SOCIALIST SUNDAY SCHOOL
By Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D.
April 4, 2011
In Kenneth Teitelbaum’s Schooling for “Good Rebels”: Socialist Education for Children in the United States, 1900-1920, he describes the formation of 1000 “Socialist Sunday Schools” (SSS) in 64 cities in the U.S. between 1900 and 1920. These SSS included children from 5 to 14 years of age, and usually met for about two hours on Sunday mornings.
The purpose of the SSS was “to contest more directly the overly individualistic, competitive, nationalistic, militaristic… themes prevalent in contemporary public schools and other social institutions,” and help in “supplanting capitalist social and economic relations with a more equitable and cooperative form,” namely Socialism. Interestingly, in the latter part of the 20th century, Outcome-Based Education (OBE) would emphasize the group over the individual, cooperative learning over competition, global perspectives increasingly and nationalism less, peacekeeping over militarism, and equity over superiority.
The strategy of the SSS followed that of revolutionary Antonio Gramsci, in that hegemony would be attained via the people’s consent rather than by force. The people would gradually adopt Socialism voluntarily via a “process” (like OBE), and the result would be a “Cooperative Commonwealth.” The SSS were allied with the Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS), which would be renamed the League for Industrial Democracy in 1921 and have “progressive” educator John Dewey as its president in 1940-41 (OBE is based on “progressive education” principles).
The ISS in the U.S. was related to the Fabian Socialists of Britain, and British influence upon the ISS was significant. The Fabians’ motto was “Educate, Agitate, Organize,” and these were the same principles followed by American radical Saul Alinsky, who is admired by Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. Shortly after Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals (with an acknowledgment to Lucifer at the front) was published, Ronald and Mary Havelock’s Training for Change Agents was published in 1973 with portions developed under a federal Office of Education contract. In this latter book is described the activities of “The Advocator-Organizer-Agitator” and the “Social Architect” change agents. And in the Spring of 1974, the federal Office of Education gave a grant of $5.9 million for 500 “change agents” to be trained at 21 institutions of higher education around the U.S.
In the 1970s, Marc Tucker would become an associate director of the National Institute of Education within the federal Office of Education, and in 1985 he would become president of the Carnegie Forum (now National Center) on Education and the Economy (NCEE). The NCEE would have Hillary Clinton on its board.