As a member of the Separation of School and State Alliance, which advocates repealing compulsory school attendance laws and government funding of education, I am occasionally asked what would America be like if compulsory attendance laws were done away with and the government got out of the education business.
My answer is that we'd probably become the best-educated nation in the world. Why? Because when you are in charge of your own education, you seek the best that you can get, and in this age of high technology and endless resources, the very best is available to anyone who wants to look for it.
Let's face it. The public schools use the most boring textbooks to teach bored kids what they really don't care to know. In fact, most public schools don't even teach kids to read properly. They use teaching methods that create reading disability. Now, if you were in charge of teaching your own children to read, would you use a teaching method that produced reading disability? Of course not. You'd seek out a program that produced learning success. Such programs do exist, despite the fact that many public schools refuse to use them.
We tend to forget that the parents of the Founding Fathers were not compelled to send their children to King George's public schools. There was total educational freedom in the colonies, and that is why it was possible to get the finest education available - either at home or at an academy owned by an individual whose job it was to provide the best education possible. And it was well understood what was meant by education. First, it required a grounding in the Bible, and learning the languages in which the Holy Scripture and theological literature was written: Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. It meant developing the intellectual faculties, the ability to read and to use language. It was understood that the mastery of language, which is the basic tool of thought, was the key to intellectual development.
In today's public schools, children's brains are stultified by the use of teaching methods resembling a non-surgical prefrontal lobotomy. Bright, intelligent children are deliberately made stupid by teaching methods calculated to do just that. We know that children are by nature intelligent because they start learning their own language practically from birth. By the time they are ready to attend school, they have mastered a vocabulary in the thousands of words. And they have done all of this by themselves, by listening and imitating the people around them, without the help of certified government teachers or schools.
All children, except the very seriously handicapped, are born with an innate language faculty. All children, therefore, are dynamos of language learning, and the Bible tells us why. God gave us the power of speech because He wanted to communicate with those He had created. In fact, the primary function of language was to permit man to know God. In other words, knowledge of God was the first step in Adam's education. The second function of language was to enable Adam to know the world. The Bible says in Genesis 2:18:
And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
In other words, God made Adam into an observer of the natural world around him, a scientist, and a lexicographer - an expander of language, and a maker of dictionaries. Then God gave Adam Eve. The Bible says: "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." So now language was to be used to know others and explore, discover, cultivate, conserve, and conquer. And finally, Adam was to use language to know himself, for language is the tool of thought, and we use language with our own inner dialogue in the solitude of our being.
Since we know what God made man into, the purpose of education should be to make a man into what God intended him to be: lexicographer, scientist, explorer, inventor, conqueror, farmer, conservationist, and also husband, father, head of his family, and educator to his children.
True educators, steeped in Biblical knowledge, have always known that the development of language and its uses was the initial purpose of education. In Deuteronomy we learn the religious and social functions of education: to know God, and to pass on to future generations that knowledge, that love, that admonition. Language is that means of cultural and religious transmission. The Bible, passed from generation to generation, is a testament to the everlasting value of the written Word of God. An education system that denies this overwhelming truth cannot be accepted by a God-fearing people.
We read in the Gospel of John, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Thus, the Word is the key to everything of importance in our lives. But compulsory school attendance has destroyed that foundational knowledge and appreciation. You cannot even mention the Word of God in a government school. If we had educational freedom, the Word of God could once more become central to the lives of the American people.
There is no doubt that we would become the best educated people on earth, because we would know what education is and choose the best means to achieve it. We would acknowledge our dependence on God for ultimate wisdom. We would cultivate the minds of our children so that this God-given world of incredible beauty, variety, and mystery would be open to their curiosity and interest.
The public schools of today deprive children of their right to be what God made them to be. That is their sin. Charlotte Iserbyt, in her magnum opus, The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, proves through exhaustive documentation, that secular educators are using animal training techniques developed by behavioral scientists to turn American children into mindless robots who respond reflexively to stimuli presented by imposed godless authority. The children are being conditioned to respond through reinforcement as predicted by their trainers. As trained animals, they cannot take dominion over anything.
Education is not the same as training. Animals can be trained. They cannot be educated.
The present system of education reduces man to animal status so that he is denied the knowledge that he was made in God's image. When human beings, especially children, are trained like animals, they are being denied what is truly human about them: their ability to use their minds independently of any trainer. It is criminal to deprive children of their human qualities and capabilities. But that is what is being done in the name of School-to-Work, Outcome Based Education, and other such programs.
Our schools now teach children death education, suicide education, sex education, and drug education. Charlotte Iserbyt has observed that anything that is taught with the word "education" attached to it, is not really education. You don't call reading, reading education. You don't call arithmetic, arithmetic education. You don't call spelling, spelling education. In other words, what they are really teaching is death, suicide, sex and drugs. By adding the word education to these subjects, the educators fool parents into thinking that what the schools are doing is not subversive of their children's health and well-being, but something beneficial. But we know that it is not.
How much longer will Americans permit their children to be robbed of their most precious human values? Homeschoolers no longer permit it. But they represent a very small percentage of families in America. But their numbers are growing. Little by little, the word is getting out.
Thank God for that!