Public Education is a Public Service, not "Tyranny"

Facts not Fear

Rose West, author of a hub titled “Government interference in Education” (lately un-published) is clearly passionate about the subject. Passion, however, doesn’t make the article’s argument compelling, its points valid, or its “data” true.

The choice of emotion-laden words like “slavery” and “brainwashing,” and the sensationalism of mentioning unsubstantiated “vampire-like” attacks indicates that this essay isn’t meant to inspire rational thought, but unreasoning fear. The conclusion even states, flat out, “If this mere fact doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will.” Personally, I prefer to make important decisions about my kids’ education based on facts not fear.

Full disclosure: I follow Rose West, enjoy her writing, and respect her. On this point, however, we disagree.

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Liberation, not Control

There are certain arguments in this essay that bear examination, though. Let’s take a look at them. First, there’s the assertion that “…the government forces you to make sure your children are properly educated (emphasis mine).” Excellent manipulation of the emotion-laden word “force,” implying that the government is imposing its will on parents and infringing on their rights. There are similar laws that require parents to see that their children are properly fed, properly clothed, and properly sheltered. Do those laws “force” parents to feed their children? Should parents be allowed to not feed their children if they so desire, and thus be free from the government yoke? No thinking person would argue that a parent has the right to starve his child. How is it that a thinking person would argue (however obliquely) that a parent should have the right to keep his child ignorant, unprepared for an independent existence as a citizen? Compulsory education is not some plot of the government to take control of your children’s minds, but rather an effort to ensure children’s right to be educated. Not to educate a child is to neglect that child, in the same way that not feeding, clothing, or sheltering that child would be neglect. The article does correctly state that the government only requires that children be educated, and does not stipulate where or by whom they be educated. This is far from “slavery.” But at the same time, the article states that the right to require education logically includes the right to command where, how, and by whom the education is to be accomplished. This is ludicrous. The requirement to feed one’s children does not logically include a requirement for a certain style of diet, or when mealtimes shall be set. The requirement that children be educated is actually a vehicle for individual liberty rather than state control, as an educated person who knows his rights is more difficult to control.

The Whole Truth and Nothing But, Please

Rose's hub asserts that the government shouldn’t be involved in kids’ education. Okay, that’s a subject we could discuss, but no arguments in favor of this assertion have been listed other than scare tactics, broad generalizations, tabloid-style gossip, and blatant falsehoods. Public education is not “brainwashing” any more than parochial education is indoctrination; perhaps even less so. Some public schools are substandard; this is undeniable. Of course, these are the ones that get all the press. A successful school with a high graduation rate is hardly newsworthy; cherry-picked data is hardly the whole truth. It’s interesting that the Rose has “heard about” vampire-like attacks in public schools. I have “heard about” some pretty vicious hazing in private schools. But both data points are equally invalid unless substantiated by evidence, and even if substantiated in one case, they wouldn’t be evidence that either style of education was inherently bad. Does violence take place in public schools? Of course it does. It also takes place in playgrounds and at the workplace and at private schools and, yes, even at home. Statistically speaking, however, kids are safer at a school than pretty much anywhere else. Finally, there is the assertion that a parent has “no oversight” over their children if they attend a public school. Poppycock. A parent of a public school student can observe a class at any time. He can volunteer in his child’s classroom. He can confer with his child’s teacher whenever he feels the need. He can opt his child out of lessons of which he disapproves. A parent of a public school student can be as involved in his child’s education as he chooses to be.

Philosophy Belongs in Philosophy Class

Oh, and the evolution/creationism false dichotomy rears its head once again. Look, the public school system is not—let me say that again—is not teaching anybody that God did not create the world. What it is doing, in science class, is teaching the current theories of science. A scientific theory is one that is testable by experimentation and/or observation. So-called intelligent design “theory” is not scientific, as the designer cannot be observed. Intelligent design may be correct. I happen to believe that God created the universe. But my belief in God as Creator is not scientific, and therefore it should not be taught in a science class. It certainly has a place in a course on philosophy, but it ain’t science. Science class is a place to learn how to draw conclusions based on observable evidence. It’s not a place to learn about giving equal time to stuff that isn’t science. We would not expect a science teacher to give the same amount of class time to astrology as he does to astronomy, would we? We wouldn’t expect the anatomy teacher to show her students where to find their chakras. We don’t demand that the math teacher show her pupils the basics of numerology. And why not?  Because none of that stuff is science. It’s interesting, sure, and hey, maybe there’s something to the mysteries of the Kabbalah. But until it’s proven through repeatable experimentation, or direct or indirect observation, it. Isn’t. Science.

My Apple is Better than Your Orange?

The article compares public school graduation rates with that of private schools. This is an apples/oranges comparison for many reasons, most of which have to do with the differing average levels of parental involvement between private and public schools. But the most important reason for the difference in performance between private and public schools is this: private schools can expel a student for poor academic performance, and that student becomes another school’s (usually a public school’s) challenge. The same is true of home-schooled students. Successful home-schooled students are held up as a reason for dismantling the public school system, but the anti-public-education crowd don’t like to talk about the parents who come to realize that homeschooling is harder than they thought, or whose kids are harder to teach than they expected. Where do those kids end up? Most often, they get dumped on a public school, which now must deal with a student who is not only challenging in one way or another but is also months or years behind his peers. When a public school gets a low-performing student, it must teach that student as best it can. It can’t expel the student for failing math. It must keep that student, and try a different approach to teaching him math. If a private school had to take all comers and couldn’t kick anybody out for earning bad grades, you bet that school would start to look like it was doing a bad job (even though it might be educating its students to their full potential).

Aren't Minorities by Definition Small Groups?

Most astoundingly, the article absurdly claims that Christians are a minority in American public schools. That’s just crazy talk. It’s non-Christians that are the minority, and it's non-Christians who face the most discrimination in our schools. Perhaps the non-Christians’ newfound courage in standing up for their rights is the force behind this irrational fearmongering; perhaps there’s some other cause. But the fact remains that Christians are still (and probably will be for a very long time) an enormous majority in American schools just as they are in society at large. Is there faith-based discrimination in our public schools? Sadly, yes, but this is not as a result of federal mandate but rather misguided local officials. Most of this discrimination is perpetrated by the white Christian majority against people the majority disapproves of.

The People Benefit both Directly and Indirectly

Finally, the most valid-seeming (without actually being valid) argument Rose's article makes is that the people support the public schools with their tax money regardless of whether their children take advantage of public education. Fair point, but I’d counter that an educated population is good, and that an uneducated population would be bad. We all benefit from having a nominally free public education system, even if we do not use it ourselves. We similarly benefit from having police, firefighters, and an interstate highway system supported by our taxes, whether we ever call the cops or the fire department, or drive on the interstate, or not.

Knowledge is Power

Bottom line: if someone doesn’t want to send her kids to a public school, she is not required to do so. She is, however, required to see that her children get a basic education so that they can function in modern society. This is not tyranny, this is promoting the general welfare. Specifically, it is looking out for the rights of children, who are as a rule not competent to stand up for their own rights, or if they are competent, are unable to physically or economically assert their rights. Of course, if kept in ignorance, children would have no idea that they have rights at all, and would thus be more easily controllable as adults than the ones who got a public education.

More by this Author


Comments 38 comments

Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan

First off, let me say that I respect you as well, and I enjoyed reading this article. You’ve made me think more deeply about this topic, and for that I thank you.

My main point in my hub was that the government has no right or responsibility to educate our children. All the other reasons against public schools were merely extras that back my main premise. This premise is based on principles found in the Bible.

I had no motive to scare people into my position. I think that government-run education is scary. I think that we are slaves of the state. I wasn’t exaggerating. Perhaps “brainwashing” is a little extreme, so I’ll give you that one.

I hesitated putting the vampire stuff in at all, because I couldn’t find any hard evidence (except a blog link) despite the instances I have heard about. I’ve removed the vampire references now, thanks to your calling me out :)

Public schools can be violent places, and I disagree with you: kids who stay at home learning from their parents are much safer. Drugs (illicit and otherwise), alcohol, and sex are very real presences in public schools. When I said that parents have no oversight, I was referring to their protection. Parents don’t follow their kids around school to make sure that they make the right choices. Plus, parents are unable to control exactly what is taught at a public school.

Evolution is faith-based, just like creationism. I have studied both theories, and I have yet to find any good evidence for evolution. Whether you hold to evolution or creation is a matter of faith, and science is not going to prove either side.

And I’m not going to even get started on the “general welfare” :)


Misha profile image

Misha 6 years ago from DC Area

I am afraid you are daydreaming Jeff. I won't interrupt your dreams :)


Tim 6 years ago

The department of education is a perfect example of the failures of involvement in our lives on behalf of the State.

Prior to its liberal inception, America had the best schools and our students were the best educated in the world. Since statist control, our scores have steadily fallen while amount of tax payer money per each student rises annually.

Now our schools are a mess, a financial black hole, and a cesspool for liberal indoctrination. Meanwhile, big government social darwinists think that abolishing the DOE means taking away from the children, as if that means we'll have to shut down all schools. What a laugh! The DOE has only been around since '79, and has all but ruined the education in this country.

One only has to look at the trillions of dollars wasted through government corruption, greed, and ineptness to see why our kids are so poorly educated and our country in such a financial mess.

I still can't believe we live in a time when people are standing up for the DOE, but once again liberals only think with their hearts at the expense of their brains. Too bad that's neither smart nor particularly caring.


Doodlebird 6 years ago

Hi Jeff - I left a comment for you on the other hub. But, I would like to recommend some reading regarding our education system (and its history) - not by a homeschooler, but by a former New York "Teacher of the Year." If you've ever heard of John Taylor-Gatto, you might find his perspective interesting: "The Underground History of American Education" (http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/index.h...


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

Hi, folks!

Thanks for the feedback.

Rose, I get that you believe that the government has no right or responsibility to educate our kids. Many people agree with you. But this is a purely philosophical position, and none of the points you raise bear on that philosophy. If the gov't has no place in education, then even if public schools were utopian temples of learning where nothing bad ever happened, they still shouldn't exist.

The question I have for you is /why/ does the government have no business providing public education? Not why are public schools substandard (some are, most are not, and some are exceptionally good), but why should the government never run a school, even if the government could create and run the perfect school?

"This premise is based on principles found in the Bible."

So?

"Evolution is faith-based, just like creationism."

I reckon we're just going to have to agree to disagree on that point. If you can't tell the difference between science and faith, I won't be able to convince you that a thing is one or the other.

Tim, What you've presented is a post hoc ergo propter hoc argument, that is, you're saying that since A happened, and then B happened, then A caused B. A /may/ have caused B, but you haven't shown that it did with your arguments. You've only established a chronology. Plus, you haven't really shown that our public schools were so much better prior to 1979. You've only claimed it. Of course, you close with the assertion that people who disagree with you are not thinking people. A very convenient assertion when you haven't presented any facts to back up your arguments.

Doddle, thanks for the link, I'll take a look at it soon, and look forward to seeing the comment on Rose's hub.

Cheers, folks!

JB


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

Jeff,

I thought your hub was excellent. I fully support State Education in Australia.,,and actually think it's a damn shame funds here have been seeping out of the State system to be funneled into private schools. This has meant a degradation in State schools and a change in philosophy....as parents believe to get the "best' education they must send their children to a private school. When they pull out of the state system they take their resources and input with them. I don't object to private schools but not at the expense of the State system, which is by far the most equitable.


Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan

I guess we will have to agree to disagree. I believe that government's responsibilities do not include education. God gives rulers their authority, and his Law should be the basis for their actions.

On a side note, the Federal Government's involvement in education is clearly a violation of the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution. Even though I hold that State government doesn't have the responsibility either, our nation's Constitution prohibits the Federal government from getting involved at all.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

"God gives rulers their authority, and his Law should be the basis for their actions." Except in the United States, the people give the leaders their authority, and the leaders answer to no other power.

"the Federal Government's involvement in education is clearly a violation of the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution."

I don't know about 'clearly,' but you do have a point there. I wonder how the Supreme Court would decide a case where a local school district sued the D of E to get out of a D of E mandate.


Rob 6 years ago

A solid read but I have to disagree with you on a few points, old friend. One is that I ~do~ believe that "active and evangelical Christians" are a minority in schools. I don't mean evangelical in a negative way I simply don't know a better word to describe someone who would open a conversation with "Isn't this a glorious day God gave us?" Those who wear their faith on their sleeves are a minority, be that whatever it is.

I also think that you show far too much restraint in responding to the pseudo-science of evolution denial. The basic tennants of evolutionary theory are observable so many times over it is nearly comical. Even the most die hard of Creationists struggle to challenge "Micro Evolution" because it is so easily observed, and replicated in the laboratory.

You cannot, under any circumstance, reproduce an experiment using Intelligent Design. You absolutely ~can~ reproduce experiments where in a population will shift it's color, it's eating instincts, and other traits. Evolution ~is~ science. Hold the line, soldier, Hold. The. Line!

Otherwise a great article and 'debate' as well.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

Hey there, Rob!

You have a point on Evangelical Christians vs Christians in general. I suppose Mennonites are a minority, too, but at the same time, they're a sub-group of a huge majority. Most public school students are at least nominal Christians of one stripe or another. But then, we Christians have never been all that accepting of denominational differences, have we? :-)

I didn't pull out any heavy artillery in the evolution battle for two reasons. One, it's not a battle I'm all that interested in fighting, and two, it really has no bearing on the discussion at hand. Whether evolution is scientific or not (and it IS) has no bearing on whether the government should or shouldn't be providing public education.


Rob 6 years ago

Christians not accepting? Typical protestant... Always getting it wrong. ;)

Overall a very solid counter discussion though.


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

The spark of evolution was created by an equation I'd love to see on a chalk board,specifically the process that created DNA. You just can't say it was created randomly,this fact is not science either.If someone wants to teach philosophy in science class I dont care as I would question that with LOGIC and NOT emotion. Which is what science taught me...to question everything.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

"You just can't say [DNA] was created randomly..."

I don't think that's a true scientific attitude either. A more appropriate (scientific) statement would be "We do not yet know exactly how DNA came into being."

"It just sorta happened" is just as intellectually lazy as "It's so complicated that God must've done it."


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

I didn't say God created DNA and your right that classes should be structered by a true definition of the title of that class/I'm saying the purest of science can still be deconstructed down to opinion no matter how DNA came about whether it be math or magic..."life started as a random event is more likly than intelligent design" was taught to me in science class(likly sounds like an opinion) as I can see an opinion in a philsophical sense. Theory has a concenses, its still an opinion of many based on logic of the majority BUT still an opinion and opinion is to me the same as philosophy.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

'"life started as a random event is more likly than intelligent design" was taught to me in science class'

That's bad science, too. We* don't know how "likely" either case would be, having only the one universe to study, and not being able to see either the designer or the spontaneous random appearance of life.

*'We' as in 'humankind.'


Evan G Rogers profile image

Evan G Rogers 6 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

Hey there, Good hub. I felt bad cuz I've been seeing your comments on my hubs, but not vice versa, so I hopped onto one of yours.

Quote: "No thinking person would argue that a parent has the right to starve his child."

I ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE!!!

Walter Block had an interesting idea on this, which directly led to a libertarian/anarchist view on abortion. I'll outline it here, and admit that I kind of agree with it. I believe he calls it the "Eviction" Principle of abortion. Here goes:

SO, if we understand that someone owns their body, and we understand that life begins at inception (Block makes the first point due to libertarian beliefs, and the second point because it needs to be considered if we're even to discuss abortion as bad), then we can begin to see the fertilized egg as a trespasser. If the trespasser was created through love and care, then it's a fully welcomed trespasser, but if it were created through rape or it's just not wanted, then it is an unwelcome trespasser.

If we consider an unwelcome trespasser, it would be inappropriate to just kill it - after all, the trespasser does have the right to life. It is more appropriate to simply evict it! The real problem comes in when we realize that we don't have suitable technology to keep the evicted embryo/fetus alive outside the womb, except after about 8 months after conception.

So, Block argues, after technology gets to the point that we can keep a 'just-conceived-last-night' fetus alive with no problem, then we can consider it a fetus that is just waiting to be adopted.

He fully admits that he is still working out the kinks, but it's a pretty decent theory in my opinion!

So, if we go even further with this, a child who is being starved by his parents shouldn't be allowed to die. It SHOULD be put up for adoption (i.e., evicted) and ONLY if no one else in the entire world wants to take custody of the child, then the child should be allowed to be starved, or left to its own devices to survive.

(Let me know what you think!)

Quote: "Compulsory education is not some plot of the government to take control of your children’s minds, "

I agree with this: one thing about many libertarians that kind of drives me nuts is that everything is a conspiracy. No offense, but it really isn't.

The real reason that public education sucks (which it does - ask any teacher who's taught in private schools and public schools), is that it's... public! Socialism doesn't work! And it shouldn't be expected to. It should be 100% ok, no strings attached, not even considered weird, full cash back guarantee, to send your kid to Private school. Unfortunately it isn't. And this is why people think it's a conspiracy.

Also, FEDERAL schools are not Constitutional, but STATE schools are. Not a single dollar of federal funding has any Constitutional authority to be in a school (this is a point that has to be clarified when discussing the evilness of / conspiracy of / constitutionality of schools. It always helps to point this out when dealing with a conspiracy nut.)

Paraphrase Quote: "Using the word force is inaccurate"

With this I have to disagree. You can have your child go to private schools, but, because government is inefficient and stupid, you still have to pay taxes for public schools.

And, if you don't pay taxes on public school - you get a friendly visit from your local policman.

AND, if you don't send your child to any schooling whatsoever (what if the kid just refuses to learn, or is handicapped in some dramatic way), then it's a crime.

I think Force is the correct word. It doesn't seem like it should be force, but it is: just because something makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy inside doesn't change the fact that it's still being forced on them.

Paraphrase Quote: "Not educated your child is pretty much the same thing as not feeding him"

We must remember our Capitalism! The only reason we can afford to send our children to a compulsory education for the first 18 years of his life and keep him from earning a single penny (due to child labor laws) until he's about 16, is because we have so much capital invested in infrastructure. 3rd world countries sure as hell couldn't afford this! IF we were stranded on a deserted island, there's no way we could afford to have any under-16 year old worker sitting idle, learning about the finer qualities of Calculus ... while the rest of us go looking for coconuts.

The simple fact is that, we can afford to send out kids to schools for the first 18 years of their life, and we can afford to keep them off the job market and learn instead of working for the first 16 years! This is really what it boils down to. I would reject the idea that it's child abuse to not educate your kid: what if you couldn't afford it? what if it were just a better idea to have the kid go to work on a trade for the first 18 years of his life instead of "normal" education?

I would also like to point out that food/water/shelter and education ARE on the same footing, but not the way that you might think. It's horrible to say this, but no one has the "right" to food, water, shelter OR education - thus they are all on the same footing. The truth is that we can AFFORD to do these things, and that's why they exist. But they are not rights. If I had a right to food, then I could say "I have no money, I'm completely poverty stricken (except a few hundred bucks), but! I'm going spend my money on a trip to Italy... everyone has to feed me while i walk around italy!"... clearly this is nuts.

The reason we can eat is that we can afford it. The reason we can educate our children is that we can afford it.

ANyway, this response is WAY too long. Sorry, good article, thanks for the comments on mine!


Rob Again... 6 years ago

Here's the one problem with your idea Evan, we don't have a society that can support that many people who opted out of education in favor of unskilled trade. In fact that number is getting smaller and smaller. Education is the gateway to the creation of wealth, and we, as a society, have a strong vested interest in getting as many kids as possible through that gateway.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

Evan, that's an interesting argument re: abortion. If it were possible to bring a fetus to term in vitro, that would make things a lot more simple. Of course, developing the technology to bring a human fetus to term in vitro will raise a lot of ethical questions.... What do I think? I don't know yet. I'll have to consider.

A child being starved by its parents should not be allowed to die. It should be put up for adoption. I agree so far. But I don't think a child should be left to fend for itself if nobody can be found (or /until/ somebody can be found) to raise it. Not many five-year-olds are able to look after themselves.

"The real reason that public education sucks ... is that it's... public! Socialism doesn't work!" Well, if you agree that Socialism never ever works, then yes, that conclusion makes sense. But the problem with your argument is that 'public education' /doesn't/ suck. /Some/ public schools suck. Most are adequate to good, and some are /awesome/. If "public education sucks" is an argument to abolish it, then why would we want to abolish those public schools that either don't suck or are awesome?

"It should be 100% ok, no strings attached, not even considered weird, full cash back guarantee, to send your kid to Private school. Unfortunately it isn't."

I too think it should be perfectly fine to send your kid to whatever school you want to send him to. As long as the kid gets an education, it should be okay.

"You can have your child go to private schools, but, because government is inefficient and stupid, you still have to pay taxes for public schools." I'd say, you can send your kid to private school, and because an educated populace benefits society at large, whether you have kids or not, you still pay taxes for public schools in the same way (and for the same reasons) that you support the fire department and the defense department with your taxes.

"I would reject the idea that it's child abuse to not educate your kid: what if you couldn't afford it?" Exactly. This is why we have public schools, so that even the children of the poorest of the poor can be educated, and won't suffer (as much) from their parents' bad luck/poor financial acumen/what have you.


Enigmatic Me profile image

Enigmatic Me 6 years ago from East Coast Canada

Jeff,

No, I am not here to banter the merits of either article, but simply here to drop an observation.

Despite your knowledge, and great debating ability, I feel as though you look past a person's perspective and dismantle how they present it.

This appears to be a ping pong battle you are enjoying too much. Teasing the competition into further agitation all the while knowing that your debating tactics will bring down the less articulate.

Knowledge is power, however, there are a lot of 'educated ignorant' in power. So, just due to your background and swift deciphering, don't think that you are the all knowledgeable.

Concede to the fact that education is not equally accessible, not equally culturally sensitive, not equally given. Yes there is some form of education that is being presented, and some of it is learned, but you cannot say that because some schools are great to mediocre that All kids should be registered into those schools.

I fear I will not post any more on this topic, as fascinating as it is, as I fear it feeds your ego too much.

I also believe that an education can be fostered in many different forums and manners, so whether a young person is in school or on a boat, or in the jungle, is really in material.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

Hi, E.M.,

You seem to think I'm sparring for the sake of sparring. I'm not. I am, with this article, defending the public schools in America from those who would have us dismantle them (for whatever reason). Some people think our public schools are bad by definition. I do not share this view. I think public schools are a vital public service and will defend them when I can.

What's more, I never, ever said (nor would I ever say) that

"All kids should be registered into [public] schools." The public schools are there for those who choose to take advantage of them, or who can't afford other forms of schooling. Nobody should be required to use this service in particular.

I do, however, assert that kids have the right to be educated, be it in a public school, a private school, or at home. I happen to support public schools. I would, however, never assert that it should be illegal to homeschool your kids, or that private schools should be abolished. I would ask the homeschool crowd and the private school crowd to extend the public school crowd that same courtesy.

I too believe that education can take many forms. I also know that not everybody can educate their children (whether due to lack of education themselves, lack of time, or lack of money). That's why I'm glad that parents can take advantage of our public school system if they need to, or choose to, and why I oppose efforts to take the public schools away.

Have no fear about feeding my ego; this article is far from an ego-feeding machine for me. (Though, anyone here who wants to feed my ego, check out some of my other articles and rate them up! That always gives me a lift.)

All the best,

JB


Doodlebird 6 years ago

Hi Jeff -

Just letting you know that I ended up posting my own hub on the subject (too much to say, I guess). Included a link to your hub as well.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

Hiya, Doodle, I'm going to go have a look at your hub. Thanks for the link!


Marna Stark profile image

Marna Stark 6 years ago

Interesting hub. I mostly agree with you, Jeff, though my family's education was primarily home-based rather than school-based. Given society as it is today, I certainly don't object to paying taxes toward public education, since there is no better alternative for the majority. But I do think that public schools have not been great for truly educating people--not even the best ones. That is too much to go into here though. Thanks for a good discussion.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

The tyranny of the current system is that everybody is required to financially support the rotten public schools. The schools teach a false history to assuage the "self-esteem" of the less accomplished peoples; they are anti-American; they teach Socialism as good; they teach sexuality without any moral values in direct constrast to the parents of most of the children; they teach multicultural, politically correct dreck that is not fit for human consumption.

Parents should be free—have the liberty—to use their tax monies to send their children to a Christian school if they so desire, so the children may be taught in a way that does not directly contradict the worldview of their family.

If the Teacher's Union, a Marxist organization, was abolished—and if control over each school was returned to each local community without federal interference, the schools could be the greatest in the world again. In the first world, they are the worst.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

Those would be compelling arguments, James, if there were any truth to them.


Tim_511 profile image

Tim_511 6 years ago from Huntington, WV

Thought-provoking hub, Jeff. But, have you really checked out the average public school recently? James is right on the money in his indictment of many public schools. Obviously, they aren't all equally bad, but they certainly aren't good. The NEA has no interest in good schools, but only their own power and the dissemination of left-wing views. Many teachers that belong to the unions are great people, but they can't fight the unions and keep their jobs.

A couple of varied points here:

The federal government has no excuse to become involved in education per the 9th and 10th Amendments. State governments may have certain powers depending on the state constitution, but part of liberty is the right of parents to decide how to raise their children. Education is not a right, although government interference preventing education would be a violation of rights.

People all the time talk about how the Christians are causing the discrimination problems in society. While I'm sure discrimination by Christians does exist, I haven't seen it and I don't believe that most of those who decry it have either. Christians have become a rather convenient whipping boy for the left on many issues - I suppose we make a convenient target.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

Hi, Tim, thanks for the feedback!

"have you really checked out the average public school recently?" Yes, both my kids attend a public school, and I'm very satisfied with it. At the same time, in the next town there are public schools that I wouldn't want to send them to, and in the town on the other side, there's a district that I wish I could send them to. Some public schools are bad, some are excellent, and most are just fine.

"The NEA has no interest in good schools, but only their own power and the dissemination of left-wing views."

Tim, do you have any facts to back up that claim?

"part of liberty is the right of parents to decide how to raise their children." Absolutely! If a parent wants to send their kids to private school, or homeschool them, that's their right! I'll defend that right as vigorously as I'll defend public schools.


Tim_511 profile image

Tim_511 6 years ago from Huntington, WV

I'll give you one good example right off. My mother was a teacher. On her first day of work, the teachers went on strike and she was threatened if she went to teach. That was a union strike. The union wasn't concerned with the students - if they had been, they wouldn't have organized a strike when it would hurt the children. Frankly, public employees have no reason to strike nor do they have any cause to be organized in such a fashion.

As far as left-wing politics, between 1990 and 2008 93% of NEA donation went to Democrats. They donated to ACORN, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Democratic Leadership Council,National Council of La Raza, People for the American Way and a host of other leftist groups. They actively fight against private schools, home schooling, and charter schools. They stick their nose into issues that belong to the parents on origins, gun control, homosexuality, and it is never on the right-wing side.

I'm not knocking on teachers directly. There are many good teachers out there who really want their students to learn, and I applaud them. The NEA and AFT, though, I have no respect or sympathy for in this case.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

"The union wasn't concerned with the students - if they had been, they wouldn't have organized a strike when it would hurt the children." Tim, I gotta ask you this: when can teachers go on strike, have the strike be effective, and /not/ affect the students? If they were to go on strike in the summertime, the strike would have no weight: there would be no reason to negotiate; the teachers aren't meant to be teaching anyway. The UAW never went on strike during the car companies' summer shutdown period, either.

"Frankly, public employees have no reason to strike nor do they have any cause to be organized in such a fashion."

Well, I respectfully disagree. Any group of employees (public ones included) have the right to organize and bargain collectively.

As for left-wing stuff, well, I'm not terribly surprised that the NEA would donate more to Democrats than to Republicans: Democrats, on the whole, tend to value public education. Republicans, on the whole, tend not to.

But as for fighting against private schools, I'm curious where you heard that. Private schools aren't on the NEA's radar as far as I know. They fight against private school vouchers, that's true, and I do too. Public money oughtn't go to institutions that aren't open to, well, the public.

I have no idea what you mean about the NEA sticking their noses into issues that belong to parents. What have the NEA been saying about origins, gun control, and homosexuality? But thinking about issues that belong to parents and not teachers, I'd have thought that keeping religion out of schools (American United for the Separation of Church and State) would be one of those areas where most folks would want to be sure that teachers didn't go trespassing on parents' territory. I sure don't want a schoolteacher or anybody else at school to be telling my kids what they ought to believe about God: that's none of the school's business.


Tim_511 profile image

Tim_511 6 years ago from Huntington, WV

I just don't think that we are going to agree on this. I'm not a fan of unions in general and especially not for public service employees. They are serving us and being paid by us, and they should do their job as they agreed to when they were hired.

As far as charter schools, if I'm paying the tax, then it should go where I want to use it. When I have children, they surely won't be going to a public school, so why should I have to subsidize someone else plus pay for my own separately?

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is an anti-Christian organization, plain out. They aren't interested in a general separation, they want complete freedom from religion instead of freedom of religion, and the two ideas are incompatible. Check them out - if there is a mention of God somewhere, they will be the first on the block to file suit somewhere.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

"if I'm paying the tax, then it should go where I want to use it." Should a pacifist be allowed to deny funding to the defense department?

"why should I have to subsidize someone else plus pay for my own separately"

Public education is a public service that everyone benefits from, not just the folks who send their kids to it. An educated populace is a public good. An ignorant populace is a public detriment.

Similarly, my family could put a sprinkler system in our house if we wanted to, but that wouldn't absolve us from paying taxes to support our town's fire department. Why not? Because the fire department is a public service that everyone benefits from, not just the people who haven't got a sprinkler system in their homes.

I checked out AUftSoC&S. I disagree with your assessment of them as an "anti-Christian" group. They seem to be more of a pro-free-exercise group, willing to go to bat for people of all faiths, and to stand against people in power who push their own faith on others. I support that, as well.

As I said before, I want to be the person who decides what my kids are taught about their faith. I don't want their math teacher doing that--his job is to teach my kids math.


Tim_511 profile image

Tim_511 6 years ago from Huntington, WV

A pacifist is still protected by the military, even if he doesn't like it. I haven't been educated by public schools and I still pay taxes to support them.

It is not within the powers of the government to take money from one person and give it to another for personal use. If I don't attend public schooling and have to pay to support someones else's education, that is stealing. I would be willing to help someone on my own volition, but not at the point of a gun, so to speak.

As far as the Americans United, respectfully, my assessment is correct. I've been reading about them for years, and they are terrified that someone might mention God in public or that a poor atheist might have to see a cross somewhere. Not every mention of acknowledgement of God is a constitutional issue, but AU will fight them tooth and toenail. They won't rest until everyone in the country is a de facto atheist.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

"I haven't been educated by public schools and I still pay taxes to support them."

Perhaps you haven't, but your neighbors have, and they are now qualified to hold jobs, or go to college for further education, which is a sight better than having them uneducated and unqualified to do much of anything, not just for them personally, but for the country as a whole. An educated populace benefits the whole country, not only the people who were educated.

"It is not within the powers of the government to take money from one person and give it to another for personal use." That's an excellent argument against vouchers. Thanks!

On AU, and church-state separation in general, I really don't understand how this siege-mentality has developed in so many of my fellow Christians. So many of us seem to view ourselves as a threatened minority, when the reality is that we're an extremely powerful majority. Why does it make us so nervous when people of other faiths (or of no faith at all) assert their rights? That's really all that's going on. Minority faiths and atheists are becoming brave enough to stand up for their rights.


Tim_511 profile image

Tim_511 6 years ago from Huntington, WV

If it is an argument against vouchers, it holds just as true with public schools. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

"Why does it make us so nervous when people of other faiths (or of no faith at all) assert their rights? That's really all that's going on. Minority faiths and atheists are becoming brave enough to stand up for their rights."

What "rights" are they asserting? No one has a right to freedom from religion. If I see someone from a different religion or an atheist who offends me, I won't be happy with them, but I'm not going to take them to court and claim some rather questionable First Amendment right to make them stop. The whole idea that the Constitution prevents any mention of God or religion in the public square is ludicrous and incompatible with real freedom of religion. If I have to hide my beliefs to avoid somehow "offending" someone who doesn't agree, then I don't have freedom of religion. That makes us a de facto atheist nation, as I mentioned above.

However, I don't think that we are going to agree on this and your comments section really isn't a debating forum. Thanks for the discussion and I'll be reading some more of your hubs!


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

"If it is an argument against vouchers, it holds just as true with public schools." Well, no. Public schools are open to all Americans, whereas private schools are not.

I also doubt we're going to come to an agreement, except for the bit where you say, "If I have to hide my beliefs to avoid somehow "offending" someone who doesn't agree, then I don't have freedom of religion." I agree with that wholeheartedly. An individual ought to be able to freely exercise his faith without fear of persecution.


PassinItAlong profile image

PassinItAlong 6 years ago

I couldn't agree more, facts first before opinions.

I don't see anything wrong in paying a tax that goes to public schools,afterall not everyone was fortunate like me.

And how many people could really afford private schools or home schooling?


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 3 years ago from Southeast Michigan Author

To the person who commented, in toto, "test," what precisely are you testing?


kschimmel profile image

kschimmel 3 years ago from North Carolina, USA

As a libertarian, my main problem is that public education, as currently practiced, is not about education, but about control. I am married to a professor who loves to teach and has a passion for improving K-12 STEM education (it's in his own self-interest, too, because he'd like to get college students who are prepared for college work!) He is fighting a system that seems designed to stymie good teachers. Common Core math "standards" are just the latest assault on American children's readiness for engineering school or hard sciences. Good teachers need to be set free from stupid experiments that come out of "education" schools and from textbooks written by committees of "education administrators" instead of teachers.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working