DSM: Re: Recommended reading

Scott David Gray (sdavid@tiac.net)
Thu, 15 Jul 1999 15:17:42 -0400

The new schools were not easily accepted. Many people saw the new legislation
for what it was -- an attempt by the upper-class Protestant powers in
Massachusetts to hold onto power in the face of a booming immigrant population.
The new schools, when founded, did not disguise these motives -- the textbooks
described the Pope as evil, the Irish as stupid, and heaped slander on
Jacksonian democracy. The modern concept that there was a special "Protestant
work ethic" was inherited from these texts.

Some brave legislators, like Orestes Brownson, fought state schools very hard.
Consider one of his speeches: "A government system of education in Prussia is
not inconsistent with the theory of Prussian society, for there all wisdom is
supposed to be lodged in the government. But the thing is wholly inadmissible
here . . . because, according to our theory, the people are supposed to be wiser
than the government. Here, the people do not look to the government for light,
for instruction, but the government looks to the people. The people give the
law to the government. To entrust, then, the government with the power of
determining the education which our children shall receive is entrusting our
servant with the power to be our master. This fundamental difference between
the two countries, we apprehend, has been overlooked by the board of education
and its supporters." It was very hard for the state to force people to comply
with truancy laws.

I'm not sure how the private school reacted. However, I bet that they were in
favor of truancy laws -- it no doubt helped their enrollment to be a place where
critics of the public schools (who could afford it) could escape public school.

Joseph Moore wrote:

> Thanks!
> One more thing while we're on the topic: I've wondered how the private
> elementary and high schools, specifically the Catholic and other schools
> with religious affiliations, were brought to heel on all this state
> accreditation stuff - I would have thought (if I didn't know better) that
> they'd be more likely to reject state control and experiment a little, but,
> alas, they are if anything more military-like in their methods.
> any thoughts or references?

-- Scott David Gray
reply-to: sdavid@tiac.net
Phone: 508/650-9639
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