De-worshipping Public Education
Hard as it is to believe, the world is still chock-full of professional educators who worship the ideals of a state-sponsored, indoctrinating public school system. This system is wrought with funding boondoggles, and has proven to be an arrant failure overall, damaging millions of children in the process.
Public education is based on the idea that government is the "parent" best equipped to provide children with the values and wisdom required to grow into an intelligent, functional adult. To reiterate what former first lady Hillary Clinton professed, these public school champions believe "it takes a village…."
It doesn't take a village to raise and educate children. It takes a family, a church, interested third parties such as friends and neighbors, or quality private educational institutions that flourish under a capitalistic system and respond to the paying parent-consumers.
As Hebrew University historian Martin van Crevald points out in his book, The Rise and Decline of the State, the archetype for state-directed education was popularized by nineteenth-century state worshippers who wanted to impose a love of big government ideals upon the youth. There was also the move toward secularization, and an overall appetite for "discipline" of the unruly (meaning independent) masses that buttressed the campaign to take education out of the hands of family and church.
After all, unruly, independently educated masses might resist government's objectives, and this kind of disarray would be unacceptable in the move toward building a powerful, controlling state apparatus. Prussia's Frederick William I and France's Napoleon discerned this, as did a legion of other despotic rulers throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.
Modern-day education has built on the foundation set forth by these tyrants. What is most disquieting about the public education mindset is that those who believe most strongly in it are convinced that there are no other noble alternatives, and that the alternatives that do exist are merely a hindrance to the only real education, that which is provided via the public domain. The egalitarian core belief of these educators is that society is responsible for obtaining, maintaining, and paying for the process of equally developing young minds.
But since the laws of the modern state that control the educational system lean toward equality, that means a bias against the smart and hardworking. This takes education to the level of heavy egalitarian leanings, sustaining the philosophy that schools have the obligation to treat all students as pure equals — equal in intelligence, work ethic, performance, and desire. Such nonsense is refuted by H. George Resch in "Human Variety and Individuality" on the Separation of School and State website.
Mr. Resch contends that compulsory, government-controlled education is trying to achieve ends that are not possible due to the fact that general equality is not only impossible to define, but that biological, environmental, and cultural differences among us are so vast that a compulsory, standardized public education poses difficulties that cannot be overcome, and certainly not by a public school system.
It's obvious that public schooling is neither beneficial to most students, nor is it efficient. Education is an acquired good, a good that has to meet the needs of the consumers, or else face rejection in the free market. Hence, the necessity for individually tailored private educational institutions that cater to the urgencies of the marketplace, or home schools that provide a quality environment for each student's direct needs.
In school districts throughout the land, public school teachers and administrators, along with closely allied PTA's, battle a threatening voucher system — extolled by conservatives as the "great solution" to education. The voucher system, to the public school proponent, means the likely scenario of competition — a little bit of the free market invading their government-protected world of free-form indoctrination.
Vouchers may — according to these public educators — open up the possibility that parents would seek higher standards in the public school curriculum, educational materials, and teacher-administrator qualities, or else these parents could easily cash in on their vouchers and move on to an alternative institution that is more likely to listen to their wishes, and modify its overall teaching program accordingly. This means that all those educators using "Heather has Two Mommies" to brainwash children on the "virtues" of homosexuality might have to trade in such liberal balderdash for truly educational literature. How ridiculous that the education system should dare have to fall into the snare of having to concede to the free market!
The voucher threat may also pressure schools to drop their ineffectual, equality-minded goals in favor of programs that would champion the forgotten merit of competition, and focus more intensely on those students who are destined for achievement above and beyond the norm.
Of course, one should stand strongly opposed to any flagitious voucher system, though for reasons opposite of those propounded by the pro-public schooling hawks. Vouchers are anti-free market in general, and are just another way for government to control young minds, and a way to further dig itself more deeply into the mostly unregulated sphere of private education. Vouchers allow for no freedom whatsoever from the clutches of the state-mandated regulatory circus. However, there is certain joy in seeing public school proponents backed into a corner with their claws out and having to do battle with something moderately competitive.
Then, of course, there is the greatest threat of all, which comes from the home schooling crowd. Public educators shrivel at the mere mention of home-schooled students out-performing their public school peers.
For example, the National Education Association has recently attacked the legitimacy of home schooling in spite of home-schoolers' recent successes in terms of placing students first, second, and third in a national spelling bee, and claiming the overall winner in a national geography bee. A huge success for home schooling, and private education in general, these accomplishments raised the ire of those who insist on the public education way.
Just recently, a spokesperson for the NEA stated that public schooling is far superior to all forms of private education — because of its advanced academic opportunities and convenience of socialization. This statement ignores the fact that the home schooling environment has developed voluntary communal learning environments that allows for direct community involvement for the students, and draws upon the expertise of numerous individuals to obtain the greatest excellence in resource use for teaching.
Let me state that the public education field is not composed entirely of incompetents and ne'er-do-wells. There are a lot of ethical, hard-working and concerned people in the public school systems that desire to do their best to bring sense and order to an unworkable system. The bigger problem remains this: the system was built on authoritarian intentions, the premises for why we need public education are incorrect, and maintaining funding for such a monstrous system becomes impossible in the long run without plundering an entire population to support it.
Simple common sense dictates that my paying $1,200 in annual school taxes with no children in the local public school system, while a neighbor with four children taking advantage of the free schooling in our district pays the same $1,200 in school taxes, is indeed a theft of colossal proportions.
This constant depredation of an entire community to pay for the education of the children of some of the members of that community violates the core philosophy of self-sustaining, voluntary market coordination. This is truly a form of legalized gangstering, where every property-owning taxpayer is robbed via legal government mandate to help support the goals of the state in maintaining a vicious system of educational welfare for my richer, as well as poorer neighbors.
It's high time that the public resist the inherent dangers of continuing on a path toward a more socialized, bureaucratic, and just plain immoral taxpayer-funded public school system. Taxpayers need to reject the public education nipple and look toward the same market they covet for their goods and services — the free market.
February 15, 2001
Karen De Coster is a politically incorrect CPA, and an MA student in economics at Walsh College in Michigan.
Copyright © 2001 Karen De Coster