Education for a Conquered NationnInuetcnq ux patanq u^.nby John Chodesnleui XBDT’ixxod aqj_ ‘pjnsqe •:n’MBx aqi qSnojqa ‘aiaTJs :npaaanbuoo aq-^ jaAo icjaofj srnTJTds aq^i puB pajQ,Bq ja’iiq.iqn’saiixensBO snotajou-^ •uot’in[ooqos piB 01 asxnduii XBI^TnJuxiJB’is aqi ^x^3Exa sx sxqn^oosopi ^-^^M?!.n•cixjxds 3jnDeclining test scores. Illiterate, spiritless, and passivengraduates who have little motivation to find a job ornsucceed. Youngsters with no skills to compete in thenmarketplace. This is the tragic record of American publicneducation, after billions of dollars and 127 years of directnfederal funding.nThe results seem more appropriate for a rebelliousnSoviet-bloc satellite nation, where Moscow wants to break itsnfreedom-loving spirit.nAnd in fact this is exactly the starting point for Washington’sninitial impulse to aid schooling. Civil war. Massivendestruction. Enormous casualties, higher than World WarnII. Bitter hatred and the spirit of vendetta by the victoriousnNorth over the conquered Confederate enemy. And thatnspirit, through the law, lives on today. This is not absurd.nThe political malice of the 1860’s has long since beennburied in human terms. But not in the law, which has anstrange life of its own. It has an unswerving trajectory thatncan go on indefinitely without deflecting from its originalnmandate, even when that purpose is long extinct.nThis is the case now. Children of the I980’s are beingngiven an education that was deemed appropriate for ann1860’s Confederate child. We will never recover from ournJohn Chodes is a playwright living in New York City.n20/CHRONICLESnnnT.n,^:niJi’-f’s.n.J.^Vi*'” ‘•’n,^^vk..’n•.- •.’••S°nfffnz-‘, ^ • -^.^nli^^^lnliteracy tailspin until we perceive this and understand UnclenSam’s original motive for aiding schools.nThe Morrill ActnWashington jumped squarely into education in 1862.nThe Civil War was raging. The Union Army had beennsuffering major reverses. Robert E. Lee maneuvered tonbring the war to the North, and the Union was not sure itnwould win. In such an atmosphere the Morrill Act passednCongress. This was the closest that Washington had everncome to direct aid to education. Its stated objective was tonfund colleges that teach agriculture and mechanic arts, vianmoney raised through federal land-grant sales. The truenobjective was to bring the Northern perspective to thenreconquered areas of the South, to teach the rebel’s childrenn”respect for national authority” — to break their rebelliousnspirit forever. The three R’s had absolutely nothing to donwith this landmark bill.nSenator J.P. Wickersham stated this clearly in 1865:n”What can education do for the non-slave-holding whites ofnthe South? The great majority are deplorably ignorant. . . .nIt is this ignorance that enables the rebel leaders to create anprejudice in the minds of this class of persons against thenNorth and to induce them to enlist in their armies. As longnas they are ignorant they will remain tools of politicaln