The Obama Lesson

I’m not as pumped about this as conservatives are.  The initial lesson plan was pretty creepy, but the speech seems harmless enough, though Huebert on LRC pointed out that “where you sit, 250 years ago” is very bad history. Rusty was looking for “Listen to your parents”, found it, and was satisfied.

Again, with the exception of LRC, nobody is even coming close to the core principles here. Public schools were originally set up as engines of indoctrination, initially to make Irish Catholics into good Protestants. The religious Right would still like them to indoctrinate; they just want control over the content. Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, claims that the speech is illegal, citing 20 U.S.C. § 3403. But where was he during No Child Left Behind, which is also an attempt at Federal control of curriculum? And unlike the Democrats in 1991, congressional Republicans have been pussies on this issue; all the heat has come from the grassroots.

To the extent that this leads parents to talk about the history of presidential power and of the history of government schools, this could be a good thing. But most of the parents who are aware enough to do so have already pulled their kids out of the system.


3 Responses to The Obama Lesson

  1. Mark Kraft says:

    Too bad the author at Lew Rockwell is a complete idiot who is either ignorant on his history, or completely facetious.

    It should also be pointed out that President Obama did not specifically mention Washington or Franklin — the author is picking out two self-educated individuals as an example of the President being in error, but in fact, many ordinary Americans who helped to create their nation did, indeed, go to school more than 250 years ago.

    In fact, many of them went to the public Academy of Philadelphia… a school that Benjamin Franklin himself helped to create.

    As I mentioned, it was public… which was why two of its first students in 1751 were able to attend — a pair of Mohawk Indian boys, who wanted to learn English.

    Really, out of all our Founding Fathers that the author could cite, it’s ironic that he chose Benjamin Franklin, who was dedicated to improving the knowledge and education of Americans throughout his life.Even in death, he left a great deal of his wealth to help fund public education for the people of Philadelphia.

    Indeed, President Washington also supported public education!

    “Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.” – George Washington’s farewell address

    “That we may obtain the Advantages arising from an Increase of Knowledge, and prevent . . . a general Ignorance among us, the following Hints are offered towards forming a Plan for the Education of the Youth of Pennsylvania . .” – Benjamin Franklin… Read More

    “Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people.”
    – Thomas Jefferson

    “If we think (the people) not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.” – John Adams

    So, when LRC cites Mencken saying “The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all”, that completely goes against the exact rationale put forth by the Founding Fathers to support public education. They most certainly saw the need!

  2. kishnevi says:

    But they didn’t say that the government was supposed to provide the schools–only that education was an important object when considering philanthropic donations and organizations.

  3. jeffreyquick says:

    Mr. Kraft,
    Nice to see a substantive argument here.
    Unfortunately, you’re comparing apples and oranges. The Academy was also known as a “charity school”; i.e., it was financed by those who were willing and could, to educate those willing to learn but unable to pay for an education, It was not in any way comparable to schools financed by stolen money, attendance at which is compulsory. The “common school” movement didn’t get going until the 1840s, after the Founding Fathers were dead. It is true that Jefferson did support tax-funded education.. And there’s more interesting discussion on the topic here.

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