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Frequently
asked
questions

  1. Why should school and state be separated?
  2. What's the Alliance's goal?
  3. What's wrong with the common school concept?
  4. What about irresponsible parents?
  5. What's wrong with the Prussian approach?
  6. What steps are necessary for separation?
  7. How much progress has the Alliance made?
  8. Have any professional surveys been done on Separation?
  9. What's being said about Fritz and the Alliance?
  10. How long has the battle over whether schools should educate children been going on?
  11. What projects are planned?
  12. What is the Alliance's history and tax status?



 
Why should school and state be separated?

We should remove schools from government operation and influence for three reasons:
  1. One-size-fits-all doesn't work in a pluralistic society, especially for character values.
  2. Government take-over of parents' duties is often met with parental abdication of their responsibilities. Reduced parental responsibility hurts kids.
  3. Politically-run schooling can't escape the age-graded, time-based model imported from Prussia in the 1840s. Those offering glimpses of better paradigms (e.g., John Holt, Maria Montessori) are all but scorned.
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What's the Alliance's goal?

Our goal is the end of federal, state, and local involvement with schooling. We believe government has no role in financing, operating, or defining schooling, or even compelling attendance.

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What's wrong with the common school concept?

We don't have a common pizza, a common magazine or a common church. They make no common sense. The way out of the "School Wars" is to drop the 1840s' notion of a "common school." Government has no business forcing kids from different backgrounds into a one-size-fits-all tablet of values. The Common School wasn't so bad for 100 years; they imparted the Protestant majority's values to mostly Protestant kids. Some groups escaped (e.g., Christian Reformed, Seventh Day Adventist, and Catholics); others were small and took their lumps (e.g., Jews, atheists, and Jehovah's Witnesses). The flaw of the common school only became clear to traditionalists when the tables were turned on them. Over the last 50 years, the modernists have won control and now they use schools to impart their idea of "The Good." But the traditionalists are not a tiny minority that can be abused with impunity. They're escalating the school wars to try to "take back their schools." Parent support for teachers is plummeting. Compromise is not possible: Some want prayer in school, some want condoms. Printing prayers on condoms satisfies nobody. Communities are split. Some even have to use police to maintain order at school board meetings. The way to get parents to support schools is for schools to support parents, especially their tablet of virtues and values. Cultural and religious pluralism in parents means we need the same pluralism in schools. Kids are now being injured in the psychological equivalent of a vicious custody battle.

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What about irresponsible parents?

The 1840s' municipal takeover of schools told parents they weren't responsible for their children's education. It's the government's job. The 1890s' compulsory attendance legislation relieved parents of the awesome burden of convincing children to attend school. It's the government's job. The 1930s' Social Security told children they weren't responsible for their elderly parents. It's the government's job. The last three decades brought us government breakfast, lunch, health care and after-school care. When governments usurp, many parents abdicate their responsibility. Family life is weakened and children are harmed. This usurpation/abdication two-step has been ratcheting downward for 150 years and has been accelerating in the last 40 years. Government attempts to rescue children from poor parenting are the great enabler of irresponsible parenting.

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What's wrong with the Prussian approach?

The factory-model school was designed when children were more obedient and the restless ones were allowed to learn by apprenticeship. Today's system is a dysfunctional pressure cooker. Educators know better ways but politics forces them to keep re-formulating the age-segregated, competition-driven, time-based system designed by Prussians after their defeat by Napoleon. Getting government out of schooling will allow the market to test potentially good ideas invented by creative educators.

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What steps are necessary for separation?

• Education

We start by sounding the alarm and educating Americans why all school reforms have failed and will continue to fail. While most parents perceive a general decline in public schools, many cling to the belief that their local school district has escaped. The Alliance will search out current and former educators in each of the 15,321 school districts to speak out ala Sakharov and John Taylor Gatto. (Same for each college education department.) We'll launch "Education Glasnost" (openness) to help these brave souls break the "Code of Silence" and share stories of the harm they have seen done to local children. As a result of this education process, millions of Americans will remove the children from harmful government-run schooling. We're working with religious, ethnic and educational leaders to get them to recommend independent, parochial and home education. Those who can't remove their children need direction to sources that can help them protect their children. During this phase, progress will be measured by the growing number of people who have signed the Proclamation for the Separation of School and State. (The Alliance is non-political and will play a negligible role in the next two phases.)

• Politics

As the number of Proclaimers breaks into the millions, politically oriented people will adopt Separation as a winning platform. During this phase, initiatives, lobbying, and grass roots political activity will repeal the education codes, and even amend state constitutions to end state involvement in education.

• Implementation

Attorneys, accountants and educators will transact the actual convey ownership of schools to new operators, often consortiums of teachers and parents, sometimes businesses and religious groups, and even colleges and universities.

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How much progress has the Alliance made?

John Stuart Mill said a new idea that's any good goes through three stages: Absurd, Bold, and Obvious. When we started the Separation of School and State Alliance in January, 1994, we were firmly in phase one. But we are amazed how fast we're approaching phase two. Some firsts:

  • First endorsement by state Teacher of the Year
    March 1994
    John Taylor Gatto, New York


  • First draft of Proclamation
    April 1994
    Philip Mitchell and Marshall Fritz


  • First endorsement by think-tank president
    May 1994
    Robert Poole, Jr., Reason Foundation


  • First endorsement by home education leader
    June 1994
    Cathy Duffy, Home Run Enterprises


  • First endorsement by U.S. Congressman
    June 1994
    Dr. Ron Paul, Texas


  • First endorsement by college vice president
    July 1994
    Ron Trowbridge, Hillsdale College


  • First endorsement by professor of economics
    August 1994
    Dr. Dwight Lee, University of Georgia


  • First national poll
    September 1994
    Wirthlin Group (26% favored separation)


  • First endorsement by professor of education
    October 1994
    Dr. Kevin Ryan, Boston University


  • First newspaper editorial endorsement
    October 17, 1994
    Orange County Register


  • First attack by nationally syndicated columnist
    October 24, 1994
    Richard Reeves


  • First appearance at national education conference
    November 1994
    Goals 2000: An Alternate View, New York


  • First endorsement by Catholic priest
    November 1994
    Fr. Joseph Ganssle, O.F.M., Colorado


  • First coverage by nationally syndicated columnist
    January 13, 1995
    Linda Seebach


  • First endorsement by a great grandmother
    January 1995
    Philomine DiGiacomo, New York


  • First endorsement by editor of protestant newsletter
    February 1995
    R.C. Sproul, Jr., Tabletalk


  • First endorsement by professor of law
    February 1995
    Dr. Charles Rice, Notre Dame Law School


  • First endorsement by orthodox rabbi
    February 1995
    Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Washington


  • First endorsement from Christian magazine
    March 4, 1995
    WORLD


  • First endorsement from international press
    March 13, 1995
    Michael Prowse, Financial Times (London, England)


  • First endorsement from Islamic scholar
    March, 1995
    Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Maryland
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Have any professional surveys been done on Separation?

Yes, our first national survey revealed that 26% of Americans want local, state and federal government to get out of the schooling business. During the week of September 19, 1994, the Wirthlin Group polled a representative sample of 1006 voting age Americans about their opinions about government financing of schools and compelling attendance. The text of the news release at the time follows:
Marshall Fritz said, "Three weeks ago I said we didn't know if two or twenty-two percent of the population is already in favor of separation of school and state. Now we know that even without a national discussion, even without endorsement by leaders in education, politics and religion, even without the research required to answer many questions, fully a fourth of the American population is so fed up with government-based schooling that they are willing to return to the original American idea, public education that is open to the public but privately owned and operated."

On the teleconference Fritz called to announce the results, Alliance supporter Terry Hahm, New Berlin, Wisconsin, said, "Clearly we need a more in-depth poll to find out what concerns are held by the 71% who are not yet ready to give all schools independence." This struck such a positive response among the participants that Fritz committed to commission an "open-ended" poll in which 1000 Americans would be given a short description of Separation and then asked to share their ideas about how this would help or hinder American society.

Separation supporter Virgil Swearingen, Fresno, California, said the number of people who already favor Separation greatly exceeded his prediction. He says Separation will be good for America because, "The main job of a school is to transmit moral values, that is, virtues. During the last four decades, many of our schools have stripped out traditional moral values because they were seen as an establishment of religion. While I am all for protecting every child from being forced to endure moral lessons not of his parents' choosing, the attempt to create a 'values neutral school' has the terrible effect of communicating to the kids that values are not very important. In our pluralistic society, it doesn't make sense to try to please everybody with a least common denominator of virtues. The only prudent way out of the mess is to separate schools from the state and let parents pick a school that matches their approach to childrearing. We know the separation of church and state works well. With some study and discussion, I think we can see how separation of school and state will improve education for everybody, including the poor."

Fritz says he was surprised by the two groups who gave Separation the high rating of 34%: Low income people and males over 55.
(The news release concluded with an offer of an information kit.)

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What's being said about Fritz and the Alliance?

The battle between parents and the state is over 25 centuries old. Here are some interesting, sometimes quite candid, comments by leaders of yesteryear. Let's start with people who are enthused about political control of schooling:
  • "Marshall Fritz has become the leading spokesman for an idea whose time is fast approaching — the separation of school and state." — Steve Buckstein, Cascade Policy Institute

  • "Marshall: Congratulations on starting The Separation Alliance. You certainly have my support and endorsement, and you are in my prayers." — John Taylor Gatto, 1991 New York State Teacher of the Year

  • "The Alliance, with Marshall at the helm, will provide the leadership for the only real solution to America's educational crisis." — Jacob G. Hornberger, Future of Freedom Foundation

  • "Marshall has an uncanny ability to bring together leading representatives of the disparate factions in the 'School Wars' and get them thinking in new ways about restoring harmony to the parent-educator relationship. He creates dialogue, common understanding and trust. Where Horace Mann succeeded in harnessing the state to institutionalize 'common schooling,' Marshall seeks to harness private initiative to return common schooling to its roots in communities of voluntary association." — Robert J. Wittmann, Education Policy Analyst, Michigan
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How long has the battle over whether schools should educate children been going on?

The battle between parents and the state is over 25 centuries old. Here are some interesting, sometimes quite candid, comments by leaders of yesteryear. Let's start with people who are enthused about political control of schooling:
  • "Neither must we suppose that any one of the citizens belongs to himself, for they all belong to the state." — Aristotle (d322 BC)

  • "Make me the master of education, and I will undertake to change the world." — Baron Gottfried von Leibnitz (d1716)

  • "Let our pupil be taught that he does not belong to himself, but that he is public property... He must be taught to amass wealth, but it must be only to increase his power of contributing to the wants and demands of the state... [Education] can be done effectually only by the interference and aid of the Legislature." — Benjamin Rush (1786)

  • "The nation alone has the right to educate children." — Robespierre (d1794)

  • "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 (1848)

  • "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)

  • "The first duty of a State is to see that every child born therein shall be well housed, clothed, fed, and educated, till it attain years of discretion. But in order to the effecting this the Government must have an authority over the people of which we now do not so much as dream." — John Ruskin (d1900)

  • "[The role of the schoolmaster is to] collect little plastic lumps of human dough from private households and shape them on the social kneadingboard." — Edward Ross (c1900)

  • "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." — Elwood Cubberley (1920)

  • "At every hour of every day, I can tell you on which page of which book each schoolchild in Italy is studying." — Benito Mussolini (d1945)
Now let's turn to some folks who seem quite a bit less enthused about political control of schooling, or at least of its indoctrination or conformity effects:
  • "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." — Thomas Jefferson (1777)

  • "I have sworn on the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." — Thomas Jefferson (1800)

  • "State education is a mere contrivance for molding people to be exactly alike one another; ... 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 (1859)

  • "Whenever 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 (1874)

  • "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)

  • "We are opposed to state interference with parental rights and rights of conscience in the education of children." — Democrat National Platform (1892)

  • "[T]he result has been school systems that treat children as units to be processed into particular shapes and dropped into slots roughly congruent with the status of their parents." — Michael Katz (1968)

  • "The search for the one best system has ill-served the pluralistic character of American society... [bureaucratization] has often perpetuated positions and outworn practices rather than serving the clients, the children to be taught." — David Tyack (1974)

  • "[The schools reject] the idea of education as the acquisition of knowledge and skills [and instead] regard the fundamental task in education as therapy." — Samuel Hayakawa (1978)

  • "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 (nd)

  • "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 (1990)
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What projects are planned?
  • Adding signatories to our Proclamation for Separation of School and State. Each signature adds to a groundswell and shows the size of the "Separation Movement." Our goal is 25,000,000 — enough to attract political movers.

  • Hosting School Sakharov Teleconferences. Facilitate low-cost audio conferences, gathering educators together to support each other in going "public" favoring Separation.

  • Publishing "The Education Liberator." Since September 1995, we've published our monthly flagship publication that has material that you will find no where else.

  • Producing videos, audio cassettes, pamphlets, books, bibliographies and monographs to equip local chapters to be effective envoys of change in their communities.

  • Holding annual conferences to bring together scholars and grass roots activists.
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What is the Alliance's history & tax status?

The Alliance is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) educational organization founded in 1994 by Marshall Fritz. It is an operating project of the Advocates for Self-Government, Inc. The Alliance is not political — it doesn't lobby or support candidates.


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