T Nation

Public Education is a 'Priesthood'

"To say this is to announce one of the most hated heresies of the modern world. I mean “heresy” in the good old-fashioned way that it was meant in the Middle Ages and in virtually any society prior to the Enlightenment. This heresy involves calling into question the legitimacy of a priesthood, self-appointed and self-policed, which gains its money from the civil government.

The establishment of churches funded by tax money has been common in most societies throughout history. I contend that it is basic to the modern world, too. The modern priesthood is the educational establishment in each nation. Tax funding goes to those institutions that have been certified as reputable by the priesthood.

An educational institution that claims to be legitimate in the modern world is pressured strongly to become accredited by institutions that are run by the priests whose standards are enforced by the state. An institution that sets up a college that is not approved by one of these accrediting associations cannot issue certain kinds of degrees without breaking the law. This system of accreditation extends all the way down to infant care.

The state regulates educational establishments, even including home schools, in order to preserve control over the content and methodology of education. In earlier centuries, a similar oligopoly was run in conjunction with state funding and also state coercion. Churches policed the society, including the morals of society, by means of a monopoly granted to them by the civil government.

The state in seventeenth-century New England could legally compel church attendance by every member of the society. What is not understood is that this law was rarely enforced in Boston. In his book, Winthrop’s Boston (1965), Darrett Rutman concluded that the churches of Boston three centuries earlier could contain only about 25% of the residents of Boston at one time.

The modern educational system is far more compulsory than churches were in New England in 1665.


I found this article quite interesting. Rational discussion?

I can appreciate what he was trying to do by drawing the analogy of churches to schools, but there is no need.

A compare and contrast would have worked just as well but would have required him to make a direct statement against public education rather that creating a subtext of the analogy that because there is a separation between church and state then there should be a separation of education and state.

I appreciate when social commentaries are direct and honest. His attempt at a flank attack are unnecessarily weak because it lacks those qualities.

That being said, I agree that the institutions of education are demonstrating a level of hubris not previously seen in the U.S. This type of decadence will eventually lead to a downfall, but it will take a long time. People put up with a whole lot of unnecessary shit before we collectively say “enough is enough”. Even then, it is a long time coming before anything effectively changes.

wow - interesting read