Education: Buckley & the Blight

  • Texas-born, oil-rich William F. Buckley; 75, of Sharon. Conn, is a Roman Catholic, a capitalist of the old school, and a man who believes that U.S. education has long since gone to the dogs. When his own ten children were growing up, he insisted that each become trilingual and that all take piano lessons whether they had any talent or not. Once in Paris he rented a house, installed a French tutor on the fourth floor, a Latin tutor on the third, an English tutor on the second and a music teacher on the first. In their various colleges, all but one non-Catholic, the young Buckleys did well academically. They also made names for themselves in other ways.

    In 1951 Yaleman William Buckley Jr. kicked up a noisy foofaraw with his God and Man at Yale, which accused Old Eli of subverting both capitalism and Christianity. Later, Patricia Buckley published an article in The Freeman accusing Vassar of having a leftish tinge. In a letter to her fellow alumnae, Aloise made much the same charge against Smith. U.S. higher education managed to survive—but it will not soon forget the Buckleys'.

    Last week William Buckley Sr. was making plans for his 28 grandchildren. In a circular sent out to Sharon, Lakeville and Salisbury parents who he thought might be interested in going along with him, he announced that next fall he would open a school to train pupils "to resist the blight of Liberalism and Communism they will encounter in almost all elementary schools." The new Buckley school —for students from four to 14—should be one of the more radical educational experiments of the coming year.

    "There will be nothing 'progressive' about it," says Buckley. The school will teach English, Latin, French, German (or Spanish), English and American literature, music (including compulsory piano) and botany. Students will get religious instruction according to their faiths. But aside from these subjects, it will also teach a number of "principles" that will "safeguard [the children] against contamination by the theories of so-called 'liberalism' . . . Teachers seem to be bent on creating a society where they will not have to face competition and will be the wards of the State." Among Buckley's principles:

    The children "will be taught that since Cleveland and Theodore Roosevelt, there has been but one or two Presidents of patriotism and ability in this country; and that several of our Presidents have been thoroughly unscrupulous." "They will be instructed that they should oppose all participation in war unless the vital interest of the United States is affected, and especially that they should oppose military service by Americans as unpaid Hessians in Europe and other countries."

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