Two Orientations to Schooling
THROUGHOUT American history, there have been two different orientations toward schooling. These two orientations have created a dilemma for educational policy that has never been satisfactorily resolved, nor precisely stated. A direct confrontation of these orientations can be a step toward resolving the dilemma in a way that will benefit America and its children.
The first orientation sees schools as society's instrument for releasing a child from the blinders imposed by accident of birth into this family or that family. Schools have been designed to open broad horizons to the child, transcending the limitations of the parents, and have taken children from disparate cultural backgrounds into the mainstream of American culture. They have been a major element in social mobility, freeing children from the poverty of their parents and the low status of their social origins. They have been a means of stripping away identities of ethnicity and social origin and implanting a common American identity.
As the first orientation has been the basis for public schooling in America, a second orientation has been the basis for private schools. This second orientation to schooling sees a school as an extension of the family, reinforcing the family's values. The school is in loco parentis, vested with the authority of the parent to carry out the parent's will.