The heartbreak of government-run tax-funded schools

By Nathan Barton

Recently, Vicki E. Alger a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, a libertarian-conservative think tank, in Oakland, California, published a new book, Failure: The Federal “Misedukation” of America’s Children.

I’ve not been able to read the book yet, and I missed her on-line talk at the Heartland Institute on Wednesday, the 1st.  However, Heartland has this to say of her book:

“Education policy has long been mired in controversies, often with opposing sides missing the mark. Failure helps us step back from the skirmish du jour and redirects our focus to the big picture, showing what’s gone wrong over the decades and why. It also offers a bold blueprint for returning the federal government to its constitutional role and for cultivating an educational system based on school choice that meets the needs of students and parents, rather than bureaucrats.

“Concerned citizens of every stripe will benefit from Failure’s history of federal education policy, its brutally honest report card for the Department of Education, its look at education systems across the globe, and its ambitious policy recommendations. Failure might even succeed in re-framing the way the federal education establishment thinks about education policy.”

Assuming this is accurate, it seems as though she is missing the point.  She is speaking of the “Reformation” of schools, when what is needed is the “Restoration” of truly independent schools: an education system by and for and of the parents and the students themselves.

The primary reason for the failure of FedGov education policy is that the FedGov HAS any education policy at all, beyond what is necessary to train its employees, including the military.  Even the training of postal workers is no longer the responsibility of the FedGov, as it is supposed to be a (admittedly, public) corporation. And even the training of its employees is an extremely limited authorization. Today we should even question the need for the FedGov to run (for example) military academies, when states or private organizations can do so. (I myself am a product of a State-owned/-operated military academy (Colorado School of Mines) in which much of the training was done by volunteer, private organizations’ members. Not quite what I am advocating now, but certainly much closer than USAFA, USMA, USNA, or the various officer candidate schools.)

To advocate a reform of federal government policy on education is to advocate a failure to educate people.

Second, she apparently looks at “what went wrong” over the decades.  In reality, as many have pointed out, the development of the government-run education system, at first local and then state, and later federal, has been a process of more than 160 years, and has been HIGHLY successful at achieving the goals set out by its founders and advocates (and products) over that 16 decades, or 8 generations.  To produce helots, their overseers, and allow the elite to continue to grow “more elite” in every way of social and educational standing, while providing enough upward mobility (and false hope) to discourage rebellion.

I realize that this sounds horrible, cruel, and unthinking, but maybe the best thing that can done for students AND for educators (NOT “educrats”) is to totally eliminate so called public schools; to divorce the totality of education in these Fifty States completely from government at ANY level.

Nothing short of that seems doomed to continue to repeat the same mistakes of the past and result in the same heartbreak and outcomes.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
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