This week, I’m joined by Dr. James Carper, co-author with Thomas Hunt of the recently published book, The Dissenting Tradition in American Education. Welcome, Dr.Carper.
Thanks, Mike, good to be with you.
Our listeners may be surprised by the title of your book—can you explain what you mean about America’s dissenting tradition?
The American colonies, at least several of them, and even some of the early states had privileged or established churches. For example, Anglicanism in Virginia and Congregationalism in Connecticut; these religious establishments or churches, if you will, were supported by mandatory taxation. In other words, if you were a Baptist in Connecticut, you had to pay taxes to support the congregational church. This practice bred considerable dissent among those who did not belong to the established church. They resented the mandatory taxation, the resented having to subscribe to these churches. We argue in our book that the public school system is the functional equivalent of the earlier ecclesiastical establishment, in that public education exacts mandatory taxation, it endorses a particular orthodoxy at any given point in time, and it is certainly government privileged. Furthermore, the school system has bred dissent since its inception in the middle decades of the 19th century as dissenters have dissented for pedagogical, theological, cultural or even social reasons.
Well thank you, Dr. Carper, that’s very interesting. I’m Mike Smith.