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Controversies: Overview

Where Did All This Social Engineering Come From?


Q. I don't like how school is no longer considered an extension of the home, with the parents superior and the educators subordinate. More and more, educators and bureaucrats are trying to fix it so that the HOME is the extension of the SCHOOL, with the SCHOOL in charge. Isn't it against our country's principles to draw kids away from the love and authority of their parents and families, and claim that the State is sovereign over them?


The man that most educators are taught to revere - John Dewey, an important, left-wing education figure of the 20th Century - loved how the communist countries handled schooling their children. He wrote extensively about it.


Tragically, a lot of those ideas - that the State, not the parents, is in charge of the children who live within its borders - undergird a lot of education policy today. Through financial subsidies of all kinds, social control is being exerted over children. And their parents in most cases don't even realize it.


But no American parent would like what the Russian Communist Party said in 1918: "We must remove the children from the crude influence of their families. We must take them over and, to speak frankly, nationalize them." The goal: so that the children would grow up to be "real" communists, not influenced by their own families.


Dewey termed himself a "Progressive" and an "anti-communist," but he also called himself a "democratic socialist," and he espoused many of the practices that he witnessed in the former Soviet Union. He toured the Soviet educational system, and wrote in 1928: "It is obvious to any observer that in every Western country the increase of importance of public schools has been at least coincident with a relaxation of older family ties.


"What is going on in Russia appears to be a planned acceleration of this process. For example, the earliest section of the school system, dealing with children from three to seven, aims . . . to keep children under its charge six, eight and ten hours per day, and in ultimate ideal . . . this procedure is to be universal and compulsory."


Dewey noted that in Russia, the government had devised "a whole network of agencies" intended to socialize the functions of the family. The communists had set up summer camps in the country, so that children didn't even spend the summer months at home.


His descriptions eerily match the social programs entwined with American public schools today:


         "Home visitors" from the early childhood education social service bureaucracy almost as soon as a child in a household considered "at-risk" is born, with the power to remove the child from that home;


         Head Start, basically a free, government-programmed nursery school;


         School-based preschool and child care;


         Free breakfast, lunch and now, in places, dinner, at school;


         Free after-school programs;


         Year-round schooling;


         Longer school days;


         School-to-work programs where teenagers work at their school-assigned job after classes;


         Mandatory community service graduation requirements


         Tightened-up attendance policies with real teeth if you miss so many days of school;


         Recent pushes for "urban boarding schools" in which low-income, at-risk kids would live in dormitories in programs that cost three or four times as much as regular schooling;


         Recent pushes for "parent licensing" in which the state could take away children born to "unlicensed" parents, or deny a license to parents whose beliefs don't match the State's;


. . . and on and on.


What is the point of all of this? Apparently, it's to level the playing field - give all children equality of opportunity.


That sounds good . . . except that, since some kids really do have bad home situations, it is thought to be better for them to have the government take responsibility for raising them.


And since it wouldn't be "fair" for the government to take charge of some kids, but not all, the programs are gradually extending to more and more middle-class children, with a goal of "communally raising them."


What's the best way to stop social engineering? Educate your fellow parents and taxpayers. Organize politically. And vote in leaders who will dismantle the programs that are the weapons of collectivism.


Homework: Read about John Dewey's life:



By Susan Darst Williams Controversies 2012

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