Government schools are by no means new. They have existed, in the United States, for well over a hundred years. Through these “free” schools, many have drawn the conclusions that the masses have been able to achieve the education necessary to “succeed” in life. This, actually, is far from the case. With the rise of the far left, fascist Golden Dawn party in Greece, to cite merely one example, the effects of government schools are becoming increasingly apparent.

Because Greece was mentioned, then it is necessary to give a brief overview of government schools in Greece, and Europe as a whole. According to Wikipedia, “All schools, regardless of level, are overseen by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. The Ministry exercises centralised control over state schools, by prescribing the curriculum, appointing staff and controlling funding. Private schools also fall under the mandate of the Ministry ….” The rest of Europe operates under similar principles, with some variations and exceptions. In the United States, though slightly more free, government schools still constitute the means of education for the majority of students.

The good intentions behind these government schools cannot be doubted, but the effects have been detrimental the causes of liberty. In the first place, government schools are not the breeding grounds for enlightened citizens—knowledgeable on natural rights, John Locke, free markets, and Ludwig von Mises. Rather, children are taken from their homes and flung into the machinery of the state. A little over a decade later, they emerge confused, but good cogs—generally ignorant of history, economics, politics, and philosophy. They have been taught in environments of diversity and defeat. They have been taught not to think but to obey and walk in line. They have been taught to think in certain ways.

Now, of course, people are free—they may think as they choose to—but the information given to one is important. Yes, the products of the public school system are still free to choose what information they believe and what they seek out—or choose not to find. The information given to the youth of the United States, though, in regards to topics such as politics and history, are often of a far left-wing view. Consider the uses of Howard Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States as a textbook in many American history classes. Zinn, a Communist, hardly kept his book subjective—or even historically accurate. Instead of portraying the Founders as heroes fighting for liberty, they are shown as the typical “rich white men” who oppressed women and minorities. Or take the gushing case made for Progressives in the work. The title of the work alone should have any lover of liberty suspicious.

It is on this note that the main point of the dangerous effect of government schools will be examined. In dictatorial and totalitarian nations, government schools brainwash and indoctrinate outright—in supposedly “democratic” nations, such is done covertly. As a result of this, American society has been changed via the radical leftist infiltration of the public schools. Let it be known that I am not suggesting all teachers in public schools are radical leftists—as there will always be exceptions to the case.

One dangerous effect of government schools is that they have softened the populace up to the idea of socialism and being ordered by the government. The near worship of mathematics and science has conditioned many for technocrats and rule of those “smarter than them.” This is also seen in the field of literature. Students are not taught to appreciate an author because their writing is beautiful, but because of the author’s background or the supposed leftist themes of a work. Allen Ginsburg is glorified because he was gay (he was also a drug-taking Communist), Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou because both are black and female, and Amy Tan because she is Chinese. I am not suggesting that these authors not “good,” rather that they are thought to be good not for their literary merits, but for their backgrounds.

The disenfranchisement bred in government schools—whether it stems from race, class, gender, religion, or another area—has made the populace ripe for revolution, and angry. This feeling of disenfranchisement has not come with a thorough grounding in non-violence and respect for others’ property and natural rights. How could such be possible when Che is often venerated?

Also, as government schools do not teach how to think—but, rather what to think—this will—and has—produced very “in-the-box” thinking. It has set down patterns of thought that have been repeated over and over again—drudging up the same, stale liberal arguments. The model of education used traditionally in the United States, before the take-over of Progressive Education, was aimed at exposing the student to a wide variety of schools of thought, challenging the student, and developing the student as a thinker. With Progressive Education, this was thrown away—and an emphasis placed on “fitting in” and being a “good” member of society (i.e. a cog in a machine, rather than a thinking citizen).

When both the disenfranchisement and lack of critical thinking—and thinking in the first place—are combined, it leaves a great mass of people who have been taught to think in certain ways—though it must be remembered that they all do so out of freedom of choice. Take for example, an instance like the Spanish Civil War. During the Spanish Civil War, two sides fought over who would control the government—the Communists and the fascists. According to government school-style thinking, one would have to take a side. If one is neither a fascist nor a Communist, then one would have to pick the lesser of two evils. How is this rational? Would not the best choice—if one fits neither category—simply be to pick neither? At least, that is what reason tells us. But reason also tells us that markets work best when left completely alone, yet that is not taught in government schools. In cases like Greece, this leads individuals to think that they must choose between Communists and Nazis—rather than breaking away and standing for principles.

I cannot insist enough that there are many good intentions behind the public education system. Not only this, but there are good people within the public education system. But, I must remind good people that many tracks on the railroads to the gulags and concentration camps of history were composed of good intentions.

Christian Lopac | Wabash College | @CLopac