The new children's movie Gnomeo & Juliet is of course an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic work, Romeo & Juliet. In this new world, the bickering enemies are red and blue garden gnomes. The blue garden belongs to the Montagues of 2B and the red Capulets live next door, at not 2B.
Most Americans assume that we've always had public schools, that they came with the Constitution and are an indispensable part of our democratic system. But nothing could be farther from the truth, as I discovered when I wrote my book, Is Public Education Necessary?, published in 1981.
Fifty-six years ago, in 1955 to be exact, the most significant book about American education was published and, with very good reason, caused quite a stir. It was written by Rudolf Flesch, who had come to America to escape the Nazis in Vienna, became highly fluent in English and got a Ph.D in English at Columbia University. The book was entitled Why Johnny Can’t Read. It became a best-seller and rankled the entire education establishment. In it Flesch explained why so many children in American schools were having such a difficult time learning to read. He wrote: