Is Compulsory Schooling to Blame for the Breakdown of the Family?

A few weeks ago I addressed some issues I have with compulsory attendance laws, namely the governmental role in education and truancy lawsWhile wrapping my brain around the entire matter, I also delved into what life might be like if there were no such thing as compulsory schooling.

I never know what I’m getting myself into when diving into sensitive discussions like that, but one of my passions as a writer is to engage and inform people about serious problems within the public education system so that they are no longer content simply accepting the status quo.

Hence this new post today. 

One thing that surprised me in the comments of the aforementioned posts is the fervor people have for this very subject, no matter what their stance may be. Some people completely agreed with everything I wrote, while others were very concerned about what would happen to children with less than involved parents if compulsory schooling were ever to disappear. (Although this is very unlikely because the powers-that-be enjoy governmental control too much for that to happen.)

Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers for that. But these concerns have brought to light something that I’m astonished so many people seem to have missed.

school is the cause of the breakdown of the family

The onset of compulsory schooling was the catalyst for the downfall of the family.

Before compulsory school laws were put into place, the family was central to everything. Children learned by helping their parents in the day-to-day things that their families depended upon. Their parents were not just Mom and Dad; they were mentors. They were involved. Children knew how important their familial role was, and they felt valued because of it.

Post-compulsory schooling, that all changed.

In fact, that may well be how we got into this sorry mess we’re in today. It’s completely ironic to me that people are concerned about abolishing mandatory public education because of bad parenting (and rightly so) when a major factor in the epidemic of bad parenting is- you guessed it- public education.

Confused? Let’s take a look at the one major factor that has caused this inevitable breakdown of the family:

Compulsory education replaced the parent’s role as primary caregiver and teacher.

Let’s be honest here. How can people learn to be decent parents when their children are taken from them 6 hours a day minimum, 36 weeks a year? Parents today no longer consider themselves solely responsible for their children. How many times have you heard someone say,

“I can’t wait for school to start. Let their teacher deal with them.”

“My kids are driving me crazy. I hate summer vacation.”

How many times have you seen parents cheer on the first day of school?

parents happy when kids go back to school

I’m not judging here because I’ve done it. Thankfully, though, I’ve realized that the reason people can’t handle their children anymore is because they aren’t with them enough. They defer to the teacher’s advice on just about everything because their teachers spend more time with their kids than they do.

This was never a problem before compulsory school laws were legislated. People knew how to be parents.

Once the responsibility of raising our children was taken away, it opened the doors to things almost unheard of, and certainly not considered the norm, before school existed:

  • A skyrocketing divorce rate
  • Latchkey kids
  • The devaluing of the role of the housewife and stay-at-home mother
  • A neverending journey for material wealth
  • The notion that you can “have it all” (although it’s usually the children who suffer the most from this falsehood)
  • Abortion
  • Someone other than parents making medical decisions for their children (schools handing out birth control)
  • ADHD (As a parent of a child with ADHD, I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but I am suggesting that school does not provide the proper outlet for it, thus the large number of medicated children.)
  • The “quality over quantity” lie

The list goes on and on. So before you decide that school may be the best thing for some children, I want you to think about this one thing:

Ultimately, school is what got them into this predicament to begin with.



Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

35 thoughts on “Is Compulsory Schooling to Blame for the Breakdown of the Family?”

  1. I don’t agree with the premise of your post. Abortion though illegal was not something new or unheard of in times past. There has always been the need for some women to work throughout history. The ideal of having a stay at home mother was just not something all women could do.
    My grandma would be over 100 years old if she was still alive. She started working at the age of 13 to bring in income for the family. She was the child of immigrants and had only an eighth grade education. She lived in a large city and continued to live there after marriage. I’m not sure what skills she would have imparted to her children so that they could economically survive and continue to live in the large city where the family roots were. English was essentially a second language for my grandmother and was rarely spoken by her parents. After marrying, my grandmother would need to work on and off throughout her life.
    I’m not sure that I agree that I agree with your premise that people knew how to be parents in the past. Things like mental illness, abuse and alcoholism all have existed forever. They were just better hidden.
    My mother in law, who was born in the thirties, grew up in an almost primitive, rural area. Her father left the family shortly after she was born. Most women in the area she was from were expected to take part in agricultural work, and that was not something new. I think we tend to overly romanticize what life may have been like in the past.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree that these things did certainly occur during those times, but not to the extent that they do today. It’s gotten to the point where these behaviors are considered the norm, rather than family-centered lives.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I think what Shelly means is that they were the exception to the normal way civilization was living. There are always, always exceptions and it is to the detriment of society if we decide to use those (or every) exception(s) as the new norm.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good post, but just part of the bigger problem. Whenever there is a separation of the family from one another, this is a problem. My biggest complaint: the church does this too! We’ve taken the philosophy of the world, separating our children by age, and sometimes sex, and thought that this good for us. God intended for us to be a family in worship AND Sunday school. Yet, the church, in it’s quest to be relevant, thinks of new ways to divide us up. That is so wrong.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I don’t fervently disagree with you. But I do believe you’re missing some story, some background. Maybe some would call what you are missing as history.

    While moms and dads were busy in fields, the public school house was developed. One room building. Not as glamorous as Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman or even as Little House on the Prarie, or even 60’s The Rifleman.

    Education for children is not just a recent cultural event. It was necessary to give our country something that others didn’t have. A basis for new thinking. Public Education was a new endeavor. Schools we set up and coincided with harvest times and holidays such as the Celebrations of Christmas and Easter, but those were celebrated way different than they are now.

    Your article missed the part where religious philosophies were changing and new religions were developing. And history was taught from the Bible’s perspective because other books were not readily available.

    Or maybe you did in your first article that didn’t link from this second article.

    Public schools were developed and teachers were barely paid for their service. Books were shared in the classroom. Reading and writing and arithmetic were essentials in teaching farming students how to help their parents with harvesting and planting. Without the humble beginnings of that school house education, would we have had been able to grow as a nation?

    Like I said, maybe you talked about this in your first article. But the link to that wasn’t in my FB post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your thought-provoking comment. I think it’s safe to say that the one room schoolhouses were a far cry from our modern public educational system, which is based upon the model set up in the early 20th century by such people as John Dewey. Learning such things as reading and math were actually taught very well at home prior to compulsory schooling, and it was Sen. Ted Kennedy who once made the comment that the literacy rate was higher in MA before compulsory education was instituted than it ever has been since. Regardless of what is taught in school and why, I think it’s safe to say that this mandatory separation of families has been harmful to parents and children, alike. Again, thank you for your comment. It really made me think!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, I never thought of this premise before! I think you may be on to something. Compulsory schooling may not be the only cause of the downfall of the family but it certainly is part of the problem. Thanks so much for being willing to speak out about these controversial issues!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m a new follower and I just love your boldness and the clarity with which you speak! Keep up the great work. Although we are done our homeschooling adventure, we’re advocates, so I try to stay in touch.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This comment about devaluing of the role of the housewife and stay-at-home mother is so true. It’s almost like you have to be ashamed or embarrassed when someone asks you (as they always do) what you do. Raising little bodies into functioning humans set for success and not jerks is a crazy hard job!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Reblogged this on Horn and Hearth and commented:
    Shelley and I don’t agree on a lot of things in live but this is something that we are of like minds on, for sure. I appreciate how well written this was.


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