Monday, April 24, 2006

Separation of School and State - An idea worth reconsidering

Nothing starts an argument with State-Lovers quite like the suggestion that we should separate school and state - that's right, abolish government schools - once and for all. They'll say, "oh, but we need to make sure every child gets an education", or "the poor won't be educated", or "the profit motive will end up short-changing our children", or "'we' as a society need educated people"...or some other tripe.

Vin Suprynowicz writes in-depth about the pre-compulsory government education era in America, when literacy levels were high, and education was cheap and efficient.


Not only was private education in demand, but it was quite successful. Literacy in the North rose from 75 percent to between 91 and 97 percent between 1800 and 1840, the years prior to compulsory schooling and governmental provision and operation of education. In the South during the same time period, the rate grew among the white population from between 50 and 60 percent to 81 percent. (Sheldon Richman, Separating School & State, p. 38.) ..."

This year, by comparison, a study by the American Institutes for Research found that more than 75 percent of students at 2-year colleges and more than 50 percent of students at 4-year colleges in 2006 "lack the skills to perform complex literacy tasks ... ." These are today's college kids, mind you -- supposedly the cream of the American crop, youths on whose schooling our unionized government propaganda camps have squandered more treasure per pupil than any other society in history.

After the 1840s, Mr. Brouillette reports, "Government control of schooling was intended to bring education to a larger segment of the population, but the result was that it simply pushed aside existing private schools without substantially increasing overall enrollment rates. As tax expenditures on the government system increased during the mid-1800s, more parents were drawn away from tuition-charging schools while the percentage of the child population being educated remained essentially constant. Government usurpation of schooling did little to increase educational access for children. Rather, it simply shifted the responsibility of education from the family to the state. (Andrew J. Coulson, 'Market Education: The Unknown History,' New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1999, p. 83.)

So there you have it. Government schooling has destroyed the quality and diversity of education while driving up the costs. Politicians mold the minds of young children, and our culture embraces an ethic of irresponsibility. (It's not a parent's responsibility to educate their's the gubb'ment!). We have societal conflict over cirricula and values that would not exist but for the one-size-fits-all government system. I really feel embarassed for anyone that can say, with a straight-face, the Government educational system is not only needed, but successful as well. The plain facts of history prove otherwise.

But the most insidious aspect of government schooling is how it feeds the Cult of the Omnipotent State, and it's industrial allies.

The purpose of "modern, industrialized, compulsory schooling was to make a sort of surgical incision into the prospective unity of these underclasses," John Taylor Gatto concludes in "Against School: How public education cripples our kids and why," published in the September 2001 edition of Harper's. "Divide children by subject, by age-grading, by constant rankings on tests, and by many other more subtle means, and it was unlikely that the ignorant mass of mankind, separated in childhood, would ever re-integrate into a dangerous whole." (Dangerous, that is to say, to the planned domination of the corporate elites.)

That's right, schools are divisive. They're all about ranking and dividing. When you were in school, how much energy went into differentiating the "popular" kids from the nerds? If cultivating fertile minds -- as opposed to stressing herd unity and obedience -- was ever the goal of these institutions, why are the bright kids so ostracized?

The purpose of government schooling, Gatto learns from Alexander Inglis's 1918 book, "Principles of Secondary Education," is "to watch over and control a population deliberately dumbed down and declawed in order that government might proceed unchallenged and corporations might never want for obedient labor.

See... We want a nation, not of free-thinking, rational, enlightened people capable of making informed decisions about the direction their nation; but that of sheep, compliant and obediently following orders of those in authority- be it government, or the bosses in the factory. We replace the self-reliant rugged individualism that marked our ancestors with a collectivist, I'm-a-victim mentality ready to blame everyone else for our problems. What better way to do that then to control what and how and when young minds learn important lessons in life.

Socialized education. Gotta love it!

And while so many conservatives (rightfully) argue against socialized medicine, few will not hesitate to defend the concept of government involvement in education. At best, many on the right will defend "vouchers"...without ever considering that what government pays for, government controls. Vouchers will do nothing but get private schools hooked on the subsidies, and when the regulators come knockin', they will be faced with surrendering their autonomy. Of course, to argue that the government should spend its money and NOT oversee how its spent, invites criticisms of fiscal irresponsibility. It never occurs to these voucher proponents that they should address the fundamental issue: why is government involved in first place? So, Conservatives are faced with a dilemma that can only end in one way: continued control of schools by government.

It's time to separate school and state. It's the ONLY solution to improve our educational system.


Blogger doinkicarus said...

David Friedman has a good piece on the feasibility of privatized education. I'm in complete agreement with you (and Friedman) that it is both desireable on libertarian grounds, and lends itself to a more optimal level of education throughout the country.

11:36 PM  
Blogger Vache Folle said...

I like the "separation of school and state" meme since it gets past the argument over the virtues of education and right to the issue of how to provide it.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

If you haven't already signed it, don't forget to sign the proclamation at

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Libertarian Jason said...

Oh yeah! I should have included a link to the Alliance for the Separation of School and State.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Brian Duffy said...

Excellent posting; very good work.

9:59 PM  

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