Public Education Wants to Control YOU

Public education is bad, say those who have much to gain by disbanding it

Public education is bad, say those who have much to gain by disbanding it

Public education is a plot to manage the people!

Or at best, a waste of time and money.

Some on the far right seek to suppress education, whether a Wisconsin Republican or the Taliban.

Now why is that?

The Taliban shot and nearly killed Malala Yousafzai for advocating girls’ education. While in recovery she received a letter from a Taliban leader. To summarize:

Western notions of education are part of a centuries old plot to indoctrinate former subjects of the British Empire!

But right here in America a woman told me that kids should be homeschooled (which keeps women home and dependent!) because,

Public education is a tool invented to manage the population… Developed by the King of Prussia for that purpose.

Sounds a lot like that Taliban leader.

And recently, Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, sought to cut funding for the state university, and change its mission from “finding truth” to “getting a job.”

Accuse the other side of doing what you are doing

Freedom from thinking for yourself

Freedom from thinking for yourself

Actually, right-wingers have a habit of accusing the other side of doing what they are doing.

Public education is a tool to manage the population?

Actually, ignorance is a tool to manage the population.

Because education allows Pakistani girls — and all girls — to question the status quo. And to be self-supporting and independent, too.

Education helps workers to question the status quo, too.

No wonder Scott Walker, and his corporate funders, want the state University to shift from finding truth to getting a job: Don’t raise a fuss when your employer pockets all the profits, leaving little for the workers who helped create them.

Managed people from public schools

Go ahead, question!

Go ahead, question!

By the way, here are a few of the “managed people” who went from public schools to “outside-the-box” thinking in Silicon Valley:

Apple founders, Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak; HP’s William Hewlett; Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg; Adobe founder, John Warnock; Intel founder Robert Noyce.

Outside Silicon Valley you can find more publicly schooled “managed people”: authors Maya Angelou, Amy Tan, and Phillip Roth.

And then there’s Oprah Winfrey.

And don’t forget the “managed people” who protested against the war, and for free-speech, at places like Berkeley and Kent State.

Public education isn’t perfect and could use some reform. But the alternative is usually no education. That’s what happened in poor countries when the economically conservative World Bank and IMF gave loans (partly) in return for privatized education. (WB and IMF have since seen the error of their ways and changed their stance.)

Public education creates managed, submissive people.


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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on February 27, 2015, in feminism, politics/class inequality, psychology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.

  1. I do not believe that public education is out to get you, or wants to control you in any way or form. I believe that people have the freedom to decide to go to public school or not. I’m pretty sure there may be something’s or certain systems that are trying to control you in the world, what they are I don’t know, I highly doubt its public education though. I personally think some positives of going to school are that it helps you expand your mind, and also helps and allows you to meet new people. As far as the homeschooling part that’s mentioned in the post, I believe that there are pros and cons to that. A pro and a good thing is that you get the one on one attention that some students need, and may be able to focus better because of it. In public schools sometimes the classrooms can be overfilled. A con on the homeschooling would be that, the student/child does not get to go out and venture into having the social experience and developing the social skills a public school can offer. I often ponder on whether or not I would want my child someday being homeschooled; I think it would be a very tough decision to make.

  2. Education is so vital for progression and transformation! I certainly agree that public education is far FAR better than no education and that ignorance is a very controlling quality to uphold. The involvement of right-wingers in education is just scary. Especially since so many of our nations textbooks are produced in Texas, which struggles back and forth on issues such as climate change and sex education. That home schooling mother you quoted is in fact correct though – our education system IS in fact modelled upon Prussian ideals. The Prussianization of our system took place in the 1840’s. This piece by author and long-time public school teacher John Gatto details this basically Prussia went through a transformation due to industrialization and other factors. In order to give everybody who was then out of work something to do and to create a homogenized society they developed public education. It worked and American educators saw this and wanted to implement the same type of system in the States. I think it would be hard to argue that public education, especially with the current emphasise on standardization, does not create a group of students that are consuming a controlled curriculum, with the end goal that this will enable them to enter into the work force and find a ‘good’ job. Students learn how to write the perfect five paragraph essay and how to memorize information, but are the majority actually delving into topics and truly learning? The people you mention are outliers, the majority does not have the chance to engage in critical thinking and I believe this is because of the education system that is in place (I am referring to kindergarten-high school, although US college prices etc create another form of control). Nowadays I would say that teenagers seem to be introduced to exciting information and different world views via the internet far more than they do in average, underfunded, public school class rooms. The power of Twitter during times of unrest such as the current riots that are happening in Baltimore right now are an example of this. I also think that students coming together is what enables protests and deep discussion, this is somewhat removed from what public education itself provides students with. I agree with you that reform is needed.

  3. I do personally believe that public education is absolutely needed for a society to sustain itself however public education suffers from biased views as well. We are lucky to be living in a nation that acknowledges our abilities to learn and grow. Yet even though our country is biased in some ways I’m very grateful that our country’s public education system wants it’s students to learn how to make a point and prove an argument. Our country also gives opportunity to study how societies issues impact the personal troubles of many individuals (such as sociology). Even though our public education is biased and seeks to serve a purpose, we need it to create argumentative individuals since thats the foundation of democracy. Our public education system is flawed in many ways and biased in opportunity, but eliminating it completely would be absolutely horrendous is the growth of our country. Instead we need to change the institutions structure.

  4. In my opinion, I think public education is very important. And as everyone knows it is not perfect. It is true that school is controlled by government in every country. Public education needs money to hire teachers, build necessary lab and other buildings, buy books and so on. Most of these money come from government. We learn languages, math, science and chemistry from public education. These knowledges are useful and helping people who find out who we are and where we are coming from. These parts of subjects help us finding the truth. However, subjects like history and other influences are not as exact as science. There are a lot of opinions based on different people’s culture, religions, values. If a teacher is not logical and she/he has bias for certain color, race or poility, she/he will effect her/his students to have same bias. And some public edcation educate people to believe that there country is the best. And more or less, every country uses public education to educate people to believe that their government is the best, they do everything for you.
    However, public education has developed through hundreds years. At beginning, girls were not allowed to have education. And now girls not only can have education but also can have as many as they want. We used have bias for different color students, but in most places different color student can have equal edcation opportunities. The public education is not perfect, so there are still room to improve it.

  5. Aram Moshkounian

    In my opinion public education is something that has helped me grow as a person a lot. Yes I understand and agree that there is room for a lot of improvement but still gaining an education and learning is always the most important thing. Going to public school helped me build character and also helped me learn life long lessons that I will never forget. Not only did I make all of my friends in public schools I also came across many different teachers who truly influenced me and helped me get on the right track in life. Not only has it helped me learn a lot it also allowed me play sports and learn the importance of teamwork and respect for your opponents. It really saddens me to hear that many poor countries aren’t able to provide education to their children. In my opinion everyone deserves the right to obtain free education because it will change your life and benefit you ten folds. Although I believe that public schools do need improvement I can honestly say I wouldn’t be the man I am today without it.

  6. I myself think that this statement that, “Public education is a plot to manage the people!” is totally wrong and is oriented politically for the benefit of some political factions in industrialized countries to brainwash people brains and make them confuse and busy so they get disconnected and distant of thinking about the “deeds” of that mentioned faction. How come each one of us have an “Apple” product in our house or use “Google” to spy on people and things, but at the same time claim that education is wasting of time and non worthy. Even those people who claim that women do not need to study and would be better off to stay home and take care of the kids and run the home-schooling are clearly aware of the significance of proper and enough education on our generation. No alien landed to our planet and gave us the expertise, technology and science that we all have now and are enjoying about now, but it was people like you and me that with their hard-work and relentless study and good faith helped the humanity and now we are picking their products. Among these significant peoples are countless number of women who made impossible possible. So I am totally against this new propagenda that “Public Education Wants to Control YOU”. When you have no knowledge, people control you because you do not know how to defend yourself and ultimately will be defeated. When you have enough knowledge, you will utilize your learnt information and skills to overcome the obstales and win the battle. This propagenda is exactly reminds me of the brand new propagenda which advertise “swinging” between married young families to strenghten the wife-husband marital bonds which is totally rediculous. This propagenda claims that married man should hooked up with another young married lady to re-appreciate their own marriage. So I think that education is necesary for each of us and it is our right to have easy access to education and that is why in every country we can find public school that people who can not afford the private and expensive schooling, then be able to attend the classes and get educated and women are not exemp from this very primary rights. thanks

  7. Public education is also good in terms of building a person too! By seeing all the diversity in people, and being around different people of all types definitely will put some perspective into a person. I also feel like there are many life lessons learned in public school that can not be learned anywhere else; relationships, friendships, etc. Many ways that I learned how to deal with life and stress were achieved through public school. I see some people who leave middle school and go to a junior college and I feel like that these kids won’t learn the life and social lessons that can by taught by going to a public school.

  8. Everything has 2 sides: good one and bad one. So does education in this case. Education can give people the truth, knowledge, wisdom, etc. or can be used as a tool to fool people around. However, note that, it’s hard to fool people and even harder if you plan to fool the well-educated people. Having this idea, some governments prevent their people to come to class so that people will listen to whatever the leader say. For example, due to the lack of information, North Korean people are told that their Supreme doesn’t pee or he is a God or some sort. The North Korean block the information from outside the country then people don’t have any source to verify whatever they are told. Another example takes place in Vietnam, where the people in government steal the tax money and put in their own pocket due to the unclear transaction. The Vietnamese have no idea about why the constructions take too long to be built. There are some simple bridges take up to 10+ years to be done. If we take a closer look at the educational system of these countries, the students are all taught that the governments are good and everyone should believe in the government. Those are the clear examples for how education is used to be a tool to fool people around.

    • Education can be a tool to manipulate people. Interesting that everyone who has brought that up brings up North Korea. But the complaint has been education of girls in Pakistan or everyone else in the US.

      • I can see the link there. Taliban leader don’t want girls to come to school because people in Pakistan have an idea that women always have to stay at home to do house chores. In addition, men want to control women. Let’s say in the U.S., where women can study as much as they want, how can men control women here? No way, right? The link there is goverment or people in authority don’t want their people to be educated so that they can easy to control.

      • Yup, that’s right.

  9. I remember from my education, 9th grade, private school (seminary)” :Beware! The Devil, too, can cite Scripture.” That quote has followed me, remained with me for some 65 years (I had to do some basic math to figure out that one). The sadness I had for those 50 years as a teacher had to do with academic freedom, school law(s), and the bureaucracy of being disciplined. So much b.s. in education–and even more so when I see and hear lawyers, products of public, private, home-school education being so stupid, dim-witted, and down-right power mongers. I write because I am able to, have been taught, to think, have been enabled by my R. Catholic education to see hypocrisy, and to reason (by way of Catholic ethics) to understand. What? That 60 million Catholics can be wrong; that the earth is not flat; that something is amiss with the universe and the weather (FOX News to the contrary). How can we not know… Reality. “…to do no harm”: don’t get me started on the immunization issues. How can physicians, and Congressmen/women be so at odds? And Planned Parenthood? “Keep ’em barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.” Really? Some would scoff at my belief that some really believe that. I scoff not. And what will be put in place when ISIS gets whatever it claims it wants? THINK. I was taught to question–everything! I do. And such stupidity. Oh, is that what makes us human? Being/acting stupid? Do I blaspheme here? Or am I simply spouting to the choir? About that choir…. No clapping or singing to the Lord God Jehovah Allah in church, mosque, anywhere! Thanks for getting me started. I have previously blogged/written about cursive handwriting. Here is a basic that some would like to forget about. “Forget about it.” And math, and music, and…history. “Smash those statues! Burn those books.” We haven’t had a good book burning since…Drake, North Dakota. Oh, I ramble. “He’s old, he’s old. He wears his trousers rolled.”

    Now once and for all: “Ignorance is bliss…where’s folly to be wise.” I get it!

    Think: Visiting, and buying shirts from, …Vietnam? Can you fathom that? Some 58,000+ would like that explained? “Oh, there you go again with that Vietnam stuff….” Really? How can I forget what I marched for/against in the 60s? Shall I ever forget Kent State? “Who will remember the Armenians?” Who?

    Ciao! A bientot!

  10. The most striking part of this blog post was “… ignorance is a tool to manage the population.” I completely agree with this statement. This blog post made me think of this quote “Ignorance is the single greatest tool of oppression and …. the greatest despondency, is the greatest ignorance of one’s self… birds born in a cage think flying is an illness; it’s hard to free fools from the chains they revere.” Many people say that public school could be easily manipulated to project certain agendas (and it has), it’s positives far outweigh the negatives. I agree with you when you say that public schools do not make submissive citizens because public schools provide you with the capacity to think for yourself. Which is one of the most important things that you can learn.

  11. Public education is only good insofar as it teaches and encourages students to think critically. We may take this for granted in the bay area, but other places, like say Texas, the public school system insulates students from reality and discourages challenging perceived “truths.” Thus a public school can actually serve to “manage” people, and in such cases it is important to have the option of homeschooling available. While private schooling is so expensive as to be the exclusive domain of the rich, homeschooling is available to a far wider range of people. Given women earn much less than men, the opportunity cost of their staying home to teach is smaller, meaning the family forgoes relatively little income in order to homeschool. Thus even the children of humble families may have the option of a good education when the public school system does not provide it.

    • I know people who have homeschooled their kids who aren’t educated enough to be able to do so. Although I also know kids who have been homeschooled who have gotten a good education.

      Another problem is that most families need to have both parents working to get by.

      And sure, there’s nothing inherently wrong with homeschooling. The problem is that if you get rid of public education — as some advocate for — a lot of kids won’t get ANY education.

  12. Velveth Ortiz

    I personally like public schools, if the student is focused and determined they can do whatever they set there mind to. I hate hearing people say “public schools aren’t good enough” I’ve gone to public schools my entire life and I like the teachers and the students. I have been having trouble in school lately because I still have no idea what I want to major in. I don’t really have an opinion on public education is better than no education some people succeed and dropped out others succeed send stayed in school until they got a degree. It is whatever works best for the individual.

    • I can only assume that you mean public college educations when you say that people can succeed fine even if they drop out.

      There are some people who want to privatize education at all levels, Elementary school through college. In that case, a lot of kids won’t get educated. And they will be a lot easier to manipulate.

  13. “. . . ignorance is a tool to manage the population.”

    Exactly! And it works great! Look how the RNC’s propaganda network, Faux News, et al, have convinced almost half the nation, especially the less educated voters, that Wall Street and Big Oil have THEIR best interest at heart (even as the big banks foreclose on millions), and therefore, we should have an unfettered free market.

    Two things that keep the conservative agenda alive and well; an ignorant public, and someone–or some group–to hate and blame.

    Ever notice that it is the conservative politicians who consistently use personal attacks instead of civil arguments against some policy?

  14. Haomeijie Liang

    First of all, nobody in this world is free from being controlled. A person living in a society is at least controlled by the law or the social norms. For the public education, I would say it is really potential to be abused. It is obvious that the authority wants to control people through the public education in a communist ruled country such as North Korea. Though authorities in the western countries don’t manipulate the public education so obviously, I think there is something interesting inside the public education. On the one hand, it teaches you free mind. On the other hand, it teaches you patriotism. However, I totally agree that public education is much better than no education. Because ignorance is indeed the best to control people. Thus, I think there is 3 ways to control people by authority. One is through no education, one is obviously through public education, and the other is implicitly through public education. All in all, the last one is better than the others and is not as bad as some people measure.

    • Well, I’m sure that it’s a bigger problem in a place like North Korea. But in the US most of the people I know who teach in public education — including myself — try to get students to develop critical thinking skills, to think outside the box, and see things in different ways. You certainly wouldn’t get the protests at Berkeley and Ohio State during the Vietnam War if public education was just teaching people to do as they’re told!

  15. That actually make sense. I have a story to relate. When I was younger I wanted to become a social worker because I found it very interesting to talk to friends and help them with their problems I even dreamed to become a psychiatrist, so I can discover how the brain really works. However, I had to study in some “fancy” British middle and high schools which I ended up failing my classes and not doing my homework. Education back then wasn’t as important for me because I knew how the road is designed anyway. And because the major I liked ( psychology and related topics ) don’t happen to be taught in my country I came here to start studying it step by step. Indeed, my family didn’t like it because first they were claiming that I will be dealing with depressed people which no fun in that and I will end up depressed. Then they made it clear that I wont make much money because unfortunately it is a “shame” to see a psychiatrist. Well, I listened to them and changed my major to business hoping that one day I will get a job in an ordinary company with the help of one of our relatives of course and get salary and that’s it. Obviously, I was not even interested in any of those classes I have taken related to business and even failed some. Then few days ago, I changed my major again to social science because I made it clear to myself that I don’t want to deal with something I don’t like and education should be interesting if not, then there is no use of it and specially I will be dealing with it for the rest of life. However, I don’t even know what I am going to do after I am done with Foothill. But hopefully will be able to transfer and choose a major that will fit my family and I so they don’t feel that I wasted their money with some kind of no future job education. In conclusion, we as a family believe that fortune and work comes from God and if he wants to help someone, he or she will end up with money with no question but of course they must have spent some effort.

    • Your experience mirrors my own. I wanted to go into social work, My dad convinced me not to because it doesn’t pay any money, So I majored in business. Hated my classes, wasn’t interested in the work once I graduated. So I went back to graduate school in sociology. And everything worked out okay.

  16. Okay so public education is better than having no education but it still needs a lot of modifications in the system… In the meantime, I’ll keep learning with Google,,, oh dear, wish me luck lol

  17. Public school’s are for everyone even the rich. Although private schools may teach something that a public school dose not, public schools are still a lot easier to get into and kids are still able to go to state college’s and Universities from public school teachings. Another factor that play’s into this is the location of the public school. Location can determine the education outcome for a child. For instance if a public school is in a bad location where kids don’t want to learn than education can lack in that public school area. As for a more well kept public school in a perfect location where kids love to learn, education will be taught at a steady or advanced pace and kids will more likely be able to get into a state college or University. Public school can be seen as a viable option for people who cannot afford private school. Public schools are already paid for by state tax, government and federal tax.

  18. I could not agree with you anymore with what you said, and I love that you said “ Ignorance is a tool to manage the population.” Having any sort of education is way better than not having any education at all. Having an education obviously opens doors. This country and all around the world we need to have doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, teachers, the list goes on. With out education no one would know how to be all these careers. It is sad that a lot of countries do not want their people to better themselves because of fear that they might know too much and try to change the government. Women in the past were not allowed to get an education, only be at home and take care of kids. This was for the same reason that many people did not want women to get an education because they felt like women were going to outsmart men. Now many women are going to college and graduating.

  19. A sad affair, to see how they’re trying to cut the funds of state universities; I like your analysis here.

  20. You are so right – it is ignorance that is disempowering, not public education. I could not imagine home schooling my children – I don’t know who would suffer more – me or them – but it is a valid option for some. My partner and I were educated in the public system, so are my children – and I work in public education as well. I’m a fan, although obviously it is not a perfect system. I will say this though: school is not. Y children’s only source of education, and I. Are sure I always have a say.

    • Argh, sorry about the autocorrect on the last couple of sentences, hope you can understand them. WordPress comments need an edit option!

      • I hate that when I happens.

        Yeah, I have a friend to was homeschooled and loved it, And she’s doing great. And I have another friend who is thinking of homeschooling her son– And I know that she would be a great teacher. But when there is a whole movement to get rid of public education and privatize it, That’s scary because a lot of people can’t afford it or wouldn’t be able to have the time to homeschool their children because they needed to work outside the home to make ends meet. Or are simply not qualified.

  21. Yup, what else is new, I’m not suprised. But what baffles me and disturbs me more is how well those statements work in many contexts. Here conservatives and liberalists try to imprint an image of the “poor quality of public education” and that people should choose a private institution instead. And some of them forget to mention that they themselves studied at public schools and universities! It’s just the good old pulling up the ladder after you’ve achieved personal success to avoid paying taxes (and possible fear about someone else getting better at what they do and outperform them?)

  22. I would have to agree with your statement about how public education is better than no education. Public education of course is not perfect especially when it comes to higher public education where politics and money interfere with how a campus operates. I do not believe that the education system wants to control you; I do believe that the education system needs a re-haul. We as Americans are extremely lucky that we live in a country that even offers an education as well as higher public education. Around the world it is sad to hear stories such as Malala who all she wanted to do was go to school but she could not because of the Taliban, but not only did survive her attack but she has become a leading force in bringing the spotlight on her issue of bringing and building an education for not only girls but boys as well. The idea that public education creates mindless machines that cannot think for themselves is utterly ridiculous since the most creative and talented people have come out of public education as described in this article Oprah, Steve Jobs, and the late Maya Angelou. These are pioneers each in their own right paving the way for technology, women in the certain male dominated fields, and proof that public education not only creates intelligent but also creative and amazing minds.

    • Yeah, I suspect that the people who want to get rid of public education really want an educated masses who will do as they’re told. In other words, doing what they say they’re fighting — a bit of doublespeak that far right-wingers often use.

  23. It would be nice to believe that education doesn’t matter but it really does. It’s an essential part of one’s liberation, I believe. And while public education isn’t perfect, as you noted, it’s the better alternative to none. I don’t know much about home schooling so can’t speak to that much.

    Aside from formal schooling, I’ve also been educated in a couple of schools of learning that would not ever make it onto a government-approvedcurriculum but have been equally valuable in other and necessary ways.

    • I know some kids who have done fine with homeschooling. But I also know kids who are homeschooled in an attempt to keep them from learning about things like evolution and climate change. And I know kids who were homeschooled by a mom who wasn’t educated, Herself. Their grandma told my mom that the kids don’t know anything. And in countries where education has been privatized, Kids don’t get educated unless they are rich. So it increases the gap between rich and poor because equal opportunity diminishes, Or disappears.

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