Ilana Mercer, September 3, 2004

I know this is hypothetical. And I know the competing presidential looters aren’t interested. But the proper focus of their destructive capabilities should be the federal Department of Education.

There is only one appropriate course of action when it comes to this entity: Raze it to the ground. Perhaps not as lethally as Mr. Bush has razed Iraq, but still, the nation’s children deserve some of the liberty being spread about with their parents’ tax dollars. For too long, they’ve been pinned down like butterflies by the DOE and its co-conspirators, the teacher unions.

Since 1979, to be precise.

That’s when this unconstitutional department was created. In the quarter-century that followed, American education became a bonanza for everyone involved – except children and their parents. Spending per child has never been higher, and the teacher-student ratio never lower: 1:16.5. When non-teaching staff is added, that ratio is cut in half. Perhaps in another quarter-century, utopia will have been achieved – schools with more adults than children.

Yet student achievement remains inversely proportional to budgetary profligacy. The U.S. spends more on elementary and secondary education than any other country in the developed world, but its high-school students score near the bottom in international competitions.

Clearly, John Kerry’s proposal to squander more than Bush is not the cure for this creeping cretinism.

The Constitution, however, may be just the ticket. Going this route is, admittedly, unusual nowadays, but the idiocrats in pedagogy and politics might want to give it a try. The Constitution certainly makes no mention of education, not because the Founders didn’t care about it, but rather for the same reason they omitted marriage, among other things.

The Founders understood that the more functions and powers the central government subsumes, the less autonomy states, localities, families and individuals retain. Radical decentralization – limiting, enumerating and delegating federal powers – is crucial to freedom and prosperity. Returning education to where it belongs would comport with the now almost defunct 10th Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The centralization of education has allowed public “intellectuals” and “experts” to mold and manacle young minds. Start a conversation with almost anyone on the street. Provided he speaks English, you’ll hear within a whisker the same opinions repeated on capitalism (plain evil or a necessary evil), the environment (near destruction) and racism (rife). This uniformity of opinion is almost scarier than its uninformed nature.

Government schools produce misguided, mediocre and frightfully monolithic minds.

This is not to say that schools free of federal interference would not have experimented with whole language and new math; or that countless private schools will not continue to replace Madison with Mumia Abu-Jamal and defer to Oprah’s book club for a literary canon. Waldorf miseducation will still find adherents. But competition will effect quick corrections in the market for education; competition will ensure that the non-hierarchical, progressive, child-centered adulation currently posing as schooling is eclipsed, as paying parents patronize teachers who teach and schools that foster virtue, not vacuity. Competition will also offer impartial courses in comparative religion, not the Islamicly-correct indoctrination to which kids are currently exposed.

Free schools will, at long last, also be able to recognize individual differences. With Uncle Sam no longer playing Socialist Leveler, innate differences in ability between children won’t give rise to doomed federal programs, where the able are thrown in with the unable and where learning is so dumbed-down that simpletons sail through – 50 percent of students with IQs that border on mental retardation now manage to graduate high school. “Nearly three-quarters of all federal spending on elementary and secondary education,” observes author Peter Brimelow, “went to the disadvantaged and the handicapped.”

Geniuses, currently the recipients of two pennies out of every 100 educational dollars, must be “raked from the rubbish,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in “Notes on the State of Virginia.” Jefferson (he was not perfect) favored a very limited (only three years gratis) public education for Virginians. Unlike Education Secretary Rod Paige, whose most important contribution to literacy was to call the NEA (America’s largest teacher union) a “terrorist organization,” Jefferson understood that not every child can learn “Greek, Latin, Geography, and higher branches of arithmetic.” He did, however, insist that all must know “reading, writing, common arithmetic,” and history (nothing, you will note, about “social science” and “self esteem”). “History by apprising them of the past will enable them to judge of the future,” Jefferson noted.

Crucially, Jefferson argued that unless the people improved their minds, they risked their liberties. The defective minds manufactured by government schools are much more dangerous than we realize.


  September 3, 2004



CATEGORIES: Constitution, Education & Miseducation, Federalism, Founding Fathers, Intelligence

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