45 Years, 45 Days: Time to Rescue Kids from Public Schools?


For the next 45 days, we'll be celebrating Reason's 45th anniversary by releasing a story a day from the archives—one for each year of the magazine's history. See the full list here. 

Today, an excerpt from the January 1970 issue, in which Reason founder Lanny Friedlander reveals his actual source of income (hint: it wasn't Reason), describes a lovely afternoon in Boston, and attacks the American education system: 

Where have all the children gone? Saturday they were here. Where are they now? Who has taken them away from this joy? Who would destroy this perfect day, their day? And why?

You know the answer. You served your time, and now your children are serving theirs, a twelve year stretch in the prison system euphemistically referred to as free education. For six hours a day, five days a week, nearly all of America's youth are forced to remain in ugly old (or new) buildings, where they must perform inane tasks that destroy their capacity for pride, joy, ingenuity, integrity, and rational thought. For most of six hours they are required to sit motionless and silent in tiny pieces of furniture called "desks." They have to listen and remember in at least some detail whatever they are told to by the prison's caretakers (referred to as "teachers"), five or so of whom they meet with in the course of a day, one at a time for about an hour at a time in communal cells ("classrooms") where thirty or so of the prisoners sit at their "desks," which are arranged in rows to face the "teacher," who does a lot of things well described in three books by John Holt, a Boston-based teacher who'd like to see the keys thrown away—after the prisoners were set free.