COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE LAWS ARE IMMORAL. PERIOD. Government education is, after slavery, the worst political institution in the history of the United States: Let the Children Work

Why do we have compulsory education in the first place? The real answer, as with all the evils of modernity, is Martin Luther. The “beast of the waste wood,” in Hopkins’ eternal phrase, was among the earliest Western advocates of forced schooling because he saw universal literacy as a vital way to undermine traditional means of knowledge transfer and traditional seats of authority as it, at first, related to individual access to the Bible. So it was that Germany (O Deutschland, double a desperate name! / O world wide of its good!) saw some of the first schooling mandates in the early modern era, which then spread to the rest of Protestant Europe and to the Puritan colonies of New England.

 

It was not until the late 19th century, as industrialization and the modern state consummated their conquest of human society, that the trends of formal, universal, and compulsory education really kicked into gear. By 1922, each of the United States had a law on the books requiring the education of children either in government-run schools or according to governmental guidelines.