I first met Sam Blumenfeld back in 1989 at an event in Windham, NH which hosted an eyewitness to Tiananmen Square massacre. At our meeting Sam said, “Never let your children set foot in a government school.” It was some of the best advice I ever took.
Sam was born in the South Bronx in 1926. The son of Jewish immigrants from Poland. Sam went to New York’s public schools where he learned to read via phonics. Sam would recount to audiences in later years that his classrooms had chairs and desks bolted to the floor, and the only things mounted on the walls of the classroom where pictures of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and the letters of the alphabet in cursive. Over the PA system, his principal would lead the school in prayer, and read the “Twenty-Third Psalm.” His parents instilled a love of the United States which was reinforced by his teachers in New York City’s public schools. Sam was a World War II veteran who served as an artilleryman in the Italian Theater under General Mark Clark. He authored poems about his wartime experiences including a stanza which tells the story of Sam showing mercy to a sick German soldier whom he shared his food with and one on death:
The Dead: Inhabiting the Fields I would have never known the smell of death
had I not gone to Italy and rode across the valley.
And surely it is peculiar for I had never seen dead bodies before
and I had always held my breath when a hearse crossed my path.
But in the valley, I could not close my eyes or steal past the” dead,
nor could I hold my breath, for death filled the air and was soaked in the fields,
and its odor was sweetly mixed with that of the soil,
and when darkness fell the land and sky became so arranged
that the l living was undistinguishable from the dead and the dead placed their arms around all that slept into the night
After the war, Sam attended and graduated from City College of New York and then studied in France where he befriended author James Baldwin. In the late 1950s. Sam worked for the publishing company Grosset and Dunlop where he would edit the Hardy Boy and Nancy Drew mystery books. In the early 1960s, his friend attorney Watson Washburn, a tennis star, asked him to join his Reading Reform Foundation. Sam asked why it was necessary to have such a foundation believing that government schools still used phonics to teach children to read. Mr. Washburn suggested that Sam read Why Johnny Can’t Read by Rudolf Flesch. The book was rightfully critical of the look-say method of reading and promoted the use of intensive phonics. The book changed Sam’s life. Sam went beyond Mr. Flesch’s research leading Sam to conclude that the so-called progressive educators were deliberately dumbing down the children of America.
Sam went on to be an editor for a now-defunct weekly publication “The Review of the News” He also founded American Friends of Katanga, American Friends of Algeria, and the Society of Jewish Americanists. He befriended many leaders in the liberty movement but his affiliation with Robert Welch and The John Birch Society caused a rift with Sam and some of his what is now known as Neo-Conservatives friends including William Buckley, and Victor Lasky.
Sam’s first book was How to Start Your Own Private School: And Why You Need One. He took his own advice by helping to start Hyde Park Academy and South Boston Academy in Boston during the height of forced bussing. Sam became “a sad atheist” after the death of his father, but while researching the early history of education in Colonial New England, he became a devout Christian.
By the mid-1970s, Sam became a pioneer in the modern home school movement. His follow up books included Is Public Education Necessary and the NEA: Trojan Horse in the American Education. His last book which he co-authored with Alex Newman was Crimes of the Educators. Sam was ahead of his times when he warned parents that children are at risk in government schools physically, spiritually, morally, and intellectually. Sam’s most important works was his Alpha-Phonics workbook which my wife and I used to teach our children how to read. Unlike most reading books, it has no pictures. Sam would remark that “You do not need puppets popping out of trash cans to teach children how to read. Sam not only taught children how to read, but he also instructed adults who were functionally illiterate due to the government schools use of the look-say method. Sam volunteered his services at Boston’s WAAIT-We Are All in This Together where he taught inner-city adults how to read.
Sam was a regular at homeschool conventions all over the United States where he would promote phonics, cursive first and basic arithmetic. He also would give lectures on the plan to dumb the children of America down, From Horace Mann’s compulsory educations laws to John Dewey and his goal to use the schoolroom to promote socialism and atheism, to sex education and death education, to Marc Tucker, and his “school to work” policies under the Clinton Administration, to Bill Gates’ creation and funding of Common Core, Sam presented damning evidence to prove that our nation’s government schools were under the control of the elites who hated America. He would appear on television and radio talk shows, and his writing would be published in dozens including ‘Boston Magazine,” “The New American,” “The Chalcedon Report, ““Imprimis,” and World Net Daily.
Twenty or so years ago, he told me that he would do his writing and lectures until he drops. He was true to his word. I last visited him in late May of 2015 where he was on his deathbed. He was still autographing copies of his books. He died several days later June 1, 2015. I made a pledge to Sam on his death bed that his works would be used by unborn generations. He willed me most of his library, papers, and recording. Thanks to two talented people, Mark Affleck, our camp newspaper editor, and Eric Conover, our webmaster, the Samuel Blumenfeld Archives was created, we were able to digitize most of his books, unpublished manuscripts, articles, newsletters, and speeches in both MP3 and MP4 formats. The archives receive over two million views a year and thousands of downloads of his “Alpha-Phonics” and other works. People from all over the world but in the U.S. are using his reading program to create highly literate children and adults. We recently heard from a school in Zimbabwe that found the archive and is now using Sam’s “Alpha-Phonics” The archive is available as a free resource (donations accepted) http://campconstitution.net/sam-blumenfeld-archive/