This video interview of John Taylor Gatto gets at the reasons our kids don't go to compulsory schooling. It's about ½ hour long, and the link is through a site that appears to be Libertarian in nature. I don't endorse Libertarianism, which tends to empower corporations over people. I wish I could have figured out how to embed this vid in my blog, but it's not YouTube, and so it goes.
I've blogged on Gatto a bit before. He's a former teacher of the year who wrote some books like "The Underground History of American Education," which made sense of the misery of my own experience with compulsory schooling (beyond the confusion and subsequent peer harassment of gender dissonance).
To sum up, the reason school reform never works for long is because school does what it's really meant to do very well. Compulsory school (public and private) is very successful at the job to which it is set by our cultural elite – the corporate puppetmasters who create the consumerist economy. That job is to produce a compliant, predictable workforce that lacks meaning, purpose, and initiative, and is blindly subservient to authority.
Reforming education within the current system is a hopeless task. Bad as Bush's bipartisan "No Child Left Behind" policy is, tweaking it to mitigate some of the worst aspects won't do much. The problem is the system of compulsory schooling this country has adopted, and the solution cannot be found within that system at all. It can only be found in dismantling the system – in giving children options, in making school a choice, in trusting our children to learn what they need to learn in order to navigate in our high tech society and natural world.
Imagine if we unleashed the creative force of our children and adolescents, allowing them to explore the world with wide open eyes, to channel their energy into their passions, instead of squelching that energy in the barren institutions of our schools and channeling it into despair, rebellion, and subservience to authority.
Of course, you can't imagine – because the results would be completely unpredictable. That's what happened in America back in 1776. That's the whole point of compulsory schooling. Our corporate puppetmasters* don't want a repeat.
*Worth noting that the descent of our nation out of democracy and freedom, and into fascism, was really enabled and made inevitable by both compulsory schooling and the 1886 Supreme Court decision of Santa Clara vs. Southern Pacific Railroad, which was used to establish the legal idiocy that corporations are persons protected by the 14th Amendment, even though the ruling did not say that. The abuse of that ruling enabled the rise of a corporate elite – further empowered by the methods Edward Bernays advocated in his book, "Propaganda" – which gradually insinuated itself into government, and ended up basically taking full control of government under Ronald Reagan. We've been a fully functional fascist society since 1981, if not earlier, and it doesn't matter whether the president is a Democrat or a Republican, that's the way it's been since.
**This post was inspired by my recent conversation with Pearl, a conservative "marriage defender" who's probably further on the right side of the aisle than I am on the left. I'm a queer liberal Democrat anti-religious pro-marriage-equality trans woman, she's a conservative Republican (I assume) LDS anti-gay-marriage cis woman, yet on this we can agree.