Home School Legal Defense Association honors the memory of writer and education critic Samuel L. Blumenfeld, a true American original and friend of private and parent-directed education, who died on June 1, 2015 at the age of 89.
Born on May 31, 1926, Blumenfeld enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II and served on the Italian front. Later, as a wide-ranging writer and critic, he helped expose the growing problem of illiteracy and bad public education philosophies in The New Illiterates (1973).
In response to what he saw as the fundamentally flawed sight word reading method used by the public schools, Blumenfeld developed Alpha-Phonics, an alternative reading curriculum still in use today.
Blumenfeld came to be known as a prominent adversary of public education, writing books such as Is Public Education Necessary? (1981) and N.E.A.: Trojan Horse in American Education (1984). He was early to embrace the potential of alternative parent-directed education at the very beginning of the homeschool movement, alongside such leading lights as John Taylor Gatto and John Holt, writing numerous books with practical advice to help parents teach their own children.
“Sam was a major supporter of the modern homeschool movement in its infancy,” recalls HSLDA President Mike Smith. “Sam was committed to all children having a chance at literacy, and when he saw that many children were graduating from public schools illiterate, he became passionate about educational choice and especially home education. His writings exposed the failures of the public schools, and helped parents teach phonics to their children. Sam spoke at many of the early homeschool conferences, giving moms and dads a vision to see their children become lifelong learners.”
“We have lost a great pioneer in the homeschool community, but his legacy will remain through his books and instructional materials.”
In later years Blumenfeld continued to be a powerful critic of nationalized education schemes, including the Common Core and its related initiatives. His outlook was often justifiably indignant, but always infused with hope and optimism. We need more Sam Blumenfelds.
Written by Peter Schellhase, HSLDA Assistant Editor. || Photograph of Sam Blumenfeld, picture courtesy of howtotutor.com.