America's Public School System --- Brutal and SpartanWritten by Joel Turtel
The public school system in America has become a dismal failure. But education in many other times and cultures has been quite successful.
The ancient Greeks, whose civilization was at its height around 500 B.C., founded Western civilization as we know it. The Athenian Greeks invented or perfected logic, drama, science, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, literature, and much more. Yet ancient Greece had no compulsory schools.
Other than requiring two years of military training for young men that began at age eighteen, Athens let parents educate their children as they saw fit. Parents either taught their children at home or sent them to voluntary schools where teachers and philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle gave lectures to all who wanted to learn. These great teacher-philosophers did not need a license to teach, nor did they have tenure.
The ancient Athenians had a free-market education system. The thought of compulsory, state-run schools and compulsory licensing would have been repulsive to them. The Athenians respected a parents’ natural right to direct education of their children.
In contrast, Sparta, Athens’s mortal enemy, created first truly state-run, compulsory education system on record. Individual Spartans lived and died for state, and had to serve state from birth until sixty years of age. Their society was a brutal military dictatorship in which male children literally belonged to city, not to their parents.
The Spartan military government took boys from their homes and parents at age of seven and forced them to live in military-style barracks for rest of their lives. Spartan men were life-long soldiers whose highest duty was to obey commands of their leaders.
Public Schools --- Why On Earth Do We Need Them?Written by Joel Turtel
From time Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620 until 1850s, most parents taught their children to read at home or sent their children to small private or religious grammar schools. Education was voluntary and local governments did not force parents to send their children to state-controlled schools. Yet, literacy rates in colonial America were far higher than they are today.
In 1765, John Adams wrote that “a native of America, especially of New England, who cannot read and write is as rare a Phenomenon as a Comet.”1 Jacob Duche, chaplain of Congress in 1772, said of his countrymen, “Almost every man is a reader.”2 Daniel Webster confirmed that product of home education was near-universal literacy when he stated, “a youth of fifteen, of either sex, who cannot read and write, is very seldom to be found.”3
After Revolutionary War, literacy rates continued to rise in all colonies. There were many affordable, innovative local schools parents could send their children to. Literacy data from that early period show that from 1650 to 1795, literacy rate among white men rose from 60 to 90 percent. Literacy among women went from 30 to 45 percent. 4
In early 1800s, Pierre Samuel Dupont, an influential French citizen who helped Thomas Jefferson negotiate for Louisiana Purchase, came to America and surveyed education here. He found that most young Americans could read, write, and “cipher” (do arithmetic), and that Americans of all ages could and did read Bible. He estimated that fewer than four Americans in a thousand were unable to write neatly and legibly. 5 (See Note references in my book, "Public Schools, Public Menace")