Let me be honest and forthright: I have an agenda — I always do.
You can be certain that I am typing with a purpose in mind. I am typing in order to satisfy a much sought-after end. My end — my reason — is the hope that this article will influence a few, turning them toward the path of liberty.
Are you shocked or offended that I have an agenda? Is it wrong — no, is it necessarily evil when a man has an agenda; when a man has a given end for which he will use some means to obtain? Certainly not. We all have agendas that guide our actions. And we accept the presence of our own personal agendas without question or concern.
When discussing the evils of government-run education, many folks say that I have a personal agenda. Well, no kidding. If I wake in the morning, I have an agenda. The rhetorical use of the word agenda in a pejorative sense implies that others do not have agendas — this being a false assertion. Those folks have at least one agenda that gets them out of bed in the morning: to continue forcing me to pay for their government school nonsense.
So why it is that many — nay, most Americans — take offense to the idea that public schools have an agenda? Why is it that folks who recognize their own agendas cannot recognize that the individuals running the school system have agendas too? Why can’t these folks accept that those who fought some 150 years ago for the adoption of government-run schools had an evil agenda? Or that many today use government schools for vile intentions? Why not? Yes, why not, indeed?
The reason is twofold: The first is that the prime end of government-run education is graduates who support the system. This is not some hidden agenda — it is right out in the open. This publicly lauded end is termed citizenship — and a good citizen always supports the so-called public good of government education. When the schools say that our goal is to educate citizens, you can be certain that they do not mean citizens who question the state or its bureaucracies and unions.
Good citizens believe that teachers and administrators, as government employees, know best. Even if the material is enough to raise hairs, the good citizen trusts the schools. And, should a parent begin to question the schools, the group — the collective consisting of neighbors, friends, etc. — applies increasing pressure to bring the recalcitrant back in line — back to being a good citizen.
The second reason is that anyone seeking to manipulate and indoctrinate the youth can find no better means than a system of mandatory education. This is true whether the purpose is to extend and enhance the coercive power of government or to pollute young minds with perverse nonsense. It is also true for any other goal, no matter how nefarious or seemingly benign. The schools are the agent of change.
Therefore, it is no wonder that the majority supports government schools.
Moreover, if your goal is to create citizens who support the collective, and you are not willing to take up arms, you adopt a Gramscian approach and slowly destroy the institutions of free association — of liberty and freedom. You attack the family, the church, etc., in a roundabout way. You employ the strategy of the indirect approach — you indoctrinate the youth. By doing so, you break the bond of parent and child without resorting to loud confrontations and street fighting. You simply use the classroom to define the state and its minions as maternal and paternal figures. Then, you sit back and allow subsequent generations — educated by the state — to chip away at the bedrock institutions over time. Sure, you have the occasional pitched fight, but these only serve as feints covering your flanking maneuvers. Your war is not one of attrition; it is one of subversion and time.
The conservative claims a liberal bias in education; they claim a liberal agenda. They are right. However, the conservatives only propose to force their bias on the liberals. The conservatives also have an agenda. Both groups seek to use government, and both are winning and losing at the same time.
The issue is no longer individual versus the collective. The issue is now who has the power to educate and indoctrinate. Despite their rhetoric, most conservatives no longer stand for individual rights. In fact, these conservatives quickly drop the individual and champion the collective every time someone questions their cherished history. An evening listening to AM talk radio will prove that point: Liberals are teaching our children that Lincoln wasn’t an American hero! That he didn’t stand for liberty! Those folks are un-American!
The conservative solution is for the government schools to force-feed conservative mythology to every parent’s child, all in the name of liberty.
Of course, the essence of the current liberal worldview is also the collective — the collective of Prussia and Bismarck, along with that of Marx, etc. It is a vision that easily melds with the state and its schools. And it is a vision that is not all that different from the conservatives’. While their respective messages are not the same, both groups subscribe to the state as the means and the collective as the ends.
I asked this question above: Is it wrong — no, is it necessarily evil when a man has an agenda; when a man has a given end for which he will use some means to obtain? I answered in the negative. However, I need to return to that response once more. A man can employ any means that does not violate the property rights of others. Therefore, he cannot invade your property to state his message. In addition, he cannot use force to make you pay for his message either. Other than those two rules, everything else is fair game.
Nevertheless, the so-called public schools violate both of those rules. Government has first claim to your children — this being true even if you home school — and will invade your property to deliver its message in the form of state-mandated curriculum and exams. Additionally, government and its schools have first claim to your income — your property. Their means is one of evil, as it is a means backed by government — the social apparatus of coercion and compulsion (Mises).
Yes, I have an agenda, and so does government, its schools, and associated minions. Mine — no, ours is an agenda of liberty and peace while theirs is one of violence and control. Since we do not seek the violence of government to win the day, we have to educate to see our agenda through. We have much work left, but at the very least, we have the follies of government to use as our fool.