Occasionally, in talks with homeschoolers, we encounter someone who declares, ”I got a good education in the public schools and I wish that my children could get the same.” We seldom offer an argument but in our minds, we want to ask that person, “You got a good education? Compared to what?” Perhaps you got a better education than is available to your children now in school, but how does your education compare with that of Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe or even such unschooled luminaries as Benjamin Franklin?

Compared to the average citizen in 1781, most Americans, ourselves included, are barely literate. Have you read the Federalist Papers? They are considered too difficult for college students today but in 1781 they were written as newspaper articles aimed at the average citizen. The sad truth is that virtually no one has gotten anything close to what the founding generation would consider a good education from an American public school for the past 100 years and this is by design. How did we get to the dismal state of affairs we have today? How did we go from community schools and home schools that produced the brilliance of a George Washington Carver, a Nathaniel Bowditch or an Abraham Lincoln to the dumbed down schools we suffer with today? The story is as fascinating as it is enlightening. John Taylor Gatto, incredibly talented and brilliant New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991, has laid it all out in his newest book, The Underground History of American Education, A Schoolteacher’s Intimate Investigation Into The Problem of Modern Schooling. Mary Pride, publisher of Practical Homeschooling, said of it, ”The most important book on education I have ever read. It will open your eyes and, God willing, change your children’s lives.”

In just under 400 pages Gatto traces the very well planned transition of American education from small, community controlled schools to the large, bureaucratic, factory model institutions we have today. He documents the change from parent controlled curriculum to governmentally dictated agendas. This book is electrifying, horrifying and illuminating. As homeschoolers, you have taken the first great step to a real education, but as schooled adults you can have only a vague idea what you really missed. If you want to bolster your conviction to homeschool, this book is a must.

In this issue of the newsletter we are privileged to have an editorial by Cathy Duffy. We encourage you to read this editorial on the upcoming Proposition 38. This essay combined with Gatto’s book will make you an informed voter and homeschooler. Happy reading!!!!