Critical Race Theory and the arguments and actions both for and against it are constantly in the news—headlines tell us how it is variously mandated, praised, cursed, or banned. Yet, through the din, a larger question is taking form: how did the teaching industry become a political behemoth largely opposed to Western and Judeo/Christian values?
It becomes increasingly clear to parents that some (not all!) teachers, administrators, and government officials not only don’t care what parents think, but they believe that they have superior knowledge, more noble motives, and superior rights in this regard. After all, as public employees, they think they represent the state; and in their minds, children are, after all, not your children because all children are wards of the state.
In a September 29 letter to President Biden, the National School Boards Association (NSBA), representing more than 90,000 school board members, regarding the rising frustration of parents, told the President that as, “threats and acts of violence have become more prevalent, NSBA respectfully asks that a joint collaboration among federal law enforcement agencies, state and local law enforcement, and with public school officials be undertaken to focus on these threats.” In other words, they want the FBI to protect them from angry parents, and such an effort is already mobilized.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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The National Education Association (NEA) is against homeschooling because parents are not required to hold a teacher’s certificate. I am reminded of the former school board member I know who sat in on a class at school. She described to me how the teacher assigned reading to her students and then went to her desk with no further student interaction—hardly an approach that would require a certificate. Similarly, I had a college professor who read from the textbook for the entire period (okay, so it was a third-rate junior college—but the schlump had a certificate!).
Don’t waste my time telling me that exceptions don’t make the rule and that there are plenty of good teachers around—I know them well and have deep respect for them. Their existence does not negate the flaws in the system.
Are our children wards of the state? For those still in the system, their education is provided by the state, their presence is mandated, preschool is more and more provided/mandated, and, in some schools, both breakfast and lunch are provided. The school system has mandated vaccinations in the past and has achieved mass compliance. Religion has been banished from the public sphere, which we have allowed them to control. The only reason that they consider our children as wards of the state is that we have allowed them to become tantamount to such. If you’re not convinced of that, let them be truant and see how that goes.
Of course, this is certainly not a new problem. Our school system is simply living up to its pedigree. To understand that pedigree, we need to take a virtual trip to Prussia in the middle of the nineteenth century, where we will be able to observe Kulturkampf (cultural struggle) in action.
But first, let’s travel back to the high Middle Ages, before the invention of the printing press. Books were hand copied, prohibitively expensive, and therefore rare, a reality that absolutely necessitated the concept of lecturing and extensive note-taking.
Now step back into the present. Though books are as cheap as dirt, we still employ a pointlessly expensive lecture system of education. Some teachers will assign reading to their pupils but will tell them to take extensive notes because the tests will be based primarily on the lectures. Given that knowledge, many pupils never see the insides of their textbooks. Why would they? And why do we allow this? Parental approval of textbooks is readily doable; parental approval of lectures is highly unlikely. Is this not by design? Self-perpetuation and self-aggrandizement are powerful forces. Now, I readily admit that I’m being simplistic; for example, some students are better auditory learners than they are visual learners. Are we so dull as to think unscripted lectures to be the only solution?
Returning to Prussia, it is the year 1871 and the government of Otto von Bismarck is about to raise anti-Catholic sentiment to new heights. Prussia had been officially Protestant up until the German Revolution of 1848. Leveraging the anti-Catholic sentiment of the Lutheran majority and the woke anti-Christian liberal movement of the day, Prince Bismarck, placing national unity above all other considerations, became an unabashed champion of secularism in all things. Here are some of the highlights of Kulturkampf, steps taken by the Bismarck government that would become known as the May Laws.
- In July, 1871, he abolished the Catholic Section of the Prussian Ministry of Worship.
- Later that year, the Reichstag passed a law abolishing all ecclesiastical supervision of the primary-school system.
- In July, 1872, the Reichstag passed a law against Catholic religious orders, barring them from ministry in church or school.
- Catholic affairs in the military were removed from the Church and given to the “Old Catholic” church (think state church, as currently in China).
- The Prussian bureaucracy moved to make the Catholic clergy independent of Rome, placing the education of clergy in the hands of the liberalistic state. All manner of bureaucratic rules (known as the Falk Laws) were put in place to facilitate apostasy. As these changes were unconstitutional, the constitution was soon amended to allow them (May 1873; dubbed the “May Laws”).
The draconian measures adopted are too many to be enumerated here. Suffice it to say that the faithful rallied and the subversion attempted by the Bismarck government only worked to cement the Catholic resolve, so much so that by 1878 the government was seeking reconciliation, and would, over the next decade, revoke the May Laws.
In the process, much lasting damage, in the form of the approach to education, had become institutionalized, and its scientifically barbarous efficiency had been noted by the world. What had laid the foundation for this extensive secularization? To answer that we need to look at the philosophical innovations of the nineteenth century.
We can start with Johann Gottlieb Fichte. The Catholic Encyclopedia says that he “proclaimed the ego as the supreme reality,” and that, following his lead, “the romanticists proceeded to free creative genius from the barriers of convention and tradition,”—traditions like Catholicism; indeed, Christianity.
To get a taste of Fichte, we have this, among his more notable lapses of human dignity:
If you want to influence [the student] at all, you must do more than merely talk to him; you must fashion him, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will.
He also said:
Education should aim at destroying free will so that after pupils are thus schooled they will be incapable throughout the rest of their lives of thinking or acting otherwise than as their school masters would have wished. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for more than one generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen.
Fichte and his philosophy came on the heels of Prussian defeat in the Napoleonic war and hijacked a wounded national pride to produce a soulless military machine via a dehumanizing school system.
Below are some highlights of that system:
- Free (i.e., paid for through taxation)
- Totally secular
- State (intelligentsia) approved
- Highly indoctrinated, licensed teachers
- School consolidation and strict stratification by age group
Former communist operative Dr. Bella Dodd, in her book School of Darkness (1963), recounts a trip she made to Germany in 1930. Concerning her visit to the university, she writes:
Here were men of the highest intellectual achievements who were ready to attach themselves to the forces of violence. I did not then realize, as I now do, that for close to a century the educational world of Germany had been subjected to systematic despiritualization which could result only in the dehumanization now apparent. This made it possible for such despiritualized men to serve both the Nazi and later the communist power with a terrifying loyalty and efficiency.
All this being noted, consider this recent exchange between Virginia gubernatorial candidates Glenn Youngkin (R) and Terry McAuliffe (D), who previously served as governor from 2014-2018:
Youngkin: What we’ve seen over the course of the last 20 months is our school systems refusing to engage with parents. In fact, in Fairfax County this past week, we watched parents so upset because there was such sexually explicit material in the library they had never seen, it was shocking.” Addressing McAuliffe directly, he said, “And in fact, you vetoed the bill that would have informed parents that they were there.” He continued, “You believe school systems should tell children what to do. I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.
In response, McAuliffe argued that parents would have “had the right to veto books” under the bill he had vetoed as former governor, while adding that he’s “not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision.” In summary, he said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
There you have it. End of discussion—if it weren’t for a host of fed-up, angry parents.
With enough prayer and reparation, we may soon be humbly emboldened enough to end this century-and-a-half-long sinister parade of dehumanization.
[Photo Credit: Octavio Jones/Getty Images]