September 18, 2012 by Anders Ingemarson
With the spectacle of government (public) school teachers on strike in Chicago, this week offers a good opportunity to reflect on how education should be handled in a rights respecting society.
I could probably go on all day listing concrete reasons why a free market would produce supreme educational results compared to today’s government education system, just as the free market does in every other field. I will in due time, but today let’s set the stage and look at the fundamentals of why separating state and education is the right thing to do.
Government education has such a long history in this country and around the world that most Americans reflexively think it an essential service the government should offer, be it at the federal, state, or local level. This is further enforced by the fact that some of our founding fathers erroneously thought the government may rightfully play a role in education.
Yet, education is no different from let’s say healthcare. Forcing you and your loved ones into a certain system of education is similar to forcing a certain healthcare scheme on you. Both constitute a violation of your individual rights. Let’s look at a few examples in education:
- As a parent, you are not free to choose a school of your choice for your children. Yes, you can go private, but not without great expense, as in addition to paying tuition, you’re most likely forced to pay local property taxes and state taxes and a portion of your federal taxes to fund government education. Only if you’re quite wealthy or otherwise exceptionally committed can you make this work.
- As a teacher, your rights are violated because the marketplace for teaching jobs is distorted by the lack of choice, and because government certification dictates teacher requirements.
- If you run an education related business, for instance a private school, your rights are violated as you face almost insurmountable barriers trying to compete with the “free” government schools and coping with federal, state and local regulations.
- And finally, as a tax payer, your rights are violated as you’re forced to finance the government education system whether you like it or not.
We’re starting to see some promising signs of groups and school districts promoting parents’ rights to select a school of their choice for their children. Vouchers and charter schools are so far the most common vehicles. And we have a thriving home school movement that is a constant thorn in the side of the government educational establishment.
However, rarely do people question the government’s role in financing education. Yes, we hear calls for the federal government to get out of education, but few are so far challenging the morality of state and local taxation and regulation to pay for and control education.
As the government education system continues to fail despite more and more money being thrown at it, and as the immorality of the system becomes clear to more Americans, I suspect we’ll see increased openness to radical solutions. Whenever you get a chance, take the opportunity to promote total separation of state and education in the name of protecting your individual rights.