School In America Today Versus School In The Founding Era: It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday, a special day of the week where we get to answer questions from you, the listeners! Always answering your questions from constitutional principles! Tune in today as we answer your questions such as how should we fix the education system, should we model after the founding era’s education system, and how do you do that with so many students? All that and so much more, right here on WallBuilders Live!

Air Date: 09/28/2017

Guests: David Barton, Rick Green.


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast.  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.”€


And 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, looking at those things that made us such a great nation and the things we must return to if we want to. Once again, to be a great nation that means studying the Constitution, the Declaration, the Founding Fathers, and 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.


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

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 Watters World, and what Leno used to do on Jaywalking, etc.

Those folks are out there, and we know there’s way too many of them out 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, we get a whole lot more response than even on big national programs that everybody would recognize. We do have a great audience, they do think, and it’s fun to take their questions.


Folks, if you’re listening, and you would like to send us some questions, send them to You might have a question about the 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 and send those in, we’d love to get to them.

Should We Teach School Like They Did In The Founding Era

David, let’s jump in.The first one comes from Joe, he says, “€œIn your podcast about Common Core at the PFLC-“€ And for those listening, that’s our Legislators Conference that we do every year. 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 Pro-family Legislators Conference.

Sometimes we play presentations from the great speakers we have. 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.”€


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


To this point of segregating by age, you’re saying that at this age this is what you’re going to be taught, instead of-


We went to grade education, compulsory education, all those things we had not done before. So we had this dramatic change in the philosophy of education in the 1920s as is the teachings of Dewey, and 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 much superior. But in that progressive movement, we were from eight years of education to 12 years of compulsory graded education. In one room school houses, you didn’t have graded education. It was based on how much knowledge you had.

You might start first grade when you’re 14 years old, you might start when you are three 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 that 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 has not produced results. So, that’s the background to what he’s talking about and that’s leading to the question.


Now I get it, so he’s he’s basically saying, “€œIf that’s how it was then, then how could we do that now with the number of students we have? I understand that private schools do it, but usually, each student has their one computer, it would defeat the purpose of all ages learning together. I agree completely with the concept, but I don’t understand the implementation.”€

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, for education to be tailored to whatever level they’re at.

We Have “€œDumbed Down”€ Our Education Systems


Let me kind of backup on some of the philosophy here-


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


Do you know that that is no longer the deal? When you I went to school, “€œYou do not end a sentence with a preposition.”€ But now you can do that all the time. Media does it as well, I think because the media is so illiterate that 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. You used to have, “€œNo split infinitives and all the things that are there.”€ Now nobody even knows when an infinitive is anymore. So we have moved in that direction. And that’s part of the whole thing of dumbing down education.


Wait, I know, that’s what Buzz Lightyear says, “€œTo infinity-“€


Split infinity and beyond?




Every English teacher heard Buzz Lightyear say that. If my mom is listening to this program today, I know how she would say, when I finished that with the “€œat”€ a while ago, she always said, “€œBetween A and the T.”€ If you said, “€œWhere’s my baseball glove at?”€ She would say, “€œBetween the A and the T,”€ to make me think.


That”€™s right.  Anyway, sorry bro, go ahead.


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

Now, that is what you find in college education if you want to become a grammar teacher, which nobody really wants to do that anymore. So it is so different, what we’re talking about is part of the old school. So how do you get back to really knowing something before you graduate? And part of it is structural.


Ok, quick break, we’ll be right back with the answer to Joe’s question and we’ll have more of your questions later in the program. So stay with us here on WallBuilders Live Foundations of Freedom Thursday.


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.”€


Hey, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders.  And as you’ve had the opportunity to listen to WallBuilders Live, you’ve probably heard a wealth of information about our nation, about our spiritual heritage, about the religious liberties, and about all the things that make America exceptional.

And you might be thinking, “€œAs incredible as this information is, I wish there was a way that I could get one of the WallBuilders guys to come to my area and share with my group.”€

Whether it be a church, whether it be a Christian school, or public school, or some political event, or activity, if you’re interested in having a WallBuilders speaker come to your area, you can get on our website at and there’s a tab for scheduling. If you”€™ll click on that tab, you’ll notice there’s a list of information from speakers bio’s, to events that are already going on. And there’s a section where you can request an event, to bring this information about who we are, where we came from, our religious liberties, and freedoms. Go to the WallBuilders website and Bring a speaker to your area.

The Founding Era Education VS Today”€™s Education


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, the first one we’re talking about has to do with Common Core and how we respond, actually, I guess it has to do more to do with what we talked about a few weeks ago with regard to how we used to teach.

The question was, “€œHow could we do that again?”€ David, we have kind of dumb things down with the current system. What would you do with people at different ages and different levels so that they could be taught at their level instead of just what age group you fit in.


Part of what Joe is pointing to here, hear and he points to the number of students we have in classes now, what’s happened to the number of students, given that, how do we make this work?

And 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 explain why, if you take the current system we have, which has been an abysmal failure, you can’t rehab that. You really have to blow it up and go back to previous things.

Give you an example why, the arguments that are 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 U.S. 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.

Part of the reason students scores are down is because of the much larger classrooms. It was so many more kids in the classrooms that you can’t spend the time you need so scores are down.

Another thing that’s caused the scores to go down is that with inflation over years there’s actually less being spent in the classroom among 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 kinds of things.

So we went and said, “€œOk, this is what we always hear from legislators. Let’s see.”€ And unfortunately for the secretary of education, the Department of Education has kept statistics educationally for more than 100 years.


So we can actually 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 thirty-eight to thirty-nine kids. By the time you got to the 1970s it was down to about 27 kids.


And our scores were, of course, going way up. It got better and better. *sarcasm


That’s right. Yeah, the scores just skyrocketed after that. *sarcasm


I need a sarcasm bell or something so people know when we’re totally kidding, anyway go ahead.


It is sarcastic because the scores plummeted. So we said, “€œApparently we need bigger classrooms because we”€™ll have much higher academic scores if we had bigger classrooms.”€

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

We went through all six things and none of them held up. But this is what you will always hear educators say. First, let’s dismiss the notion that the number of kids in the classroom has anything to do with it. Let’s go back to the philosophy that was happening.

Age Isn”€™t Directly Linked To Maturity And Capability

One of the things that you will find with the philosophy of education in a one-room schoolhouse is that it is not graded. That is, this grading thing, you have to be in certain social classes, you have to have this much maturity for this class, and this grade, and social promotion, all that is progressive stuff which was 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 at Brook Hill Camp.

We talk about this maybe once or twice a year, tell folks they need to send their kids to Brooke Hill. I”€™ll do a little commercial on that right now. If you want to make the attorneys mad, send your kids to Brooke Hill because everything the attorneys say you shouldn’t do at 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 where can’t even have playgrounds on 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. That’s where you learn there are consequences and actions and that they go together.

One of the things they do is they take kids up to ninth grade and after ninth grade you can become a junior 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 3rd through 9th grade and they mix them in all the cabins.

It’s like a family situation. You don’t grade your kids at home and say, “€œOk, my 12 year old kid, you’re going to sit over here on the sixth grade side of the table and my 10 year old kid you sit-“€ We don’t do that. We put them all in the same situation. That helps them with maturity. The older ones teach the younger ones, the younger ones live up because they have greater expectations, they’ve got to act like they are 12 year old rather than like the 6 year old.

We had that philosophy that age has nothing to do with maturity. Age has nothing to do with capacity. I learned this from the Founding Fathers and I’ve now tried it with my own grand kids, I didn’t do with my kids, we’ve been really blessed with great kids.

I learned by looking at the fact that John Witherspoon, when he was four years old had already- He is a Founding Father, signer of the Declaration. He’d already read through the King James Bible from cover to cover at the age of four.

Then I find out that John Trumble, another Founding Father, had done the same thing. Then I find out that that’s not all that unusual. I go, “€œHow come it’s unusual today?”€ Then I’ll look at what they were doing.

And we”€™ve talked about the youth achievement and what they were doing. John Clem, when he was 12 years old he was already a lieutenant in the Civil War, had been promoted twice for bravery, and was such a terrific soldier that at 12 years old he’s commanding as lieutenant.

We look at that and we look at Bronco Charlie, 11 years old, and he is a pony express rider riding 1,800 miles in 10 days by himself. We say, “€œHow do they do that?”€ And I have learned that the limitations are put on kids not by the kids themselve but 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.


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, you know, I want to challenge my kid but everybody tells me not to, don’t push them, don’t push too hard.”€ I want to get your thoughts on that as well. We’ll be right back, David Barton giving us some Foundations of Freedom here, on WallBuilders Live.


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.”€

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  Give us a brief summary of the story and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live!

Raising Up Children In The Way They Should Go


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, Foundations of Freedom Thursday, today. If you’d like to send in questions to us send them into Right now we’re looking at a question on how to fix the education system, how to do a better job, and how do you do that with so many students?

David you were talking earlier about, I call them the education lies, “€œYou”€™ve got to have student sized down to so much.”€ And all the other “€œreasons”€ why the public school system is failing.

As we were 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, we’re afraid to ask, or expect anything beyond what is the lowest common denominator.


One of the things that I have discovered by studying this history, even as our kids have grown up, is that the limitations are what we place on them. I’m doing getting the opportunity to help raise grandkids.

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 four 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, with consequences of how you steer, what you drive, and what speeds you move at. It’s still rated for him, the gun he has right now is his own BB gun, but he learns that.

It will soon be a 22 and then it will be something larger. The four wheeler he has right now is is a 70cc, it’s not a 450cc, but it is quite capable of 25-30 miles an hour. All of these things that are there. I’m with him and he’s learning but he doesn’t know he’s not supposed to do that.

So he’s already a very responsible young man. His maturity level, the way he interacts with adults, his manners, please, thank you, yes ma’am, let me help you with that, all of that is there. That’s what we used to do.

How Would “€œOne Room Schoolhouses”€ Work In America Today

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 so you get some positive peer pressure out of that by older kids acting more mature and the young kids say, “€œWell, that’s the way I’m supposed to act because I go to school with them.”€ Or whatever. So that helps.

Now, how come we don’t have that? Again, we’re into a paradigm where we’re trying to fit new solutions into an old box. It’s like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. It is not going to fit. 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. It was happening across the nation. You no longer hear this happening. Do you remember when they were doing teacher competency tests? Have you heard that recently?




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 the school the exit exam that high school seniors have to pass. Because your teachers teaching these kids- they found that 50% of the teachers teaching in Houston cannot pass the high school exit exam. So why would you want to publicize that? So let”€™s not do teacher competency tests. And 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.

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 Brook Hill Ranch is close to that one-room schoolhouse. From that, you can raise expectations. Now your third graders at Brook Hill start acting like seventh and eighth graders. They are acting much more mature and 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, “€œThese young guys may not understand all the safety so we’ll help them with that.”€

It changes your whole complexion. What you’re doing- this fits into the solution. This really is the answer to Joe’s question, “€œHow do you do this?”€ You go back to teaching children how to think not how to learn. 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. “€œIf I this particular thing here, it”€™s probably not going to work out real good for me.”€

What we do now is we teach them to learn. Teaching them to learn is what the progressives brought in the 1920s. What happened was we changed education from being students 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 to your teacher and repeat back whatever your teacher says.

In the 1920s era, that’s when we introduce things like true and false, or multiple choice, fill in the blank, because they’re all designed for students to regurgitate what their teachers have taught them.

You’re now limited by what your teacher teaches you. In other words, your teachers are 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 are able to think much bigger, you will do much greater things. And that’s when it gets back to. As long as we have a system that limits the thinking ability and does not train thinking skills, does not train in forensics, does not train in catechisms, and all the things we used to do in school. We’re going to be bound with these results and there’s no way to fix this 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.

Is School Choice A Good Direction To Go In


Is that why you are 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 at the iPhone and say, “€œI”€™ve got to do something better than they’ve got. Otherwise people would keep buying the 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 in 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, and to do that you can’t do what they’re doing, so you start looking for greater solutions.

That competition is so good and every single- Look at what 50 years of competition has done in the NBA. Look at what these young guys can do now. Spud Webb went, this goes back a few years, he is well under six feet and won a of the slam dunk competition. Tell me that would have happened 50 years ago in the NBA. There’s no way. The competition.

Look at the athletes in and baseball. Look at the speed at which they throw, look at how they hit, look at how they now have so shifted the way that they play baseball, they do it all the computer now and they plot out wherever you hit all your base hits. And now you’ve got to be even better because you got to play through the shifts that they put. Competition makes stuff so much better, except in school.

“€œWe don’t allow competition there, we’re going to keep using a broken system.”€ These are all the elements that goes in there. To answer the question, you just gotta 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. You get it throw it away and go back to what used to work. That’s innovation, and competition, and teaching kids to think.

School In America Today, How We Can Change It For The Better


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


The thing we just pointed out is, “€œThe data is largely unavailable.”€ If you ask any parent, “€œAre classes too big?”€ “€œYes.”€ “€œAre teachers are underpaid? “€œAbsolutely.”€ “€œDo teachers need competency tests?”€ “€œNo because they’re all such good teachers.”€

Well, show me the data that proves that. That’s the other thing, we no longer even have competition between states. Every state now has its own academic exam. We used to say, “€œOh, Texas is 48th, Oklahoma is 47th, Utah is 46th, we”€™ve got to beat those guys.”€ Now every state has its own test so they can’t compare. That’s the other paradigm that 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.


Well, thanks for listening today, folks! This has been Foundations of Freedom Thursday. You can get more of that at our website You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!


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