Currently, the crisis du jour in Washington, District of Criminals, is focused on job creation and the shaky health care “reform” debate – neither of which are legitimate functions of government, since “legitimate” and “government” don’t coincide with each other in the first place.
So of course when we talk about Barack Obama’s public education plans, they fall into the same category as the aforementioned. But since Obama seems determined to carry forward with them anyway – as with all else when dealing with the inhuman government steamroller – we might pause to consider what a backwards abomination (Obamination?) it is. We don’t really need to go into the specific ins and outs of Obama’s agenda, but here’s some of the flavor of it, quoted directly from whitehouse.gov:
“Providing a high-quality education for all children is critical to America’s economic future. Our nation’s economic competitiveness and the path to the American Dream depend on providing every child with an education that will enable them to succeed in a global economy that is predicated on knowledge and innovation. President Obama is committed to providing every child access to a complete and competitive education, from cradle through career.”
“The years before a child reaches kindergarten are among the most critical in his or her life to influence learning. President Obama is committed to providing the support that our youngest children need to prepare to succeed later in school. The President supports a seamless and comprehensive set of services and support for children, from birth through age 5. Because the President is committed to helping all children succeed – regardless of where they spend their day – he will urge states to impose high standards across all publicly funded early learning settings, develop new programs to improve opportunities and outcomes, engage parents in their child’s early learning and development, and improve the early education workforce.”
“President Obama will reform America’s public schools to deliver a 21st Century education that will prepare all children for success in the new global workplace. He will foster a race to the top in our nation’s schools, by promoting world-class academic standards and a curriculum that fosters critical thinking, problem solving, and the innovative use of knowledge to prepare students for college and career. He will push to end the use of ineffective, “off-the-shelf” tests, and support new, state-of-the-art assessment and accountability systems that provide timely and useful information about the learning and progress of individual students.
“Teachers are the single most important resource to a child’s learning. President Obama will ensure that teachers are supported as professionals in the classroom, while also holding them more accountable. He will invest in innovative strategies to help teachers to improve student outcomes, and use rewards and incentives to keep talented teachers in the schools that need them the most. President Obama will invest in a national effort to prepare and reward outstanding teachers, while recruiting the best and brightest to the field of teaching. And he will challenge State and school districts to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom.
“The President believes that investment in education must be accompanied by reform and innovation. The President supports the expansion of high-quality charter schools. He has challenged States to lift limits that stifle growth among successful charter schools and has encouraged rigorous accountability for all charter schools.”
Never mind the phony “reform” rhetoric. It’s simple enough: “Public schools will be universally available to all young Americans and will be paid for by taxation, i.e., money taken from people under the threat of lethal violence.” Fair enough summation? I think so.
Now, in reality, things stop right there. Once we threaten to use violence to deprive even one other person of their life, liberty, or property, we’ve already stepped into territory where no further discussion is possible. We’re no longer in a debate. We’re merely in a contest of strength. Governments always have more guns than lone individuals, therefore, the individual pays or dies. There’s not much room for discussion in that kind of situation.
Nevertheless, let’s – while acknowledging that – look at how, in addition, a free-market approach to education wins out over a socialist model, coercively-financed school system every time, hands down. To do that, we need to look at a little history in order to see how and why public schools were first instituted in America.
The first government-mandated public schools in America were in the New England colonies (except Rhode Island) beginning in 1652. After the Revolutionary War, Massachusetts (ironically) became the epicenter of public school advocacy, succeeding in establishing such a system in 1852. For some measure of years, however, government enforcers had trouble. Roughly 80% of Massachusetts residents actively resisted this incursion of arbitrary authority. In 1880, the state militia was actually dispatched to Barnstable to force the children into public school.
One of the biggest self-styled do-gooders in this conflict was Horace Mann. Born in Franklin, Massachusetts in 1797, he was elected to the state legislature in 1827. Ten years later, he was appointed secretary of the newly created Board of Education, a job for which he initially had little passion. But in 1843, Mann visited the German kingdom of Prussia and observed its schools. What he found in the Prussian system is best expressed by Wikipedia:
“Seeking to replace the controlling functions of the local aristocracy, the Prussian court attempted to instill social obedience in the citizens through indoctrination. Every individual had to become convinced, in the core of his being, that the King was just, his decisions always right, and the need for obedience paramount.”
Mann too wished to create an unquestioningly obediant population, ever subservient to the whims of the State. As he put it: “We who are engaged in the sacred cause of education are entitled to look upon all parents as having given hostages to our cause.”
Also: “As the German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte, a key influence on the system, said, ‘If you want to influence [the student] at all, you must do more than merely talk to him; you must fashion him, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will.’”
As well, in the mid-1800s, America was experiencing a large influx of Catholic immigrants from Scotland, Ireland, and elsewhere. Mann was a Calvinist – a Protestant – and was not enamored of the idea of Catholics gaining political or social influence. Prussia was largely Lutheran – again, Protestant. The King of Prussia, looking abroad and seeing the influence of Roman Catholicism, had similar designs.
It is also often said that Mann used science to formulate the public school model he advocated. That “science” was phrenology – a wholly discredited bunch of 19th Century bunk that proposed certain bumps on the heads of individuals could determine personality, disposition, intelligence, and even racial characteristics.
All of these motivations still underscore the government-run, tax-financed public schools of the 21st Century.
Under the government model, schools must always take the “one size fits all” approach and become political battlefields over what shall or shall not be taught, or read, or presented in any given class. From sex education to politics, from creationism versus Darwinism to school prayer and saluting the flag. In a zero-government free market situation, the types, styles, and degrees of education would be as many and varied as the human imagination. Innovation would abound, tuitions and overhead costs would plummet, parental choice would remain paramount, and property and other taxes would be no more. Americans would be more secure in the homes and land, better educated, more prosperous, and more free – all the last things that people in government want for you and your children.
Obama and his “reform” plan are no exception. He and it are just Mann regurgitated. Settling for that is untenable. Education should be a free market enterprise – like everything else in the world. Government, in whatever form, only serves as a vicious, barbaric impediment.