perate remedies. We are like frontier settlers whose last hopernlay in the secret cellar where they could hide when the hidiansrnhad broken into the cabin. What the settlers needed was arnstockade, a fortified community in which they could make arnunited stand against their remorseless attackers, and what parentsrnneed today are communities of friends and neighbors,rnchurch parishes and disciplined sociedes, within which theyrncan defend their common interests.rnTypically, it is religious communihes—Catholic, Lutheran,rnCalvinist—that have put up the most effective resistance, andrnwhile the average Catholic diocesan or Missouri Synod highrnschool might not represent a grand improvement on public educationrnin the suburbs, such schools do offer considerable protectionrnto the families who cluster around them. For severalrnyears I sat on the board of a Lutheran school which, for all itsrnfaults, was a vivid manifestation of the Lutherans’ love for thernchildren of their church communit)’. I resigned my positionrnwhen I realized that my own classical view of education was ultimatelyrnincompatible with the needs of a school whose highestrngoal was to teach children to be decent and hardworking citizensrnwho would never know more than was good for them. Irnwas foolish enough to think that more could be accomplished.rnA few years earlier, I had served as headmaster of a privaterncommunity school in the South Carolina Low Country-. Mostrnof what I know of politics and society I learned in my three yearsrnat the Archibald Rutledge Academy. Some men, I found outrnver’ quickly, are made for the work, but I am not one of them.rnIt was not enough to design a curriculum, select books, hire andrnsupervise teachers, and teach several classes ever)’ term. Evenrnthe business end of the job—raising funds, doing the taxes tornsave the expense of an accountant, helping to organize an annualrn”Shrimp Festival” at which the mothers raised tens ofrnthousands of dollars—even that was secondary compared withrnthe diplomatic responsibilities I had to discharge: mediating betweenrnboard members and teachers, teachers and parents, in arnvillage where everyone was related to each other to the degreernof second cousin and where half the married couples I knewrnseemed to be double second cousins, and only I was a completernoutsider.rnEverything in a village is a national crisis —I use the wordrn”national” advisedly, because it always seemed as if we were li’-rning in an independent city-state. The Episcopalians did notrnlike the sermons they were getting from their supply priest (a sociolog}’rnprofessor), and the)’ went straight to the bishop to getrnhim removed. A helpful legislator was going to pave the dirtrnroad that led to the dirt road I lived on, and my neighbors and Irnbacked down the state, the mayor, and the seafood docks whornwanted a better road for their trucks.rnThe academy, which had been built by the fathers and supportedrnby the heroic efforts of the mothers, was even morernpoliticized than the churches or the town meetings. I designedrnthe mildest of dress codes —no revealing sun dresses, no Tshirtsrnwith offensive slogans—and found myself awakened atrnthe crack of dawn by a farmer whose wife had riled him up beforernbreakfast. When I sent a boy home on Cames Day forrnwearing a sweat shirt with “Divers Do It Deeper” emblazonedrnon his chest, his mama stormed into my office to tell me I hadrna dirty mind for reading something obscene into the slogan.rnThis was no sheltered lady, by the way, but a two-fisted drinkerrnwho knew how to swear like a sailor.rnI stirred up even more trouble by creating a special collegernpreparatory program that required four years of Latin and arnfour-year history (not social studies) sequence: American,rnAncient & Medieval, Modern European, British. One fatherrninsisted that his two slow children should be in college preprnclasses, but neither could apparently memorize the declensionrnoi puella. I persisted and succeeded in giving several countr}-rnchildren a hvmaane education beyond anything theyrnwould have received in the most fashionable schools inrnCharleston.rnWhat I did not realize at the time, however, was that nornmatter what I did, I would remain an alien, an outsider,rna potential threat to the community. One of my first acts was tornexpel a young hoodlum who was threatening the teachers, andrna year later I expelled his older brother after he took a fake swingrnat my jaw. The kid was built like a gorilla and could have takenrnmy head off. The next year, when he died in a car wreck,rndrowning face-down in a pool of shallow water, I refused to gi’ernthe school a day off on the reasonable grounds that the deadrnyoung man was not a student. I did agree to let anyone whornwanted go to the funeral, but this was not enough to squelchrnthe gossip that I was persecuting the poor boy beyond the grave.rnI was trying to set standards and maintain order, and I was notrnabout to encourage sentimental adoration of a violent druggie.rnBut the boy was eyer)’body’s cousin or nephew; his poor motherrnwas the sister of the landowner who had given the propertyrnwhere the school stood, and what I refused to understand wasrnthat right and wrong, good and bad, do not apply in quite thernsame way to )’our cousin’s son, no matter what he has done.rnI left the next year over some trivial dispute, betrayed by thernboard members for whose children and grandchildren I hadrnsacrificed several years that I might have spent writing or teaching,rnand it was only when I left the village that I became awarernof how foolish I had been. All little communities are pettyrnplaces, ruled by gossip and revenge, feuding and back-biting,rnand while an outsider will always be perplexed and disgruntledrnby these primitive loyalties, to the natives they are as natural andrnnecessary as the wind and the rain.rnPut another way, the village was a commonwealth, somethingrnlike a Greek polls in miniature—albeit disintegrating—rnand the character of the polis was maintained by its peculiarrnmethods of resolving disputes (its “constitution”) and its ownrncustoms of rearing and schooling children. If I had had 15rnyears and a good deal more wisdom than I possessed, I mightrnhave gradually made a contribution to the village traditionsrn(supposing the village itself were not wiped out by a hurricanernor by the invasion of displaced Yankee intellectuals looking forrnsome new place to screw up).rnBut in rejecting the classical education that would once havernbeen their own ideal, the people of the village were displayingrnan abilih’ to close ranks against outsiders which is the first defensernof a traditional community. Most Americans do not livernin villages or even coherent neighborhoods, and it is the objectrnof government today to prevent them from forming communitiesrnof resistance around their church or a small-town highrnschool football team. Bigger is better, according to the experts,rnand consolidated schools afford students more individualrnchoices, more opportunities to become different from their parents.rnAnd if consolidated school systems become so oppressivernthat even the supine American taxpayers get restive, then thernexperts have to devise scheme after scheme to fix the little problemsrnwithout ever touching the central question: Wliy do wernhave to have consolidated school systems that operate underrn12/CHRONICLESrnrnrn