Where the Founders Went Wrong

In pre-revolutionary times, the British government (some say the King, but England has had a Parliament since after the civil war in the middle 1600s) was trying to control religion and the press.  The practice, in some form or another, was ancient by the time of the American Revolution, as we see the Bishop next to the king and queen on a chessboard.  When the U.S. was formed it was therefore fresh in the minds of the Founders that there should be some strict protection of both religious freedom and freedom of speech.

Why?  Why is it so important that government not be in control of religious practices or of the press?  It’s because as we all know, governments invariably grab more and more power for themselves at the expense of liberty.  What better way to help that process along than to control the thinking and the beliefs of the people, and what better way to control the thinking and beliefs of the people than to control religion and the press?

But there is something missing.  If you can’t have control of religion and the press, there is something just as powerful as a means of controlling the minds and beliefs of the people.

Education. (I’ll also include science, which would be seen as a sub set within education until we see the vast amounts of money poured into government research grants and the like)

It’s a pity the Britts weren’t trying to establish political and social indoctrination centers disguised as schools, circa 1770.  In that case our first amendment would have been slightly different;

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or respecting the establishment of education, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

As it is, your kids are being taught what to believe, not in a Church Of America and not by a U.S. version of Pravda, but in government schools.

(If the kingdoms of Medieval times had used education as it is being used today, maybe we’d see a “College President” or maybe a “Head of Education”, or perhaps a “Head of the Teachers’ Union” in the same line with the king and queen, the knights, and the rooks on a chessboard)


6 thoughts on “Where the Founders Went Wrong

  1. This is a very good point, and one that deserves to be spread. I think a lot of adults don’t fully understand just how bad it is in the schools. Perhaps they compare it to their own experience, and they got out okay, so it can’t be any worse… But they may not realize just how much 12 years of education in a biased system has tilted their worldview.

    I’ve been opposed to public education ever since escaping it, but I’ve never thought of that angle to it. My concern has been quality of education. Literacy rates for the publically schooled population are lower than for modern home-schoolers, parochial schools, and even for the free population of the US before public schools were started. People have been trying to reform it since Why Johnny Can’t Read was published in the 50’s, but the overall trend has remained downward in the face of reform. Sooner or later you have to conclude that taxpayer-funded, union-staffed, bureaucratically-managed schools are structurally flawed and not fixable.

  2. Good point about the king. George III was actually very popular in the colonies until AFTER sending troops following getting word about Lexington and Concord. Many Americans actually thought the king would side with them to staunch the abuses of Parliament.

    A few friends and I were discussing the Civil War earlier today re: which side we would have fought on. The consensus was pretty much that we’d pack up and move to California. So far as I see it, it was a war with no good guy. This comes around to what you’re saying about education. I was taught that the Civil War was about slavery — full stop. Now those that want to make the North look bad say it was about state’s rights. Let’s be fair. It was about state’s rights…to own slaves. But the point here is that by my public education giving me only the issue of slavery as the cause of the Civil War, the very valid grievance of state’s rights is completely subverted. This prevents us from having a discussion on a very serious issue, judging by many of our states’ resolutions, to Civil War and may well send us back to war soon.

  3. In defense of the founders, at the time, the church was the educator. So, by separating from the church, they were de facto separated from education.

  4. Archie B; Yes. I shouldn’t be faulting their judgment. They did well considering the environment at the time. Religion, usually very near to, or right at, the seat of political power, had been a major influence in social and intellectual development (or the suppression thereof) for most of human history.

  5. You can look at this in two ways; first and foremost, and not addressed in the piece, is that we have the right to choose when, where, how much, and whether, to spend on the education of our kids. Likewise, we have the right to educate others who are willing to hire us for the job.

    The second point of view is to look at what follows from either the respect of that right, or from its violation. Respect it and you get all the benefits that a free market produces– efficiency and excellence taking the lead over inefficiency and failure. Good schools prosper and spread and the bad ones fail, leaving only the better and better ones. Violate it and you end up, eventually, over the long haul, with a government-run, centrally controlled indoctrination system with a huge budget that uses the coercive power of government to suppress its competition.

  6. Funny, here in Wisconsin the chess boards have Doyles, Lawtons, and then the Teachers Union Heads instead of Kings, Queens, and Bishops. I guess Ol’ Diamond Jim Doyle is one step ahead of you…

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