The men of culture are the true apostles of equality.

Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy

Our national constitution recognizes the right of all parents to decide where, and by whom, their child will be schooled; this equal prerogative is assured not merely by the First Amendment, but by the rule of equal treatment that is assured by the 14th Amendment.

In the current media focus upon something called “equality for all,” it would seem that the good “cultured” liberal minds would lead in the national effort to empower the poor family to exercise this fundamental responsibility.

Tragically, Arnold was wrong.

The world of the elite liberal decided 150 years ago to treat the poor parent as serf to the new “public” school system that respects the power of the comfortable family to choose but delivers the child of the poor to the state and its highly organized agents. The principles of equal treatment and of honoring the right of both parent and child are flouted in the name of what?

The 19th Century design of the “public” school systems was intended to secure the position of Protestantism and to “Americanize” the poor immigrants and their children who were mostly Catholics and Jews.

Over the next century, that religious purpose wore thin and was gradually replaced by secular theories of schooling, but the structure that disempowered the poor has remained ever in place, eventually becoming dominated by the government unions whose leaders’ interest in the poor was, and remains, to insure their presence in unchosen, mostly urban, public schools.

Yet most of my “liberal” colleagues and friends continue to imagine that these institutions serve as primary hope for a truly civil society. The anti-liberal essence of our inner-city schools simply eludes their eyes.

If equal treatment of all our people is truly a vison of the self-styled liberal, let us pray that he or she awakens to this contradiction that has for so long eluded the liberal eye.

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