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[Note--The following is a letter to the editor of the Morning News in response to Ron F. Rockwell's (Fayetteville) letter of  Dec. 7, 2003.  The letter appears below as I intended it.  A version of my letter, mangled beyond recognition, appeared in the Morning News on Dec. 16.  Large sections had been removed, including those central to my line of argument, with no ellipses to indicate that the letter was not as I wrote it.  Likewise, text had been changed with no brackets to indicate that I was not the author.  In the text below, brackets are used to indicate crucial passages deleted from the Morning News' version of the letter.  In addition, the spelling "publick skool," which I had intended for rhetorical effect, was "corrected."  I believe this is fundamentally dishonest.  Anyone who agrees with me is welcome to contact the editor of the "Viewpoints" section:]

Letter to the Editor of the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas

Ron F. Rockwell's letter, more than almost anything else I've seen, illustrates the belief of liberal social engineers that we are wards of the state. In contrast to his description of the "original... rationale" for government schools ("a better qualified electorate"), the following passage from John Taylor Gatto's Dumbing Us Down is relevant:

"Schools were designed by Horace Mann and by Sears and Harper of the University of Chicago and by Thorndyke of Columbia Teachers College and by some other men to be instruments for the scientific management of a mass population. Schools are intended to produce... formulaic human beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlled."

Gatto is entirely right. The educationist literature of a century ago is replete with calls for more efficient processing of human raw material, in order to manufacture docile and compliant human resources for the corporate state.

Mr. Rockwell suggests that homeschool students be subjected to the same testing yardsticks as the publik skool kids, those falling below the 70th percentile to be compulsorily returned to the bosom of the State. Given the homeschoolers' belief that the publik skools are not good enough, it is "only fair," he says, that their kids "be held to higher than average standards." But doesn't Mr. Rockwell have it backwards? Given that the educationist establishment is worried about (or is that threatened by?) the quality of homeschool education, it is only fair that its students be held to the same standards of achievement as the homeschooled. Perhaps those falling below the 50th percentile of homeschooled kids should be compulsorily dis-enrolled from the failing government schools.

Does anyone see the irony here? Since homeschoolers are trying to avoid a school establishment that isn't "good enough," Mr. Rockwell argues, it is "only fair" that they should be subjected to the standards, curricula and textbooks imposed by that very establishment. But the whole rationale for homeschooling is that the publik skools are "not good enough" precisely BECAUSE of the "professionals" who set those standards and curricula.

In any case, allowing publik skools to impose performance measures on their competitors is not enough for Mr. Rockwell. They must control the curriculum and textbooks, too! Out with the Saxon math and phonics! In with Everyday Math and look-say! For years the ideological stooges of the government schooling system have been at a loss over the superior performance of homeschooled kids. Mr. Rockwell has found the perfect way to bring those embarassing high scores down to publik skool standards: mandate the same dumbed-down textbooks the government schools use! Were you inspired by Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron," Mr. Rockwell, or did you come up with this on your own?

Many homeschoolers seek mainly to avoid the official ideology taught in the government school system. Is your textbook mandate a minimum requirement, Mr. Rockwell, or a maximum? Will homeschoolers be able to assign additional material on [[what a load of crap]] the official, state-mandated version of (say) American history [[is]]? Gabriel Kolko, or William Appleman Williams, maybe? Or will that be a thought-crime, punishable by compulsory enrollment in the publik skools? And having gone so far, why stop there? Why not mandate that homeschooled students be drugged with Ritalin, or turned into police snitches by D.A.R.E.?

[[For that matter, why not expand your uplift into other areas of life? For example, I am an organic gardener because I don't like to eat the chemical-laden produce of corporate agribusiness. Maybe Monsanto and the USDA could mandate the application of Roundup in all backyard gardens. Why not let Bill Gates set the standards for the Linux operating system? Once you accept the principle that there's no conflict of interest involved in regulating one's competitors, the sky's the limit.]]

Insubordination, by generations of hell-raisers and anti-authoritarians, is the reason we're not slaves today--either to the government or to our employers. The messianic State is long overdue to hear a word, perhaps the most useful in the English language: "NO."