Vaccine mandates and woke ideology in schools reveal a schism in America between those who believe in parents’ authority over a child’s education and values and those who think that children are the government’s property.
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom (D) recently announced a plan to require all school children to be vaccinated in public and private schools and pre-schools. In Virginia, the Democratic candidate for governor, Terry McAuliffe, said that “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
Across America, similar policies are either advocated or enacted by radical leftists. Sloan Rachmuth of the Education First Alliance says that in North Carolina, the legal lower age for gender transitioning is zero years. Furthermore, pre-school teachers have the authority to identify a child in need of transitioning without requiring that parents give consent or even be informed.
One may or may not agree with vaccination, school curriculums, or modern gender theories. The fundamental question is whether it should be up to the parents or the government to decide.
This schism is not new. It goes back 2,400 years to the ancient Greek philosopher Plato’s The Republic. He envisioned a communistic dictatorship ruled by philosopher-kings in which children were communal property separated from their parents at birth, then raised and educated by the state. Utopians have modeled their politics on Plato’s vision ever since.
The Prussian Model
So how did these ideas first make their way into American society? According to a 1979 study from the University of Chicago, titled “Public Education as Nation-Building in America: Enrollment and Bureaucratization in the American States, 1870-1930,” the rise and rapid spread of public school in the 19th and early 20th centuries had both religious and political roots. Many historians believe that large-scale Catholic immigration had the Protestant majority concerned, and their solution was to create the public school system to ensure that incoming Catholics became well-integrated citizens. Arguably, the result was creating the very tool for the fundamental transformation of America they were trying to prevent.
At the time, the only public school system in existence was the Prussian model. Prussia was a militaristic, authoritarian regime that would later become the core of Germany. Their education system was explicitly designed to create an obedient populace controllable and loyal to the regime.
John Taylor Gatto, who was named New York Teacher of the year in 1989, 1990, and 1991, wrote extensively on the Prussian roots of the American public school system. He argued that this was the beginning of the end, not only of proper education but also parental sovereignty over their children.
What is new about the current situation is not that a group of people is trying to gain control over the children so much as the brazen nature of the effort. A combination of factors, ranging from the pandemic and the George Floyd debacle to the fortification of the 2020 election, has emboldened those people to voice publicly in no uncertain terms what their intentions are: Parents are not qualified to make decisions about their children’s future. Those decisions should be left in the hand of the experts, unelected bureaucrats who know better.
Although few politicians have mustered a response to this power grab, parents seem to be taking matters into their own hands. Los Angeles saw a school enrollment drop of 6%, the largest in 20 years. Across America, un-enrollment and homeschooling are surging. It suggests that the hegemony of public education might finally be questioned. Could it even be coming to an end?
~ Read more from Caroline Adana.