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How to Fix American Education: The Parallel Education System

How to Fix American Education: The Parallel Education System

Millions of Americans have woken up to the fact that their education system is rotten to the core. As elite universities are engulfed by antisemitic riots, their veil of prestige has been torn to shreds. It is by now clear to many that, in the words of Christopher Rufo, the radical left has conquered everything.

What, then, is to be done? Many, Rufo included, are doing their best to stem the tide of revolutionary ideology through direct political engagement. Their hard work is paying off. In recent months, universities are beginning to move away from mandatory diversity statements. This is just the beginning.

Yet while activists fight for a counter-revolution in academia, millions of Americans are doing something quite different: They are creating a parallel education system. By launching classical schools, forming homeschool communities, and carving out space for charter academies, they are reclaiming the possibility of a normal education for their children without getting political.

Parallel societies have played an important role in counter-revolutions before. In socialist Czechoslovakia, for example, they were at the center of resistance to the Communist Party’s regime.

If you found yourself living in Czechoslovakia in the late 1970s, you’d find that every institution imaginable was under intense state supervision, if not outright control. Scout groups, youth clubs, sports leagues, orchestras, art associations, factories, and (of course) schools were all dominated by revolutionary Marxist ideology. Open disagreement with the status quo was unimaginable.

I happen to live in the Czech Republic, and my doctor told me that he was once reprimanded because he addressed the members of his cinema club as “ladies and gentlemen” before a showing. The politically correct term? Comrades.

For ordinary people like him, direct political agitation was out of the question. Heroism took a humbler form. Dissidents formed an underground university so they could learn without ideology. They kept scouting alive in a similar fashion. By the late 1970s, Czechoslovaks had created theater associations, music clubs, economic relationships, and an information network that allowed them to live with dignity without forcing them to directly confront their oppressors.

The term that Czech dissident Václav Benda used to describe this shadowy system was the parallel polis. The mainstream was thoroughly corrupt, so dissidents created a viable alternative that was entirely free of state domination. Importantly, all of their institutions existed side-by-side with their official counterparts. They may not have been able to change their government, but they did not have to do so in order to create zones of liberty.

And though many of their associations had nothing to do with politics, the bonds and skills these free-minded people formed would come in handy. When the Communist Party grew weak in the late 1980s, it was the leaders of the parallel polis that stepped up. Dissidents relied on their networks—and on their leadership skills—to make the most of their unexpected opportunity. As hundreds of thousands of Czechoslovaks took to the streets, the unimaginable happened. In the words of N.S. Lyons, “Suddenly their parallel polis became the polis.”

Václav Benda, the dissident who first wrote about parallel institutions, became an important congressman in the first free Czechoslovak government. His friend Václav Havel, a playwright and philosopher, became the first president in elections after the counter-revolution.

The Czechoslovak experience shows us that families who participate in the parallel education system are not merely looking out for their own children. Rather, by strengthening institutions that are free of state interference, they are expanding the zone of genuine liberty for all Americans.

Image credit: Pexels

Adam De Gree
Adam De Gree

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  • Avatar
    June 10, 2024, 6:55 pm

    Teacher's unions destroyed the struture of public education in the US. Not so remarkably, the leaders of the unions were the same people who ran the banks in NYC and the Fed in DC. All needed to be centralized – the same was true when they took over the Russian government in 1917. The author has the right idea, but he needs to provide a methodology for financially supporting the schools apart from the government, and then slowly destroying the government system.

    • Avatar
      June 13, 2024, 11:48 am

      Unions have absolutely contributed to the desolation of public education as have many others; Horace Mann and later John Dewey transformed education from the acquiring of knowledge into psycho-social behavior modification and indoctrination. Modern education is primarily based on the Prussian model developed in the early 1800s. Its stated goals were:
      1. Obedient soldiers
      2. Obedient workers
      3. Well-subordinated civil servants
      4. Well-subordinated clerks
      5. Citizens who thought alike on most issues
      6. National uniformity in thought, work, and deed
      The Prussian system was largely influenced by a then little known philosopher named Johann Gottlieb Fichte who made the following two statements:

      “Education should aim at destroying free will so that after pupils are thus schooled they will be incapable throughout the rest of their lives of thinking or acting otherwise than as their school masters would have wished.

      “The social psychologist of the future will have a number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for more than one generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen.”

      This model of behavior-based psychology and behavior modification techniques, which indoctrinates children, was quickly implemented by Mann. “Normal School”, the institution for the training of teachers (also called teachers college or teacher-training college) in the United States was founded in Lexington, Massachusetts, in 1839.
      Up until this time, the Classical Education of the Middle Ages consisted of seven branches of learning: grammar (which encompassed native language along with Greek & Latin), logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy; these grew to include the sciences, philosophy, history, etc., hence degrees in the arts; Master and Bachelor of Arts. ~ “Art” – Webster’s International Dictionary, 1893.

      “Far from the Dark Ages to which it is popularly called, The Middle Ages might better be described as the Brilliant Ages, a startling epoch of progress from science to art, from philosophy to medicine.
      “Indeed, in one crucial way, we are less civilized than those who enhanced human existence over a thousand years ago: we dismiss the achievements of our ancestors, and fall short of them; they honored their ancestors, and surpassed them.” ~Anthony Esolen
      For a straightforward description of Classical education see Dorothy Sayers’ The Lost Tools of Learning: http://www.gbt.org/text/sayers.html

      The Tools of Learning – the elementary three: General Grammar, Aristotelian Logic, and Classical Rhetoric comprise the first three rules-based subjects of the 7 Liberal Arts and Sciences. As these disciplines are learned and practiced together, they form the overarching, symbiotic system for establishing clarity and consistency of personal thought called the Trivium (pertains to mind). The goal should not be teaching our children what to think, but instead enable them to think for themselves.

      It is also important to note the destructive influence of our federal government exposed by Charlotte Iserbyt in ‘The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America’.
      – “The Federalist Papers, which are seldom read or understood today even in our universities were written for and read by the common man.”
      – A study conducted in 1800 by DuPont de Nemours revealed that only four in a thousand Americans were unable to read and write legibly.”
      – Well into the 19th Century, writes Susan Alder in ‘Education in America’, "Parents did not even consider that the civil government in any way had the responsibility or should assume the responsibility of providing for the education of children." Only one state (Massachusetts) even had compulsory schooling laws before the Civil War, yet literacy rates were among the highest in our history.
      – In 1910, half a century before the federal government involved itself in K-12 funding, black literacy exceeded 70 percent and was comparable to that of whites.
      – A study conducted by the US Department of Education in 2016: “32 million of American adults are illiterate, 21 percent read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates are functionally illiterate, which means they can’t read well enough to manage daily living and perform tasks required by many jobs.”

      We clearly need more choices to better educate our kids. The one and only remotely positive outcome of the Covid fiasco has been that Americans have had the curtain(s) pulled back from the evils of our governments (federal & state), and in education those veils were torn quicker when our children were locked out of classrooms and parents began to see what was actually happening to our kids. This has resulted in an explosion of alternate forms of education and information about how various kinds of them were begun, how they work and advice to seek local options. Most require a bit of sacrifice and a few lifestyle changes, but are infinitely doable. As a single mom I home educated my two daughters, between them are three Bachelor Degrees (honors & high honors), and a Master's Degree.

  • Avatar
    Francisco Zuniga
    June 22, 2024, 10:31 am

    Dear Adam,

    Thank you for writing this article. It was encouraging. I am right in the middle of the fight to create a parallel polis. Your article inspires me to hope that the darkness will not win.

    Francisco Zuniga


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