Separation of School and State


This is an excellent discussion between Richard Ebling and Jacob Hornberger.  Ebling’s point is basically to allow competition in education.  Let schools form based on people’s interests.  If someone is interested in farming, let people create schools in farming and husbandry.  If people are interested in mining, create a school of mines rather than having a single school like the one in Golden, Colorado.  Ebling cites E. G. West’s book, Education and the State, 1965, which talks about how a large portion of the U.S. population was literate without government public education. Every literate and thinking person knows that reading, critical thinking, and the ability to grapple with controversial ideas is not a skill that you necessarily learn in public, government schools, but skills that you learn from reading on your own and discussing your questions and concerns with others.  Public-school teachers will argue “Well, that’s what we do in public schools.”  Actually, that’s not what occurs.  What occurs in public schools is mainly management of young people, controlling their passions.  Public schools are often run by feminists who when given the power of the classroom are bent on stamping out boy behavior.  Look at all of the texts that the kids are asked to read in English–To Kill a Mockingbird, a chick’s book; Jane Eyre (don’t get me started); Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  All girl books.  It’s no wonder boys lose interest in reading if all they’re presented with are stories like “Marigolds” and “Charlotte’s Web” and Lord of the Flies.  If you get a male book, its protagonist is often a dark and sinister hero as in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.  The best works I have found that might be a good and edifying read for boys would be the novels by Willa Cather, Shane, Huckleberry Finn, and The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien as a deterrent to the military.  I like Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe.  A lot.  I like Melville too.  Dickens may create the best characters we have; he and C. S. Lewis.  And perhaps Isaac Asimov.  I also like Shakespeare (though I think his treatment of love in R & J is excessive), but for the most part where are the good male literary characters?

Are you beginning to see my point?

There are some stories about boys and men that are better.  Biographies, for example.  The Autobiography of Malcolm X is good except for the fact that his family suffers horrible tragedy with the murder of his father.  Malcolm gets into trouble stealing and does a prison term.  Is this what is required to achieve some level of speaking skill, fame, and fortune?  The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin has promise, but what 16 year old is going to take to heart and use the daily planning exercises recommended by Franklin to be more productive?  How are kids who see technology first and foremost as a consumer’s paradise with all of the free music, video, message boards, chat rooms, and texting capability as something other than digital toys to consume?  Which student is going to see the productive value of a YouTube video, for example, or a blog or learn how to configure these tools as well as advertising to make money?  Is that above their head?  In a government, public school, the answer is a regrettable yes.  The state is a jealous god.  They will not permit anything that intereferes with their agenda or, more specificaly, their funding.  They will demonize anything that conflicts with their funding values.  Heavy, 800-page textbooks are the only thing that contains real learning” they might argue.  What about a book, a novel, a paperback?  Nope.  In fact, the entire faculty at a school I worked was ordered not to teach a novel. This is what happens when the worst rise to the top.  And this generally only happens in governmetn, public schools where there is no accountability and no measure for performance.  Oh, and where the organization is tax-funded.

Ebling says that “In the marketplace there is consumer-based pluralism under which a diversity of views, values, beliefs and desires are simultaneous satisfied that diffuses conflicts about whose wants and desires will be fulfilled compared to someone else’s.”  He also adds in the interview that people with private funding should be able to create schools based on the philosophical values of the parents or the interests of the child.  And points out that it is precicely choice that has been taken away in today’s public schools.

Hornberger adds his own observations by pointing out that kids have a natural thirst for learning and knowledge. The main point is to replace the government, public schools with competition. Free schools. Citing West’s book Education and the State, Ebling points out the religious schools and privates schools in the late 1700s and early 1800s were the institutions primarily responsible for literacy in this country. He cites the example of how in factories one person was assigned the task of reading the daily newspaper to the crew on staff on the machines in the factory.

Funny how I always her a different version for the etymology for the word “education.”  Hornberger explains that “education” comes from the Latin word “educare,” which is Latin for “needs to seek.” Kids get passionate about something.  And this is what is missing in the government, mandated public school system. He says that by the time that kids get out of school, they actually hate reading because of the forced nature of reading irrelevant texts that have nothing to do with their lives or what they’re passionate about.

Hayek said “Competition is a discovery process.” We hold a race for we never know who can do better the next time. It’s only through the competitive environment to see who can do the best in a peaceful rivalry.

As such, these gentlement highlight homeschooling as you would expect.  They do point to the positives in the movement away from government, public education through charter schools.  Though the complaint about charter schools is that it is all dressing or that they’re not as rigorous as some public school classrooms, their existence does set the tone for a move away from government schools.

from The Libertarian Angle


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