Last Updated 22-Mar-2008
In a recent online poll, I ranked education as the number #1 political issue in America today. I can understand others marking it down since many people interpret "education is a priority" as "throw more money at the current system", and the current system stinks. However, I ranked education #1 for several other reasons.
Below, I try to analyze universal education from first principles. It's difficult, because most of us, myself included, are products of public schools, so our thinking (and feelings) about it have been inculcated from an early age, rendering us prone to blind spots filled with assumptions. My hope is to shed our blinders, identify assumptions, and challenge them.
Many have listed a whole litany of problems with America's K-12 education, most simultaneously crying for massive infusions of new tax money. However, the most commonly cited problems are just symptoms of deeper, structural flaws.
Addressing symptoms individually is wasted tactical effort that will founder on the same political rocks that have ground up reform after reform over several generations. America's school system is strategically flawed. To achieve any meaningful advance, we must identify and correct the system's strategic fault(s).
To think strategically, we need to step back from the symptoms for a moment and look for systemic causes, system-wide structure that causes the symptoms. Cure the disease, and symptoms will clear up.
If there's any "social interest" in education, it is that it be universal
so that a self governing people will be competent to so govern. However,
that does not mean that it should be uniform.
If we want to have privatized universal education, we need a smooth
way from here to there.
Liberated, education would benefit from economic Darwinism (evolution
by parental selection). Here's where I brainstorm on some of the structural
forms that might emerge in a free market.
More brainstorming on the effects a free market could have, this time
over the flavors of education rather than the structures.
Public education is collectivized (government owned and operated),
and social engineers routinely compete for control so they can (attempt)
to shape future society. That's socialism.
From school prayer and drug demonization to gun phobia and religious
environmentalism, ideologies of all kinds permeate public schools.
Why do we grant government a captive audience of our most malleable
Outside of parochial schools, only a few very wealthy families can
afford to give their children a private education.
Some depend on the current system for their power, and they'll sacrifice anything to keep it. Sadly, children are usually the first to be burned at their altar.
The seminal warning from the US Department of Education. It's a government
report, so it must be right, right?
Rabidly leftist (especially at the end), but summarizes critical events
Chapter 3 excerpted from Sheldon Richman's Separating School & State:
How To Liberate American Families.
A Christian Science Monitor book review of Diane Ravitch's The Language
Police, how political filters of all kinds combine to reduce texts
Link directly to the education section of the legendary Libertarian
brain trust to see studies, court opinions, and pending school choice
Support the school choice movement with contributions and direct action
to privatize education.
Many more articles about privatizing education
A 2001 interview with Mayor John Norquist of Milwaukee
I try to answer the question, "How did we get into this socialist
Besides differentiating, I expect a liberated education system
to improve dramatically for both students and teachers. I mentioned
some of the dynamics elsewhere. Here I collect those thoughts together
and add others.
A catch-all page where I field some common questions. If you can think
of one that's not answered here or in any of my essays, write to me
and it may worm its way onto my site here.