is always
>>>what matters most, particularly when we are dealing
>>>with those who are young and tender. That is the time when they are
>>>taking shape and when any impression we choose to
>>>make leaves a permanent mark."
>>>President Clinton once recalled that his mentor, the late Georgetown
>>>history professor Caroll Quigley, taught him that Plato
>>>"was a fascist" — and yet the Administration’s preferred template for
>>>education and social policy is Plato’s totalitarian
>>>Republic. Tragically, as we shall see, this is entirely in keeping with
>>>the origins and purposes of America’s statist education
>>>Fascist Philosophy
>>>"Throughout history, rulers and court intellectuals have aspired to use
>>>the educational system to shape their nations," writes
>>>Sheldon Richman in his book Separating School and State. "The model was
>>>set out by Plato in The Republic and was
>>>constructed most faithfully in Soviet Russia, Fascist Italy, and Nazi
>>>Germany.... One can see how irresistible a vehicle the
>>>schools would be to any social engineer. They represent a unique
>>>opportunity to mold future citizens early in life, to instill in
>>>them the proper reverence for the ruling culture, and to prepare them to
>>>be obedient and obeisant taxpayers and soldiers."
>>>Plato’s model for his own utopian Republic was ancient Sparta, in which
>>>children were taken from their parents during infancy
>>>and molded into soldiers for the militaristic Spartan society. Thus,
>>>Plato’s utopian blueprint specified that "no parent is to know
>>>his own child, nor any child his parent," and the society was to be
>>>based upon a "community of property and a community of
>>>The Platonic model was embraced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, one of the
>>>intellectual architects of the French Revolution.
>>>Rousseau taught that the state was "the common mother of all her
>>>citizens," and he maintained that "instead of saying that civil
>>>society is derived from parental authority, we ought to say rather that
>>>the latter derives from the former" — in other words, that
>>>parents received a limited child-rearing mandate from the state. This
>>>totalitarian concept was embraced by the leaders of
>>>revolutionary France. Bertrand Barere, a member of the revolutionary
>>>Committee on Public Safety, instructed his colleagues
>>>that "children belong to the general family, to the Republic, before
>>>belonging to private families."
>>>Prussia also adopted Plato’s totalitarian model of government education.
>>>According to Richman, "Europe’s first national system
>>>of education was set up by King Frederick William I of Prussia in 1717.
>>>His son, Frederick the Great, following in his father’s
>>>footsteps, said, ‘The prince is to the nation he governs what the head
>>>is to the man; it is his duty to see, think, and act for the
>>>whole community.’" This principle was insinuated into every aspect of
>>>the Prussian school system. Following Prussia’s defeat at
>>>the hands of Napoleon in 1806, Frederick William III tightened the grip
>>>of the Prussian system even further. Notes Richman:
>>>"He instituted certification of teachers and abolished semi-religious
>>>private schools.... Children aged 7 to 14 years had to attend
>>>school. Parents could be fined or have their children taken away if the
>>>children did not attend. Private schools could exist only
>>>as long as they kept to the standards of the government’s schools."
>>>When a unified German nation was created, it was the Prussian model of
>>>education that prevailed. German philosopher Johann
>>>Fichte defined the German education ethic by explaining that schools
>>>"must fashion the person, and fashion him in such a way
>>>that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will." In
>>>1917, German educational theorist Franz de Hovre
>>>observed: "The prime fundamental of German education is that it is based
>>>on a national principle.... [It is] education to the
>>>State, education for the State, education by the State. The Volksschule
>>>is a direct result of a national principle aimed at national
>>>unity. The State is the supreme end in view." Just a few years later,
>>>the Nazi (National Socialist) Party seized control of
>>>Germany’s centralized educational system — with tragic results for that
>>>nation and the world.
>>>Importing Parens Patriae
>>>But it should not be assumed that the Germans were uniquely enamored of
>>>centralized statist education. Award-winning teacher
>>>and educational commentator John Taylor Gatto writes, "A small number of
>>>very passionate American ideological leaders
>>>visited Prussia in the first half of the 19th century; fell in love with
>>>the order, obedience, and efficiency of its education system;
>>>and campaigned relentlessly thereafter to bring the Prussian vision to
>>>these shores." This admiration for the Prussian system was
>>>not based on its ability to impart knowledge or to develop intellectual
>>>skills; rather, it was that system’s success in creating
>>>"obedient and subordinate graduates, properly respectful of arbitrary
>>>Sheldon Richman notes that American public school advocates "imported
>>>three major ideas from Prussia. The first was that the
>>>purpose of state schooling was not intellectual training but the
>>>conditioning of children ‘to obedience, subordination, and
>>>collective life.’... Second, whole ideas were broken into fragmented
>>>‘subjects’ and school days were divided into fixed periods
>>>‘so that self-motivation to learn would be muted by ceaseless
>>>interruptions.’ Third, the state was posited as the true parent
>>>of children." (Emphasis added.)
>>>But the "parenthood" of the state ultimately rests upon coercion —
>>>something that was clearly understood by advocates of the
>>>"Prussianization" of American education. Calvin Stowe, author of the
>>>19th-century tract The Prussian System of Public
>>>Instruction and Its Applicability to the United States, wrote: "A man
>>>has no more right to endanger the state by throwing
>>>upon it a family of ignorant and vicious children than he has to give
>>>admission to the spies of an invading army. If he is unable to
>>>educate his children, the state should assist him — if unwilling, it
>>>should compel him."
>>>Some state courts eagerly embraced both the Prussian educational
>>>philosophy and the associated notion that the state is the
>>>true parent of American children. In 1839, the Pennsylvania Supreme
>>>Court, invoking the concept of parens patriae, ruled that
>>>the state was entitled to seize children from parents found to be
>>>"unequal to" or "unworthy of the task" of educating their
>>>children. By the end of the 19th century, the "Prussianization" of U.S.
>>>education was well underway, and the doctrine of parens
>>>patriae had become firmly embedded in America’s legal culture. In 1882,
>>>the Illinois Supreme Court asserted: "It is the
>>>unquestioned right and imperative duty of every enlightened government,
>>>in its character of parens patriae, to protect and
>>>provide for the comfort and well-being of its citizens.... The
>>>performance of this duty is justly regarded as one of the most
>>>important governmental functions, and all constitutional limitations
>>>must be so understood and construed so as not to interfere
>>>with its proper and legitimate exercise." A 1901 decision by the Indiana
>>>Supreme Court extended this principle backward into
>>>the nursery, holding that the state is the principal steward over
>>>children even in infancy — thus embracing, in principle, Plato’s
>>>original totalitarian design.
>>>"By the early twentieth century," observes educational historian Joel
>>>Spring, "the school in fact had expanded its functions into
>>>areas not dreamed of in the early part of the previous century.... The
>>>school [became] a central social agency in urban America.
>>>The one theme that ran through all these new school programs was the
>>>desire to maintain discipline and order in urban life.
>>>Within this framework, the school became a major agency for social
>>>Elitist Designs
>>>"Social control" was the stated objective of the General Education Board
>>>(GEB), a private institution created by John D.
>>>Rockefeller in 1902 that developed and promoted various radical schemes
>>>to reconfigure American society through the statist
>>>school system. "In our dreams, we have limitless resources, and the
>>>people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding
>>>hand," wrote GEB Chairman Frederick Gates. "The present educational
>>>conventions fade from our minds; and, unhampered by
>>>tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive
>>>rural folk."
>>>As the resources of the Rockefeller, Carnegie, Ford, and other
>>>foundations became available to underwrite their designs,
>>>subversives and collectivists within the school system became brazen
>>>about their intentions. In 1932, George S. Counts, a
>>>Fabian Socialist who taught at Columbia University Teachers College,
>>>instructed his followers that "teachers should deliberately
>>>reach for power and then make the most of their conquest" by seeking to
>>>"influence the social attitudes, ideals and behavior of
>>>the coming generation." Counts contended that America had entered "a new
>>>age where ignorance must be replaced by
>>>knowledge, competition by cooperation, trust in Providence by careful
>>>planning, and private capitalism by some form of
>>>socialized economy."
>>>The "knowledge" the educrats had in mind, of course, was not the moral
>>>and intellectual wisdom needed to live responsibly in a
>>>free society, but the propaganda required to win blind obedience to the
>>>arbitrary dictates of an all-powerful state. Students, in
>>>fact, would be conditioned to view the state (not the family) as the
>>>most important of all loyalties and institutions and
>>>(eventually) to love Big Brother. The state would equip its students
>>>with enough "knowledge" to perform certain tasks in the
>>>interests of the state, but not enough to think independently or to
>>>yearn for freedom. As we shall see in subsequent articles in
>>>this issue, the "dumbing down" of an entire generation of American youth
>>>has been a tragic result of this insidious program.
>>>Socialists of a more militant variety were also making big plans for
>>>America’s educational system. In his 1932 book Toward
>>>Soviet America, William Z. Foster, head of the Communist Party, USA,
>>>declared, "Among the elementary measures the
>>>American Soviet government will adopt to further the cultural revolution
>>>are the following: the schools, colleges, and universities
>>>will be coordinated and grouped under the National Department of
>>>Education and its state and local branches. The studies will
>>>be revolutionized, being cleansed of religious, patriotic, and other
>>>features of the bourgeoisie ideology. The students will be
>>>taught on the basis of Marxian dialectical materialism,
>>>internationalism, and the general ethics of the new socialist society."
>>>It is not difficult to recognize the fulfillment of many of Foster’s
>>>ambitions in our contemporary public education: A national
>>>Department of Education does set the policy for school systems across
>>>the country; biblical religious content has been purged
>>>out of public schools and replaced in many instances with the neo-pagan
>>>nostrums of earth worship; in the name of
>>>"multicultural" education, patriotic depictions of American history have
>>>been jettisoned, and once-renowned figures from
>>>Columbus to George Washington are subjects of ritualized execration; and
>>>children are constantly marinated in notions of
>>>"world citizenship" and "collectivism." Even as children in
>>>government-run schools are taught subservience to the state, they are
>>>encouraged to develop hostility toward other traditional sources of
>>>authority, such as the moral teachings of their parents.
>>>Glue of Coercion
>>>Some might object that the proliferating pathologies that characterize
>>>contemporary government schools — drug abuse, sexual
>>>promiscuity and teen pregnancy, violence, and other misbehavior —
>>>effectively rebut the idea that the school system is intended
>>>to "maintain discipline and order." But this misses the point: The
>>>government school system has succeeded brilliantly in creating
>>>a society that can only be held together by state coercion, in the form
>>>of police power.
>>>"For 140 years this nation has tried to impose objectives downward from
>>>a lofty command center made up of ‘experts,’ a
>>>central elite of social engineers," John Taylor Gatto told the New York
>>>State Senate in 1991 after being named that state’s
>>>Teacher of the Year. "It hasn’t worked. It won’t work.... It doesn’t
>>>work because its fundamental premises are mechanical,
>>>anti-human, and hostile to family life. Lives can be controlled by
>>>machine education but they will always fight back with
>>>weapons of social pathology: drugs, violence, self-destruction,
>>>indifference, and the symptoms I see in the children I teach."
>>>Gatto pointed out that in the name of fostering collective order, the
>>>statist school system is destroying community: "[I]t
>>>destroys communities by relegating the training of children to the hands
>>>of certified experts — and by doing so it ensures our
>>>children cannot grow up fully human" — becoming instead mindless
>>>automatons programmed by the state’s change agents.
>>>Rather than instilling in youngsters an appreciation for individual
>>>liberty, the system has brought to life "the ancient pharaonic
>>>dream of Egypt: compulsory subordination for all.... Schools teach
>>>exactly what they are intended to teach and they do it well:
>>>how to be a good Egyptian and remain in your place in the pyramid."
>>>"The future of education, and of America as a free society, depends on
>>>the liberation of the American family from the grip of the
>>>public school," contends Sheldon Richman. "Regardless of motives, the
>>>people who foisted state education on us have
>>>committed a grave offense.... Using a variety of strategies, we must
>>>reclaim the right to raise our children and to help them
>>>educate themselves. In a fundamental sense, that is the American way."
>>>There is no more important task, Richman concludes,
>>>than to build "a wall of separation … between school and state" and
>>>restore a system of "family-based learning" in which
>>>children can develop their God-given abilities as free individuals.
>>>"It is a great triumph of compulsory government monopoly mass-schooling
>>>that among even the best of my fellow teachers, and
>>>among even the best of my students’ parents, only a small number can
>>>imagine a different way to do things," laments John
>>>Taylor Gatto. To restore sanity to American education, to rescue the
>>>increasingly embattled family, and to preserve and
>>>perpetuate individual freedom, "a different way to do things" must be
>>>found — and soon.

Paul Andrew Mitchell                 : Counselor at Law, federal witness
B.A., Political Science, UCLA;  M.S., Public Administration, U.C. Irvine

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