Doesn’t Removal of a Forced School Tax Abolish Public Schools?

Email Print

A very good question is raised by Tim Barry. Many libertarians will raise the same kind of question and will doubt the distinction between abolishing something and making it voluntary. I’ll address that more fully in a separate blog. For now, Tim asks

” Wouldn’t the act of removing the financial burden of public schooling  from those who do not participate in public schooling (homeschooling parents and parents without children) be, in effect, abolishing public schools?  If the school is merely a service purchased by those who desire it, isn’t it no longer ‘public’?  Or, does the ‘public’ modifier actually refer to the particular entity providing the schooling (i.e. the government)?”

I explain as follows. Public has two simultaneous meanings here in this context. Public first means a set or group or collective of people. In the current system, this set is determined arbitrarily by borders or territory, and this system violates  the rights of people within those borders who don’t want the service provided for that particular public. They don’t want to be in the set. Panarchist libertarians allow a set of people to become a collective or public voluntarily as a right, and so public schools aren’t abolished necessarily when the financing is changed. The people who want public schools can still create a system like today’s in which they vote for a school board, have it administer the schools, have it recommend a school tax, and then have a vote on that tax. This uses the term “public” in a second sense, which is that the provision of the services is done through a governmental kind of system with voting. Those who want private or market or home school methods will simply be outside that public set of people and their public system and use other means of financing and obtaining the education services. In short, privatizing the finance allows people to opt out from the public set, while not abolishing  the remaining public set or its provision of education by public means that include voting among themselves.

8:41 am on June 6, 2013