John SwettJohn Swett, (1830-1913) Superintendent of California Public School System, "Father of the California public school" system, "Horace Mann of the Pacific"

John Swett Quote

“[T]he child should be taught to consider his instructor... superior to the parent in point of authority.... The vulgar impression that parents have a legal right to dictate to teachers is entirely erroneous.... Parents have no remedy as against the teacher.”

John SwettJohn Swett
~ John Swett

Ratings and Comments

J Carlton, Calgary

We're actually teaching our kids that the moral authority is with the parents and the "system" is corrupt. And that works just fine.

jim k, austin

When teachers are wrong, parents not only have a right to dictate to the teacher, they have an obligation to call the teacher to task. The best remedy is to get the kids out of public schools.

Mike, Norwalk

Current statutes, precedence, and enforcements are even uglier than that of the quote.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

What kind of education system would we have public or private if the unlearned is telling or dictating to the learned on any given subject what to or not to teach or how to teach it? Now if the teaching or method is egregious enough there are recourses in union with other parents. Any time someone steps in front of a group of others there will be someone ready to knock them down or off of their pedestal. A teacher with say 20 kids per class hour and say 5 classes a day will have 200 would be, could be parental dictators, if it were not for John Swett's 1860 dictum above. If any one parent could so dictate they would then in effect be dictating not just to the teaching of their child but to the entire classroom. Talk about TOTALITARIANISM!

Ken, Allyn, WA

Parent = breeder = livestock: that's what they think of you.

  • Reply
RobertSRQ    5/23/08


Julz, Lancaster

Hence Ayn Rand's essay, "The Comprachicos". And what arrogant presumption to call parents "the unlearned"! I like to think that any modern public school teacher or administrator who openly spoke as Swett did would be run out on a rail.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

Julz, it is generally assumed that the teacher is specially trained in his or her subject matter. To have one parent out of maybe 200 dictating to a teacher is generally a problem. On the other given the outside chance that a parent knows what they are talking about the teacher should listen. As to parents having a "legal" right to dictate, I agree that is not a good idea. It is sad to see all of my Liberty-Tree friends supporting DICTATORSHIP. It shows how really fragile liberty may be in this country. Let us stay vigilant!

Mike, Norwalk

Waffler, as usual, your lacking any substance extreme examples, supports the state's half truths, misdirection propaganda and tyranny. The child should be taught to consider his parent superior to the instructor in all points of authority. It should also be equally taught that the instructor is just that, an instructor, and the instructor should be honored with the dignity due all humans and respected for the instructors education and job description proficiency. The vulgar impression that parents have a legal right to dictate to teachers is entirely erroneous can only be expressed or considered in a most heinous despotism. Teachers are employees of either an aloof tyrannical state or a representative state (of the parents) If the parent (ultimate employer) is disappointed, reviled, or otherwise inappropriately impacted by a teacher (the teacher personally, what is being taught, the method of teaching, etc.), there must be remedies available, either against the teacher or the specific issue, with options such as attending another school, home schooling, etc.

E Archer, NYC

Waffler is a product of the system. And he is hardly alone -- just look at today's political candidates from both sides of the aisle. The arrogance of the Wafflers of this world has caused a great deal of trouble for free-thinkers. They believe in institutionalism and 'authority.' And because they care about the rest of us ignoramuses, they believe it is their divine responsibility to push their brand of reality on the rest of us. They are blind to their own indoctrination be it political or religious -- they know only that they are right and the rest of us are too dangerous to be allowed to challenge their ways. This is as old as history, and it is nothing short of 'might makes right.' The primary casualty, however, is Truth itself which has been reduced to mere dogma, superstition, and prejudice.

warren, olathe

Sorry Waffler. The quote is about teachers being totalitarian. Parents having authority over their children is the exact opposite.

Kathy, Bellingham, WA

Parents are the authority figures over their children regardless of where they attend school. God says so. :)

Ruth, Sault Ste. Marie, ON

In today's society, children rule at home and try to rule at school, too. Unfortunately, when they are finally told "NO", parents complain, fully expecting that their children should be treated as gods regardless of their actions.

Mike, Norwalk
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  • Reply
Mike, Norwalk Ruth, Sault Ste. Marie, ON 12/5/18

Ruth, Oscar Mayer has a word for you comment and it rhymes with bologna. The current occupying statist theocracy infesting this land's seminaries (government schools / carnal god overlords) are more submissive to unruly and disrespectful ignorant children than ever before. Such twisted police state is more likely to punish parents for refusing to be ruled by their children than not.

Kay, Collinsville

wha ? such arrogance

Robert, St. Emilion, France

There are many fabulous teachers as there are many fabulous parents alas the two never meet. Teachers are not the problem it's what they are told to teach which is the problem. As for authority, well, I see many situations where it's in the child's best interest to be at school away from the parents - and in many cases the child's only meal. The relationship between parent and child is not always beneficial - there's a fabulous line in the film "Lion in Winter" as the three sons of Henry ll are plotting against their father - Henry runs out of the bedroom shouting 'I'm going to kill my sons' and then Eleanor (played by Catherine Hepburn) turns to camera and utters these famous words 'even the best family's have their ups and downs.'

Mike, Norwalk

Welcome to Amerika, welcome to the world, where the occupying statist theocracy infesting the land enslaves the inalienable right of the free born. No natural law land of liberty exists on the planet today. The religion of despots is demonstrated by the dogma and canons suggested by the here above author. Such zealots are diametrically opposed to freedom, liberty, natural law, justice, individual sovereignty and rights and a representative form of body politics.

cal, lewisville, tx

Authority of any kind is not always right.

Ron w13, Or

Being fortunate enough to grow up with parents, having a good education. Thou will show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.( Psalm 16:11 ). Here the right, O Lord, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips. ( Psalm 17:1 ). With that being said, A foundation of faith instills the greatest degree of confidence. In one accord with our Founding fathers convictions. Wholesome, nurturers of good things in needs and behavior. This increases capacity of leadership. Levelheaded abilities of observation will lead a crew, Waffler being the element of dissension in the class room, education + assumption - multiple skill sets mastered = a little hitler. Reprobate quality. a mouthpiece of annoyance. Such are some in authority now, wishing to usurp total influence over the children. Garbage in, garbage out. Worthless in real life, profitable for nothing but shut up and get some experience. As also federally funded trade schools, unionizing more monopoly and socialism within the workforce. Keeping the children dummied down ! It is well observed at their lack of usable applicable knowledge received from the public schools.

  • Reply
anonymous    8/7/14

If the teacher in the school doesn't know more than the parents do, they shouldn't be teaching and, if they do, they should be the higher authority in THAT subject, but in that subject alone.

Mike, Pleasant Hill

Certainly explains the success of homeschooling.


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