Shoots from the Grassroot Institute – Feb. 25, 2004-Blasphemy or Frankness?

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“Dick Rowland Image”

Our Grassroot Institute of Hawaii Education Analyst, Laura
Brown, is an exceptional researcher and advocate for improved public
schooling. She knows far more than I about the subject and always will.


But I thought I might try to use a few quotes to put current debate in perspective and close with a conclusion that many regard as basic.

As you will see when I mention it, many more view it as blasphemy.
Here goes:

From the U.S. Bureau of Education in 1914 (as quoted by Sheldon
Richman) “The public schools exist primarily for the benefit of the
State rather than for the benefit of the individual.”
From the U.S. Declaration of Independence: “… all Men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness …”

H.C. Mencken weighed in with this, “The aim of public education
is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many
individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard
citizeny to put down dissent and originality.”

And then we look to Samuel Johnson, “Integrity without knowledge
is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and

It appears that our Department of Education and Hawaii State Teachers Association are trying
to “pursue happiness.” But whose happiness? Are they not happiest when money flows into the system from the government and unhappiest when asked for indications of student achievement and teacher productivity?

And, by the way, what is a “happy” Department of Education? Or “happy” HSTA? Rather non-sensical isn’t it? The pursuit of happiness is individual. That cannot be changed. Part and parcel of individual
happiness is integrity — a subject largely missing in government owned
and operated schools. Pertinent is a quote from David Spohn, president of the Hudson, Ohio, affiliate of the National Education Association on Oct. 3, 2003; “We expect parents to work in the best interest of the kids, We’re working in the best interest of the teachers.”

The obvious conclusion is: Put parents in charge. Let them
choose what is best for their children. Free them to find ways to
instill integrity.

To put it another way — separate school and state.

There, I said it and I am happy. I hope some of you are too.

”’Richard O. Rowland is president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a non-partisan, non-profit public policy institute focused on promoting the free-market, individual freedom and liberty. He can be reached via email at:”’ ”’More information about the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii can be found at its Web site at”’

”’This editorial is intended to provoke thought, discussion and an examination of issues. It does not reflect official policy of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.”’

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