For the life of me, I just cannot understand why so many Americans favor public (i.e., government) schooling. Everyone knows that government produces the worst of everything and that the free market produces the best of everything. So, why leave something as important as the education of one’s child in the hands of the government?
It’s not a matter of whether public schoolteachers and administrators are dedicated, competent, and passionate about their work. It’s about a bad system. When you have a bad system and good teachers, the bad system is ultimately going to win out.
It is impossible to measure the damage that is done to children’s minds in public schooling. Every child from birth to six years of age has an instinctive desire to learn. Children have a natural awe of the universe, looking around wide-eyed and absorbing everything they see or hear.
That comes to a halt when children enter the public-schooling system. That’s because the system slowly but surely smashes it out of them. A natural desire to learn is replaced by a mindset of regimentation, obedience to orders and commands, and deference to authority. By the time children graduate high school, they hate school and can’t wait to get out.
The state’s education system is really army-lite. The system is based on conscription, in that parents are forced to submit their children to it. Sure, some people can afford private schools, but oftentimes such schools are simply a privatized version of public schooling, especially since they have to maintain a state license to stay in existence. Homeschooling is an option for some parents but even they oftentimes have to get their teaching approved by state officials. Most parents default to the public-school system.
Some children manifest a natural revulsion against the system. State officials diagnose them with attention deficit disorder and prescribe drugs. Unfortunately, characterized by the deference to authority mindset that was inculcated in them by their public schools, many parents go along with this. The child becomes a drugged automaton who gradually gets his mind “straight.”
How can parents do this to their children? I find it totally befuddling. It’s got to be that they just don’t realize what is happening, That’s because they themselves are products of the system.
None of this should surprise anyone. Public schooling is one gigantic socialist system, and everyone knows the type of shoddy products and services that socialism produces. Like other socialist systems, the state centrally plans the education of hundreds, thousands, or millions of people. Central planning is a core feature of socialism. It produces what Ludwig von Mises called “planned chaos.” What better term to describe public schooling?
The textbooks, curriculum, and class schedule are selected by the government. The government determines when the bells are going to ring, signaling that it’s now time to change classes. Woe to the student who fails to comply.
Funding of public schooling is through the coercive apparatus of taxation. How good can a system be when people have to be forced to fund it?
Genuine education is a seeking process. People become passionate about something and they devote their efforts to learning about it. In the process, they become exposed to other things. Public schooling, on the other hand, is a cramming and memorization process. Students quickly learn that what matters are grades, not learning.
In a free-market educational system, entrepreneurs would be competing against each other to provide the best educational vehicles for children. Parents would have an array of constantly improving educational products and services from which to choose. Parents would be free to treat each child as a unique individual and tailor his education accordingly.
A free, independent-thinking, and educated society necessarily depends on the separation of school and state, just as our ancestors separated church and state. A free-market educational system would be the best thing that could ever happen to us.
This post was written by: Jacob G. Hornberger
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.