Progressives Have Taken Over Education In America? It is Foundations of Freedom Thursday, a special day of the week where we get to answer questions from you, the listeners! Tune in today as we answer discover what happened when the progressives took over education in the 1920s. We”€™ll also discuss what the data on education really shows, plus so much more, right here on WallBuilders Live!

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Air Date: 11/29/2018

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith And The Culture


President Thomas Jefferson said, “€œI know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves. And if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”€



That requires citizen knowledge. That’s why we have Foundations of Freedom Thursday right here on WallBuilders Live.

We’re thrilled that you’re joining us today. Visit us online and

Every Thursday, we’re diving into the foundations of America and looking at those things that made us such a great nation, the things we must return to if we want to once again be a great nation. That means studying the Constitution, the Declaration, the Founding Fathers, really getting the intent of where we came from and what we’ve been about.

David Barton, always a pleasure to dive into these foundations. I love getting the questions from our listeners as well. They seem interested in topics that you and I, maybe 15 years ago, never heard anybody talking about; but, all of a sudden, there’s a resurgence of interest in these foundational principles.

People Are Thinking


I love them too, because it shows that people are thinking. They’re not just listening, not just taking in; but, they’re actually thinking How does this apply? How would we do this? How does this work? If we go back to the old foundations, the “€œold landmarks,”€ as the Bible calls them, how would that work today?

So, I really love these things because they get very specific. It also shows that people are very engaged and informed much more so than what we often think. If you see Watter’s World what Leno used to do on Jay Walking, etc., we know those folks are out there, and when there’s way too many about there; but, our audience tends to be fairly engaged.

We get that from a lot of folks on the program anyway, that when they’re on this program, they get a whole lot more response than they do even on big national programs that everybody would recognize.

We do have a great audience, and they do think, and it’s fun to take their questions.


Folks, if you’re listening and you would like to send in some questions, send them to [email protected]. You might have a question about application of a founding principle to some of the issues of today, or a particular issue that you’ve heard debated out there. Be sure send those in; we’d love to get to them.

David, let’s jump in. The first one comes from Joe; he says, “€œIn your podcast about Common Core at the PFLC–“€ for those listening, that’s our legislators”€™ conference that we do every year.

The Profamily Legislators”€™ Conference

By the way, be sure and email your legislator and encourage them to check that out. It’s a great opportunity to sharpen some countenance with some other Biblical-Worldview legislators from across the country. It’s called The Profamily Legislators”€™ Conference.

Sometimes we play presentations from the great speakers we have, and I bet that’s what Joe is talking about here.

He said, “€œYou said something like, “€˜we should get back to teaching what and how the Founding Fathers taught,”€™”€ I think is what he’s saying. “€œThey taught in one-room schoolhouses where all grade levels were in the same room.”€

Progressives Take Over Education


Actually, we were talking about in that particular presentation, how that when progressives took over education in the 1920s, prior to that, you had one-room schoolhouses. Since progressives have taken over, we”€™ve gone into the compulsory education, consolidated education, etc.  It’s really the change back there in the 1910s, 1920s, is what he”€™s talking about.


To this point of kind of segregating by age.




They’re saying, “€œThis age, this is what you’re going to be taught,”€ instead of by the student”€™s skill.


We to graded education, compulsory education, all those things we had not done before.

So, we had this dramatic change in philosophy of education in the 1920s, as the teachings of Dewey, Hearst, and Kilpatrick and so many others, finally caught up with the educational system. That’s where you see this change.

Prior to that, when you had one-room schoolhouses, the academic results were must appear. But in that progressive moment, we were from eight years of education to 12 years of compulsory, graded education.

One-Room Schoolhouses

In one-room schoolhouse. You didn’t have graded education; it was based on how much knowledge you had. Someone might start first grade when they were 14 years old; another might start it when they were 3 years old. You might be in sixth grade when you’re 12; or, you might be in sixth grade when you’re 14.

There was no grade, you just had to know the knowledge.  We were talking about how under that former philosophy of education, you had much better academic results than that which we do today. We’ve placed ourselves into a philosophy and a paradigm that is not producing the results.

That’s kind of the background to what he’s talking about, and that’s leading into the question.


I get it.  He’s basically saying that if that’s how it was then, then he goes on to say, “€œHow could we do that now with the number of students we have? I understand,”€ he says, “€œthat private schools do it; but, usually each student has their own computer. It would defeat the purpose of all ages learning together. I agree completely with concept; but, don’t understand the implementation.”€

It is a great question, Joe.  We obviously do have a lot more students”€™ but, what would be the solution? It’s got to be market based if you’re going to come up with a way for every student to be–education to be tailored to whatever level they’re at.


Yes, and let me let me kind of back up on some of the philosophy here because–


By the way, they”€™ll probably be taught not to end their sentences with “€œat”€like I just did.

Dumbing Down Education


Do you know that that is no longer the deal? When you and I went through school, you do not end a sentence with a preposition; but, now you can do that all the time. Media does that as well.

I think because the media is so illiterate, we’ve just changed the rules so that they don’t look like they’re really dumb, instead of the way they actually are sometimes. It is so amazing to me how many rules of grammar have been changed.

We used to have “€œno split infinitives”€ and all the things that are there. Now nobody even knows what an infinitive is anymore. We have moved in that direction; and, that’s part of the whole whole thing of dumbing down education.


Wait wait; I know. That’s what Buzz Lightyear says.


“€œTo infinity, split-infinity and beyond.”€


Yes, that would be it.


Every English teacher heard Buzz Lightyear say that. No question about it.


If my mom is listening to this program today, I know how she would say, when I finished that while ago with the “€œat”€ at the end. She always said, “€œBetween the “€˜a”€™ and the “€˜t.”€™”€


That’s right.


“€œWhere’s my baseball glove at?”€ She would say, “€œBetween the “€˜a”€™ and the “€˜t.”€™”€

To make me think.


That’s right.


Anyway, sorry; go ahead.

Exit Exams Tell the Story


But that’s it. That is part of the situation; because, if you look at the exit exams from the one-room schoolhouses and the different philosophy education prior to Progressives”€™, the type of stuff we’re just talking about right then, that that is so elementary. That is so second-grade, third-grade kind of stuff.

Now that’s what you find in collegiate education if you want to become a grammar teacher. Which, nobody really wants to do that anymore. It is so different.

What we’re talking about is part of the old school. How do you get back to really knowing something before you graduate?  Part of it is structural.


Okay. Quick break, we’ll be right back with Joe’s question and the answer to that question. We’ll have more of your questions later in the program.

Stay with us here on WallBuilders Live! It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday.

Greatest Political Privilege


Calvin Coolidge said, “€œThe more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”€


Holy Land Tour

Hey guys! What are you doing. January 28 through February 7th? If you”€™ve said you don’t know, let me give you an idea. We are going to Israel, Rick Green, my dad David Barton, Tim Barton, and our families are going and we would love to go with us. We are going to the Holy Land.

If you’ve never been to Israel, this is something as a Christian that will make you forever read your Bible differently. To see where Jesus walked, where he lived, where he did miracles, were so much of the Bible took place.

If you’ve ever read the Bible and you’ve given a mental picture the mental picture will not do justice of what happens when you’re actually on the ground. Have you ever thought about the story of David and Goliath and you envision what it looks like, we’re going to go to the actual field where it took place!

There are so many things that you will see that literally makes the Bible come to life. In fact, that’s the name of the tour group we’re going with is the Bible Comes To Life. Go to and you can click on the link. It has an Israel itinerary, all kinds of details, we hope to see you on this trip this coming year!


Samuel Adams said, “€œThe liberties of our Country and the freedom of our civil Constitution are worth defending against hazards. And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”€



Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us on Foundations of Freedom Thursday here on WallBuilders Live!

We’re taking your questions. This first one we’re talking about has to do with Common Core, and how we respond–I guess, it actually has more to do with what we talked about a few weeks ago, with regard to how we used to teach. The question was: How could we do that again?

David, we have kind of dumbed things down with the current system. What would you do with people at different ages, different levels, so that they could be taught at their level, instead of just what age group do you fit in?

Don”€™t Try to Fit the Old System into the Current System


Part of what Joe is pointing to here–he points to the number of students we have in classes now and what’s happening with the number of students, and given that, how do we make this work? That’s part of what we’ve got to do differently: don’t think about trying to fit the old system into the current system that we have now.

Let me kind of explain why. If you take the current system we have that has been a abysmal failure, you can’t rehab that. You really have to blow it up and go back to previous things.

I”€™ll give you an example why. The arguments that have been used–and, I’ll back up. Several years ago, one of the books I did dealt with education.

At that time, we were part of an exchange with the secretary of US Department of Education. In looking at things that would affect students scores, they came out with six or seven of the normal things that we always hear. “€œPart of the reason the students”€™ scores are down is because of the much larger classrooms and so many more kids in the classrooms. You can’t spend the time you need, and so scores are down.”€

“€œAnother thing that”€™s caused the scores to go down is that with inflation over years, there’s actually less being spent in the classroom on kids than there was in previous years; so, we need to get the spending commensurate with where it was in those previous years.”€ They gave six of those those kind of things.

We went and said, “€œThis is what we always hear from legislators; let’s see.”€  Unfortunate for the secretary of education, the Department of Education has kept statistics educationally for more than 100 years.

The Story Statistics Tell


We can actually measure whether or not those are true statements.


We can measure. If you’ll go back in the 1940s and 50s–I’m not going to have the exact numbers, but these are somewhat close.

In the 1940s and 50s, your average classroom had 38 or 39 kids. By the time you got to the 1970s, it was down to about 27 kids.


Of course, our scores were going way up during that period, right?

David: That’s right.


It got better and better.


Yes, the scores just skyrocketed.


I need a sarcasm-like bell or something so that people know when we’re totally kidding.


It is sarcastic; because, the scores plummeted.  We said, “€œApparently we need bigger classrooms; because, we had much higher academic scores when we had classrooms.”€

Then the thing about about money. We converted all dollars to the dollars then, at that point, inflation adjusted. We made everything apples-to-apples, and we were spending about twice as much as we’d been spending 40 or 50 years before, and the scores were much, much lower.

I mean, we went through all six things, and none of them held up. But, this is what you always hear educators say.  So, first let’s dismiss the notion that the number of kids in the classroom has anything to do with it.

Go Back to the Philosophy

Let’s go back to philosophy that was happening. One of the things that you’ll find with the philosophy of education one-room schoolhouse, is that it is not graded. That is, this grading thing of “€œyou have to be in certain social classes; you have to have this much maturity for this class and this grade”€ and social promotion, that’s all progressive stuff. That was all introduced by progressives.

Actually, our friend Tim Brooks that we talk to very regularly–I love the way that Tim runs the youth camp there, Brookhill camp. We talk about this maybe once or twice a year and tell folks they need to send their kids to Brookehill.

Send Your Kids to Brookhill Camp

I”€™ll do a little commercial on that right now. If you want to make the attorneys mad, send your kids to Brookehill; because, everything the attorneys say you shouldn’t doat a youth camp, is what they do. They actually let kids shoot guns and ride horses and have go carts and do jet skis and do archery and all the things that–now we can’t even have playgrounds at schools anymore, because somebody might get hurt.

The camp they have is very old-school in the sense of  “€œthat’s what used to work.”€ That’s where you learn responsibility and maturity, and that’s where you learn there are consequences and actions that go together.

But one of the things they do is they take kids up to the ninth grade. Then after ninth grade, you can become a junior counselor or a counselor. But, instead of having ninth-grade cabins and eighth-grade cabins and seventh-grade cabins and sixth-grade cabins, they take all the kids third through ninth grade, and they mix them all the cabins.

It’s like a family situation. You don’t grade your kids at home say, “€œOkay, my 12-year-old kid, you’re going to sit over here on the 6th-grade-side of the table. My 10-year-old kid, you sit–we don’t do that.

We put them all in the same situation; that helps the maturity. The older ones teach the younger ones. The younger ones live up; because, they have greater expectations; they”€™ve got to act like the 12 year old, rather than like the 6 year old.

Age Does Not Dictate Capacity or Maturity

We had that philosophy that age has nothing to do with maturity. Age has nothing to do with capacity. I have learned this from the Founding Fathers, and I’ve now tried it with my own grandkids.

I didn’t do with my kids. We’ve been really blessed with great kids; but, I learned by looking at the fact that John Witherspoon, when he was 4 years old had already read–the Founding Father, signer of the Declaration–he had already read through the King James Bible from cover to cover at the age of 4.

Then I find that John Trumbull, another Founding Father, had done the same thing. Then I find out that’s not all that unusual. How come it’s unusual today?

Then I look at what they were doing. We talk about youth achievement and what they were doing. John Clem, when he was 12 years old, was already a lieutenant in the Civil War and had been promoted twice for bravery. He was such a terrific soldier that 12 years old, he’s commanding as lieutenant.

We look at that, and we look at Bronco Charlie, who at 11 years old, he’s a Pony Express rider, riding 1800 miles in ten days by himself.

We say, “€œHow did they do that?”€ I have learned that the limitations are put on kids, not by the kids themselves, but by what we tell the kids they can and can’t do.


They would be willing to strive for more.


They don’t know they can’t do it, unless you tell them they can’t do it.


Yes. Hey, David, hold that thought. We”€™ve got to take a quick break.

We”€™ll be right back; because, this has got to be interesting to a lot of parents out there saying, “€œWell, I want to challenge my kid; but, everybody tells me not to, or not to push them, not to push too hard.”€ I want to get your thoughts on that as well.

We’ll be right back with David Barton giving us some Foundations of Freedom here on WallBuilders Live!

Greatest Political Privilege


Calvin Coolidge said, “€œThe more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”€

Share a veteran’s story

We Want To Hear Your Vet Story


Hey friends! If you have been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live.  Once in awhile, we get an opportunity to interview veterans that have served on those front lines that have made incredible sacrifices have amazing stories that we want to share with the American people.

One of the very special things we get to do is interview World War II veterans. You’ve heard those interviews here on WallBuilders Live, from folks that were in the Band of Brothers, to folks like Edgar Harrell that survived the Indianapolis to so many other great stories you heard on WallBuilders Live.

You have friends and family that also served.  If you have World War II veterans in your family that you would like to have their story shared here on WallBuilders Live, please e-mail us at [email protected]  Give us a brief summary of the story and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live!


Abraham Lincoln said, “€œWe the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts. Not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”€



Welcome back to WallBuilders Live! It”€™s Foundations of Freedom Thursday today. If you’d like to send in questions, send them to [email protected].

Right now we’re looking at a question on how to fix the education system, how to do a better job. How do you do that with so many students and all the–David, you were talking earlier about the–I call them the “€œeducation lies”€ about how you’ve got to have student-size down to so much and all the other “€œreasons”€ why the public school system is failing.

Kids Limitations Are What We Place On Them

But, as we’re going to break, you were talking specifically about the achievement levels of kids at young ages and how in the past, we saw that, but today we’re afraid to push them and afraid to expect anything beyond what is the lowest common denominator.


Yes, and one of the things that I have discovered by studying this history, even as our kids have grown up, is the limitations are what we place on them. I’m getting the opportunity to do a lot of helping raise grandkids; because, with two kids in the military, they’re often stationed in long places and overseas. So, the wife will come live with us for a while, and the kids stay there while the husband is deployed wherever.

In doing that, I’ve now got a 4-year-old grandson that drives a tractor on the ranch. He has his own four wheeler. He has his own gun, and he doesn’t know he can’t do that.

Now, I started him really early with gun safety and with consequences of how you steer, and what you drive, what speed you move. It’s still rated for him; the gun he has right now is his own B.B. gun.

He learns that, and it will soon be a 22, and that it will soon be something larger. The four wheeler he has right now is a 70 CC; it”€™s not a 450 CC; but, it is quite capable of 25 30 miles an hour.

All of these things that are there, and I’m with them, and he’s learning. But he doesn’t know he’s not supposed to do that; so, he’s already a very, very responsible young man. His maturity level, the way he interacts with adults, his manners: “€œplease, thank you, yes ma’am, let me help you with that.”€

All of that is there, and that’s what we used to do, and that’s what happens in a one-room schoolhouse: you actually can communicate good things regardless of age, and age really doesn’t matter. You’re in a group; and so, you get some positive peer pressure out of that by older kids acting more mature and young kids say, “€œWell, that’s the way I’m supposed to act, because I go to school with them.”€ That helps.

We Can”€™t Fit New Solutions in an Old Box

How come we don’t have that?  Again, we’re into a paradigm were we’re trying to fit new solutions into an old box. It’s like trying to put a square peg in the round hole. It is not going to fit.

Teacher Competency

One of the things that we see now is teachers perpetuate a lot of this. I will point to something that happened several years ago in Houston that was happening across the nation. You no longer hear this happening.

Do you remember when they were doing teacher competency tests in schools?


Oh yes, yeah.


Have you heard that recently?




I wonder why. Is it that we don’t need competent teachers? No, that’s not it.


They didn’t like the result.


That’s it. In Houston, for example, they gave the teachers teaching in a school, the exit exam that high school seniors have to pass; because, your teachers teaching these kids, the kids need to pass.

They found that the 50 percent of the teachers teaching in Houston could not pass the high school exit exam. So, why would you want to publicize that? “€œSo, let”€™s not do teacher competency tests.”€

This is not to say that all teachers are bad. It’s just to say that we keep ignoring things and trying to make a broken system work.

Go Back To a System That Works

What you have to do is go back to the old one-room schoolhouse, throw out the conceptions we have today. Age means nothing; grade means nothing; compulsory means nothing. You have to create an environment.

That kind of a family setting that they have at Brookhill Ranch is close to that one-room schoolhouse. From that, you can raise expectations. Now your third graders at Brookhill start acting like seventh and eighth graders; they are acting much more mature.

Your older guys now start feeling responsible for the younger guys; so, they start acting more mature than they are. They’re more mature than ninth graders, because they realize they’ve got to help teach these third graders and fourth graders, and they need to look out for them.

Teach Children How to Think, Not How to Learn

These young guys may not understand all the safety; so, we’ll help them with that. It changes your whole complexion. So, what you’re doing fits into the solution.

This really is the answer to Joe’s question. How you do this, is you go back to teaching children how to think, not how to learn.

So, when you teach them how to think, you’re teaching them about causes and effects and consequences and actions and reactions. You’re teaching them to analyze; you’re teaching them to judge and prejudge what’s going to happen: If I do this particular thing right here, that’s probably not going to work out real good for me.

What we do now is we teach them to learn, and teaching them to learn is what the progressives brought in in the 1920s. What happened wa,s we changed education from being student centered to being teachers centered.

When we made it learning instead of thinking, we’re no longer teaching the kids about thinking, we’re teaching the kids to listen your teacher and repeat back whatever your teacher says. In the 1920s era, that’s when we introduced things like true-false and multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank; because, they’re all designed for students to regurgitate what their teachers have taught them.

So, you’re now limited by what your teacher teaches you, rather than going–in other words, your teacher is having to give you the fish. We used to teach kids, “€œHere’s your fishing pole; the ocean is in front of you; go catch whatever you can,”€ that’s thinking. You’re able to catch much more than those who taught you; you’re able to think much bigger; you”€™re able do much greater things, and that’s when he gets back to.

As long as we have a system that limits the thinking ability and does not train thinking skills, does not trained forensics, does not  train catechisms and all the things we used to do in school, we”€™re going to be bound with results. There’s no way to fix the system; it is literally putting that square peg in a round hole. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, and we’re just in a broken system.

School Choice


Is that why do is that why you’re such an advocate of school choice? Because, those market forces will allow you to go outside the system rather than just trying to fix the system from within.


Choice gives you creativity; because, I’m looking at the iPhone and say, “€œI”€™ve got to do something better than they’ve got; otherwise, people would keep an iPhone instead of my phone.”€ Then I’ll look at that hamburger and I say, “€œIf I don’t do a better hamburger than they do or add something extra to it, then they’re not going to come to my place; they’ll keep going to McDonald’s or wherever.”€

Creativity comes from competition, and that’s what you want is creativity. Then you start raising expectations; because, you have to think outside the box, you have to get better results than everybody else. To do that you can’t do what they’re doing; so, you start looking for greater solutions.

That competition is so good in every singl–I mean, look at what look at what 50 years of competition has done in the NBA. Look at what these young guys can do now.  Spud Webb went in–this goes back a few years; but, Spud Webb, well under six feet, won a slam-dunk competition.

Competition Makes Things Better

Tell me that would happened 50 years ago in the NBA. There’s no way.  The competition–look at the athletes now in baseball. Look at the speed at which they throw, at how they hit, or how they now have so shifted the way that they play baseball.

They do all of the computer now, and they plot out wherever you hit, all your base hits; and now, you’ve got be even better, because you’ve got to play through the shifts. Competition makes stuff so much better, except in school, and we don’t allow competition there. We’re going to keep using a broken system.

This is all the elements that goes in there. To answer Joe”€™s question, you just got to throw out the paradigm of where we are today. You can’t try to fit old things into new, broken–you can’t try to fit the old things that are new, into the new system that’s a broken system.

Innovation, Competition, Teaching Kids to Think

You”€™ve got to throw it away and go back to what used to work. That’s innovation and competition and teaching kids to think.


Like you said earlier, unfortunately for those that want to keep the status quo, which is broken, the data doesn’t lie. I mean, the data shows us what works and what doesn’t work.


The thing we just pointed out is the data is largely not available. If you ask any parent, “€œAre the class is too big?”€


“€œAre teachers are underpaid?”€



“€œDo teachers need competency testing?”€
“€œNo, because they’re all such good teachers.”€

Education Data Must Be Used to Bring Reform

Show me the data that proves that. That’s the other thing, is we no longer even have competition between states.

Every state now has its own academic exam. We used to say, “€œTexas is 48; Oklahoma’s 47; Utah is 46. We”€™ve got to beat those guys; we got to change.”€

Now every state has its own tests, so they can’t compare. That’s the other paradigm we have to get out of, is accepting that there is no data on this. There is data; it needs to be embraced, used, and reformed.


Thanks for listening today, folks. This has been Foundations of Freedom Thursday. You can get more of that on our  here on our website,

You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!

Thomas Jefferson said, “€œIn questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”€