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Think! It ain't illegal yet. (George Clinton)

Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
— Plato

Natural ability without education has more often raised a man to glory and virtue than education without natural ability.
— Cicero

The desire to know is natural to good men.
— Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

I know very well that because I am unlettered some presumptuous people will think they have the right to criticize me, saying that I am an uncultured man. What stupid fools! Do they not know that I could reply to them as Marius did to the Roman patricians: "Do those who pride themselves on the works of other men claim to challenge mine?"
— Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

Anyone who argues by referring to authority is not using his mind but rather his memory.
— Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.
— Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

Make me the the master of education, and I will undertake to change the world.
— Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
— Late sixteenth century proverb

Talent develops in tranquillity, character in the full current of human life.
— Goethe

Academies that are founded at public expense are instituted not so much to cultivate men's natural abilities as to restrain them.
— Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677)

All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.
— Sir Walter Scott

It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives.
— John Adams, Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1756

I claim the right to demand for the Nation an education that will depend upon the State alone; because it belongs essentially to it, because every nation has an inalienable and imprescriptible right to instruct its members, and finally because the children of the State should be educated by members of the State.
— Louis-René Caradeuc de la Chalotais, Essay on National Education

Let our pupil be taught that he does not belong to himself, but that he is public property. Let him be taught to love his family, but let him be taught at the same time that he must forsake and even forget them when the welfare of his country requires it.
— Benjamin Rush, "Thoughts Upon the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic"

A native American who cannot read or write is as rare an appearance...as a comet or an earthquake.
— John Adams, 1765

Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.
— Benjamin Franklin

Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech.
— Benjamin Franklin

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.
— William Pitt, 1783

It is better to cherish virtue and humanity, by leaving much to free will, than to attempt to make men mere machines and instruments of a political benevolence. — Edmund Burke

The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.
— Edmund Burke, 1784

Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.
— John Adams, Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America

I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which grant[s] a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.
— James Madision, 1794

I believe there are more instances of abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.
— James Madison

It is better to tolerate the rare instance of a parent refusing to let his child be educated, than to shock the common feelings and ideas by forcible asportation and education of the infant against the will of the father.
— Thomas Jefferson

A wise and frugal government ... shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.
— Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address

Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.
— Thomas Jefferson

To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
— Thomas Jefferson

Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.
— George Washington

The schools must fashion the person, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will."
Johann Gottlieb Fichte (German Philosopher, 1762-1802)

Men had better be without education than be educated by their rulers.
— Thomas Hodgskin, 1823

The school as a means of education to me was simply a blank.
— Charles Darwin

A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, an aristocracy, or a majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body.
— John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

For what is meant by saying that a government ought to educate the people? Why should they be educated? What is the education for? Clearly, to fit the people for social life — to make them good citizens. And who is to say what are good citizens? The government: there is no other judge. And who is to say how these good citizens may be made? The government: there is no other judge. Hence the proposition is convertible into this — a government ought to mold children into good citizens, using its own discretion in settling what a good citizen is and how the child may be molded into one.
— Herbert Spencer, 1850

The philosophy in the classroom of this generation is the philosophy of government in the next.
— Abraham Lincoln

I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more if they had known they were slaves.
— Harriet Tubman

The knowledge of the world is only to be acquired in the world, and not in a closet.
— Lord Chesterfield

Government will not fail to employ education, to strengthen its hands and perpetuate its institutions.
— William Godwin

A democratic despotism is like a theocracy: it assumes its own correctness.
— Walter Bagehot

The course that will restore to the workmen a father's duties and responsibilities, between which and themselves the state has now stepped, is for them to reject all forced contributions from others, and to do their own work through their own voluntary combinations. Until that is done no workman has more, or has a claim to have more, than half rights over his own children. He is stripped of one-half of the thought, care, anxiety, affection, responsibility, and need of judgment which belong to other parents.
— Auberon Herbert, "State Education: A Help or Hindrance?" (1850)

[T]he child should be taught to consider his instructor...superior to the parent in point of authority.... The vulgar impression that parents have a legal right to dictate to teachers is entirely erroneous.... Parents have no remedy as against the teacher.
— John Swett, Superintendent of California Public School System (1860s)

Wherever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery.
— Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister (1874)

Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening. The average American [should be] content with their humble role in life, because they're not tempted to think about any other role.
— William T. Harris, U.S. Commissioner of Education, 1889

What is the task of higher education? To make a man into a machine. What are the means employed? He is taught how to suffer being bored.
— F W Nietzsche (1889)

I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more. I will tell you in my way how the Indian sees things. The white man has more words to tell you how they look to him, but it does not require many words to speak the truth. If the white man wants to live in peace with the indian...we can live in peace. There need be no trouble. Treat all men alike.... give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who is born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases. We only ask an even chance to live as other men live. We ask to be recognized as men. Let me be a free man...free to travel... free to stop...free to work...free to choose my own teachers...free to follow the religion of my Fathers...free to think and talk and act for myself.
— Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

We are opposed to state interference with parental rights and rights of conscience in the education of children as an infringement of the fundamental Democratic doctrine that the largest individual liberty consistent with the rights of others insures the highest type of American citizenship and the best government.
— From the Democratic National Platform of 1892 (in opposition to compulsory attendance laws)

The secret of the superiority of state over private education lies in the fact that in the former the teacher is responsible to society ... [T]he result desired by the state is a wholly different one from that desired by parents, guardians, and pupils.
— Lester Frank Ward 1897

After a child has arrived at the legal age for attending school,—whether he be the child of noble or of peasant,—the only two absolute grounds of exemption from attendance are sickness and death. The German language has a word for which we have no equivalent either in language or in idea. The word is used in reference to children, and signifies due to the school; that is, when the legal age for going to school arrives, the right of the school to the child’s attendance attaches, just as, with us, the right of a creditor to the payment of a note or bond attaches on the day of its maturity.
— Horace Mann, Life and Works of Horace Mann: Vol. III (Boston: Life and Shepard Publishers, 1891)

We who are engaged in the sacred cause of education are entitled to look upon all parents as having given hostages to our cause.
— Horace Mann, first secretary of education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

[The children's] parents know not how to instruct them.... The state, in the warmth of her affection and solicitude for their welfare, must take charge of those children and place them in school where their minds can be enlightened and their hearts trained to virtue.
— Archibald D. Murphey, founder of the North Carolina public schools

[The role of the schoolmaster is to] collect little plastic lumps of human dough from private households and shape them on the social kneading board.
— Edward Ross, Professor of Economics, Stanford University, 1900

The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother's care, shall be in state institutions at state expense.
— Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto

Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth. In this way, the teacher always is the prophet of the true God and the usherer-in of the true Kingdom of God.
— John Dewey, American educator

The children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone would be interdependent.
— John Dewey, American educator

That which distinguishes the Soviet system both from other national systems and from the progressive schools of other countries is the conscious control of every educational procedure by reference to a single and comprehensive social purpose.
— John Dewey, American educator

It is obvious to any observer that in every western country the increase of importance of public schools has been at least coincident with the relaxation of older family ties.
— John Dewey, American educator

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
— Rudyard Kipling

The only time my education was interrupted was when I was in school.
— George Bernard Shaw

My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by myself.
— George Bernard Shaw

A socialist is somebody who doesn't have anything, and is ready to divide it up equally among everybody.
— George Bernard Shaw

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
— George Bernard Shaw

We are students of words; we are shut up in schools, and colleges, and recitation rooms, for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words, and do not know a thing.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
— Mark Twain

Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.
— Mark Twain

Often, the less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.
— Mark Twain

Our schools are, in a sense, factories, in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned into products to meet the various demands of life. The specifications for manufacturing come from the demands of twentieth-century civilization, and it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down.
— Ellwood P. Cubberley, Dean of the Stanford University School of Education

Only a system of state-controlled schools can be free to teach whatever the welfare of the State may demand.
— Ellwood P. Cubberley, Dean of the Stanford University School of Education

In our dreams, people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present education conventions of intellectual and character education fade from their minds, and, unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk.
     We shall not try to make these people, or any of their children, into philosophers, or men of science. We have not to raise up from them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for great artists, painters, musicians nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen — of whom we have an ample supply.
     The task is simple. We will organize children and teach them in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.
— John D. Rockefeller, General Education Board (1906)

The intellectuals and the young, booted and spurred, feel themselves born to ride us.
— Eric Hoffer

That erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. 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 and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.
— H.L. Mencken

The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-face for the urge to rule it.
— H.L. Mencken

The only difference between ‘propaganda’ and ‘education,’ really, is in the point of view. The advocacy of what we believe in is education. The advocacy of what we don’t believe in is propaganda.
— Edward L. Bernays, Crystalizing Public Opinion

I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays and have things arranged for them that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas.
— Agatha Christie

Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.
— Beatrix Potter

Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction.
— Anne Sullivan, Tutor to Helen Keller

I am beginning to suspect all elaborate systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less showily. Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself , instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he builds a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or plant straw trees in bead flower-pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experiences.
— Anne Sullivan, Tutor to Helen Keller

I believe that the testing of the student's achievements in order to see if he meets some criterion held by the teacher, is directly contrary to the implications of therapy for significant learning.
— Carl Rogers

Education is a private matter between the person and the world of knowledge and experience, and has little to do with school or college.
— Lillian Smith

A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.
— George Santayana

We must create out of the younger generation a generation of Communists. We must turn children, who can be shaped like wax, into real, good Communists.... We must remove the children from the crude influence of their families. We must take them over and, to speak frankly, nationalize them. From the first days of their lives they will be under the healthy influence of Communist children's nurseries and schools. There they will grow up to be real Communists.
— Communist Party Education Workers Congress (1918)

Education is not to reform students or amuse them or to make them expert technicians. It is to unsettle their minds, widen their horizons, inflame their intellects, teach them to think straight, if possible.
— Robert M. Hutchins

Intelligence appears to be the thing that enables a man to get along without education. Education enables a man to get along without the use of his intelligence.
— Albert Edward Wiggin

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficial.
— Justice Louis Brandeis

A public school system, if it means the providing of free education for those who desire it, is a noteworthy and beneficent achievement of modern times; but when once it becomes monopolistic it is the most perfect instrument of tyranny which has yet been devised. Freedom of thought in the middle ages was combated by the Inquisition, but the modern method is far more effective. Place the lives of children in their formative years, despite the convictions of their parents, under the intimate control of experts appointed by the state, force them then to attend schools where the higher aspirations of humanity are crushed out, and where the mind is filled with the materialism of the day, and it is difficult to see how even the remnants of liberty can subsist. Such a tyranny, supported as it is by a perverse technique used as the instrument in destroying human souls, is certainly far more dangerous than the crude tyrannies of the past, which despite their weapons of fire and sword permitted thought at least to be free.
     The truth is that the materialistic paternalism of the present day, if allowed to go on unchecked, will rapidly make of America one huge "Main Street," where spiritual adventure will be discouraged and democracy will be regarded as consisting in the reduction of all mankind to the proportions of the narrowest and least gifted of the citizens. God grant that there may come a reaction, and that the great principles of Anglo-Saxon liberty may be rediscovered before it is too late!
— J. Gresham Machen (1923)

Education rears disciples, imitators, and routinists, not pioneers of new ideas and creative geniuses. The schools are not nurseries of progress and improvement, but conservatories of tradition and unvarying modes of thought.
— Ludwig von Mises

The wish to preserve the past rather than the hope of creating the future dominates the minds of those who control the teaching of the young.
— Bertrand Russell

What's the difference between a bright, inquisitive five-year-old, and a dull, stupid nineteen-year-old? Fourteen years of the British educational system.
— Bertrand Russell

Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day.
— Bertrand Russell

I am profoundly thankful that during my formative years I never had contact with any institution under State control; not in school, not in college, nor yet in my three years of irregular graduate study. No attempt was ever made by anyone to indoctrinate me with State-inspired views — or any views, for that matter — of patriotism or nationalism. I was never dragooned into flag-worship or hero-worship, never was caught in any spate of verbiage about duty to one's country, never debauched by any of the routine devices hatched by scoundrels for inducing a synthetic devotion to one's native land and loyalty to its jobholders. Therefore when later the various aspects of contemporary patriotism and nationalism appeared before me, my mind was wholly unprepossessed, and my view of them was unaffected by any emotional distortion.
— Albert Jay Nock, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man

A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers.... The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.
— Aldous Huxley, forward to Brave New World, 1946 edition

Hitherto the plans of the educationalists have achieved very little of what they attempted, and indeed we may well thank the beneficent obstinacy of real mothers, real nurses, and (above all) real children for preserving the human race in such sanity as it still posses.
—C.S. Lewis

The schools ain't what they used to be, and never was.
— Will Rogers

The purpose of education is not to make men carpenters, but to make carpenters men.
— W.E.B. DuBois

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
— C.S. Lewis

My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so she kept me out of school.
— Margaret Mead

The most extraordinary thing about a really good teacher is that he or she transcends accepted educational methods.
— Margaret Mead

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
— Margaret Mead

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.
— Albert Einstein

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.
— Albert Einstein

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.
— Arthur Koestler

Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.
— Vladimir Lenin

Education is character development, harmonious completion of human personality. But what the state accomplishes in this field is dull drill, extinction of natural feeling, narrowing of the spiritual field of vision, destruction of all the deeper elements of character in man. The state can train subjects...but it can never develop free men who take their affairs into their own hands; for independent thought is the greatest danger that it has to fear.
Rudolph Rocker, Nationalism and Culture, 1937

It is the State which educates its citizens in civic virtue, gives them a consciousness of their mission, and welds them into unity.
— Benito Mussolini, "The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism," 1932

At every hour of every day, I can tell you on which page of which book each school child in Italy is studying.
— Benito Mussolini

Teachers are directed to instruct their pupils... and to awaken in them a sense of their responsibility toward the community of the nation.
—Bernhard Rust, Nazi Minister of Education (from "Racial Instruction and the National Community," 1935)

It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion.
— Joseph Goebbels

Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.
— Joseph Stalin

We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.
— F. A. Hayek

Schools have not necessarily much to do with education... they are mainly institutions of control, where basic habits must be inculcated in the young. Education is quite different and has little place in school.
— Winston Churchill

There are only two places in the world where time takes precedence over the job to be done. School and prison.
—William Glasser

Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he'll pick himself up and continue on.
— Winston Churchill

The millions of dollars which we devote every year to high-school education are, for the most part, money spent for the retarding of intelligence, the discouragement of efficiency, the stunting of character.
— Bernard Iddings Bell (1949)

What borders on the criminal is the poor teaching and neglect of those subjects that deal with the history of ideas and ideals, a knowledge of which is essential to all youth who would assume their place in society as thinking, feeling human beings.
— Mortimer Smith (1949)

School was the unhappiest time of my life and the worst trick it ever played on me was to pretend that it was the world in miniature. For it hindered me from discovering how lovely and delightful and kind the world can be, and how much of it is intelligible.
— E. M. Forster

Experts talk constantly of training for leadership, but their whole system is one of conditioning for servitude. This is disastrous to the well-being of democracy which depends for safety on the free development of the highest qualities of gifted individuals....For all his talk of democracy, the educator is generally authoritarian and dogmatic. Teacher-training institutions in general exist to indoctrinate; their task is not to discover truth, but to convey ‘the truth.’
— Hilda Neatby (see, School and State: A Neat Solution to the Neatby Dispute)

Dewey, more than any other single person, must be held responsible for the intellectual, cultural and moral poverty of much modern teaching.
— Hilda Neatby (see, School and State: A Neat Solution to the Neatby Dispute)

The more subsidized it is, the less free it is. What is known as "free education" is the least free of all, for it is a state-owned institution; it is socialized education - just like socialized medicine or the socialized post office - and cannot possibly be separated from political control.
— Frank Chodorov, "Why Free Schools Are Not Free," Fugitive Essays: Selected Writings of Frank Chodorov

Freedom is Slavery
1984 (George Orwell)

Do you think nobody would willingly entrust his children to you or pay you for teaching them? Why do you have to extort your fees and collect your pupils by compulsion?
— Isabel Paterson

A tax supported, compulsory educational system is the complete model of the totalitarian state.
— Isabel Paterson

Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends.
— Isabel Paterson

In summary, the present survey of biographical information on a sample of twenty men of genius suggests that the typical developmental pattern includes as important aspects: (1) a high degree of attention focused upon the child by parents and other adults, expressed in the intensive educational measures and, usually, abundant love; (2) isolation from other children, especially outside the family; and (3) a rich efflorescence of fantasy as a reaction to the preceding conditions. It might be remarked that the mass education of our public school system is, in its way, a vast experiment on the effect of reducing all three factors to a minimum: accordingly, it should tend to suppress the occurrence of genius.
— Harold Grier McCurdy, "The Childhood Pattern of Genius," Horizon Magazine, 1960

Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves.
— Eric Hoffer

The central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning; it should produce not learned but learning people. The truly human society is a learning society, where grandparents, parents, and children are students together.
— Eric Hoffer

A ruling intelligentsia, whether in Europe, Asia or Africa, treats the masses as raw material to be experimented on, processed, and wasted at will.
— Eric Hoffer

To be nobody but yourself — in a world which is doing it's best, night and day, to make you like everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.
— e.e. cummings

Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.
— Robert Heinlein

People can be committed to a mental institution only after judicial hearing, but people are committed to schools beyond the reach of Habeas Corpus.
— Martin Mayer, Social Studies in American Schools, NY: Harper Colophon Books, 1964

Is it not ironical that in a planned society of controlled workers given compulsory assignments, where religious expression is suppressed, the press controlled, and all media of communication censored, where a puppet government is encouraged but denied any real authority, where great attention is given to efficiency and character reports, and attendance at cultural assemblies is mandatory, where it is avowed that all will be administered to each according to his needs and performance required from each according to his abilities, and where those who flee are tracked down, returned, and punished for trying to escape - in short in the milieu of the typical large American secondary school - we attempt to teach 'the democratic system'?
— Royce Van Norman, "School Administration: Thoughts on Organization and Purpose," Phi Delta Kappan 47 (1966): 315-16

The group consisting of mother, father and child is the main educational agency of mankind.
— Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr

Public educators, like Soviet farmers, lack any incentive to produce results, innovate, to be efficient, to make the kinds of of difficult changes that private firms operating in a competitive market must make to survive.
— Carolyn Lochhead

I don't want my children fed or clothed by the state, but if I had to choose, I would prefer that to their being educated by the state.
— Max Victor Belz

"Parent choice'' proceeds from the belief that the purpose of education is to provide individual students with an education. In fact, educating the individual is but a means to the true end of education, which is to create a viable social order to which individuals contribute and by which they are sustained. "Family choice'' is, therefore, basically selfish and anti-social in that it focuses on the "wants'' of a single family rather than the "needs'' of society.
— Association of California School Administrators

Historically, much of the motivation for public schooling has been to stifle variety and institute social control.
— Jack Hugh

The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.
— John Kenneth Galbraith

Education Research: This is a process whereby serious educators discover knowledge that is well known to everybody, and has been for several centuries. Its principal characteristic is that no one pays any attention to it.
— Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, The School Book, 1973

As Charles Kettering, who specialized in new ideas, once pointed out, innovations are almost impossible to get into practice, because 99 out of 100 people immediately start cataloguing what is wrong with them and why they won't work.
— Harold W. Sobel, "Is Open Education a Fad?"; Phi Delta Kappan 56, no. 8 (April 1975): 551-553

If the only motive was to help people who could not afford education, advocates of government involvement would have simply proposed tuition subsidies.
— Milton Friedman - Economist and 1976 Nobel Laureate

The first goal and primary function of the U.S. public school is not to educate good people, but good citizens. It is the function which we call - in enemy nations - "state indoctrination."
— Jonathan Kozol

Every child is born a genius. 9,999 out of every 10,000 are swiftly, inadvertently, de-geniused by grown-ups.
— R. Buckminster Fuller

Together we have come to realize that for most men the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school.
— Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is.
— Ivan Illich

It is really an alienation to believe that learning is the result of teaching.
— Ivan Illich

The school is part of the monolithic welfare bureaucracy which conveys the message that no learning is possible without schooling; that the school knows both what is 'right' and how to instil competencies. To cure or teach oneself is not only pretentiously inappropriate, is is almost subversive.
— Torsten Husén, The School in Question: A Comparative Study of the School and Its Future in Western Society

It is the duty of a citizen in a free country not to fit into society, but to make society.
John Holt

People who make careers out of helping others — sometimes at great sacrifice, often not — usually don't like to hear that those others might get along fine, might even get along better, without their help.
John Holt

No use to shout at them to pay attention. If the situations, the materials, the problems before the child do not interest him, his attention will slip off to what does interest him, and no amount of exhortation of threats will bring it back.
John Holt

True learning - learning that is permanent and useful, that leads to intelligent action and further learning — can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.
John Holt

I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.
— Eartha Kitt

Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts. Some of you like pep rallies and plastic robots who tell you what to read. Forget I mentioned it. This song has no message. Rise for the flag salute.
— Frank Zappa, Freak Out (liner notes)

Kid's heads are filled with so many nonfacts that when they get out of school they're totally unprepared to do anything. They can't read, they can't write, they can't think. Talk about child abuse. The U.S. school system as a whole qualifies.
— Frank Zappa, Playboy, April 1993

If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.
— Frank Zappa

We live in an institutional state. Our lives spin outward from the hospitals where we are born to the school systems that dominate our youth through the bureaucracies for which we work and back again to the hospitals in which we die.
— Michael B. Katz, Michael J. Doucet, and Mark J. Stern; The Social Organization of Early Industrial Capitalism (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1982); 354

Where once a tyrant had to wish that his subjects had but one common neck that he might strangle them all at once, all he has to do now is to 'educate the people' so that they will have but one common mind to delude.
— Richard Mitchell, The Leaning Tower of Babel (Ch. 10)

Far from failing in its intended task, our educational system is in fact succeeding magnificently, because its aim is to keep the American people thoughtless enough to go on supporting the system.
— Richard Mitchell, The Graves of Academe (Ch. 5)

There is only one remedy for ignorance and thoughtlessness, and that is literacy. Millions and millions of children would today stand in no need of sex education or consumer education or anti-racism education or any of those fake educations, if they had had in the first place an education.
— Richard Mitchell, The Graves of Academe (Ch. 7)

[I]n a government institution, there is only one area in which problems are taken seriously, and that is the political. Many of the strange things done in American educationism suddenly become perfectly understandable when we see them not as educational methods but as political maneuvers. We must understand illiteracy, therefore, the root of ignorance and thoughtlessness, as not some inadvertent failure to accomplish what was intended but simply a political arrangement of great value to somebody.
— Richard Mitchell, The Graves of Academe (Ch. 7)

Modern stupidity means not ignorance but the nonthought of received ideas.
— Milan Kundera, The Art of the Novel

The school system, custodian of print culture, has no place for the rugged individual. It is, indeed, the homogenizing hopper into which we toss our integral tots for processing.
— Marshall McLuhan

Education, which should be helping youth to understand and adapt to their revolutionary new environments, is instead being used merely as an instrument of cultural aggression.
— Marshall McLuhan

Those in society who are in charge of schools must never forget that the parents have been appointed by God himself as the first and principal educators of their children and that their right is completely inalienable.
— Pope John Paul II

When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of school children.
— Albert Shanker (Former President of the American Federation of Teachers)

It's time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody's role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for incentives for innovation and productivity. It's no surprise that our school system doesn't improve: It more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy.
— Albert Shanker

In all countries, in all centuries, the primary reason for government to set up schools is to undermine the politically weak by convincing their children that the leaders are good and their policies are wise. The core is religious intolerance. The sides simply change between the Atheists, Catholics, Protestants, Unitarians, etc., depending whether you are talking about the Soviet Union, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, America, etc. A common second reason is to prepare the boys to go to war and the girls to cheer them on.
— Marshall Fritz (Founder, The Alliance for the Separation of School & State)

Some want prayer in school, some want condoms. Printing prayers on condoms satisfies nobody.
— Marshall Fritz

Charter schools are just public schools on a slightly longer leash. A dog on a long leash is still a dog on a leash.
— Marshall Fritz

As we all learned from the sorry experience of state-sanctioned bureaucracies in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, decentralization [in education] is crucial to both freedom and excellence.
— Jerry Brown (Mayor, Oakland, California)

Today's Democratic Party knows our children's education is not complete unless they learn good values. We applaud the efforts of the Clinton-Gore Administration to promote character education in our schools. Teaching good values, strong character, and the responsibilities of citizenship must be an essential part of American education.
— Democratic Party Platform, 1996 [What a difference 100 or so years can make: The Democratic Party went from "opposition to state interference with parental rights and rights of conscience in the education of children" and a "fundamental Democratic doctrine that the largest individual liberty consistent with the rights of others insures the highest type of American citizenship and the best government," to the position that government schools should shape our values, guide our character, and teach us our responsibilities as citizens.]

If you suppose that good intentions justify intruding on the lives and properties of your fellow citizens: Do you appreciate being the target of somebody else's good intentions, or haven't you had that particular dubious pleasure yet?
— Cat Farmer

In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.
—Eric Hoffer

Children do not need to be made to learn about the world, or shown how. They want to, and they know how.
John Holt

Nothing enrages me more than when people criticize my criticism of school by telling me that schools are not just places to learn maths and spelling, they are places where children learn a vaguely defined thing called socialization. I know. I think schools generally do an effective and terribly damaging job of teaching children to be infantile, dependent, intellectually dishonest, passive and disrespectful to their own developmental capacities.
Seymour Papert

There has never in the history of the civilized world been a cohort of kids that is so little affected by adult guidance and so attuned to a peer world. We have removed grown-up wisdom and allowed them to drift into a self-constructed, highly relativistic world of friendship and peers.
— William Damon, Stanford University Center on Adolescence

Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents....
— John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teacher of the Year, The Underground History of American Education

The shocking possibility that dumb people don't exist in sufficient numbers to warrant the millions of careers devoted to tending them will seem incredible to you. Yet that is my central proposition: the mass dumbness which justifies official schooling first had to be dreamed of; it isn't real.
— John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education

School is the first impression children get of organized society. Like most first impressions it is the lasting one. Life is dull and stupid, only Coke provides relief. And other products, too, of course.
— John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education

Growth and mastery come only to those who vigorously self-direct. Initiating, creating, doing, reflecting, freely associating, enjoying privacy—these are precisely what the structures of schooling are set up to prevent, on one pretext or another.
— John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education

Who besides a degraded rabble would voluntarily present itself to be graded and classified like meat? No wonder school is compulsory.
— John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education

The Association ... believes that public education is the cornerstone of our social, economic, and political structure and is of utmost significance in the development of our moral, ethical, spiritual, and cultural values. The Association further believes that each state must maintain a system of public education that prepares its citizens to—
a. Achieve functional proficiency in English, with emphasis on the development of basic reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills
b. Compute effectively to procure and/or dispense services and materials
c. Use critical thinking, creative thinking, and problem-solving skills
d. Exercise attitudes of good citizenship, societal productivity, and global awareness
e. Care for the environment
f. Appreciate the aesthetic and moral qualities of life
g. Formulate values that lead to continual growth and self-fulfillment
h. Recognize and appreciate cultural, social, political, and religious differences
i. Use leisure time effectively and develop sound physical health habits
j. Develop skills in and/or an appreciation for the practical/vocational and fine arts.
National Education Association Resolution A-1

The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience.
National Education Association Resolution B-73

The present homeschooling laws are, at best, a poor compromise between a highly structured, two hundred billion dollar a year industry and the principles and beliefs of a handful of parents.
— Helen Hegener, The Homeschool Reader

Our tightly controlled educational system mocks the promise of democracy. With a closed educational system we simply cannot have an open political system. The current situation allows the government and big business to manufacture and maintain our culture for us, and in turn, control remains in the hands of the experts and institutions. The ability to change this situation is in the hands of the individuals and families who understand why change is necessary.
— Helen Hegener, Alternatives in Education

Why is it that millions of children who are pushouts or dropouts amount to business as usual in the public schools, while one family educating a child at home becomes a major threat to universal public education and the survival of democracy?
— Stephen Arons, Compelling Belief: The Culture of American Schooling

Reaching consensus in a group is often confused with finding the right answer.
—Norman Mailer

I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker... I never learned anything at all in school and didn't read a book for pleasure until I was 19 years old.
— Stanley Kubrick, American filmmaker

The public expects too much from teachers because educationists have led it to believe teachers could be substitute parents, psychotherapists, cops, social workers, dieticians, nursemaids, babysitters, and nose wipers and still do a decent job teaching kids to read, write, and do math. Instead of saying no, educationists have added courses in environmental education, death education, personal hygiene, self-esteem, driver's ed, job readiness, sexual harassment, radon studies, yoga, yogurt awareness, and god-knows-what-else.
— Charles Sykes, Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write, or Add

A family member asked my wife, "Aren't you concerned about his (our son's) socialization with other kids?" My wife gave this response: "Go to your local middle school, junior high, or high school, walk down the hallways, and tell me which behavior you see that you think our son should emulate."
— Manfred B. Zysk

In 100 years we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching Remedial English in college.
— Joseph Sobran

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
— P.J. O'Rourke

Q: If you were Big Brother and wanted to create a surveillance society, where would you begin?
A: I would start by creating dossiers on kindergarten children so that the next generation could not comprehend a world without surveillance. I'd also scare the public with stories about terrorists, pedophiles and drug dealers. In fact, that's exactly what's going on right now.
— André Bacard, Physicist and author (The Computer Privacy Handbook), Playboy Interview, 1996

Education is unique among consumer products — when it fails to work as advertised, it's the customer that gets labelled as defective.
— Kevin Killion

Not so long ago people grew up a lot faster. High school diplomas weren't the norm, and young men, armed with nothing more than a solid eighth-grade education (or the European equivalent) would routinely take on apprenticeships and get married. Today even menial service work seems to require a college diploma, and anything more specialized a postgraduate degree.
     Why? At least part of the explanation lies in the simple self-interest of the educational establishment. As socialized school systems predictably and progressively failed to teach students the three R's by the end of eighth grade, platitudes about the need to "stay in school" became commonplace. And when schools began failing to teach such skills over 12 years, "going to college" took on a new importance. Conveniently for the intelligentsia, that seemed to require government funding of higher education to ensure "equal access" for everyone.
     Since failure at one level always serves as an argument for more funding of the next, the educational establishment has absolutely no incentive for reform. On the contrary, they have every incentive to extend adolescence, perpetuating the myth that people remain children for at least 10 years after they become able to bear children.
— Robert L. Pollock, Wall Street Journal editorial page, June 25, 1998

Government schools can't teach reading, writing, and arithmetic — why should we trust them to teach morality, respect, and character? If public education does for ethics what it's done for learning, we'll end up with a generation of immoral, disrespectful, and characterless students.
— Steve Dasbach

If we keep on the way we're going, we're going to wind up where we're headed.
— Anonymous

The task of weaning various people and groups from the national nipple will not be easy. The sound of whines, bawls, screams and invective will fill the air as the agony of withdrawal pangs finds voice.
— Linda Bowles

The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.
— Paul Johnson

It seems to me that much of what we call education is really socialization. Consider what we do to our kids. Is it really a good idea to send your 6-year-old into a room full of 6-year-olds, and then, the next year, to put your 7-year-old in with 7-year-olds, and so on? A simple recursive argument suggests this exposes them to a real danger of all growing up with the minds of 6-year-olds. And, so far as I can see, that's exactly what happens.
     Our present culture may be largely shaped by this strange idea of isolating children's thought from adult thought. Perhaps the way our culture educates its children better explains why most of us come out as dumb as they do, than it explains how some of us come out as smart as they do.
Marvin Minsky

If it would be wrong for the government to adopt an official religion, then, for the same reasons, it would be wrong for the government to adopt official education policies. The moral case for freedom of religion stands or falls with that for freedom of education. A society that champions freedom of religion but at the same time countenances state regulation of education has a great deal of explaining to do.
— James R. Otteson, Freedom of Religion and Public Schooling

Perhaps the deterioration of American education is illustrated by the high correlation between the number of years a person has attended school and his inability to understand the words "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." It is more likely, though, that those who interpret the Second Amendment to preclude an individual right to own guns are driven by their political agenda. Whichever the case, they do themselves no credit when they tell us that a simple, elegant sentence means the opposite of what it clearly says.
— Sheldon Richman

Great cycles of history began with vigorous cultures awakening to the needs of children, but collapsing with frayed family ties. Have we failed to learn lessons which Ancient China, Greece and Rome learned too late — about day care and death houses for old folks? Do we without protest accept accelerating preschool and nursing home cultures which warn ominously that the earlier you institutionalize your child, the earlier he will institutionalize you!
— Raymond S. Moore, Ph.D.

We seem to be getting closer and closer to a situation where nobody is responsible for what they did but we are all responsible for what somebody else did.
— Thomas Sowell

The fatal attraction of government is that it allows busybodies to impose decisions on others without paying any price themselves. That enables them to act as if there were no price, even when there are ruinous prices — paid by others.
— Thomas Sowell

Whenever people talk glibly of a need to achieve educational "excellence," I think of what an improvement it would be if our public schools could just achieve mediocrity.
— Thomas Sowell

No matter how disastrously some policy has turned out, anyone who criticizes it can expect to hear: 'But what would you replace it with?' When you put out a fire, what do you replace it with?
— Thomas Sowell

Chance that an American adult believes that 'politics and government are too complicated to understand': 1 in 3
Chance that an American who was home-schooled feels this way: 1 in 25
Harper's Magazine, May 2004

When the state or federal government controls the education of all of our children, they have the dangerous and illegitimate monopoly to control and influence the thought process of our citizens.
—Michael Badnarik, 2004 Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate

For me it's not a question of whether we should intrude in family life, but how and when.
—Margaret Hodge, British Labour Party politician, first Minister for Children, and 2004 recipient of the Privacy International Big Brother Award for "Worst Public Servant" for her backing of the Universal Child Database

New [education] spending inevitably yields new initiatives tossed atop old inefficiencies.
Frederick M. Hess, American Enterprise Institute

In keeping Americans ill-educated, ill-informed and constitutionally ignorant, the education establishment has been the politician's major and most faithful partner. It is in this sense that American education can be deemed a success.
— Walter Williams, Professor of Economics, George Mason University (2005)

We're trying to teach obedience and conformity. We don't expect much resistance.
— Joy Mack, Principal, Williamsburg Independent School District (Kentucky), as quoted in the Louisville Courier-Journal, 8/10/05

In education, it is said that the state must impose schooling on all children, else the parents and communities will neglect it. Only the state can make sure that no child is left behind. The only question is the means: will we use the union and bureaucracies favored by the left, or the market incentives and vouchers favored by the right. I don’t want to get into a debate about which means is better, but only to draw attention to the reality that these are both forms of planning that compromise the freedom of families to manage their own affairs.
— Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., "The Impossibility of Imposed Freedom" (December 2005)

I have seen kids wind up in front of a judge because they are sick to their stomach at the idea of going to school, and they are afraid. It's not unusual for me to order a child to go to school.
— Berkshire (Massachusetts) Juvenile Court Judge Paul E. Perachi, as quoted in the The Berkshire Eagle,12/21/05.
(According to the news story, Judge Perachi was speaking of school-bullying victims, "children so scared [reads the article] of their tormentors that they stop going to school and end up violating truancy laws.")

School choice ... is a fact of American life. Rich people exercise it by moving to the suburbs. Poor people exercise it by pretending to move to the suburbs. Fighting it is like trying to prevent waves from reaching the shore.
— Mike Antonucci, Education Intelligence Agency, January 2006

No one should be forced to dive into an ocean of debt to learn how the world works, much less escape minimum wage hell. It should be enough just to want to know. Then too, look at our educational institutions. Academia, at least from this outsider's perspective, is an almost impenetrable veneer of elitist flatulence and toxic competition. Jesus, no wonder this country is in such sorry shape.
— Arvin Hill, Texas philosopher

For those who still believe that voucherized school choice is a libertarian idea, let me ask you this: Does the state (knowingly) fund things that are truly a threat to itself?
Stephen Carson

In the eighteenth century it was not common to suggest that slavery was a sin against fellow human beings. In the nineteenth century it was not common to suggest that women deserved the same privileges of citizenship as men. In the twentieth century it is not common to suggest that children can learn without attending schools. All three are examples of how the cultural attitudes of a population influence not only their view of reality, but also create social structures that reinforce and perpetuate those views. Science, medicine, and law were used to keep slaves and women in their place until cultural attitudes towards these people changed; likewise, I think, we are in the midst of a gradual change in our perception of children.
— Patrick Farenga

When I was at school, learning about democracy and citizenship in school was a bit like reading holiday brochures in prison.
— Derry Hannam

Does compulsion teach any kind of tolerance other than tolerance of authority?
JJ Ross, Cocking a Snook!

'The System' takes my breath away with its blatant audacity sometimes: removing our children into full-time daycare at an ever earlier age, smearing elective home educators as potential child abusers just because we resist that process, ever-lengthening the school day and the number of years pupils must spend there - then campaigning for parental involvement in education! It's a joke, isn't it?
Gill Kilner, Sometimes It's Peaceful

You teach kids how to succeed when they successfully foil the educational system.
— Arlo Guthrie

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