Friday, April 23, 2010

State Monopoly on Education I

In a Pastoral Letter in 1919 to the US Bishops, James Cardinal Gibbons wrote the following:

"The spirit of our people in general is adverse to State monopoly, and this for the obvious reason that such an absorption of control would mean the end of freedom and initiative. The same consequence is sure to follow when the State attempts to monopolize education; and the disaster will be much greater inasmuch as it will affect, not simply the worldly interests of the citizen, but also his spiritual growth and salvation."

Etienne Gilson, a Catholic philosopher, thirty two years after Cardinal Gibbon's pastoral letter, gives the reason why a State monopoly on education would spell disaster- spiritually, morally and intellectually -for America. Writing for the Vanguard Press in 1951, he wrote an article equally prophetic. In the article, The Breakdown of Morals and Christian Education, he writes the following:

"To the full extent that it educates, the State educates in view of itself…The only conceivable end of a State-owned education is the State itself. States themselves may not know it. They may sincerely believe that nothing is more foreign to their honest intentions; yet, to put it bluntly, the only reason why a State may not want children to be educated in view of God is that it wants them to be educated in view of itself. Totalitarian education does nothing more than go the whole way along the same line. The result is what we know: political, economic, intellectual and spiritual slavery."

In essence, he maintains that regardless of the good intentions of school administrators and teachers, State-run education will end up advancing the interests of the State rather than the education of the student. As the interests of the State become more of a priority in the public schools, education is bound to give way to an ideological, partisan or even a anti-religious indoctrination.

Although the interests of the State and the truths of the Christian religion are not inherently incompatible, they are, nevertheless, competitors when the State seeks to become all things to all people. The aim of influencing and controlling every phase of life, from womb to tomb, is a total one, hence the name "totalitarian."