Some writers wanted to stop all immigration, but others looked to public schools to save America. An article in The Massachusetts Teacher in 1851 stated that children of immigrants “must be taught as our own children are taught. We say must be, because in many cases this can only be accomplished by coercion. . . . The children must be gathered up and forced into school, and those who resist or impede this plan, whether parents or priests, must be held accountable and punished.” The Wisconsin Teachers’ Association declared in 1865 that “children are the property of the state.”
Ironically, the public schools weren’t doing much to teach Protestantism. The intellectual leader of the public school movement was Horace Mann, a Unitarian who pushed for largely secularized publics schools and overcame opposition from Protestants by assuring them that daily readings from the King James Bible and generic moral instruction could continue. He succeeded largely because of bigotry and over the objections of theologians such as R.L. Danny (the Stonewall Jackson aide), who explained that teaching a person how to use a saw could be done in a value-neutral way, but “dexterity in an art is not education. The latter nurtures a soul, the other only drills a sense-organ or muscle; the one has a mechanical end, the other a moral.”
Nevertheless, bigotry was so rampant that some Protestants were content to try teaching in a religion-less way as long as Catholics would be hard-pressed to maintain their own school system."
Marvin Olasky, Standing for Christ in a Modern Babylon. pg.91-92