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Many Educational Pasts: Conservative Visions and Revisions of American Educational History


by Adam Laats - 2012

Background/Context: Recent attention to Texas’s revision of its state social-studies curricula has focused on the Texas School Board’s conservative vision of America’s history. Texas is not alone. Conservative educational activists have achieved a great deal of success in recent years in revising the historical narrative prescribed for America’s schoolchildren.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: This article argues that in the past six decades conservative activists have offered not one but many visions of America’s history. Educational history in particular has been the subject of energetic and conflicting attempts at revision. This article surveys the themes common among conservative educational histories from the 1950s until the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Research Design: The article first examines the broad historical outline used by most conservative educational activists. To flesh out that outline and move beyond overly simplistic generalizations, the article then looks at four specific conservative activists—Milton Friedman, Max Rafferty, Sam Blumenfeld, and Henry Morris—to examine their significant differences in close detail.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Conservatives have used these different visions of America’s educational past to promote specific reform programs in their own times. This article suggests that anyone interested in understanding the contest for contemporary educational policy must understand the variety of contending conservative visions of the educational past.

In early 2010, Don McLeroy attracted national attention for his leadership of a conservative campaign to revise Texas’s social studies curriculum guidelines. From his seat on the state board of education, McLeroy insisted that Texas schoolchildren be taught “two basic facts about man. He was created in the image of God, and he is fallen.” According to amendments proposed by McLeroy, Texas students should also learn more about Ronald Reagan’s “leadership in restoring national confidence” and about the positive contributions to American history from such conservative icons as “Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract with America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”1


McLeroy is not alone. Indeed, conservative educational activists have achieved a great deal of success in recent years. In the mid-1990s, for instance, conservative backlash forced leading historians and educators to overhaul proposed national standards in the teaching of history.2 At the same time, conservative activists won control of local school boards in places such as Garrett County, Maryland.3 At the national level as well, conservatives made their presence felt. For example, then-Senator Rick Santorum managed to insert a non-binding congressional conference report into the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act. To dilute the power of teaching evolutionary theory, Senator Santorum’s report insisted that the “full range of scientific views” be included whenever “controversial topics” were taught.4 Across the nation, as Michael Apple has argued, conservatives have been able to “win the battle over common sense.”5


Yet conservatism has never represented a simple, unified idea. As historian David Farber recently argued, the postwar movement has often “struggled to master [its] sometime contradictory desires.” Conservatives, Farber argued, have fought for “order, security, and stability” as well as “individual economic liberty” and “equality”—vague goals that can pull conservatism in different directions.6 And, as Michael Apple and others have suggested, there has been no single consistent notion of a usable educational past among conservatives.7 Not only Protestant fundamentalists but conservatives of all stripes have contributed to a lively marketplace of contending revisions. Just as among non-conservatives, these writers held a wide spectrum of beliefs and interests, from centrist to radical. And just as do all historians and political activists, each revised the past in idiosyncratic ways to emphasize different points of contemporary interest.


Furthermore, none of the conservative activists described in this essay viewed the past as a simple unblemished educational utopia. Rather, each mined the past to find images of romanticized educational golden ages and evidence of terrible usurpations of power that led to contemporary educational and social disasters. Each located those usurpations at specific moments in the educational past in order to buttress his argument for specific reforms. To do justice to the complexity of conservative arguments, this article will include detailed descriptions of the educational historical narratives offered by four leading educational conservatives: Milton Friedman, Sam Blumenfeld, Max Rafferty, and Henry Morris. To paint a fuller portrait of the range of conservative revision, the article will examine the ways each of these activists offered his own sometimes idiosyncratic vision of America’s educational past.


In addition, this article will use the term “educational reform” in the sense suggested by David Tyack and Larry Cuban, as “planned efforts to change schools in order to correct perceived social and educational problems.”8 Whether or not we agree on the beneficial tendency of these conservative policies or with the historical accuracy of these conservative claims will not be the main concern of the following pages. Instead, this article hopes to provide a glimpse into the spectrum of historical argument about education offered by conservative thinkers in the second half of the twentieth century. Anyone interested in the battle for control of the intellectual high ground in educational policy, whether as a conservative or liberal activist, as a parent or policymaker, teacher or school administrator, needs to be aware of the breadth of ways conservative educational activists have envisioned the past and used those various educational pasts to support their varied prescriptions for the future.


GHOSTS OF EDUCATION PAST


Before exploring the specific historical narratives offered by Friedman, Blumenthal, Morris, and Rafferty, noting the broad agreement among educational conservatives on certain themes is important. Most conservatives have emphasized the idea that American education began as a private and religious enterprise. Another common trope of conservative histories has been the idea that John Dewey and “progressive education” took over and destroyed American schools. In addition to Dewey and progressivism, most conservatives have agreed that secularism, pluralism, and state control wrecked public education.


Most conservative histories juxtapose this sorry contemporary situation with a rosy past. For instance, many conservatives insist that the glories of early schooling came from its roots as a thoroughly Christian and Protestant institution. Most conservatives further agreed that this fundamental truth of American educational history has been obscured, perhaps willfully, by a secularist and left-leaning establishment. In the early 1980s, for instance, a writer in the evangelical magazine Christianity Today reminded readers that American public education had begun in Massachusetts Bay Colony with two religiously inspired laws. The writer noted that the Massachusetts laws of 1642 and 1647 intended “to teach children ‘to read and understand the principles of religion’ and thereby to counter ‘ye ould deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of ye Scriptures.’”9 Another writer voiced a similar historical vision in the pages of the conservative evangelical Moody Monthly. The first schools, he noted, “grew up about the churches, based on biblical principles; in many cases the Holy Scriptures were one of the text books.”10


Similarly, many conservatives noted wryly that some of the leading institutions of the secular establishment—schools such as Harvard and the University of Chicago, for instance—were originally founded by Protestants for explicitly Protestant purposes. Fundamentalist educational writer A. A. “Buzz” Baker pointed out that, although “it may come as a surprise to some,” most of America’s leading colleges “used to be ‘our’ schools.”11 Similarly, B. Gray Allison, a conservative evangelical from Louisiana, argued in 1968 as campuses nationwide roiled with cultural conflict that not only Harvard, Yale, and Princeton began with explicitly religious missions but also “even the early state-supported institutions had a concern for the perpetuation of what might be termed religious culture.”12


Many conservatives also drew attention to the fact that early schooling in America was often a private affair. Public education, which conservatives agree kicked off in the antebellum years with Horace Mann’s energetic campaign, came as a novelty, they argued, in an America accustomed to private schooling. Rousas Rushdoony, for instance, a Calvinist intellectual with wide influence among conservative evangelical and libertarian educational activists, bemoaned the fact that the concept of education had become “inevitably statist.”13 According to Rushdoony, the success of Horace Mann lay in his effective framing of the antebellum school question as one of public schooling or no schooling at all. Before Mann’s campaign, Rushdoony argued, parents could opt for either private schooling or locally controlled community schooling.14 Fundamentalist educational leader Walter Fremont agreed. Fremont, the long-standing dean of fundamentalist Bob Jones University’s School of Education, noted that in 1850, almost all education was a private affair. Fremont argued that by the end of the nineteenth century, however, 90 percent of schooling had become public.15


Looking back to the early twentieth century, most conservatives have agreed on the importance of John Dewey and the influence of the idea of progressive education. Conservatives tended to grant Dewey the same uniquely important status as did more liberal educational thinkers. However, among conservatives, Dewey’s impact has been considered decidedly negative. One typical writer blasted Dewey for turning education into a branch of the social sciences. In this fundamentalist writer’s opinion, as long as Deweyan social scientific thinking guided education, rather than “common sense and the Bible,” there was no hope for public education.16 Another conservative educational activist from the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago told a cautionary tale of secularist educational conspiracy, with a story of John Dewey’s eighty-fifth birthday party in 1944. This evangelical activist had been invited to the celebration, the other guests unaware of his theological commitment. Celebrating the life of the prominent progressive educator, the guests proudly recalled their efforts to transform America’s schools from Christian institutions to secular training centers. “A generation has passed since that birthday gathering,” reported the evangelical spy:


and the plan has been immeasurably advanced by a series of court decisions that have de-theized the public schools. As a result, American state-supported schools are as officially secular and materialistic as are their counterparts in Communist countries. Are we awakening?17


Finally, although conservatives differed in significant ways in their ideas about the historical roots of the problem, conservatives have often agreed that public education in the United States has gone abysmally wrong. Free-market educational activists John Chubb and Terry Moe, for instance, argued in 1990 that “the schools are failing in their core academic mission.”18 In 1988, William J. Bennett, at the time secretary of education under President Reagan, reported that “in recent decades our schools have too often failed to accomplish what Americans rightly expect of them.”19 In a similar way, fundamentalist educator A. A. Baker argued in 1979, “Yes, at one time the public schools were good. Unfortunately, that is no longer true. They have changed, and we can no longer trust them to train our children.”20


Much of this overarching narrative of American educational history does not differ much from the story told by mainstream academic historians. Carl Kaestle, for example, has pointed out that much schooling in early America mixed what we would call public and private funding.21 Further, the dominant ideology of nineteenth-century common schools, Kaestle has argued, “centered on republicanism, Protestantism, and capitalism,” just as many conservatives have asserted.22 Similarly, David Tyack has noted, “Almost everywhere, Protestant ministers and prominent lay churchmen were in the forefront of the common school crusade and took a proprietary interest in the institutions they helped to build.”23 Although perhaps with a more celebratory tone, most conservatives would have agreed. In the same vein, leading educational historian William J. Reese demonstrated that early textbooks would appear “ethnocentric and heavily patriotic to modern eyes.”24 Conservatives celebrated such textbooks, even reprinting such ethnocentric, patriotic classics as McGuffey’s Readers. Religious historian George Marsden has argued that higher education in the United States began as a “Protestant establishment,” an argument with which conservatives would not have disagreed.25 And although they may have loathed the result, most conservatives would have agreed with David Tyack and Elisabeth Hansot’s conclusions that school administration had moved from religious and moralistic to bureaucratic.26 Although perhaps with different feelings, academic historians and conservative revisionists could agree on a general outline of educational history that began with private Protestant schools and colleges and grew increasingly secular, pluralistic, and bureaucratic over the course of the twentieth century.


In other ways, however, conservative revisionists have built their arguments on assumptions and biases that careful academic histories have rejected. For example, most conservatives have presumed that public education has suffered a declension from a happily religious past. A more careful examination, however, has shown this presumption needs some careful qualification. Benjamin Justice, for instance, has demonstrated that nineteenth-century public education was in some ways “startlingly secular.”27 And close examination has demonstrated that the Supreme Court decisions of 1962 and 1963 that supposedly kicked God out of the public schools often had very little effect. Political scientists Kenneth M. Dolbeare and Phillip E. Hammond found that public school students in one Midwestern state continued to read the Bible and pray in their public school classrooms long after those decisions.28 In addition, academic historians have explored the ways schooling in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—often seen as a golden age by conservatives—excluded or even victimized students of ethnic or racial minority groups.29 And whereas many conservatives have seen the growing centralization and bureaucratization of public schools as an unalloyed evil, some academic historians have noted the ways excluded groups have been able to use the growing dominance of centralized public schools to break down some boundaries to full citizenship.30 In addition, while conservative revisionists unanimously lambaste the pernicious influence of John Dewey on American education, academic historians have questioned the actual impact of Dewey-style progressivism on real classrooms.31 As Arthur Zilversmit concluded from his research into the “progressivism” of some early twentieth-century school districts, even those considered most progressive were often dominated by what he called a “strange, emotional attachment to traditional schooling patterns.”32 If such “progressive” schools have actually remained largely traditional, the assumptions behind many conservative historical narratives break down.


To be fair, not every conservative revisionist has glibly accepted these historical presumptions. Walter Fremont of Bob Jones University argued that public schooling was infused with secularism much earlier than the standard historical narrative allows. Horace Mann’s antebellum common-school effort, Fremont argued, did not allow for Christian education but rather a “man-centered education based on natural law.” Those nineteenth-century public schools, Fremont argued, did not emphasize true religious values, but rather “social efficiency and civic virtue.”33


THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS


With some such significant exceptions, conservatives generally agreed upon a broad revisionist outline of American educational history. However, within that broad outline, conservatives often disagreed on important details. By looking at some of these conservative historical arguments in a little more depth, we can get a sense of these differences. Examining a short list of leading conservative educational pundits, including Milton Friedman, Max Rafferty, Sam Blumenfeld, and Henry Morris, highlights the broad range of postwar conservative educational thinking. Each represented a different kind of conservatism. Milton Friedman, for instance, was best known for his free-market solutions to educational problems. Max Rafferty was more of a pedagogical and cultural traditionalist. Sam Blumenfeld argued from a libertarian perspective. And Henry Morris represented a religious, fundamentalist type of conservatism. Of course, these labels should not be used as straightjackets. Each writer could and did at times appeal to other facets of conservative thought. In doing so, each became a prominent conservative voice in educational policy in the late twentieth century. And each used historical revision to make his policy arguments.


MILTON FRIEDMAN


Milton Friedman had a simple prescription for America’s public schools: vouchers. Friedman, a leading free-market economist based at the University of Chicago, began advocating such market-driven parental control of schools in the mid-1950s. Allowing public schools to operate within the free market, Friedman argued tirelessly, would force teachers and administrators to improve their educational performance. Giving parents the ability to shop among a variety of competing school options would shift control away from sclerotic teachers’ unions. As he admitted later, at that time such privatization schemes were “far out of the mainstream.”34


To Friedman, the need for educational reform was evident. “In recent years,” Friedman argued in 1980, “our educational record has become tarnished.” Contemporary schools, Friedman believed, were of generally low quality. Many were physically dangerous environments for students and teachers. Teachers in such schools did not enjoy working in a non-productive atmosphere. Even with such poor conditions, Friedman asserted, public education was becoming increasing expensive for taxpayers. In addition, graduates of contemporary schools did not have the intellectual tools to become productive members of society. Finally, the public school system, which Friedman believed had served a unifying purpose in the early 1900s, had become “a source of the very fragmentation that they earlier did so much to prevent.”35


Happily, for Friedman, the cause of such decline could also be easily diagnosed with a look at educational history. The current problems boiled down to what Friedman called an “excess of conformity.”36 Parents could no longer choose the best schools for their children, as he believed they had been able to do in the past.37 This resulted from a reversible historical accident. At some point between the Civil War and the 1950s, in Friedman’s words, the government “gradually”38 stumbled into the near-total “‘nationalization,’ as it were, of the bulk of the ‘education industry.’”39 The only schools available for most parents, due to this historical accident, were government-run institutions. Such institutions, Friedman insisted, remained stuck outside the bracing air of the marketplace only due to “the perceived self-interest of the educational bureaucracy.”40


As did other conservative educational reformers, Friedman rooted his arguments in his revision of America’s educational past. Although he modestly admitted he did not “have the detailed knowledge of educational history” that he would have liked, he suggested a “few conjectures” about the historical roots of America’s educational woes.41 Schooling in America, according to Friedman, began with New England Puritan schools. As the Erie Canal opened the Midwest, New England migrants brought their schools with them. A flood of late-nineteenth-century immigrants increased the need for schools, since educators hurried to assimilate the newcomers and the newcomers themselves had a “thirst for education.” Early schools, Friedman argued, were private, with only voluntary attendance.42 Even so, Friedman declared that “schooling was well-nigh universal” in the United States before attendance was required.43


This early system of voluntary, private, nearly universal education lasted until the 1840s. In Friedman’s outline, Horace Mann and the drive for tax-funded public schooling for all children were the start of a destructive government takeover of formal education. Although in Friedman’s reading, Mann clothed his campaign in talk of better schools for all, his appeals hit home most securely with a self-interested body of teachers and administrators. According to Friedman, Mann’s success resulted primarily from the “narrow self-interest” of such educators. They hoped to “enjoy greater certainty of employment, greater assurance that their salaries would be paid, and a greater degree of control if government rather than parents were the immediate paymaster.”44


Compulsory attendance laws gradually increased the purview of such self-interested education professionals. As Friedman correctly noted, such laws began with Massachusetts in 1852, until by 1918 all states officially required some formal education for youth. Nevertheless, Friedman believed that most schools, even such government-run schools, retained a large degree of local control until the first two decades of the twentieth century. At that point, Friedman lamented, “a so-called reform movement got under way.” Progressive-era reformers fought against unequal schools. They sought greater control by professional educators. For both purposes, such reformers worked to increase government control and oversight of all public schools. The Great Depression in the 1930s bolstered these efforts by increasing general public support for centralized government control.45


Luckily, in Friedman’s view, such historical accretions could be scraped away with contemporary educational reform. Since the start of government-controlled schooling, Friedman noted, the transportation system in the United States had improved dramatically. Thus, allowing parents to choose schools that might not be geographically the closest would be practical. Plus, Friedman argued in 1980 that it was no longer necessary for a system of relatively uniform public schooling to impose cultural conformity on a mass of new immigrants. Schools could be much more diverse without risking a breakdown in social and cultural cohesion. In addition, Friedman argued that in the late nineteenth century cultural conditions made vouchers politically unpalatable. He believed that Americans in 1880 would not have accepted the morality of “handouts” from the government. By 1980, however, he thought America’s mindset had changed. Finally, Friedman believed that an “efficient administrative machinery” necessary to his voucher reform was finally possible.46


Friedman’s historical argument attempted to frame government and union control of public education as an historical accident. By supporting Horace Mann’s antebellum reform, professional educators had taken control of public schooling. Since then, they had increased their power, to the detriment of educational quality. The only reason for their continuing control, Friedman believed, was that most teachers feared competition from the marketization of schooling, since most teachers were “dull and mediocre and uninspiring” and could not compete on the market.47 The critical historical moments, in Friedman’s analysis, were Horace Mann’s 1840s campaigns for tax-funded, teacher-controlled government schools and the moves of Progressive Era reformers in the 1910s and ’20s to ratchet government control of schooling ever tighter. Because of historical accidents and cynical antebellum conspiracies, the sorry state of schools Friedman saw in the late 1970s could be easily corrected with a dose of free market competition.


MAX RAFFERTY


Max Rafferty, the publicity-loving superintendent of public instruction in California from 1962 until 1971, made different historical arguments.48 He located the main problem in American education not in 1840 or 1920, but rather in the generation between 1930 and 1960. For Rafferty, the historical root of current educational problems was the adoption of the pernicious ideas of progressive education, beginning around 1930. His solution was a return to traditional education, in which the role of the school was clarified and simplified: a return to a golden age in which formal education explicitly and consciously focused solely on its “first duty . . . to impart the accumulated wisdom of the race to our children.”49


As did many conservative educational leaders, Rafferty offered a vision of America’s educational past to support his diagnosis and prescription. He noted that among the first public acts of the Pilgrims was the “‘Old Deluder Satan’ Act, which first set up a system of publicly supported elementary schools in Massachusetts.”50 Teachers, in Rafferty’s telling, originally “sprang from the rocky soil of old New England.” These heroic early teachers taught in “a hundred one-room schools” where they “hacked away valiantly at the rank underbrush of superstition and illiteracy.” Thanks to such heroic and patriotic pioneer efforts, Rafferty argued that by 1800 the fledgling United States had overtaken Europe in literacy.51


By the time of the American Revolution, Rafferty insisted, soldiers in Washington’s Continental Army used their gift of literacy to read the works of Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson “around the flickering campfires at Saratoga and Yorktown.” Thanks to the combined heroism of Yankee schoolmasters and self-denying soldiers, “[a] new force, conceived in liberty and midwived by education, was loosed upon the world.”52


As America marched westward to fulfill its Manifest Destiny, in Rafferty’s telling, “the teacher followed. Close behind the first Conestogas he rode, long rifle and McGuffey reader often in the same saddle roll.” Early schooling was not always pretty, according to Rafferty. Early schoolmen were forced at times to fight their students “bare-knuckled” to maintain discipline and order in one-room frontier schoolhouses. Nevertheless, the sacrifice was worth it, since teachers eventually civilized the new nation.53


With that civilization, however, came the seeds of educational self-destruction. As the frontier passed, Rafferty wrote:


Education evolved from a sparkling, beckoning opportunity into a more humdrum, sober-sided obligation. It became hedged about with legal requirements and equalization formulas, credentialing criteria and personnel-pupil ratios.54


The choking tendrils of bureaucracy worked their way deep into the educational system. The twentieth century’s call for “compulsory mass education” forced teacher-training colleges to embrace progressive education, according to Rafferty. The decision was not an idealistic one, nor was it based in sound educational principles. Rather, Rafferty argued that progressive education principles allowed teacher-training colleges to crank out more teachers faster than if students had been forced to work their way through traditional courses in history, geography, spelling, and other content areas. Progressive ideology encouraged teacher educators to focus on pedagogy instead of content. As Rafferty explained, by adopting the shibboleths of progressive education:


[I]t would be possible in the future to eliminate exams altogether (for how can anyone possibly be tested on his ‘togetherness’ potential?), making it duck soup to get a teaching credential, and at the same time brag about raising standards by increasing the number of methodology units required.55


This cynical turn to progressive notions of teacher training brought about a cataclysmic decline in educational standards in the United States, Rafferty believed. Before the widespread adoption of progressive educational ideas, Rafferty argued that there really had been a relatively golden age of education. In that past, patriotism formed an essential component of formal education.56 Students in the past were not allowed to forget that America had been founded by religious people, for religious reasons.57 The teachers in that past utopia did not hesitate to use corporal punishment. For most of American and even human history, Rafferty argued, “Education had walked and in hand with the hickory stick . . . and virtually every teacher who ever lived took this state of affairs for granted.”58


Although Rafferty believed that “[s]chool . . . was not considered ‘fun’ in those days,” he argued that traditional content subjects kept students interested.59 Unlike, in Rafferty’s opinion, watered-down progressive education, traditional content fired students’ imaginations. He described a “Golden Age” of literary heroes that dawned “a century ago.” Heroes such as Wilfred of Ivanhoe, King Arthur, the Three Musketeers, Robin Hood, Tom Sawyer, Dorothy of Oz, Ulysses, and Jack the Giant Killer offered students “shining exemplars” of “everything that was fearful and wonderful and glamorous.”60 Students must be allowed to revel in the classic canon of literature, Rafferty argued. That was part of the “common sense” that had fueled all the “great educational philosophies of the past.”61


Unfortunately, according to Rafferty, the years between 1930 and 1960 had come to be the only epoch in human history in which education had come to be based on “anti-common sense.”62 Rafferty identified John Dewey and his followers as the main culprits. After World War I, Rafferty argued, discipline and “moral standards” declined suddenly. In addition, there was a new demand for teachers that demanded newer, less rigorous teacher-training methods. Finally, just as totalitarian dictators worldwide scrambled to power in the 1930s, so, too, did the philosophy of progressive education. In Rafferty’s opinion, the rise of dictatorship in Europe and Asia held a “deadly parallel” to the rise of Dewey’s “life adjustment” philosophy. All of those pernicious ideologies, Rafferty argued, sprang from the breakdown in absolute moral values.63


The most dangerous result of progressive education, Rafferty believed, was that it destroyed the simple distinctions between right and wrong, between good and evil, in children’s minds. He argued that such an educational philosophy, if continued “over the long haul of history,” amounted to a “recipe for national suicide.” Americans of the past, Rafferty averred, knew precisely what to do when confronted by evil. Earlier generations “went after [evil] tooth and claw and to the devil with the consequences.”64 After one generation of progressive education, Rafferty insisted:


[W]e are more apt to appoint a fact-finding committee. Or, better yet, get the Supreme Court to modify the current definition of the word ‘evil.’ It helps so much to know that the fellow who’s busy dismembering you isn’t really bad at all. Just socially maladjusted.65


Similarly, the trend of progressive education destroyed children’s conceptions of themselves as patriotic Americans in the great republican tradition of the nation. If schools failed to transmit the basic values of such documents as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, the generations to follow would certainly perish.66


Luckily, in Rafferty’s view, such dangers had begun to abate. The successful launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957 had forced Americans to confront the weaknesses of the progressive education model. Rafferty argued that James B. Conant’s 1959 American High School Today had spurred a healthy change.67 Conant had pressed for more rigorous academic programs in America’s high schools, including more testing, stronger math and science programs, and more opportunities for academically talented students.68


The Sputnik crisis and the Conant Report, Rafferty argued, had successfully made the point that the “fairy stories” of progressive education were “just—plain—not—true.”69 Rafferty insisted in 1964 that the recent rejection of the ideas of progressive education would soon push educators and politicians to embrace his panacea. For Rafferty, the way to heal education was to return to the teaching of structured content. He based his confidence on his vision of America’s educational history. “Throughout the history of the republic,” Rafferty insisted, his kind of traditional teaching had always worked.70 Although America had struggled through a dismal generation, Rafferty predicted in 1964 that his vision of traditional education would soon heal the scars progressive education had inflicted between 1930 and 1960.


SAM BLUMENFELD


Sam Blumenfeld located the historical pivot much earlier. According to Blumenfeld, the critical moment for American education came in 1805, when, Blumenfeld believed, Unitarians had engineered a sinister, conspiratorial intellectual and cultural takeover of Harvard University.71 From that watershed moment, the educational system of the United States had become locked in a destructive cycle of constantly increasing government regulation.


Blumenfeld was most active as a writer and activist in the 1980s, although he continued writing and speaking into the twenty-first century. He published a number of books, including Is Public Education Necessary? (1981) and NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education (1984). As historian Milton Gaither has noted, Blumenfeld represented a leading voice in a tradition of libertarian educational history from outside the academy.72 By the early twenty-first century, he was affiliated with extremist groups such as the John Birch Society.73 Nevertheless, he had not always been an outsider. In the 1980s, his work was held in high regard by high-ranking officials in the Education Department.74


Blumenfeld’s narrative of American educational history was far more conspiratorial than those of Milton Friedman or Max Rafferty. In short, Blumenfeld argued that that history had been a story of a takeover of “educational freedom,” which had been replaced by a sinister “educational statism.”75 The dangers of this statism, in Blumenfeld’s telling, were manifold. Most dangerously, a student in the schools of the 1980s graduated “indoctrinated in a body of secular values as if he had gone to a sort of government parochial school.”76 The ability of parents and families to control their children’s education had been usurped by “remote educational commissions in far-off universities.”77 The result of two centuries of creeping state control over education could be seen, in Blumenfeld’s opinion, by the naked brutality of the state in the 1980s. By his epoch, Blumenfeld argued, the nineteenth-century scheme of a total educational takeover on the model of Prussian coercion had been achieved. The cover of a reprinted edition (1985) of Is Public Education Necessary? featured images of police carrying children away from their grieving parents. Blurbs warned potential readers that those photos “demonstrate what can happen to God-fearing families who dare to exercise their freedom to provide a Christian education for their own children.” The blurbs promised that Blumenfeld’s book “provides the missing link in our educational history.”


The central question Blumenfeld posed about educational history, he insisted, was “not to be found in the standard histories.”78 Those histories, according to Blumenfeld, had mistakenly assumed that public education must be superior to the formal education system that public education had replaced. In Blumenfeld’s opinion, that was certainly not the case. In his telling, as in that of many academic educational historians, the roots of common schooling came from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. However, he insisted that for these early schools, compulsory education was aimed at training colonists in religion as much as in literacy.79


The decisive moment of American educational history, and, according to Blumenfeld, “probably the most important intellectual event in American history,” was the takeover in 1805 of Harvard University by a small group of Unitarians.80 In that year, liberal theologian Henry Ware was elected to the Hollis Chair of Divinity. The power play on the part of Unitarians forced conservative Calvinists to retreat to the orthodoxy of Andover Seminary. Although other personalities and events played important roles in assisting with the pernicious trend, Blumenfeld argued that this event was “in effect, the beginning of the long journey to the secular humanist world view that now dominates American culture.”81


According to Blumenfeld, the Unitarian elite that established its institutional hegemony in 1805 set itself above society. The small group assumed its own ability to decide on the best interests of the wider society, even against the protests of that presumably inferior society. By 1835, Blumenfeld believed, this influential group had decided that America needed an educational system modeled after that of Prussia. As Blumenfeld argued, “[T]hey had no reservations at all regarding the system’s oppressive, statist features. If the perfectibility of man required a little coercion, then so be it.”82 By the time of the Civil War, this cabal had succeeded in installing a centralized, state-controlled, tax-funded system of compulsory education.83


Another influential player in Blumenfeld’s narrative was Robert Owen. Owen’s socialist dreams had failed in his early experiment in communal living in New Harmony, Indiana. As a result, Blumenfeld argued, Owen and his socialist followers concluded that “national public education [was] the preliminary step to socialism.”84 The opening of Owen’s school for workers, the Institute for the Formation of Character, bore in 1816 what Blumenfeld believed was a “a striking resemblance to what John Dewey and other progressive educators would be doing eighty years later.”85 The influence of Owen and his ideas among the Harvard/Unitarian elite explains, in Blumenfeld’s telling, the “strong prosocialist bias” of America’s public schools.86


This history also explained what Blumenfeld saw as the secularist bias of America’s public school system. The Owenites, for instance, had energetically engaged in geologic research to discredit the Bible and its creation story.87 They worked to exclude the Bible from all public schools by 1832.88 Similar to other early public school activists, the Owenites hoped for “secular, if not atheistic, state schools.”89 Although heroic opposition foiled those early efforts, the socialistic and secularistic foundations of public education had been laid from the very first.


These conspiratorial and ultimately successful efforts to force Americans into a compulsory public school system were not without historic opponents. For most of American history, Blumenfeld argued, formal schooling had been successfully provided by a vigorous network of private schools. He cited an 1817 survey of public schools in Boston that revealed only 33 percent of school-age youth attended public schools. However, when private schools were included, a whopping 96 percent of Boston’s young people in 1817 were in school.90 Similarly, Blumenfeld noted an 1823 New York Annual Report from the State Superintendent of Common Schools, which found that almost 80 percent of funding for common schools came from private sources.91 These privately funded schools, Blumenfeld believed, met the educational needs of the young republic. However, these schools did not satisfy the grasping ambitions of the Harvard/Unitarian elite. That group fought for a generation to establish compulsory public schools paid for entirely by taxes so that, in Blumenfeld’s words, “the characters and minds of all [could] be manipulated by the controlling few.”92


Although Blumenfeld’s narrative did not give pride of place to the efforts of Massachusetts’s first Secretary of the State Board of Education Horace Mann, Blumenfeld’s narrative acknowledged Mann’s important role. In Blumenfeld’s telling, Mann was a corrupt, self-seeking politician.93 Mann used his political power as a state representative to enrich his friends among the Harvard/Unitarian elite.94 Eventually, Mann used his personal charisma to champion a system of state-operated, tax-funded schools. His efforts, according to Blumenfeld, gave Horace Mann the decisive role in implementing the plans of the Harvard/Unitarian elite. In doing so, Blumenfeld thought Mann could “claim credit for changing America’s social, academic and –ultimately—political direction from a libertarian to a statist one.”95


The story of American education, in Blumenfeld’s opinion, was one of irreversible decline. American education had begun with a proudly libertarian tradition of privately funded schools. Beginning in 1805, creeping socialism, Unitarianism, and opportunism had reduced education by stages until by the 1980s young people could be taken away from their parents by main force and enrolled against their will in government-run schools.


HENRY MORRIS


In 1972, evangelical activist Henry Morris began a new creationist organization. This group, the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), declared its goal to establish “a grass roots movement across the United States to demonstrate how creation can be taught in the public schools.”96 Their energetic activism had a significant measure of success. Several states, counties, cities, and even the federal government passed some form of creation-science-friendly legislation in the last two decades of the twentieth century.97 In many ways, the ICR led this drive to promote creation science in America’s public schools. In the evaluation of historian Ronald Numbers, “no one did more to popularize scientific creationism than Henry M. Morris and his colleagues at the Institute for Creation Research.”98


In the analysis of Henry Morris and his ICR colleagues, “evolutionary humanism” was the root of the troubles of America’s schools.99 Not only public schools but also many supposedly Christian schools had become beguiled by the modern ideas that life had evolved on its own and that human welfare was the highest measure of morality. As Henry Morris argued, “Modern education, in opposition to true education, has been perverted to state control, and has been founded on evolution, centered on man, and guided by the prophets of humanism such as Dewey and Darwin.”100 This perversion of education, Morris believed, had historical roots that could be reversed with wise policies favoring the teaching of biblical and “scientific” creationism.


Morris offered a historical vision of American education that focused on exposing those evolutionist and humanist roots. He argued that America’s first schools were not only religious but specifically rooted in what twenty-first-century Americans would recognize as fundamentalist Protestantism.101 Not only elementary and secondary schools, Morris insisted, but also leading Ivy League colleges such as Harvard, Yale, Brown, Princeton, Dartmouth, and the University of Pennsylvania were “established primarily to promote and transmit true education in the context of biblical Christianity to future generations.”102


Morris and other ICR leaders applauded Horace Mann’s drive to establish tax-funded public schools for all children in 1837. Those schools, Morris insisted, “continued to teach creationism and other Christian truths for many years.”103 Morris’s ICR colleague Kenneth Ham agreed that creationism had remained a standard part of public school curricula for most of the nineteenth century and long into the twentieth.104 Even after the ideological takeover of public education by the evolutionary humanism of John Dewey and his followers, Morris believed that much of America’s public schooling remained “fundamentally sound,” using traditional texts such as McGuffey readers and avoiding the trend toward evolution and secularism.105


The beginnings of America’s educational problems, however, came much earlier. Morris located the critical historical moment in 1869. In that year, Charles Eliot took over as president of Harvard University. According to Morris’s history, that moment began the long slide toward evolutionary humanism. Eliot appointed John Fiske, like Eliot a Unitarian, to “introduce and popularize evolutionism in the Harvard curriculum.” Where Harvard led, American mainstream intellectual life followed, Morris believed.106


Such dangerous beginnings, Morris believed, did not gain much influence in America’s schools for a very long time. In Morris’s telling, the work of the “evolutionary pantheist” John Dewey managed to bring about “the secularization and antitheistic bias of the American public education system.”107 According to Morris, Dewey was “the most important of all” the educational progressives who were “involved in the eventual complete takeover by the evolutionary humanists.”108 Morris believed that Dewey was “the man more responsible than any other single individual for the curriculum and methodology of modern American public education.”109 The central idea of Dewey and his progressive education, in Morris’s telling, was that “the child is simply an evolved animal and must be trained as such.”110


Morris believed that the Great Depression helped Dewey’s evolutionary cause. During the Depression, Morris argued, Dewey’s quest to take over public schools became more politically and culturally palatable.111 At the height of that Depression, Dewey led a coalition of fellow evolutionists and humanists in founding the American Humanist Association in 1933. The association’s founding document, according to Morris, established the central ideological importance of evolution and attacked by name creationism and biblical fundamentalism.112 The power of this influential group of educational and cultural elites could be seen, Morris believed, in the decisions a generation later to ban prayer and Bible reading from the nation’s public schools.113


The pernicious results of this usurpation, Morris believed, were on pitiful display in the public schools of his time. By the 1970s, Morris found a depressing abundance of problems with public education:


Pornographic reading requirements in literature classes, Marxist teachings in economics and civics courses, distortions of American history in history courses, promotion of sexual permissiveness in psychology and sex education courses. . . . the banning of prayer and Bible reading, the widespread use of drugs and alcohol, the lack of discipline, the increasing incidence of premarital sex, and even crime in the schools. . . . the distressingly poor basic education received by students in so many of our public schools, the proliferation of ‘frills’ courses and facilities, the increasing political power of teachers’ unions.114


The tone of this jeremiad was similar to the accusations made against public schools by other ICR leaders throughout the 1980s and ’90s. For instance, in 1990 Morris’s son and colleague John Morris similarly accused public schools of hosting “decadence, drugs, inferior teaching, etc.”115


In spite of the long historical roots of the America’s educational woes, Morris did not believe the situation was hopeless. Rather, he advocated the aggressive use of creationism as the “cutting edge” of evangelical efforts to reclaim public schools.116 Morris believed that the use of “scientific” creationist materials in public schools, and “biblical” creationist materials in Christian schools, could convert secular and non-fundamentalist students to creationism and fundamentalist Protestantism.117 Morris noted with satisfaction the results of surveys he had conducted among readers of his publications. Morris reported in the mid-1970s that, within a few short years, the ICR “ministry” had proven its “evangelistic effectiveness.” Morris concluded that, for eighty respondents, ICR materials “had been instrumental in leading them to Christ, while 850 said it had been effective in helping them win others to Christ.” In snippets taken from these respondents, Morris noted with satisfaction that one teacher found ICR materials helpful in leading “students to accept creation and to believe in Christ.” Another teacher respondent noted, “One student was led to Christ by Morris’ Bible and Modern Science.” Another agreed with Morris that once students “digest scientific creationism, they are very open to witnessing.” A fourth described her experience, “My opportunities to witness for Christ in a public classroom setting has increased from practically nothing to a common occurrence,” thanks to ICR materials.118 If public school teachers and students would use ICR materials in their work, the long decay of American education since 1869 could be turned around.119


CONCLUSION: MANY EDUCATIONAL PASTS


This survey of leading conservative educational activists can offer only a glimpse into the rich variety of historical visions offered by conservative thinkers and pundits. Such activists in the postwar period were intensely interested in education. They made a wide variety of arguments about the nature of education and about the proper path for American education in the postwar period. Although conservative revisionists largely agreed on a broad historical vision, most of their arguments—as with the four activists described here—relied on idiosyncratic analyses of American educational history.


Academic historians have spilled a great deal of ink in their struggle to understand “objectivity” in history.120 Popular and partisan historians, including the four described here, have had much different goals. Morris, Blumenfeld, Rafferty, and Friedman each mined a familiar body of evidence to build a new narrative. They hoped for popularity, plausibility, and cogency rather than academic respectability. This type of partisan history is not unique to conservatives. Activists and politicians from across the ideological spectrum have long based their prescriptions on differing visions of America’s historical past. As Michael Kammen has argued recently, such partisan historical revision is an American political tradition as old as the nation itself.121


However, perhaps due to the unique nature of educational history as part and parcel of educational policy, it has been a uniquely attractive field for revisionists of all backgrounds. A common theme among educational reformers has been that reform of today’s classrooms will lead to a better tomorrow. Even before the Civil War, as historian William J. Reese has noted, “[R]eformers agreed that the public schools stood as the antidote to crime, the defense of republicanism, and a bulwark against atheism, socialism, and alien ideologies that threatened private property and public morals.”122 In the twentieth century, educational leaders and reformers have often expressed the sentiment, in the words of one New York City reformer in 1902, “education will solve every problem of our national life.”123 Recent conservative educational activists have shared this vision of education reform as the key to social and cultural improvement. As one conservative member of Texas’s State Board of Education recently agreed, “The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.”124 With stakes so high, it is not surprising that conservative activists have joined the battle to define the meanings and boundaries of America’s educational history. The narrative established by such revisionist efforts will have an enormous influence on policy decisions made in the present.


Just as there is no single leftist or liberal prescription for education, so there has not been a single rightist or conservative one. Understanding the types of historical arguments conservatives have made—based on sometimes erratic visions of American educational history—helps flesh out our understanding of postwar education policy debates. The ways conservatives have used historical arguments can also help us decode the ways all policy actors use historical arguments to back up their prescriptions. It will force us to examine more closely the sometimes unacknowledged historical assumptions implicit in many of our education policy ideas.



Acknowledgments


The author would like to thank Milton Gaither and Michael Clapper for their help with earlier drafts of this article.


Notes


1. Russell Shorto, “How Christian Were the Founders?” New York Times, February 14, 2010, 4.

2. Gary B. Nash, Charlotte Crabtree, and Ross E. Dunn, History on Trial: Culture Wars and the Teaching of the Past (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997), 188–258.  

3. Melissa Deckman, “Governing with the Christian Right,” School Administrator 63:9 (October 2006): 26–30.

4. Sean Cavanagh, “‘Intelligent Design’ Goes on Trial in Pa.,” Education Week 25 (October 5, 2005): 1, 16–17.

5. Michael W. Apple, Educating the “Right” Way: Markets, Standards, God, and Inequality, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2006), 31.

6. David Farber, The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism: A Short History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), 4.

7. Apple, Educating the “Right” Way, 30, 57; see also Gary McCulloch, “Privatising the Past? History and Education Policy in the 1990s,” British Journal of Educational Studies 45 (March 1997): 69–82; Gary McCulloch and Colin McCaig, “Reinventing the Past: The Case of the English Tradition of Education,” British Journal of Educational Studies 50 (June 2002): 238–53.

8. David Tyack and Larry Cuban, Tinkering Toward Utopia: A Century of Public School Reform (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), 4.

9. Carl Horn III, “Taking God to Court,” Christianity Today 25 (Jan. 2, 1981): 25.

10. Hyman J. Appelman, “The Decline and Fall of American Ideals,” Moody Monthly 60 (February 1960): 31.

11. A.A. Baker, The Successful Christian School: Foundational Principles for Starting and Operating a Successful Christian School (Pensacola, FL: A Beka Book Publications, 1979), 34.

12. B. Gray Allison, “The American Campus as a Spiritual Force,” Christianity Today 12 (May 10, 1968): 5.

13. Rousas John Rushdoony, Intellectual Schizophrenia: Culture, Crisis, and Education (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2002), 59.  

14. Rousas John Rushdoony, The Messianic Character of American Education: Studies in the History of the Philosophy of Education (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1963), 18–32; see also Milton Gaither, “The Revisionists Revived: The New Libertarian Historiography of Education,” History of Education Quarterly, forthcoming.  

15. Walter Fremont, “The Christian School Movement Today,” July 31, 1989. Tape recording in Bob Jones University archives.

16. Jerry H. Combee, “Human Nature and Christian Education: The Connection between Discipline, Curriculum, and Methods,” in Baker, The Successful Christian School, 180.

17. Joe Bayly, “Taking the Bible from the Schools,” Moody Monthly 64 (September 1963): 84–85.

18. John E. Chubb and Terry M. Moe, Politics, Markets, & America’s Schools (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1990), 1.

19. William J. Bennett, American Education: Making It Work (Washington, DC: Department of Education, 1988), 1.

20. Baker, The Successful Christian School, 90.

21. Carl F. Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic: Common Schools and American Society, 17801860 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1999), 13.  

22. Ibid., 76.

23. David B. Tyack, “Onward Christian Soldiers: Religion in the American Common School,” in Paul Nash, ed., History and Education: The Educational Uses of the Past (New York: Random House, 1970), 216.

24. William J. Reese, America’s Public Schools: From the Common School to “No Child Left Behind” (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), 32.

25. See George M. Marsden, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).

26. David Tyack and Elisabeth Hansot, Managers of Virtue: Public School Leadership in America, 18201980 (New York: Basic Books, 1982).

27. Benjamin Justice, The War that Wasn’t: Religious Conflict and Compromise in the Common Schools of New York State, 18651900 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005), 20.

28. Kenneth M. Dolbeare and Phillip E. Hammond, The School Prayer Decisions: From Court Policy to Local Practice (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971).

29. See, for example, Jerry A. Jacobs and Margaret E. Greene, “Race and Ethnicity, Social Class, and Schooling,” in Susan Cotts Watkins, ed., After Ellis Island: Newcomers and Natives in the 1910 Census (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1994), 209–55; Harvey Kantor and Barbara Brenzel, “Urban Education and the ‘Truly Disadvantaged:’ The Historical Roots of the Contemporary Crisis, 1945–1960,” in Michael Katz, ed., The ‘Underclass’ Debate: Views from History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), 366–402; James D. Anderson, The Education of Blacks in the South, 18601935 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988); David Wallace Adams, Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 18751928 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995); Guadalupe San Miguel, “Let All of Them Take Heed:” Mexican Americans and the Campaign for Educational Equality in Texas, 19101981 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987); Ruben Donato, The Other Struggle for Equal Schools: Mexican Americans during the Civil Rights Era (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997); Clive Webb, ed., Massive Resistance: Southern Opposition to the Second Reconstruction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005);  Numan V. Bartley, The Rise of Massive Resistance: Race and Politics in the South during the 1950s (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1997); Ronald P. Formisano, Boston Against Busing: Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the 1960s and 1970s (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991); David K. Yoo, Growing Up Nisei: Race, Generation, and Culture among Japanese Americans of California, 192449 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000); Yoon K. Pak, Wherever I Go, I Will Always Be a Loyal American: Schooling Seattle’s Japanese Americans during World War II (New York: RoutledgeFalmer, 2002); Joel Perlmann, Ethnic Differences: Schooling and Social Structure among the Irish, Italians, Jews, and Blacks in an American City, 18801935 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).   

30. See, for instance, Paula S. Fass, Outside In: Minorities and the Transformation of American Education (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989); William J. Reese, Power and the Promise of School Reform (New York: Teachers College Press, 2002); Jackie M. Blount, Destined to Rule the Schools: Women and the Superintendency, 18731995 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998); Stephan F. Brumburg, Going to America, Going to School: The Jewish Immigrant Public School Encounter in Turn-of-the-Century New York City (New York: Praeger, 1986); Ira Katznelson and Margaret Weir, Schooling for All: Race, Class, and the Democratic Ideal (New York: Basic Books, 1985); Jonathan Zimmerman, Whose America? Culture Wars in the Public Schools (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 107–29.

31. Some examples include Arthur Zilversmit, Changing Schools: Progressive Education Theory and Practice, 1930-1960 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993); Larry Cuban, How Teachers Taught: Constancy and Change in American Classroom, 18901980 (New York: Longman, 1984); David Tyack and Larry Cuban, Tinkering Toward Utopia: A Century of Public School Reform (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995); and the articles in the special edition, “American Education in the Twentieth Century: Progressive Legacies,” Paedagogica Historica 39 (August 2003): 415–97.

32. Zilversmit, Changing Schools, 169.

33. Walter Fremont, “Straight Talk on Traditional Education,” Balance 2 (May 1982): 1.

34. Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, 40th anniversary ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), xi.

35. Milton and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose: A Personal Statement (Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Inc., 1990), 151.

36. Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, 97.  

37. Friedman and Friedman, Free to Choose, 151.  

38. Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, 85.

39. Ibid., 89.

40. Friedman and Friedman, Free to Choose, 171.

41. Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, 96.  

42. Friedman and Friedman, Free to Choose, 150–51.  

43. Ibid., 162.

44. Ibid., 153.

45. Ibid.

46. Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, 96.

47. Ibid.

48. Gale Reference Team, “Biography—Rafferty, Max L. (1917–1982),” in Contemporary Authors (Thomson Gale, 2003).

49. Max Rafferty, Suffer, Little Children (New York: Signet, 1963), viii.

50. Max Rafferty, What Are They Doing to Your Children (New York: New American Library, 1964), 25.

51. Ibid., 107.  

52. Ibid., 108.

53. Ibid.

54. Ibid., 109.

55. Ibid., 111.

56. Ibid., 21, 26.

57. Ibid., 32.

58. Ibid., 130.

59. Ibid., 131.

60. Rafferty, Suffer, Little Children, 26–27.  

61. Rafferty, What Are They Doing, 65.

62. Ibid.

63. Ibid., 68, 18.  

64. Max Rafferty, Max Rafferty on Education (New York: Devin-Adair, 1968), 158.

65. Ibid., 158–59.

66. Rafferty, What Are They Doing, 26.

67. Ibid., 19.

68. Reese, America’s Public Schools, 296.

69. Rafferty, Suffer, Little Children, 53

70. Rafferty, What Are They Doing, 79.  

71. Samuel L. Blumenfeld, Is Public Education Necessary? (Boise, ID: The Paradigm Company, 1991), 30.

72. See Gaither, “The Revisionists Revived: The New Libertarian Historiography of Education.”

73. John Birch Society, Speaker’s Bureau, http://www.jbs.org/action/speakers-bureau/1752  (accessed May 12, 2010).

74. Mike Brunner to Patrick Groff, 6 February 1987. File: Patrick Groff (file 1), San Diego State University General Records of the Department of Education, 1967–2005; Operational Files, 1982–1988, National Archives and Records Administration, Archives II, College Park, Maryland. Brunner suggested that Groff use Blumenfeld as an unacknowledged co-author in a report sponsored by the Education Department.

75. Blumenfeld, Is Public Education Necessary? 9.

76. Ibid., 3.

77. Ibid., 4.

78. Ibid., 9.

79. Ibid., 15–18.

80. Ibid., 30.

81. Ibid.

82. Ibid., 153.

83. Ibid., 57.

84. Ibid., 79.

85. Ibid., 40.

86. Ibid., 109.

87. Ibid., 118.

88. Ibid., 135.

89. Ibid., 193.

90. Ibid., 43.

91. Ibid., 57.

92. Ibid., 63.  

93. Ibid., 168.  

94. Ibid., 174.

95. Ibid., 184.  

96. Creation-Science Report 1 (January-February 1972), unpaginated, quoted in Ronald L. Numbers, The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), 313.

97. Sean Cavanagh, “‘Intelligent Design’ Goes on Trial in Pa.,” Education Week 25 (October 5, 2005): 1, 16–17.

98. Numbers, Creationists, 312.

99. Henry M. Morris, Christian Education for the Real World (El Cajon, CA: Master Books, 1991), 259.    

100. Ibid., 72.

101. Henry M. Morris, The Long War against God: The History and Impact of the Creation/Evolution Conflict (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2008), 45.  

102. Ibid.  

103. Ibid., 46.

104. Kenneth Ham, “Creation Evangelism: A Powerful Tool in Today’s World,” Impact (January 1, 1987), Institute for Creation Research Online Archive, http://www.icr.org/archives/ [ICR Archive].  

105. Morris, Long War against God, 47.

106. Ibid., 46–47.

107. Henry Morris, “The Gospel of Creation and the Anti-Gospel of Evolution,” Impact (July 1, 1975), ICR Archive.  

108. Ibid., 48.   

109. Morris, Christian Education for the Real World, 69.  

110. Morris, Long War against God, 48.

111. Ibid., 49.

112. Ibid.  

113. Morris, Christian Education for the Real World, 71.

114. Ibid., 259.

115. John D. Morris, “What Can We Do about the Public Schools?” Dr. John’s Q&A (November 1, 1990), ICR Archive.  

116. Henry Morris, “Introduction,” in Henry M. Morris and Donald H. Rohrer, eds., Creation: The Cutting Edge (San Diego, CA: Creation-Life Publishers, 1982), 9.

117. Henry Morris, “Evolution, Creation, and the Public Schools,” Impact (March 1, 1973), ICR Archive.  

118. Henry Morris, “The Spiritual Impact of Creationism,” Impact (September 1, 1976), ICR Archive.  

119. See, for example, Robert L. Simonds, “Teachers Can Teach Creation Science in the Classroom,” Impact (October 1, 1989), ICR Archive; John D. Morris, “What Can We Do about the Public Schools?” Dr. John’s Q&A (November 1, 1990), ICR Archive; John D. Morris, “Does the Law Require Public Schools to Teach Evolution as Fact?” Dr. John’s Q&A (September 1, 1994), ICR Archive; and Henry Morris, “Introducing Creationism into Public Schools,” Impact (November 1, 1974), ICR Archive.

120. See Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The “Objectivity Question” and the American Historical Profession (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); Richard J. Evans, In Defense of History (New York: Norton, 1999), 193–220; Thomas Haskell, “Objectivity Is Not Neutrality: Rhetoric versus Practice in Peter Novick’s That Noble Dream,” in Brian Fay, Philip Pomper, and Richard T. Vann, eds., History and Theory: Contemporary Readings (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1998), 299–319; J. L. Gorman, “Objectivity and Truth in History,” in Fay, Pomper, and Vann, eds., History and Theory, 320–41; Chris Lorenz, “Historical Knowledge and Historical Reality: A Plea for ‘Internal Realism,’” in Fay, Pomper and Vann, eds., History and Theory, 342–76.  

121. Michael Kammen, “The American Past Politicized: Uses and Misuses of History,” in Martin O. Heisler, ed., The Politics of History in Comparative Perspective: Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 617 (May 2008): 42–57.

122. Reese, America’s Public Schools, 42.

123. John T. Buchanan, “How to Assimilate the Foreign Element in Our Population,” Forum 32 (February 1902): 691.

124. Shorto, “How Christian Were the Founders?” 2.




Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 114 Number 3, 2012, p. 1-25
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16300, Date Accessed: 10/16/2021 11:55:16 AM

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About the Author
  • Adam Laats
    Binghamton University
    E-mail Author
    ADAM LAATS is assistant professor of education and history at Binghamton University (SUNY). This article was the result of his work as a National Academy of Education/ Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. He is currently working on a history of conservative educational activism in the twentieth century. His first book, Fundamentalism and Education in the Scopes Era: God, Darwin, and the Roots of America’s Culture Wars, was published in May 2010 by Palgrave Macmillan.
 
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