During, as was mentioned earlier, the ongoing attempt of professional educators to shut down and replace locally-controlled one-room schools with centralized ‘scientific’ graded classroom schools controlled by professional educators, Woodrow Wilson, after whom numerous public schools are named, then president of Princeton University, said the following to the New York City School Teachers Association in 1909:
We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.
Clearly, one-room schools run by locals with the express and successfully executed purpose of raising up independent, responsible farmers who could run their own affairs were not going to meet this need. More important at the time, industry needed millions of laborers who would just follow orders and not get too uppity – that’s why immigration was wide open back in 1909. Turning desperate immigrants into interchangeable industrial workers is much easier than reshaping independent farmers ruined by years of self-reliance and social responsibility.
You certainly didn’t want your workers schooled in the patriotism of Washington and Jefferson and Adams – you know, looking at the country as something a patriot would be a father *to*. Math? Reading? Writing? Are you kidding? Only an extremely dumbed-down shadow of these ‘basics’ is needed by those to be fitted “to perform specific difficult manual tasks”.
And so, to this day, a kid can graduate from the Woodrow Wilson High Schools of the world – with honors, with AP credits – and not be able to write or do math well enough to avoid taking remedial classes in college. (And then take a 1 semester college course – and catch up!).
The trickier question is: where does that much smaller class of liberally educated get their training? Of course, Wilson was being politic – he didn’t really want to clue the audience at a teacher’s college that, um, they’re NOT part of that liberally-educated class – they are part of the class fitted for a particular kind of labor – not physical, in the case of educators, but ultimately as circumscribed as any factory worker’s. They, in their turn, were being trained to fill a role and follow orders every bit as much as the immigrants it was their job to dumb down.