Since the nomination of Betsy DeVos there has been renewed discussion on the topic of the American education system and the need for school choice. Now you’ll hear a lot of conservatives proclaim the need for choice, and they’re not wrong, but they’re only seeing half the picture. You’ll also hear the liberals proclaim that a standardized and sound government education is every citizens right, and they are wrong, not to mention a little authoritarian to boot. So First and foremost let me just say an education is not a constitutional right. Now that’s not to say I think poor children should suffer for their parents financial status, and of course not all poor folks are at fault for their financial hardship. However I don’t think the fruits of anyone’s labor should be appropriated due to another’s financial status. And there’s the pickle. How do we provide a high quality education to our children without high taxes?
Let’s start with why taxation is NOT the answer. Firstly, The protection of individual rights is the only proper purpose of government, that’s why the Government is constitutionally limited. The governments’ only true constitutional function is to protect its citizens from harm (physical or to property) libertarians believe that anything past that is governmental overreach. We feel that All people are entitled to keep the fruits of their labor and aim for the repeal of most taxes, especially income tax, the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service, and all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution. Therefore we believe education should be provided by the free market where it can achieve greater quality, accountability, and efficiency with more diversity of choice.
It used to be understood that the education of children is a parental responsibility, we need to restore authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government. Parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children’s education. What about those poor families who can’t afford good schooling you say? Well actually I think poor children suffer the most under the current education system. Wealthy parents can afford to send their children to better or safer schools because they still have the funds after to paying their school taxes to pay tuitions & fees. However Poor parents have no choice. They are forcefully taxed by their district and their children generally end up in the schools with the worst problems. Poor children tend to end up at overcrowded public schools, which are obligated to accept every local student, even those who are not interested in learning or who have a reputation for being disruptive or dangerous. The current system traps poor children in poor schools. You’ll note the overwhelming support for school choice in urban areas & typically liberal cities.
Libertarians advocate for the complete separation of education and State. Government schools can lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. I mean think about it, how Orwellian is that? The government educating our children? Are you ok with Trump and his appointees (or the next guy, whoever he is) being in charge of what and how your little one learns? Not me! I want to get rid of bloated government bodies oversight, like the department of education, which spends billions of our tax dollars and doesn’t actually teach or educate anyone! all those billions just go to line the pockets of bureaucrats. Instead children and the schools could be overseen by teachers, administrators, Principles, PTA type associations & the parents or entities bankrolling the institution. Those with actual skin in the game.
It’s also likely the curriculum for the education of teachers would be better than what it is now. Teachers would have to be prepared for a highly competitive job market if schools were privatized, they’d have to continually preform excellently to maintain employment. I believe college professors would increase the rigors of the teaching programs in order to prepare their students for this new marketplace. Also it’s likely that a private body would materialize organically to accredit colleges (give their stamp of approval on the quality of education) and recommend standard course requirements. Just like in many fields that aren’t directly overseen by a government department. In my field the American Veterinary Medical Association is a non for profit organization that accredits colleges (gives their stamp of approval that the school’s circulars meet current medical standards). Who would you rather have determine what professionals need to know upon graduation…. A possibly unqualified political appointee, or someone so currently successful and respected in the field that their expert peers elected them? Now of course in a true free market we cant require that every teacher goes to an accredited institution for their degree. However that would affect their chances of hire, starting salary, etc. as determined by their employers.
Now I know people are often uncertain and uncomfortable with large scale change like privatization of the education system, so take comfort in the fact that children would generally continue to gather in schools to learn every morning as usual. And Of course, just as today, homeschooling & religious institutions would be options for parents. And who knows maybe the market will show us other more innovative options too! I could see an entrepreneur starting up a completely outdoor nature based educational institution in a warm weather locale with a hippyish demographic of parents, like in California for example. You see, the free market opens things up for creative ideas and innovation, all at the personal financial risk of the entrepreneur rather than the taxpayer, Instead of getting stuck in a rut as they usually do when government takes over.
The market usually does a pretty good job of weeding out the bad apples too. Parents will stop sending their children to a school with poor educational standards or wasteful spending practices. These bad schools would either be forced out of business or forced to increase their standards to win back clientele. And of course fraud and embezzlement laws would still apply, as they do for any private business.
Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges needs to be ended! Not only is it frightening, it’s proved to be ineffective. We really should repeal all laws regarding tax-funded, government-provided education.
Also By the way, we need to get rid of compulsory education laws, which spawn prison-like schools with many of the problems associated with prisons. Do we really want children to be forced into conformity or flunked? Do we really want to force artistic children into a state of panic and frustration taking rigorous STEM classes, and should the science nerd be forced into humiliation on the dodge ball court? What about the low achieving/ remedial student, shouldn’t he be allowed to not attend and instead peruse a trade early on in life?
I get that in the world we live in none of this is likely to happen, so here are a few realist band-aid measures, since we will likely continue to fund public education with tax dollars…..
– We must move toward a system where parents have good, safe, affordable choices for educating their children. To transfer control of education from bureaucrats to parents and teachers and encourage alternatives to the public school monopoly through things like vouchers where funds follow children
– Support a true market in education — one in which parents and students would not be stuck with a bad local school, because they could choose another.
– Implement measures such as tax credits so that parents will have the financial ability to choose among schools.
– Provide financial incentives for businesses to help fund schools and for individuals to support students other than their own children.
– Eliminate the U.S. Department of Education, which spends billions on education and educates no one. The growth of this agency and its numerous regulations is a major reason for runaway costs in American schools.