Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘government schools’

Compulsory Education – The Bane of Learning and Freedom – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on February 13, 2020

My principal objection to compulsory education is that it violates the freedom of the individual. No one should be required to give up personal sovereignty to comply with a state or federal government mandate — not through military conscription and not through compulsory education.


Approximately 50-million students, bound by state compulsory attendance laws, are trapped in what is essentially a prison of their bodies and minds.

Most Americans never question school compulsory attendance laws itself but instead focus on what occurs inside the classroom. Public schools, which can also be called government schools, are notorious for a wide array of problems. From class size to the controversy over testing to disruptive student behavior, the demand that more taxpayer money be used to correct the poor performance is touted as the answer. This completely disregards two points: 1. The benefit-cost ratio of government education of children is often a losing deal. (Private schools are frequently smaller, religious affiliated, and in many cases cost less to educate each student than the public counterparts.) 2. More important, compulsory education violates the liberty of all citizens – taxpayers and students alike, not only by forcing parents to subject their children to a state education but also with the coercive funding (i.e., taxation) used to force children’s attendance.

My principal objection to compulsory education is that it violates the freedom of the individual. No one should be required to give up personal sovereignty to comply with a state or federal government mandate — not through military conscription and not through compulsory education.

From its earliest days, our nation functioned well without compulsory education laws, and the minimal involvement of government enabled youth to choose trade/vocational training, religious study, or higher education relevant to the individual’s personal choice. As the idea of compulsory attendance began to develop in society, it became increasingly repressive, decade by decade. Parochial schools and family home-schooling were replaced by laws forcing attendance for most students at government schools.

Government-run schools and compulsory attendance to any school are the antitheses of freedom, liberty, and learning. Forced to attend a school, most will go to government schools. Students are treated as prisoners sentenced to serve 12 years (or less in some states). Years of children’s precious lives and vulnerable minds are spent in forced confinement, often subjected to aimless busywork to meet the demands of teachers. The individual is not valued in many government schools, as all focus is on becoming an upstanding member of the collective. Leftist indoctrination has become ubiquitous. Independent thinking is discouraged while group-think pervades nearly every aspect of the politicized curriculum. All of this in the name of bettering children’s lives.

The oppression is accepted by the majority who learn quickly how to gain approval from their masters, with students who rebel sadly turning to personally and socially destructive behaviors. While many passively accept this oppression, the individuals who would be better suited to pursue unique aptitudes suffer.

With rare religious exceptions recognized, the vast majority of American youth must obey by attending such schools or face various penalties and punishments, as well as sometimes the possibility of fines and jail time for parents. Gone are the days where educational choices were up to the young person and his family.

The result of youth being exposed to years of socialist ideas explains the rampant decline of basic knowledge and generation upon generation of graduating seniors with minimal ability to do much of anything aside from obeying orders. All too many high-school graduates display poor writing skills and an inadequate ability to engage in critical thinking on simple matters.

The collective is placed above the individual. From rewards for just showing up to ribbons for all, disallowing students to give one another a card or a simple gift unless all are given one, to situational ethics role-playing scenarios, students are continuously subjected to an agenda that discourages independent thought. High achievement is discouraged as competition is rejected while poor performers are made to feel equal to all. Critical thinking and actual substantive course work are replaced by leftist revisionism of history, identity politics, and advocacy of politically correct perceptions of life.

Free speech, a fundamental of our nation, is not only not valued, but it is also suppressed. Subtle and patent discrimination of those not conforming to the frequently liberal agenda pervades government education. After years of this beginning when very young, the mental and emotional development is stunted, and the socialist mindset is placed — exactly what an all-powerful government wants — an easily controlled and manipulated unquestioning populous.

All of this occurs simply because the American people have never questioned the premise of compulsory education.

While conservatives work to offer alternatives such as vouchers/home-schooling/economic methods to provide choice, those who value liberty realize compulsory education is not an area for mere reform, it is a clear violation of the rights of the individual and as such should be eliminated.

The rights of millions of young Americans are violated daily by forcing children to attend schools. Likewise, the rights of Americans who are forced to fund state schools are violated.

Education should be a personal responsibility, not a public one. Like so many other important aspects of life that the government now controls, the education of children should be left entirely up to the parents and the private sector with its charitable and private enterprises, with attendance voluntary.

A fundamental rejection of any government involvement in education, including all laws requiring compulsory attendance, must be the focus. It is not enough to try and end the government monopoly in education, the link between government and any educational opportunity should be ended.

Just as compulsory attendance began with one state mandating it and the idea spreading nationwide, our country could begin to end this tyranny if one state legislature courageously challenged and eliminated compulsory attendance.

America needs educational freedom – freedom from all government intervention. Let’s begin it with an end to compulsory attendance.

Be seeing you




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Civil Society Stepped Up Big Time During Teacher Union Protests

Posted by M. C. on November 27, 2019

Last month, Chicago was swarmed with protestors as public school teachers went on strike.

Civil society clearly made its presence felt during the strikes. Many proponents of government schools simply can’t fathom the idea of any non-state institution that is able to educate children. The Chicago teacher union protests demonstrated how quick civil society is able to fill in the void when the state becomes negligent in its duties (a common occurrence).

Kerry McDonald of Foundation for Economic Education wrote that 300,000 students spent “another day outside of the public school classroom,” thanks to this strike. For so much talk about public education being “for the children,” the decisions to publicly strike keeps kids from learning, while teacher unions hold out as long as possible before lawmakers gave them sweetheart benefits. To add insult to injury, these strikes are done on the taxpayer’s dime.

The topic of education tends to be sensitive in today’s polarized America. It’s no secret that education these days has substantial degrees of politicization and is treated as a universal right that the state must provide. However, some of McDonald’s observations in her piece reveal that private actors are more than capable of stepping up to the plate to provide children with a place of learning.

She noticed one interesting development in the midst of this strike, “Museums, churches, libraries, and a multitude of civic non-profits,” opened their doors to “children displaced by the teachers’ strike, and public parks and playgrounds abound.” Other organizations that provided a place for children to congregate during these strikes were the YMCA and its branches in Chicago. Per the CNN report, the YMCA helped provide programs that included “classes, swimming, math lessons, arts and crafts, and sports.”

Similarly, the city’s aquarium offered “immersive exploration opportunities for the children, along with an after-school care option.”

Civil society clearly made its presence felt during the strikes. Many proponents of government schools simply can’t fathom the idea of any non-state institution that is able to educate children. The Chicago teacher union protests demonstrated how quick civil society is able to fill in the void when the state becomes negligent in its duties (a common occurrence).

The freedom of association is a wonderful thing. Free people are able to craft solutions to the many problems we face. Although there are no quick fixes, free interactions in the marketplace allow people to muddle through and find existential problems they face in their daily lives. On the other hand, state coercion not only strips people of their agency as free individuals but also creates problems by removing important market mechanisms such as prices, profit & loss motive, etc. which are crucial for market innovation.

Historically speaking, America has had a rich tradition of education systems that were independent of the state — be it homeschooling, communal schooling, or private education. Such ideas of non-state education modules aren’t so radical when we look back. Understanding this history will allow us to use the tools of the 21st century to carve out freedom in the education sector. But first, we must get rid of the old dogma that the state must be in charge of education.

Big changes always start with changing foundational premises.

Be seeing you



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Worse Than Ever: Government Schools After 35 Years

Posted by M. C. on August 19, 2019

By Lawrence M. Ludlow

As a semi-retired business writer who taught in Detroit 35 years ago, I returned to the classroom because a local high school was unable to replace a Latin teacher who had resigned.  I hold an advanced degree in medieval studies and renewed my certification to teach Latin, history, and social studies.  Once in class, I witnessed firsthand the politicized atmosphere of today’s factory-style government-monopoly schools.

My first exposure to school politics came when I renewed my certification.  The 1982 certificate only listed the courses I could teach.  In contrast, the 2018 version had a 300-word “Code of Ethics” that amounted to a profession of faith in collectivism, egalitarianism, state schools, and diversity (typically limited to superficial things like skin color and gender, not ideas).  Nonetheless, I proceeded, thinking that I couldn’t possibly make matters worse.  That much was correct.

After an interview and teaching a few “test” classes to first- and second-year students, I was hired.  Within a few days, however, it was clear that many students did not understand English grammar, much less Latin fundamentals.  In response, I taught remedial grammar and outlined how students could pass my course with a “C” or “D.”  There were some excellent students, but test scores were not distributed in a bell-shaped curve.  It was an “inverted” bell, or bimodal distribution – with scores clumped at the two extremes.

Poor preparation, however, was only the tip of the iceberg.  Students did not bring books to class, relentlessly complained about homework, and expected high grades regardless of proficiency.  And when I asked questions, I uncovered some alarming facts:

  • Latin was a dumping ground for students who already had failed another language; “picking up a few phrases” was the goal.
  • Many teachers expected little but awarded high grades.
  • Students were subjected to parental pressure to obtain good grades regardless of performance.
  • A department head had been demoted for teaching at a pre-college level and refusing to lower his standards.
  • Senior teachers were dropping out in disgust; younger teachers had no choice but to accept the situation.
  • Under parental pressure, the principal was establishing a process to prevent students from having to take more than one test on the same day.  College prep?

In short, the school embraced grade inflation, propelled by the following dynamic:

  • Parents of high-performing students are “satisfied customers.”  Their kids study and bring home good grades, so they think they are getting their money’s worth from high taxes.  But they don’t know that there is no correlation between per-pupil spending and student performance.  And they never complain.
  • Parents of low-performing students also want good “results.”  They hear their children’s tales of woe and complain constantly.

Subjected to this one-sided feedback, administrators tacitly urge teachers to lower standards, despite proclaiming the opposite in public.  Like the Dodo in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “…everybody has won, and all must have prizes.”  Austrian economists, however, have explained this behavior.  Ludwig von Mises, for example, noted the human tendency to place a high value on receiving something sooner rather than later.  He called it time-preference theory.  The desire for immediate gratification with little effort explains the phenomenon of grade inflation.  At Grosse Pointe South High School, however, this practice goes undetected because it hides behind a much broader trend toward low achievement – most recently documented by Bryan Caplan in his devastating book, The Case Against Education.  This trend is even more pronounced in Michigan, enabling Grosse Pointe students to slip under the radar…

Today’s students are never free of the school district’s watchful eye, which seems to take its cues from the CIA and TSA.  But with so many parents accepting after-school surveillance (and paying for it), children never learn the sense of outrage that healthy individuals feel in the presence of Peeping Toms.  Instead, they learn to love Big Brother.  Likewise, a big-government political bias shapes their views on current and past events:

  • During a presentation about Gutenberg’s moveable-type printing press, a student became upset upon learning that literacy skyrocketed as a result of this invention – not because of public schools.  His mother is a teacher.
  • Trump Derangement Syndrome was widespread among teachers, who frequently vent their political views.
  • When asked about my politics at an otherwise friendly private holiday party, a school counselor revealed a comic-book grasp of and hostility to free markets when I replied, “libertarian-voluntaryist.”
  • In the final minutes of my last day teaching, I finally permitted a political discussion.  Some students were attracted to socialism and Antifa’s violence, but they were shocked into disbelief when I mentioned that Benito Mussolini, who introduced fascismo to modern politics, was firmly rooted in socialism and communism.  They were further outraged to discover that the Nazi party was steeped in collectivism and even included the term socialist in the party name, Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterparte (NSDAP). 
  • Ignorance about slavery prevailed.  Many believed it was isolated to the United States instead of practiced worldwide for ages.  They were more surprised – even resistant – to discover that the word slave is etymologically linked to the word Slav and white slavery.  Moreover, they somehow “learned” that Westerners were the most enthusiastic practitioners of slavery instead of being among the first to abandon it.
  • In March, 2018, Grosse Pointe students walked out of classes to protest the shootings in Parkland, Florida.  This occurred before revelations that the FBI failed to act on tips about the shooter, that school “security” failed to act, that Broward County Public School’s disciplinary practices played a key role in the shootings, and that the school district tried to cover up its deeds by suing the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper for publishing documents that revealed these facts.  Fortunately the Sun-Sentinel prevailed in the lawsuit.  The upshot? This school-approved Children’s Crusade was based on superstitions about guns and hostility to Constitutional rights.
  • Gender dysphoria is the new frontier in virtue-signaling, but we know that young people experiment with new identities – adopting and discarding career choices, hobbies, and friends as they “try them on for size.”  But the gender dysphoria fad requires adherence to a stereotyped view – namely that certain behaviors are appropriate only for boys and others for girls.  Some children, however, have a powerful need for attention and jump on the latest bandwagon to obtain it.  Others want to please “important” adults.  Shortly after I was hired, a counselor asked me to address one student with plural pronouns to acknowledge her/his gender dysphoria.  This request would not have been an issue for me if the student were an adult.  I treat people respectfully as a matter of habit.  But this student was too young to make this choice.  He/she may have been responding to the issue’s trendiness and had demonstrated more than once an interest in fringe politics and behaviors – typical teenage stuff.  I believed he/she was attempting to manipulate adults into playing along – another teenage pastime.  Moreover, he/she was bright but did not do her homework or study; he/she didn’t even know what a pronoun was! Since Latin is a highly inflected language, this request would derail the learning process.  Finally, it was completely unnecessary since I always called on students by name.  No pronouns were needed.  My explanation did not please the counselor, but I continued to treat the student respectfully.

Group identity and outrage culture dominate public schools…

Be seeing you


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment » Solving the Homeless Situation in American Cities

Posted by M. C. on June 3, 2019

Hi Bob,

I don’t know how long you’ve lived in San Francisco, but what do you think is at the root of this seemingly increasing homeless problem? I mean, in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s & 2000’s, I don’t think there was such a drastic  prevalence of homeless people living in tents everywhere on freeway offramps, parks, etc, & shitting all over the streets in SanFran, Los Angeles, Portland, Salt Lake City, etc.?  Is it the economy? Mental illness? Laziness? Does govt have a role in causing this?

In Portland  Oregon yesterday, there were really a lot of homeless, vagrants & transients, tents huddled everywhere. Almost like some weird Will Smith movie. (Pic attached.) Look at this guy he’s actually sitting like he’s in his living room, on the grass of a freeway offramp.

RW response:

It is a serious problem, however, in the end, you can pretty much see government failure and crony operators at every turn.

Many of the homeless have obvious serious mental health issues or are just low functional. The problem is that the wacky left keeps on taking city governments to court to prevent the governments from doing anything about these people. I have always thought of public areas controlled by the government as no man’s land and the wacky left has done everything it can to make the sidewalks of many American cities a surreal version of a no man’s land. It has become a business model for a kind-of crony left.

There is no question that there are wacky left organizations that want to see homeless on the streets so that it can raise money from the guilt-ridden rich in the same cities “to help”. They raise money on the theme of protecting the “right” of the homeless to sleep on the streets and in the parks.

This is the growth sector of the homeless. Gunslinging lawyers using laws to prevent anything from being done about the homeless.

Beyond the seriously mentally deficient and low functional, you also see a lot of druggies on the streets. Certainly, the elimination of laws prohibiting the sale of drugs would make it easier for these people to survive. The cost of drugs would collapse.

There are also many who just don’t know how to survive at a higher level in the current society but it is an odd cultural thing. The groups that seem to be closest to being dependent on government have the most homeless.

In San Francisco, it is not impossible but you rarely see Asian or Hispanic homeless. They, of course, tend to have very tight non-governmental cultures.

You see many more blacks on the streets followed by Caucasians—and the blacks are American blacks not blacks who have recently migrated to the US.

These people never had a chance. They were likely brought up in inner-city government schools and in homes that, thanks to government distorted incentives, did not have fathers in the homes, coupled with minimum wage laws that made it impossible for them to get their first jobs. Government crushed the chance for these (mostly) men to ever a suceed.

The short- and long- term solutions are not complex.

The first thing you do is eliminate government “charity.” With government handouts gone, there will be more willingness of decent people to give to charity to help those in need. But it should be true private sector charity where there is competition on how the needy are offered help—with no government interference.

Then it is simple, tell the homeless they can’t live or sleep on the sidewalks, parks, etc. and give them the option of choosing a charity organization and location where they will be transported.

I would make it a 6-month program. Announce that all homeless will be cleared from the streets in 6-months and that charities should get ready for the incoming–that will raise money for the charities and fast.

I would also eliminate minimum wage laws so that the low functional amongst the homeless who have the potential to get a job which matches their low hourly marginal revenue product can do so.

And as previously mentioned, the prohibition on the sale of drugs should be eliminated.

Also, I would eliminate all types of government handouts to families and individuals since this only results in dependence on government–which has its own crony agenda and can never really help the needy. We need private sector competition in charity.

Finally, I would eliminate government schools, which in the inner cities does nothing but destroy minds and spirit–and distorts the thinking of youth in all other non-inner city schools.

I am, more and more, beginning to think that government schools are the most dangerous institutions in America. I would end government-funded “education” of all kinds, including for all public schools and for all voucher programs.


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