Freedom and Democracy Absolutely Fail Children in the US

Torah Bontrager
5 min readFeb 8, 2021

Children are human beings, not property owned by adults who gave birth to them. We need a movement that acknowledges and enforces the Constitutional rights of Amish and other children, such as Ultra-Orthodox Jewish, fundamentalist Christian, Jehovah’s Witness, and Native/Indigenous.

Democracy

The prevailing secular political force that continues to influence the educational system of the United States is democracy, the form of government upon which the U.S. Constitution was founded. During the post-war or cold war era, democractic ideals such as freedom and equality, and a concurrent goal to advance global citizenship, have conflicted with ideologies influenced by communism and fascism around globalization and education (Reimers, 2017). For example, one of the effects of the rise of populism, seen especially during the Trump era, is a move away from preparing students for a globally-minded citizenry due to the idea that one “is defined by citizenship, not by membership in humanity” (Reimers, 2017).

Perhaps the greatest example of how democracy has, and continues to, influence the U.S. educational system is seen in John Dewey’s work. To Dewey, a democractic education was “the right kind of education” (Mintz, n.d.). This meant, among other things, an educational system that embodied the ideals of individual liberty (e.g., allowed students to thrive in their studies) and the public good (e..g, prepared students for civic engagement and contribution to economic growth), not just domestically but also globally.

Democracy and social reform are linked in Dewey’s mind and throughout his career, he continually made the case for “the importance of education not only as a place to gain content knowledge, but also as a place to learn how to live” (Talebi, 2015). Considering that spreading democracy has been . . .

. . . a major foreign policy goal of the United States for decades, and that the Biden administration is returning to a mindset of global democratic leadership as opposed to national populism, it is not surprising to see that the force of democracy continues to…

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Torah Bontrager

Amish escapee & Columbia University alumna. For the right of Amish kids to go to school. Get chapters of my book Amish Girl in Manhattan @ TorahBontrager.com