L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 219, April 14, 2003
AND YOU'RE WORKING FOR NO ONE BUT ME
America's Close Call With Educational Disaster
Special to TLE
Education in The Land of the Free appears to have had a close call with disaster. I have dredged the Sargasso Sea of cyberspace to uncover this arcane bit of history, and I offer it to readers for your edification. Since it is from the World Wide Web, you know it's true.
On cheap paper, once used as package wrapping and now brought to nobler service, a Soviet idealist writes excitedly to his co-conspirator, a "mole" within the Department of Education:
Dear Comrade Boris,
If we are to achieve the goals of the great Stalin, we must do so by means of the only institution capable of gradually shaping the American mind over the generations, namely schooling. My three-fold plan of (1) FUNDING, (2) PROVISION and (3) COMPULSION will provide the three-way support required for long-term stability. Like a stool, which is only stable if it has three legs, my three-pronged plan will create a vast system that will be stable enough to dominate the educational system of the decadent American people. Within just a couple of generations, nearly every American will be a product of the system and will find it impossible to discern the shaping to which his views have been subjected.
The first leg, Funding—Government must extensively fund education. This will squeeze private schools almost completely out of the market; only the wealthy and the highly dedicated will have access to them. With the regulations attached to the funds, control of staff and curriculum will shift to central authority. If any counter-attempts are made to channel funding only to families with low incomes, we must ignore or ridicule such attempts. No half-hearted effort to take over will work—anyway, this is revolution, not charity.
The second leg, Provision—It is not enough merely to supply money; we must get into providing the buildings and institutions too. Scholarships, vouchers and tax credits will only make parents feel they have as much right in choosing a school as they have in choosing a supermarket. (And speaking of supermarkets, we needn't apply my plan to them: they will die away naturally within a few short years, due to the inherent flaws of capitalist piggery.) By establishing government schools and calling them "free" we will be perceived as compassionate and, eventually, as necessary.
The third leg, Compulsion—We must make attendance at school mandatory. This will prevent all but the most intrepid from escaping the system. More importantly, people will grow to think of education as a right, and students will come to see schooling as an obligation to endure rather than a value to be sought. Such laws will also help shift responsibility of preparing a child for life from the child's parents to the state: an essential ingredient if we are to be at all successful in centralizing authority. As for home schoolers, we must first question their competence, then increasingly regulate them, and eventually outlaw the practice.
Like the piles securing the wharves of our Marxist homeland, this new system can be driven deeply and will rise high. I am sure you will agree that my triple plan has much in common with a good stool. And that through it, education in America has the potential of becoming a great pile—higher and deeper than anyone would ever have dreamed.
Please let me know what you think, so I can assist you in our goal of destroying America.
His compatriot in America wrote back, on nice stationery:
My Dear Ivan,
These people are miles ahead of you—and I had absolutely nothing to do with it! Digging their own graves they are, and of conspiracy I find no sign anywhere. It's all so crazy, my mind just reels. I have given up the Party and now have a decent job at Kroger's. Get a life.
And that was the correspondence I discovered. What does it all mean?
As an educator experienced in both "public" and private schools, I must say that these letters sound like fabrications. Rather than historical truth, I imagine they were manufactured by some radical who simply refuses to accept the world as it is.
What a fool, he.