August 21, 2013 by Anders Ingemarson
Have you paid attention to the latest uproar among parents in the preschool community over sex education for five year olds? You haven’t? What about the frequent complaints that many preschools teach that Man was created by God and not evolved through natural selection? You missed that too? But you must have heard about the opposition to common standards being imposed from above to ensure a quality preschool experience? Not that either?
I didn’t think so. In fact, those are trick questions. There is neither uproar nor frequent complaints nor opposition, at least not enough to garner the attention of the media and special interest groups.
Why so quiet? Judging from the number of links returned when googling “preschool sex education”, I suspect preschools have ventured into the field. And I’m sure many religiously affiliated preschools are teaching creationism instead of evolution. Not to mention companies like Bright Horizons, KinderCare, and La Petite Academy imposing common standards “from corporate” on their individual preschools.
Does the absence of commotion mean that every parent in preschool land is happy with Johnny’s and Jane’s education? Of course not. But unlike government (public) K-12 education, preschool parents have a choice. They shop around for a preschool experience that is consistent with their ideas and beliefs of what constitutes a good education. And if making a mistake in the selection process, they vote with their feet and wallets and take their business elsewhere. Some parents become more involved than others trying to affect change, working with other parents, teachers and administrators before pulling out. But in the end, if the parties can’t reach common ground, they part ways. And the same applies for teachers, caregivers and administrators who have a wide range of employment options if they’re not happy with their current situation.
Contrast this with the perpetual state of war in government K-12 education. Regardless of your position on sex education, creationism vs. evolution, common standards, and other polarizing topics, you cannot have escaped the news coverage of the battles between the opposing factions.
What’s more, all involved parties are in a perverse way exercising their rights under the current system. As tax payers, parents, teachers, administrators, or bureaucrats most of us have a vested interest in what’s taking place in government K-12 education. But with few options to vote with our feet (home schooling for the super-dedicated or private schools for the wealthy), and none to vote with our wallets (try to not pay your taxes), we are doomed to perpetual war—of ideas, of policy, and of execution.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We need not look any further than to our preschools. No, not all is rosy in early childhood education. Regulation abounds, primarily at the state level, and federal funding with the mandatory strings attached is increasing. And statist forces are relentlessly scheming to bring early childhood education into the government education fold, Preschool for All being one of their latest concoctions. But compared to government K-12 education, the preschool industry is a beacon of freedom.
Our vision should be total separation of government and K-12 education. We must work towards eliminating not only government production of education—running K-12 schools—but also government financing of education (here’s what my president would do). Our individual rights demand that we’re free to vote both with our feet and our wallets. As we get closer to total separation, peace will replace today’s perpetual state of war and you will hear as little about conflicts in K-12 education as you currently hear about them in our preschools.