by JF

This was written way back in the 1880s. Zach Montgomery seems to have been that rarest of all breeds of people: an honest lawyer. Indeed, he even gave up law in order to devote himself to the material he writes about in this book.

He was an early cassandra-type of American, railing against the historically novel, but rapidly burgeoning communistic American public education system. Montgomery even calls it communistic several times, and this was back in the 1800s, recall. This work is full of crucial and mostly forgotten American history; it is replete with even more significant, and even more ignored, damning statistical evidence which shows vividly and irrefutably that the American public school system, which Montgomery unfailingly calls the “anti-parental school system,” creates much more crime, suicide, insanity, poverty, and sickness, than the older and more traditional (and more Scriptural) American way of education, that is, homeschooling and private school. This raw factual evidence is easily the most important and attention-grabbing part of the book, and the numbers Montgomery cites are staggering. They are epic in their proportion; and they are undeniable.

And yet so few heeded Montgomery’s warning. He apparently was something of a brilliant orator, but he was obviously too much of a visionary maverick to ever sway the masses–because he just made too damned much sense. (Where have we heard that before?)

It is interesting that Montgomery had left his native Kentucky and later did all of his educational reform work while a citizen of the state of California, for he shows how eager California was to outdo the state of Massachusetts in furthering the communistic American public education system. Massachusetts gave birth to the system; California, apparently more than any other state, very soon adopted this Massachusetts communistic system–with the same dire results, all of which were blamed by ignorant fools on other scapegoats, even as they are today. Few then seemed to realize, and even fewer today seem to realize, that it’s simply the vile nature of the system itself, and nothing else.

I cannot heap enough superlatives on this book. It was exquisitely prescient, and it remains extraordinarily relevant and right in its contentions today. Montgomery’s work is apparently known in certain homeschooling circles today, but prior to hearing about it from podcaster and Mosaic law teacher George Gordon, I had never before heard of it, and I haven’t heard of it from anywhere else since. Which is an appalling shame, for Montgomery had the solution to today’s massive education problems in our society. He had it even back then. Over a century ago. But nobody wants to give a damn. Everybody just assumes that what we’ve go today is what we’ve always had in this country, that this is the natural and only way to educate, etc.

If there is any slight flaw in this work, it is that Montgomery demonstrates several times that he didn’t understand the fundamental totalitarian nature of Romanism. Montgomery, an iconoclastic Romanist himself, believed in a fictional Romanism that allowed for personal freedoms, even and especially the freedom of a parent to decide how best to educate his own child. What can you do? I just shake my head when I read paragraphs like this. Here, I am reminded of Charles Chiniquy’s book “Fifty Years in the Church of Rome.” Like Montgomery, for the longest time, Chiniquy likewise didn’t understand the nature of the beast whose belly he was in.

Rating: Δ Δ Δ Δ Δ