The Role of the State
When we ask the question, "How did modern educational systems originate?" we are also asking, "Why does the state fund, license, and operate such agencies?" Had it not been for the modern nation-state, universal compulsory education might never have occurred. A study of the state's role seems necessary if we are to gain a clearer insight into the nature and history of the schooling enterprise. For this, we begin by looking at the state as it was understood in the last century. Then we provide the reader with a short history of schooling in the United States, emphasizing the state as enforcer and intervener in the educational system. Finally we discuss recent theories that view the state as a structure internally related to other agencies and institutions in modern capitalist systems.
Anyone who reads Marx's ideas about the state will conclude they are incomplete, at best. Marx was concerned primarily with the evolution of capitalism in the mid-ni neteenth century. Perhaps his earliest views of the state are set forth in the Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right. 1 In this work, the state is seen as a guardian of the general interest of civilization, society, and law, echoing Hegel's thoughts. It is the social institution within which moral, political, educational, and judicial freedoms reside. The individual, in submitting himself to the state, acts in accordance with his own interest and nature, his own reason.
But as his work matured, Marx paid greater attention to the ways in which the state was influenced and driven by external pressures. 2 Already he saw Hegel's views on the state as too abstract; they dehumanized the state, setting it apart from the people who had created it. Hegel correctly acknowledged the separation and conflict that existed