Rick Boyer on Government Schools

Estimated reading time: 4 minute(s)

Take Back The Land - Rick BoyerI am currently reading a book along with my son, Ian, called Take Back The Land, by Rick Boyer. Mr. Boyer is a home schooling superstar. If you home school, chances are you are already familiar with him. (If you’re not familiar with the book, I highly recommend it—and I’m only a few chapters in!)

The Boyers have 14 kids, they were home schooling when it was definitely only questionably “legal”, and they have spent 30 years not only educating their own family, but helping thousands of other families do the same.

(By the way… can you believe there was a time in the United States of America when it was potentially illegal to choose to educate your own kids rather than put them into the government education system?)

The book is aimed at young people (primarily home schooled young people 12-ish to 20-ish) and is a longer version of a speech he gave to a “graduating class” at a home school conference not long ago. His basic premise/challenge to the young reader: Grow up! Our culture has been steadily expecting less and less from young people, and so they play video games and don’t really do much of anything until much later in life than they could. He’s spot on so far in nearly everything he’s saying (and Ian thinks so, too).

I look forward to finishing the book (hopefully today) and probably discussing it more here, but for today, there was a section about Government Schools I wanted to highlight. I’ve offered my thoughts on this site a time or two. Mr. Boyer also described these institutions well:

One reason I believe home education is the key to revival in our culture is that it is a rejection of the system that I blame in large part for our present apostasy, the “public” school system. That’s a misnomer, of course. The schools are government schools. They’re not public at all, except in the sense that the public pays the taxes that support them and suffers the consequence of their existence. The government controls what is taught in those schools, and the parents who are rearing the students and paying the taxes for the schools have almost no input. Their values are not respected and in fact are often undermined.

The quote continues, but I just wanted to stop there and point out that this is really true… it’s not like a public library, or a public park where you can go and use it at any time you’d like, in any way that suits you. In many (most? all?) ways you’re either all in, or not in at all. And regarding taxes … do you remember this post?

Let’s keep going with the quote. This is the good part:

There was a time, early on in our history, when everybody would have laughed at the idea of compulsory school attendance. In the first place, it wasn’t needed. There was homeschooling, tutoring, and lots of affordable private schools. Literacy was much higher at the time of the American Revolution than it is now (see John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down). [editor’s note: Gatto’s books on education are on my to-read list…] Schooling wasn’t worshipped as the answer to all problems because people had been educating themselves for generations with little time spent in school.

Sorry for the long quote. I felt it was a necessary context for this:

More importantly, the compulsory nature of today’s schooling would have seemed both weird and offensive. In the early days, when Americans could remember the struggle to become a free country, the idea of a law confining innocent people to government institutions for most of each day, five days a week, nine months of the year would not have been tolerated. It would have been seen for what it is: imprisonment of the innocent. Promoters of compulsory attendance pointed to the very small percentage of American children who were not being educated and used them as an argument for their agenda. Once again, the needs of a very few were used as leverage to infringe on the freedom of all.

Emphasis mine. Almost done. (This one is not fully quoted… just a few key phrases):

Once compulsory attendance had become the law of the land (around the early 1900s), the public school system gave the government and those who had influence in government the opportunity to effectively brainwash a large percentage of the population. That’s partly why public attitudes toward moral, economic, and political issues changed so radically over the last hundred years.

…I blame government education for a lot of the problems we have today, especially the erosion of our freedom. Our public schools provide just the kind of young people one would expect a government to want: passive, uncritical thinkers who are unlikely to start any revolutions; conditioned by long practice to do what they’re told, moving in groups, with weak family loyalties and strong peer dependency.

There are many reasons we home school. He listed some of them. We can’t really imagine not home schooling our children. Again, for all of the reasons he mentions here. We want our kids to be fully who they are. To learn about the world in whole, not the world with God—who planned, and made, and holds it all together—wholly removed from the picture.

There really is a lot more, but… you might want to just buy the book. 🙂

Now, time to stop writing, and get back to reading!


  1. “Our form of compulsory schooling is an invention of the state of Massachusetts, from around 1850. It was resisted — sometimes with guns — by an estimated 80 percent of the Massachusetts population, with the last outpost, in Barnstable on Cape Cod, not surrendering its children until the 1880s, when the area was seized by the militia and the children marched to school under guard. …”

    “Senator Ted Kennedy’s office released a paper not too long ago claiming that prior to compulsory education the state literacy rate was 98 percent, and after it the figure never again climbed above 91 percent, where it stands in 1990. … ”

    Yes, that is correct. In AMERICA, children were marched to school at gunpoint when their parents resisted the efforts of the state to institute “compulsory” education. My guess is that THIS small fact of American History is not being taught in our “public school” history classes. I know I never encountered it in any history textbook all the way through my public high school and university education. Quotes taken from John Taylor Gatto’s “The Underground History of American Education.”


  2. Wow, crazy! And sadly, we cede more and more power to our government (all levels) because of our ignorance of our own past! If people knew of that, we’d be much more on guard against it ever happening again!

    Thanks for another Gatto reference … looks like I do need to read his stuff 🙂


  3. Believe it or not, I’m in agreement with much of this post Greg. Despite two teachers in my immediate family, I’ve got some serious issues with public school and am seriously thankful my wife is willing to put in the time she does schooling our kids.

    However, I’ve heard that Gatto’s historical literacy rate claims are pulled out the of the air with no citations, and they would seem to be contradictory to:




    1. Heent! I think it’s funny that you said “believe it or not” you agree with “much of this post” 🙂 That would suggest the opposite is usually true. 🙂 Didn’t know we thought that differently! 🙂

      I haven’t read Gatto’s books myself, Boyer quoted them a lot, and a friend had previously strongly recommended them (she loved them). I got your link, and was fascinated by how different it was from what Gatto was saying, so need to read more (and other sources) for greater context. It’s ALWAYS about context and sources. (And finding what seems to “make sense” from the larger pool of info/sources)

      Glad you guys are able/willing to home educate your youngin’s. It’s so worth it, and so much better than the alternative. They’ll be better for it (as will the rest of their world!) 🙂

      When are we gonna come visit you guys?

      (I guess I get to answer that question..) 🙂


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