by Ned Vare
Over two thousand years ago, Socrates told us that if someone started charging money for teaching the youth things that are well known to virtually every adult in the society, it would be fraud. Today, that fraud is well established in our country. Schooling has been taken over and adulterated by government for political purposes and enforced by laws of compulsion. It has been corrupted by teacher unions that keep well educated people out of the public schools by requiring the teachers to be not only “certified” but union members. Those requirements guarantee that only mediocre caliber people will work in the government-run schools.
Public schools are instruments of government indoctrination. School days are invaded by many politically motivated mandates, such as sex ed, “values” classes, death and suicide ed, DARE, and various standardized tests. All the while, the government’s main purposes for the school system are, and always have been, to produce compliant, docile workers and consumers, all dependent on the government. Public school teachers and students idolize the state and its institutions and, in an occasional pilgrimage to Washington, supplicate at the marble temples of politics.
Public instruction places great emphasis on political benefits and entitlements, rather than the will and ability to work. It places government at the center of all economic and social problems and calls on politicians to solve them. The fact remains, as Socrates observed, useful information is available easily and freely in many places outside the schools, but public schools pretend that what they offer is hard to find, hard to teach, hard to learn, and that only its teachers can provide it. That is all lies. In fact, the only places that keep young people from learning what they need or want to know are public schools, and some of the most likely sources of misinformation today are school books and school teachers. There has never been any relationship between school and what children are interested in learning.
When we peel back the false pretenses of the public school system, its four functions are revealed:
1. Warehousing — keeping youth out of the full-time job market, while providing jobs for adults and child care for working parents
2. Mainstreaming — social engineering and cultural indoctrination (homogenization)
3. Indoctrination — inculcating politically correct attitudes and beliefs (often in contradiction to many parents’ moralities)
4. Teaching a minimum body of academic skills and knowledge
The first three functions are performed fairly well, but are generally unwanted by parents; while the fourth, expected by parents to be done well, is now, by almost all measurements, performed poorly. Most people enjoy sharing knowledge. And yet, few activities are more difficult or unproductive than trying to teach a room full of children stuff that doesn’t interest them. Just because someone is “teaching” doesn’t mean anyone is learning. Imagine what would happen if they were free to ignore the teaching or even walk out. No one enjoys it — not the staff and least of all the students; and finally, the system doesn’t work.
Given a choice, few would attend and even fewer would pay directly for it. Government education is an oxymoron. Its incentives are backwards; the better it works for the staff, the worse is the education and the experience for the children and their families. It is a constant war, and the customers are losing badly because they have no control. Education needs freedom — freedom from government — in a free market with wide choice, voluntary attendance and direct voluntary payment. Teachers are sometimes needed, not for their value to government, but for their value to their students.