Once upon a time, 243 years ago—learned men founded a new nation—America. They were so learned that our second president, John Adams, sent his son, John Quincy Adams, to serve as secretary to a man being dispatched to Russia. John Quincy Adams was only 14 years old.

That was two plus centuries ago! How did early Americans become so learned? After all, there were no government schools. Besides tutors, most were home schooled or attended one-room schoolhouses.

The menfolk, having no TV to hover around in taverns, debated issues, local affairs and other serious topics. No offense, but there was no “Pokey Man Go” or football! And, a 14-year old was considered an adult.

On Sunday mornings in the 1700s, families gathered in churches to read the Bible, sing praises, give thanks to God, listen to sermons, and talk politics. Leading up to the Revolution, Lutheran Pastor Peter Muhlenberg, one Sunday, after his politically incorrect sermon, removed his clergy robe, thus exposing his Revolutionary War uniform!

He called the menfolk to meet him outside where he, and they, decided to fight as soldiers in the war.

Early America’s educational superiority illustrates the gradual success of the enemies of liberty to dumb down education. In the 1830s, socialist Horace Mann spear-headed the first giant step in an institutionalized illiteracy movement via the “Whole Word” reading method (versus phonics).

It took socialist John Dewey’s access to Rockefeller money in the 1930s to springboard the “Whole Word” method forward. Today, Johnny can’t read. (Emphasis added.)

Fast forward to 1916 when my father’s family had a small farm in Pierpont, SC. As a sixth grader, my father had to quit school.

He went to work for Mr. J.C. Long at his boat landing. Apparently, he became adept at accounting and business, perhaps due to Mr. Long’s tutelage, because he opened his own successful business in North Charleston in early 1930s. Decades later, Daddy witnessed me counting on my fingers. “What?” he exclaimed, “You’re in college and you’re counting on your fingers!”

Finger counting aside, in the 1950s I graduated at 17. But, one week later, I worked as a secretary for Cooper Motor Lines. After three months, I left to record depositions, in shorthand, for Charleston’s Master in Equity at the Courthouse.

Four months later, I became a West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company secretary. Great salary! After two years, I entered USC and earned a B.S. in Biology in three years. Because my North Charleston county school provided me with college-prep and secretarial courses, I was adequately prepared for work, or college.

The gradual process of institutionalized illiteracy and intellectual dumbing down is now obvious. Too many students suffer a lack of individual, personal support, endure time-consuming mass transit, group think and insufficient daytime hours for on-the-job training. Thanks to Karl Marx’s minimum wage, fewer teen jobs exist. And, many young adults languish unemployed, or under employed. Evidence shows over-packed U.S. Department of Education (1979) government schools accelerated the decline of education. Common Core standards degrade results, demoralize, and sexualize, our young—and worse. Even football marching bands have lost their traditional, energizing, patriotic excitement during half time!

In comparison, I had a five-minute ride to arrive at my homeroom by 8:35 AM. I was home by 2:45—plenty of time for an afternoon job, or sports. Some boys worked as school bus drivers. Teachers and staff knew us—by name. My “community” school—Chicora High—was just the right size for students to develop socially and academically. We had 150 graduates—not thousands.

Classes were small enough for discussions and watching baseball run-offs in the spring. Starting the day with The Lord’s Prayer and the Pledge, we felt serene walking to first class. Course offerings included Latin, English, reading, writing, arithmetic, algebra, science, chemistry, history, government, bookkeeping, typing, shorthand, shop, and yes—home economics. Chicora wasn’t perfect, but Chicora prepared us for employment and college.

Among local Chicora graduates recently invited to my home were: two working accounting firm owners; a gentleman who served four U.S. presidents in senior level positions in Labor, Agriculture & Commerce. Today, his title is “Goodwill Ambassador to Christians and Jews.” He mingles with America’s ruling class often and travels extensively; my family’s paper boy had a great career with NASA. One lady abandoned teaching, became a successful pharmaceutical salesman and lives downtown on the Ashley. Another purchased her first “Trailer Park” at age 16. She’s quite a businesswoman!

That a 14-year-old “boy” served as secretary to a man dispatched to Russia 200-plus years ago accentuates the danger government schools pose to our children’s minds, hearts and souls. Mark your calendar: “Rescuing our Children,” 7 p.m. May 24, Dorchester County Council Chambers, 500 Main St., Summerville.

Joan Holleman Brown co-chairs The Summervlle 9-12 Project, a public education group founded upon nine principles and 12 values of America’s founding.