America’s Public School System: Brutal and Spartan
The public school system in America has
become a dismal failure. But education in many other times and cultures
has been quite successful. The ancient Greeks, whose civilization was at
its height around 550 B.C., founded Western civilization as we know it.
The Athenian Greeks invented or perfected logic, drama, science,
philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, literature, and much more. Yet ancient
Greece had no compulsory schools.
Other than requiring two years of military
training for young men that began at age eighteen, Athens let parents
educate their children as they saw fit. Parents either taught their
children at home or sent them to voluntary schools where teachers and
philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle gave lectures to all who
wanted to learn. These great teacher-philosophers did not need a license
to teach, nor did they have tenure. The ancient Athenians had a
free-market education system. The thought of compulsory, state-run schools
and compulsory teacher licensing would have been repulsive to them. The
Athenians respected a parent's natural right to direct the education of
In contrast, Sparta, Athens's mortal enemy,
created the first truly state-run, compulsory education system on record.
Individual Spartans lived and died for the State, and had to serve the
State from birth until sixty years of age. Their society was a brutal
military dictatorship in which male children literally belonged to the
city rulers, not to their parents.
The Spartan military government took boys
from their homes and parents at the age of seven and forced them to live
in military-style barracks for the rest of their lives. Spartan men were
life-long soldiers whose highest duty was to obey the commands of their
leaders. It is no coincidence that Sparta had compulsory, state-run
education. If a society believes that children belong not to parents, but
to the State, then the State must control children's education by
Are our public schools any different than
the brutal Spartan society in the way they treat parents and children?
Today, school compulsory-attendance laws force parents to hand over their
children to government employees called teachers for eight to twelve
years. In effect, our local and state governments claim that they, like
the Spartans, own our children's minds and bodies for twelve years.
Parents who refuse to hand over their children to the public schools can
be, and have been, locked in jail for disobeying the compulsory-attendance
In this respect, our public schools today
are just as brutal as the Spartans. The difference is only in degree.
Where the Spartans stole children from their parents to serve a lifetime
in their military, our local governments create laws that let them, in
effect, legally kidnap our children to serve twelve years in their
education boot camps called public schools. The brutality of the principal
is the same.
Both the Spartans and our public-school
officials think they own our children, and have utter contempt for
Joel Turtel is author of Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public
Schools Lie To Parents and Betray Our Children, holds a degree in
Psychology. For the last ten years he has served as an Education
Policy Analyst, studying the climate of today's public schools and its
effect on children and parents. He has written two books, published
over fifty articles, and has been interviewed in both print and
broadcast media on the subject.
Volume 13, 2009