" In this matter of education, the law has only two alternatives: It can permit this transaction of teaching-and-learning to operate freely and without the use of force, or it can force human wills in this matter by taking from some of them enough to pay the teachers who are appointed by government to instruct others, without charge...In creating a monopoly of education, the government must answer to the hopes of the fathers of families who have thus been deprived of their liberty; and if these hopes are shattered whose fault is it? We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say we are opposed to any education."
--Frederic Bastiat, The Law , 1850
Socialized education takes your property and liberty. In a government monopoly, you have no choice in what is taught or who teaches it, and if a problem arises you cannot correct it. In a market system, you decide what will be taught, who teaches it, and if a problem arises you have 100 percent control to make instant and complete change. What is better: for you to have no say or all the say in the education of your child?
Why should you pay for the education of other people's children? You would never do that if you were free. It is simply an example of socialist coercion, of the idea that government should be a thief. There is no such thing as "public money" but parents have a right to their own (taxed) money to educate their children as they see fit. A state monopoly of education conflicts with the preservation of freedom itself.
"A tax-supported, compulsory educational system is the complete model of the totalitarian state."Isabel Paterson
The following three quotes are from Albert Jay Nock’s memoirs -
"Our system of education had succeeded in making our citizenry much more easily gullible. It tended powerfully to focus the credulousness of Homo sapiens upon the printed word, and to confirm him in the crude authoritarian or fetishistic spirit which one sees most highly developed, perhaps, in the habitual reader of newspapers. By being inured to taking as true whatever he read in his schoolbooks and whatever his teachers told him, he is bred to a habit of unthinking acquiescence, rather than to an exercise of such intelligence as he may have."
"As a State-controlled enterprise maintained by taxation, virtually part of the civil service, the system had become an association of true propaganda for the extreme of a hidebound nationalism and of a superstitious servile reverence for a sacrosanct State. In another view one saw it functioning as a sort of sanhedrim, a leveling agency, prescribing uniform modes of thought, belief, conduct, social deportment, diet, recreation, hygiene; and as an inquisitional body for the enforcement of these prescriptions, for nosing out heresies and irregularities and suppressing them. In another view one saw it functioning as a trade-unionist body, intent on maintaining and augmenting a set of vested interests; and one noticed that in this capacity it occasionally took shape as an extremely well-disciplined and powerful political pressure-group."
"I suppose that in the whole country today one would have to go a good long way to find a boy or girl of twenty who does not automatically take for granted that the citizen exists for the State, not the State for the citizen; that the individual has no rights which the State is bound to respect; that all rights are State-created; that the State is morally irresponsible; that personal government is quite consistent with Democracy, provided, of course, it be exercised in the right country and by the right kind of person; that collectivism changes character according to the acceptability of the peoples who practice it. Such is the power of conditioning inherent in a State-controlled system of compulsory popular instruction."
The following 3 quotes are from Isabel Paterson in her brilliant God of the Machine, chapter 21 -
"The positive fact that the United States public schools are under the political power is not recognized. Because the schools were started with quite separate organizations, by districts having no connection with each other or with any other political agency, empowered to levy a separate tax which could not be expended for any other object than the local school, nobody realized that the primary field of freedom had been invaded to the utmost extent. There can be no greater stretch of arbitrary power than is required to seize children from their parents, teach them whatever the authorities decree they shall be taught, and expropriate from the parents the funds to pay for the procedure. If this principle really is not understood, let any parent holding a positive religious faith consider how it would seem to him if his children were taken by force and taught an opposite creed. Would he not recognize tyranny naked? But it is objected, religion is not taught in the schools at all. That does not alter the principle involved; though it did obscure the issue in the beginning. The majority of parents were quite willing to pay a school tax, and glad to send their children to school. They tried to keep the teaching strictly secular. Further, when school districts were mostly small, and schoolboards composed of local residents known to everybody, it was quite possible for the parents to know just what was being taught; and to have their wishes consulted in the engagement or retention of teachers and the choice of textbooks. The intrinsic nature of the power authorized was so little realized that this was called "free education," the most absolute contradiction of facts by terminology of which the language is capable. Everything about such schools is compulsory, not free; and the true nature of the institution has developed so fully along its own lines with the passage of time that parents are now helpless when it is admitted by a schoolboard that a small number of teachers are mentally unbalanced. The parents must still deliver their children into the power of those teachers, on penalty of a fine. The teachers have "security of tenure." They can't be discharged."
Peer pressure – "Whatever restraint exists is chiefly exerted on the child by the common opinion of his class, and a skillful teacher is able to direct that opinion. . .. The ruling power is always the class sentiment.... It is always the rule of the many over the one; and the power is formidable."
"The most vindictive resentment may be expected from the pedagogic profession for any suggestion that they should be dislodged from their dictatorial position; it will be expressed mainly in epithets, such as "reactionary," at the mildest. Nevertheless, the question to put to any teacher moved to such indignation, is: Do you think nobody would willingly entrust his children to you to pay you for teaching them? Why do you have to extort your fees and collect your pupils by compulsion?"
What reason is there to deny equal shares of taxes to children who need education or why should parents receive no service for their taxes who choose a better (private) education? To force compulsory education and taxes and then deny equity to all children is injustice, a perversion of law. Each child is entitled to the same financial support from the state, wherever they school. All parents pay taxes and all children must be "equal under law."
There is no accountability in socialized education - responsibility, taken from the parents, is diffused across a large system. In a consumer - driven market system the responsibility rests with the parents. Defining responsibility alone is a great advantage. Mistakes have minimal consequences and there is immediate feedback. Control is with those who face the consequences. It is the ultimate in "local control," it is freedom. And of course the parents have the greatest interest in the welfare of their children so giving them control instead of others makes good sense.
What is advocated here is not vouchers and not tax revenue disbursed by the state, but that every parent be given a tax credit to use for either state or private schools. There is a difference between tax credits and vouchers. Tax credits keep the money with the person who owns it, do not encourage burgeoning bureaucracies and their control, are more palatable to the public and eliminate the church/state issue. Most importantly, they do not directly tax the many for the privilege of the few, which would continue under vouchers. The tax breaks still are a subsidy of education. Vouchers are redistributionist and a bright line has to be drawn against that. Tax breaks point to the reform of the future: parents will resent government telling them how to spend their own money and the elimination of all government interference in education will be a natural progression. As long as education is considered a function of government, tax credits are the best choice.
Tax credits may have a legal advantage over vouchers in not imposing as much extra regulation on private schools. Also, they do not require a new bureaucracy to administer them. Ideally, in the future all state educational funds would be funneled through parents by this tax credit mechanism for both state and private school tuition instead of having a bureaucracy to funnel money to state schools. This method has been approved by the US Supreme Court in Mueller v. Allen, 463 US 388 (1983) which said " by channeling whatever assistance it may provide to parochial schools through individual parents, Minnesota has reduced the Establishment Clause objections to which its action is subject."
Don't say "vouchers", say "scholarships". We can win this battle if we change the terms of the debate. Tax credits are also more palatable than vouchers. The Freedom of Education Movement says that time is running out on millions of children. We have had enough of superficial experiments. Socialized education has proven that it cannot deliver quality education or even a safe environment. The Coalition of Catholic Schools points out that private schools have demonstrated their excellence and cost effectiveness. The argument that schools should receive public funds because they are a public good falls to the ground when schools are no longer good - it is not a public service to mis-educate our children. The National Adult Literacy Study reported that less than half of college GRADUATES could write a coherent essay. More than 1/3 of college students need remedial education. Time-use studies show that only 40 percent of school time is spent on academics. The following are some attempts at giving poor and working Americans the same right to educate their child as Bill Clinton and Al Gore have. Selecting the best school for one's children has always been a right for the elite. Extending it to the entire population is not only a matter of social justice, it is an indispensable element of educational accountability and improvement. It is necessary for our common ideal of equal opportunity in education. Many state school teachers send their own children to private schools, for example 46 per cent do in Chicago. Now liberate the poor - give opportunities to children.
Teacher base salaries 1991: Public school $31,296 ......Private school $19,783
Student-teacher ratios: Public schools 18:1...................Private schools 15:1
Average expenditure per pupil: Public schools $5,734....Private school tuition 2,595
The Department of Education's "Public and Private Schools" report by James S. Coleman in 1981 found that: 1. Private schools produce better cognitive outcomes than state schools even after family background factors that predict achievement are controlled. 2. That private schools provide a safer, more disciplined, and more orderly environment than do state schools. 3. Private schools produce higher achievement with similar students because they " create higher rates of engagement in academic activities...school attendance is better, students do more homework, and students generally take more rigorous subjects."
RAND Corporation did a study in 1990 that found that low-income parochial school children averaged 803 on SAT while comparable state school children scored 642.
Standard and Poor's (see www.ses.standardandpoors.com) has developed a Performance Cost Index for schools using 1,500 types of data comparing spending to achievement outcomes. They have proved conclusively that more money does not mean better education. It matters how you spend the money. Amazingly, the best schools are those that spend less money. The teacher union's big lie that "money is the answer whatever the question is" is wrong and destructive!
Yale Professor David Gelenter points out that the average American 6th grader in 1940 knew 25,000 words, in 1990 he knew 10,000 words.
Charter schools focus on an artifact of capitalism - competition - while missing the engine - incentives/profit. They are therefore doomed to fail.
The US is the only country in the world that denies equal education to its citizens. The first democracy denies equity to 85 percent of eighth grade students. On the basis of nothing (the myth of talent?), our state education shuts the door on them. The schools will not teach them the math they need for life - to get a college education or a good job. The gateway to a better life is deliberately closed on them. The idea of giving early and separate treatment to those who could identify themselves as college-bound pupils is considered "liberal and progressive" while the opposite notion, that of providing the broadest possible education for all is dismissed because it is "conservative and reactionary." This is a good reminder that socialism is a system where class is based on privilege rather than merit. About 15 percent of state students are allowed to study algebra and geometry and the rest are restricted to trivial arithmetic. It says all that needs to be said about state education that it cannot meet the challenge of educating them, but more importantly it says that our society is totally evil for not wishing, not attempting, and not succeeding in preparing our own children, our own flesh and blood, for life. It is a national disgrace. America stands alone in the world with this shame and dishonor. It is as great an evil as slavery, because it is slavery.
This seems easy. In some states school elections are held on separate dates from general elections. This increases the power of teachers unions because when voter turnout is less, the unions are relatively over represented. It also is extremely expensive. In our small county of 20,000 people, it costs $10,000 to hold a separate election. Multiplied over the country that would add up to millions of dollars. Professional educators are the powerful enemies of American education. Union thugs oppose all real reform. Harvard's Caroline Hoxby has done a study published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics August 1996, which shows that a reduction in union power results in lowered per-pupil spending (an average $400 per year) while dramatically improving student performance.
There is no place for tenure, none, in a system designed to help children. Tenure only protects bad teachers and demotivates average teachers. It has no purpose but the care and feeding of employees. What is good for the teacher is not always good for the pupil. Adam Smith pointed out that if the teacher is paid wholly or even principally by the public, "he would soon learn to neglect his business." What a prophet he was! Also, the idea of extending state schools to pre-school years is a recipe for autism - the US would become a country of autistics. Spare us. The architect of Head Start, Edward Zigler of Yale, says universal pre-school education is a "misguided enterprise."
The traditional school day and year was set in primitive agricultural times when children had to help with planting, weeding and harvesting in the summer and farm chores as early as 3:30 P.M. Now with 2 parents working it is just common sense that children should stay in school until 5 P.M. and only get a month off in the summer.
Educators should be educated. We should eliminate undergraduate schools of education and allow people with knowledge of subjects to teach them. Certification raises problems not just because it fails to weed out the mediocre and the bad. It sets up formidable barriers to the excellent. This restriction on trade results in chronic mismatching of supply and demand for teachers. For example, fewer than one-third of high schools have qualified physics teachers. Ironically, every day parents take their children out of state schools with certified teachers to pay more money for private education with uncertified teachers. The judgment in Hinton v. Kentucky State Board of Education pointed out: "Expert testimony has certainly established that there is not the slightest connection between teacher certification and enhanced educational quality..." The Commission on Post-secondary Education in Ontario in 1972 wrote, "Certification, in fact, is probably one of the greatest causes of rigidity and inequality in education."
In his great essay On Liberty, John Stuart Mill wrote -
It would be giving too great a power to governments were they allowed to exclude anyone from professions, even the profession of teacher, for alleged deficiency of qualifications; and I think that degrees or other public certificates of scientific or professional acquirements, should be given to all who present themselves for examination, and stand the test; but that such certificates should confer no advantage over competitors other than the weight which may be attached to their testimony by public opinion.
A 200 million dollar, 30 year study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) confirmed that whole language damages children. The American Federation of Teachers no longer supports it and the International Reading Association has abandoned it. California passed a law in 1997 making it illegal to teach it. In April 2000 The National Reading Panel created by Congress based on solid science recommended phonics and the discontinuation of "whole word" methods. They concluded that colleges of education were the problem because they lack talent and do not teach phonics. Nevertheless the failed "whole word" method is still pushed by the NEA (National Educational Association union).
Public education is a horrendous, life-destroying mess. Compulsory education is a crime against the young. It harms them. It piles boredom upon failure and failure upon boredom. It purports to be merely custodial but is positively damaging. No one who has attended an American state school will deny that it is afflicted with boredom, authoritarianism, bureaucracy, inefficiency and ineffectiveness. 1.5 million children are homeschooled - that is way more than New Jersey, the 10th largest state, has in their state schools. The number of homeschooled students is increasing at 25 percent a year. The average cost is $546 per home schooled student compared to $5,325 for state school. In a report by theNational Home Education Research Institute, reported by the Wall Street Journal on March 5, 1997, homeschooled children scored an average 80-87 percentile on Iowa Basic Skills Tests compared to state school students' 50 percentile. PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE RACIST: In reading, state school white students scored 57 percent, state school blacks scored 28 percent and both white and black homeschoolers scored 87 percent. In math, state school whites scored 58 percent, state school blacks scored 24 percent, and both homeschooled whites and blacks scored about 80 percentile. The state schools have some explaining to do to black parents.
The most important reform in this area is the abolishment of compulsory education laws. That would also greatly improve the efficiency of state schools and reduce their cost. Compulsory education was actually abolished by Pierce v. Society of Sisters but everyone ignores that. "(Pierce) must be taken to extend to overthrow all cases announcing the power of the state to require compulsory attendance at the schools of the state." 39 A.L.R. 468. The same article says Pierce also overthrows this dicta from a prior Idaho case: "Although a child is in the care and custody of its parents, still the state assumes direction and control of its education to the extent of making its attendance upon the state schools compulsory, and that power is recognized in almost every state in the Union. In the exercise of this supervision and control on the part of the state, the child is not deprived of any constitutional or inalienable right, nor is the parent deprived of any right. On the contrary, the state is only demanding and enforcing obedience to both the natural duties and obligations of the parent or guardian, as well as the legal duties and obligations demanded by society and the public welfare."
First, this argument was properly tossed out by Pierce. Secondly, how could it be said that forcing virtual incarceration for 13 years does not deprive a child of his rights? Nor how can the alienation of a child from parent not affect parental rights? Clearly it unreasonably interferes with liberty of parents to direct the upbringing of their children. Thirdly, "Constitutional rights may not be abridged by legislation which has no reasonable relation to some purpose within the competency of the state." (Pierce) So, beyond the practical issue of whether wasting hundreds of billions of dollars of public money to mis-educate or not educate children in socialized school systems furthers public welfare, which is an empirical question to which the answer is obvious, there is a deeper philosophical aspect to the issue of whether education is a purpose within the competency of the state. The historical record is clear - most of the 30,000 years of civilization it has not been. Until 1821 there were no US state secondary schools and they were not common until 1874 and the Kalamazoo decision. Most universities are still private. Public education is best described as an utopian experiment gone bad. Of course, it is easy to say that practice has demonstrated that schooling is not within the competency of the state - in the hypocritical name of public welfare it chews up and spits out malformed children. But theoretically education is not within the competency of the state because the reasons given in the Idaho case were exactly false - state education destroys rights and freedoms. The political community behind state schools should be required to justify the prolonged detention and imprisonment of children. Truancy offers the only hope of salvation to the raising generation.
For links to home schooling resources see the author'sHome School
The Catholic Church is the best organized group trying to increase tax credits for private education. Every parish has two volunteers to lead the effort. They also have literature and appreciate help from any source. Contact your local Catholic Church. Band together. Instead of creating new structures, use the one we already have.
The schools are not failing for the purpose the left has for them. The school system we have today is exactly what it was designed to be, a place to detach children from the values of their parents, destroy their moral foundations and degrade their ability to think independently. There is no excuse for any parent who would knowingly sacrifice his son or daughter to the fires of this Moloch, no excuse for wittingly allowing a child to remain within the system for one day longer than necessary! I have heard it said that home school is not for everyone, but I say that the American public school system is for no one,
The Supreme Court ruled inPierce v Society of Sisters, 1925 (268 US 510) that parents have a right to direct the upbringing and education of their children: "The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the State..."
You cannot solve the problem with the same kind of thinking that has created the problem. Einstein
Politics, Markets, and American Schools by John Chubb and Terry Moe, The Brookings Institute, DC 1990.
We Must Take Charge by Chester Finn, Jr. The Free press, NY 1991