Review of the Book

The Private School
By Gilbert M. Tucker

Oscar B. Johannsen

[Reprinted from The Gargoyle, October 1965]

Albert Jay Nock once stated that he deteriorated with astonishing rapidity when separated from his books, for then he missed the powerful, sustaining and calming power of literary studies. In other words, he felt he was backsliding when he was not educating himself.

Possibly because in the last analysis people educate themselves, the fact that the Federal Government is now blundering into the educational field in a big way will not be as calamitous as feared. That it will hasten the deterioration of what we are pleased to call education in America seems obvious. But, the state governments have done such a thorough job in reducing education on the primary and secondary level to dull uniformity, that it is difficult to see how much worse it could be under Federal aegis. The Federal Government's intrusion will ultimately have its most damaging effect on our colleges and universities which it will probably reduce to glorified bastions of mediocrity in a generation or two. But, those with inquiring minds will somehow get an education since, as Nock implied, people educate themselves.

No doubt, Gilbert Tucker is well aware that the educable elite will get their education come what may. But that does not deter him from entering the lists in a fight to make available to all the opportunity to acquire at least a semblance of a good education. He makes no bonds of the fact that he feels strongly that the education a student receives in a private school is far superior to that which he obtains in a public school. He is understandably concerned with the present drift toward completely nationalized (socialized)primary and secondary schools.

He has made education one of the active interests in his life and has summarized some of the knowledge and understanding of education which he has gleaned in his lifetime in a succinct and forceful study of private schools. He lashes out at political control of education and warns private and parochial schools against accepting any Federal aid, pointing out that this inevitably leads to control. Instead, he discusses various tax incentives to encourage the donation of gifts to private non-profit schools. Mr. Tucker devoted considerable space to the establishment of trusts and the means of fund raising which information should be invaluable to administrators of private non-profit schools, as well as to those individuals seriously considering leaving gifts to their Alma Mater.

One criticism of his book is that of omission rather than that of commission, for he says, "Private enterprises and non-political operations are always more efficient than politically directed undertakings." Since private enterprise is the most efficient means of rendering service, it should be equally the best method in dispensing the service of education. The best schools, therefore should, be those which are operated for profit, just as any business is. There are a few in America and for the most part, they are excellent. Unfortunately, Mr. Tucker does not discuss such schools, but concentrates his attention on the typical private school which is operated as a non-profit making enterprise.

In his analysis, Mr. Tucker presents a very strong case and parents would be well advised to read his book before consigning their children to the mercies of our public school system. Since the greatest gift which parents can give to their children is the opportunity to acquire the best education of which they are capable, whatever sacrifices are needed are well worth while. Private schools may not be in existence much longer for as the disparity between the quality of education obtained in them and in the public schools becomes too glaringly apparent, the public schools zealots will somehow manage to legislate or tax them out of existence. Mr. Tucker makes it only too abundantly clear that in public schools, the tendency is for children to be "ground through a hopper as much alike as possible, regardless of capacity and desire of either children or parents." Parents therefore, should take advantage of the private schools while they are still with us, if they want their children to have the best possible opportunity to develop into independent, thoughtful men and women.