Front Page Titles (by Subject) State vs. Education - Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3
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State vs. Education - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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State vs. Education
“Education and the Political Community.” Menlo Park, California: Institute for Humane Studies, Center for Independent Education paper, 1977.
Since the early republic, America's educational ideology has been politicized: public schools have served government, molding citizens to conform with the social good as leaders define it. State-controlled education, however, contradicts America's tradition of freedom, pluralism, individualism, and self-rule. Despite its shifting goals (cultural homogeneity or social betterment), the state has used public education to condition individuals to live and work for its interests.
Exposés of American public schooling have proliferated during the past decade:
Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society (1970);
William Rickenbacker, ed., The Twelve Year Sentence: Radical Views of Compulsory Education (1974);
Joel Spring, Education and the Rise of the Corporate State (1972); and A Primer of Libertarian Education (1975); and
E.G. West, Education and the State (1970).
Besides attacking rising costs and inferior instruction, the current critics have studied public education as a sociopolitical institution. They have historically traced the role of the public school as a political tool of social, cultural, and moral conformity. This educational brainwashing originated with Plato and appeared in the Prussian state schools and in the inconsistent position of the utilitarian classical economists.
Politicized education was promulgated by such influential Founding Fathers as Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, and Thomas Jefferson. Influenced by Rousseau, the French Encyclopedists, and the Physiocrats, all three desired the unifying cultural force of state education. They distrusted non-English immigrants and anticipated the nineteenth-century nativist hysteria over aliens who might pollute the approved moral and political values. A strong republic needed an “educated” citizenry who would surrender their diversity in the “melting pot” of state education.
Three approaches summarize the role of the state in education: (1) to use public education as a tool of social, political, and cultural control; (2) to limit public education to a minimum standard of literacy; and (3) to achieve a total separation of state and education. This last position was endorsed, among others, by William Godwin in his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793). Godwin disparaged authority and centralism as a threat to truth, virtue, and diversity. The classical liberals and classical economists (including Smith, Say, J.S. Mill, and Humbolt) allowed their utilitarian concern for social uplift of the poor to erode their opposition to state intervention in schooling. The result has been a gradual decline of private education.