Government Schools

13 November 2003

The following is about vouchers and was published by the Arizona Republic on Nov. 12 as half of the weekly point-counterpoint between Craig Cantoni and his teacher opponent.

The antidote to group-think
By Craig J. Cantoni

In 1921, at the urging of the Ku Klux Klan, Oregon passed a law requiring compulsory attendance at public schools. Four years later, the Supreme Court overturned the law, saying: ”The fundamental theory of liberty on which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.”

My mother was born that year to poor Italian immigrants, who could afford to send her to parochial school because taxes were much lower than the confiscatory levels of today. Now, 82 years later, the nation has de facto compulsory public school attendance, because most parents cannot afford to pay their taxes and to also send their kids to private school.

As a result, the government has a monopoly over classroom thought. Worse, the thought is delivered by one of the most powerful special-interest groups, teacher unions. The standardization of children has been achieved.

But the forces of conformity and group-think are not satisfied with only controlling K-12 education. The public school establishment and its allies in the media, including reporters and editors of this newspaper, are now advocating ”early childhood education,” which is a euphemism for the government beginning the standardization at an earlier age.

Fighting these formidable forces are homeschoolers, advocates of vouchers and education tax credits, and other defenders of liberty and educational freedom. They are maligned as extremists and weirdoes by the group-thinkers for not succumbing to group-think.

That alone is reason enough for me to support their efforts, but I also find them to be better informed than the forces of conformity. Refusing to swallow the politically correct mush put out by the government, by teachers unions and by the mass media, they are indeed a threat to the establishment.

It is telling that the establishment does not want the American sheeple to know the full history of public education in America, especially how educational freedom was replaced with coercion and hijacked by special interests. For that history, independent thinkers have to go to other sources, such as the Cato Institute (, which recently published an excellent paper on the subject, Our History of Educational Freedom.”

Warning: Reading such material can be hazardous to your reputation. If you depart from government authorized group-think, you’ll be called an extremist and weirdo.

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Mr. Cantoni is an author, public speaker and consultant. He can be reached at

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  1. Michael Thieme    13 November 2003, 13:54    #