The Failure of “Democratic Education”

As C.S. Lewis predicted, democracy is doomed if demanded.


John Stonestreet

Heather Peterson

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson promised to not eliminate Chicago’s selective-enrollment public schools, which require entry by test and target high-achieving students. However, in the name of “equity,” he is now proposing ending the selective process to get them in.  

Decades ago, in an essay called “Democratic Education,” C.S. Lewis described why this understanding of “equity” is doomed to fail:   

[A]n education which gave the able and diligent boys no advantage over the stupid and idle ones, would be in one sense democratic. … Then no boy, and no boy’s parents, need feel inferior. An education on those lines will be pleasing to democratic feelings. It will have repaired the inequalities of nature. But it is quite another question whether it will breed a democratic nation which can survive, or even one whose survival is desirable. 

Truth is not democratic. … Political democracy is doomed if it tries to extend its demand for equality into these higher spheres. Ethical, intellectual, or aesthetic democracy is death.


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