The Danger of "Public" Education

Authored by Murray Rothbard via The Mises Institute,

The key issue in the entire discussion is simply this: shall the parent or the State be the overseer of the child?

An essential feature of human life is that, for many years, the child is relatively helpless, that his powers of providing for himself mature late. Until these powers are fully developed he cannot act completely for himself as a responsible individual. He must be under tutelage. This tutelage is a complex and difficult task. From an infancy of complete dependence and subjection to adults, the child must grow up gradually to the status of an independent adult. The question is under whose guidance, and virtual "ownership" the child should be: his parents' or the State's? There is no third, or middle, ground in this issue. Some party must control, and no one suggests that some individual third party have authority to seize the child and rear it.

It is obvious that the natural state of affairs is for the parents to have charge of the child. The parents are the literal producers of the child, and the child is in the most intimate relationship to them that any people can be to one another. The parents have ties of family affection to the child. The parents are interested in the child as an individual, and are the most likely to be interested and familiar with his requirements and personality. Finally, if one believes at all in a free society, where each one owns himself and his own products, it is obvious that his own child, one of his most precious products, also comes under his charge.

The only logical alternative to parental "ownership" of the child is for the State to seize the infant from the parents and to rear it completely itself. To any believer in freedom this must seem a monstrous step indeed. In the first place, the rights of the parents are completely violated, their own loving product seized from them to be subjected to the will of strangers. In the second place, the rights of the child are violated, for he grows up in subjection to the unloving hands of the State, with little regard for his individual personality. Furthermore — and this is a most important consideration — for each person to be "educated," to develop his faculties to the fullest, he needs freedom for this development. We have seen above that freedom from violence is essential to the development of a man's reason and personality. But the State! The State's very being rests on violence, on compulsion. As a matter of fact, the very feature that distinguishes the State from other individuals and groups is that the State has the only (legal) power to use violence. In contrast to all other individuals and organizations, the State issues decrees which must be obeyed at the risk of suffering prison or the electric chair. The child would have to grow up under the wings of an institution resting on violence and restriction. What sort of peaceful development could take place under such auspices?

Furthermore, it is inevitable that the State would impose uniformity on the teaching of charges. Not only is uniformity more congenial to the bureaucratic temper and easier to enforce; this would be almost inevitable where collectivism has supplanted individualism. With collective State ownership of the children replacing individual ownership and rights, it is clear that the collective principle would be enforced in teaching as well. Above all, what would be taught is the doctrine of obedience to the State itself. For tyranny is not really congenial to the spirit of man, who requires freedom for his full development.

Therefore, techniques of inculcating reverence for despotism and other types of "thought control" are bound to emerge. Instead of spontaneity, diversity, and independent men, there would emerge a race of passive, sheep-like followers of the State. Since they would be only incompletely developed, they would be only half-alive.

It might be said that no one is contemplating such monstrous measures. Even Communist Russia did not go so far as to impose a "communism of children," even though it did almost everything else to eliminate freedom. The point is, however, that this is the logical goal of the Statists in education. The issue which has been joined in the past and in the present is: shall there be a free society with parental control, or a despotism with State control? We shall see the logical development of the idea of State encroachment and control. America, for example, began, for the most part, with a system of either completely private or with philanthropic schools. Then, in the nineteenth century, the concept of public education changed subtly, until everybody was urged to go to the public school, and private schools were accused of being divisive. Finally, the State imposed compulsory education on the people, either forcing children to go to public schools or else setting up arbitrary standards for private schools. Parental instruction was frowned on. Thus, the State has been warring with parents for control over their children.

Not only has there been a trend toward increased State control, but the effects of this have been worsened by the very system of equality before the law that applies in political life. There has been the growth of a passion for equality in general. The result has been a tendency to regard every child as equal to every other child, as deserving equal treatment, and to impose complete uniformity in the classroom. Formerly, this had tended to be set at the average level of the class; but this being frustrating to the dullest (who, however, must be kept at the same level as the others, in the name of equality and democracy), the teaching tends more and more to be set at the lowest levels.

We shall see that since the State began to control education, its evident tendency has been more and more to act in such a manner as to promote repression and hindrance of education, rather than the true development of the individual. Its tendency has been for compulsion, for enforced equality at the lowest level, for the watering down of the subject and even the abandonment of all formal teaching, for the inculcation of obedience to the State and to the "group," rather than the development of self-independence, for the deprecation of intellectual subjects. And finally, it is the drive of the State and its minions for power that explains the "modern education" creed of "education of the whole child" and making the school a "slice of life," where the individual plays, adjusts to the group, etc. The effect of this, as well as all the other measures, is to repress any tendency for the development of reasoning powers and individual independence; to try to usurp in various ways the "educational" function (apart from formal instruction) of the home and friends, and to try to mold the "whole child" in the desired paths.

Thus, "modern education" has abandoned the school functions of formal instruction in favor of molding the total personality both to enforce equality of learning at the level of the least educable, and to usurp the general educational role of home and other influences as much as possible. Since no one will accept outright State "communization" of children, even in Communist Russia, it is obvious that State control has to be achieved more silently and subtly.

For anyone who is interested in the dignity of human life, in the progress and development of the individual in a free society, the choice between parental and State control over the children is clear.

Is there, then, to be no State interference whatever in the relations between parent and child? Suppose that the parents aggress upon and mutilate the child? Are we to permit this? If not, where are we to draw the line? The line can be simply drawn. The State can adhere strictly to the function of defending everyone from the aggressive violence of everyone else. This will include children as well as adults, since children are potential adults and future freemen. Simple failure to "educate," or rather, instruct, is no grounds whatever for interference. The difference between these cases was succinctly put by Herbert Spencer:

No cause for such [state] interposition can be shown until the children's rights have been violated, and that their rights are not violated by a neglect of their education [actually, instruction]. For … what we call rights are merely arbitrary subdivisions of the general liberty to exercise the faculties; and that only can be called an infringement of rights which actually diminishes this liberty — cuts off a previously existing power to pursue the objects of desire. Now the parent who is careless of a child's education does not do this. The liberty to exercise faculties is left intact. Omitting instruction in no way takes from a child's freedom to do whatsoever it wills in the best way it can, and this freedom is all that equity demands. Every aggression, be it remembered — every infraction of rights — is necessarily active; whilst every neglect, carelessness, omission, is as necessarily passive. Consequently, however wrong the non-performance of a parental duty may be … it does not amount to a breach of the law of equal freedom and cannot therefore be taken cognizance of by the state.


Common_Law Creepy_Azz_Crackaah (not verified) Mon, 06/26/2017 - 18:55 Permalink

That's not the only way they fuck them up. "Microwave frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) produce widespread neuropsychiatric effects including depression" for anything else you could want to know about the topic see:

In reply to by Creepy_Azz_Crackaah (not verified)

J S Bach Common_Law Mon, 06/26/2017 - 19:28 Permalink

How anyone with the means does not decide to homeschool their children in this ultra-decadent age, is beyond me.  The "State" today is merely an all-out propaganda tool to indoctrinate and brainwash children into their unreal and destructive ideology of social/miscegenistic bliss.  Wake up parents... if you truly care about the souls of your children, wake up.

In reply to by Common_Law

lincolnsteffens Pinto Currency Mon, 06/26/2017 - 21:51 Permalink

Most parents have applied to the State for a marriage license. In other words they have asked for permission for something they already have a right to do. When you receive a license from the State you give up your natural rights and enter into a contractual obligation ( funny, you never knew there was a contract! ) in a commercial capacity. Government is authorized to regulate commerce, not private human behavior unless injury can be proved. "Your" child is really considered a product of your commercial merger by the government which has the right to set guidelines and requirements of  the product. Registering your child also cements the Government's hold over your child product."Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we begin to deceive" or something to that effectJust my take on the Luciferian fraudulently created and applied laws

In reply to by Pinto Currency

logicalman J S Bach Mon, 06/26/2017 - 19:56 Permalink

I would have loved to have been able to home school my kids.Unfortunately my ex managed to get sole custody and sucked the life out of me financially.Something I always did was, when they were with me, to educate them and show them the tools they might need to figure shit for themselves.I told them that they had to go to school, where they would be schooled, but when they were with me I would do my best to educate them.Both were in 'gifted' programs at school and now have a decent handle on things, I think.Both are independent thinkers, which makes conversations 'interesting' when we are all in the same room with a few beers!I just hope I got things at least close to right for both of them.

In reply to by J S Bach

waspwench J S Bach Tue, 06/27/2017 - 02:23 Permalink

It is public education which has brought us to the appalling mess our country is in today and it is not an accident.   It is all part of the plan to destroy our culture, destroy family values, destroy morality and make us into obedient sheeple.   Almost everything that is going wrong in the US today can be attributed to the direction in which public education has been moved in the last thirty or forty years.Public education is at the root of the destruction of western European civilization and only by completely eradicationing the present system of public education can we hope to survive.

In reply to by J S Bach

Pure Evil Dumpster Elite Mon, 06/26/2017 - 19:49 Permalink

Then what do you do with all the state DOE's and the socialists stalking those hallways along with all the school boards packed with Socialists?All the way down to the dumbed down populace that has neither the money to put their kids in private schools, which aren't really all that much better, to no skills to instruct their kids in becoming Free persons.Most people are so indoctrinated at this point after more than 70 years of Socialist brainwashing its nearly impossible to extract yourself away from control by the state.If there's any indication as to this assertion then its the trolls that continually believe that healthcare is right and the government should pay for it. Or, at the very least force the rest of us to pay for poor health care decisions.

In reply to by Dumpster Elite

vato poco skinwalker Mon, 06/26/2017 - 18:40 Permalink

John Taylor Gatto, the former NY State Teacher of the Year, certainly agrees. his books are all over amazon, see for yourself just how true your 'child abuse' assessment really is. spoiler alert: the system is much MUCH worse than any of us thinks it is; the system is in fact *designed* to destroy the kids sacrificed to it

In reply to by skinwalker

Graceguy vato poco Mon, 06/26/2017 - 20:04 Permalink

Gatto's books were crucial to our decision to homeschool our four kids. I have two HS grads and two young teens. It does not take long to distinguish them from their public school peers. They are virtuous, articulate, kind and better educated. They can debate and cite reason and source materials in their arguments. Even my honors college son, who is on a full ride academic scholarship, blows past his competition in not only his writing and communication abilities but also the common sense not to do the normal stupid stuff that I did in college. I was public schooled and I wish I could have been homeschooled. After you pay taxes and day care expenses there are not many moms who could even justify the financial benefits of the working mom. BTW my wife is saint.:)

In reply to by vato poco

ali-ali-al-qomfri erkme73 Mon, 06/26/2017 - 21:11 Permalink

that socializing thingy is bs, don't let that hang you up.I'd rather my kids not be exposed to the "socialization" of the US education system.It's harder to homeschool;that being the proof of 'you get out what you put in'.You'll meet other parents and develop smart, fun, social skills with other smart, bright, calm, respectful children.Lot's of support groups and things to do. Again, you have to put the time in. 

In reply to by erkme73

LauraB erkme73 Mon, 06/26/2017 - 21:37 Permalink

I've been homeschooling my two kids for the past 5 years. Socialization is not a problem because they are involved in so many activities - scouts, rocketry club, School of Rock.  There are several options that you can look into for coursework, including co-ops in which parents work together to teach courses to their children, online programs, or choosing materials and writing your own lesson plans.  We started with Calvert, which is a complete course.  They send you everything you need - books, lesson plans, tests, lab equipment, etc.  Just make sure to get the non-common core option for math if it is still available.  You then have the option of correcting the assignments yourself or paying extra to have a Calvert teacher grade your child's tests.  If you choose the teacher option, you will get a transcript from Calvert, which is an accredited school. Another accredited online school that you might like to check out is Freedom Project Academy.  Ron Paul also offers an online program.  We have friends who use Abeka and Seton Home Study. Once your children are of high school age, they often can attend community college courses and receive dual credits for both high school and a college degree. 

In reply to by erkme73

rejected erkme73 Mon, 06/26/2017 - 21:54 Permalink

I am concerned about their socialization skills, and of course, what curriculum do I use to get them on the right path? You can witness the success of public school socialization skills at many of our fine colleges today.  Berkley would be a fine example. Trinity College in Conn would be another.

In reply to by erkme73

HRH Feant2 (not verified) erkme73 Mon, 06/26/2017 - 22:08 Permalink

Socialization would be the last of my concerns. Children model the behaviors they observe. Optimally those role models are a married couple, and grandparents.

Why are you concerned about socializing your children to be tolerant to the point where they think abortion, homosexuality, and other perversions are normal?

Go your own way and ignore the child psychologists that started this perversion.

Children are sponges. They absorbe everything. Give them jobs rather than things. Teach them the value of saving. Much easier to teach a young person the value of saving rather than learn, as I did, when I was in my 40s. It was painful.

Allow your children to express themselves.

Teach them at least one foreign language. Your kids are the perfect age to learn from an app or via computer lessons or tapes.

Read, read, read, read, read to them! Do you have books that are accessible? I read everything from "The Godfather" to "The Happy Hooker" to the encyclopedia Britannica where I taught myself how to write in runes. What was my punishment? My books were taken away. Really.

I don't know if you have trained animals: I trained horses when I was younger. They each have their own personality. The trick is to encourage that personality to shine without shutting it down. Some horses were friendly and eager some were shy some were show offs and some were lazy! I had this one filly that would lay down in the sand arena after she had been saddled up. She was bored! She didn't want to stand up and wait for her lesson she preferred to lie down and wait. Not a big deal. A learning style. Encourage each child based on their own interests and style and energy patterns. That little filly was cute as heck and turned out to be a great little quarter horse! Choose your battles. Some are not as big as you think. Ya, ya I can year some of you horse people yelling about me letting that filly get the saddle dirty. It was an old saddle. Bigger things to worry about. Plus the area was wet and that was the only time that filly could lie down and catch a break.

Anyhow, keep the big picture in mind!

Again, after the age of 12 years old deep structure (the ability to think in a foreign language) is highly unlikely. Teach a Foregin language at a young age: I am a fan of Chinese and Russian. Up to you to pick at least one.

In reply to by erkme73

Justapleb erkme73 Mon, 06/26/2017 - 23:23 Permalink

I know you didn't ask me.   But I can answer:Socialization is the second most important reason to homeschoool.   It is the first thing people say about our kids:  how mature and articulate they are for 6 and 7 years old.   Mini-adults.   There is no comparison.Kids in the government school follow their peer examples, and they are the worst things to emulate.   There are childish cliques, bullying, and disrespect for authority - and who can blame them.  The school deserves none.   Unless you have a quality private school the teachers came from the lowest scoring college cohort, had the easiest major, and are in jobs they cannot be fired from for dismal performance.Our seven year old reads at the college level and does algebra.   The six year old reads at the 7th grade level and is in 3rd grade math.  They can carry on conversations with adults because they interact with adults at school, not other children.They have wrestling and MMA with other kids, in addition to meeting them at the playground or in the neighborhood.   Ours are the best behaved.   Other kids are unpredictable and even violent.  Because they are from the government school.  We have no curriculum, although we charged through two different grade school curricula for the first child, and he finished both of them by kindergarten.  We found them online and finished all three years of spelling exercises for one of them in two weeks.  It is amazing what you can do on your own.   But mostly it is just what is logical to do - the alphabet, then reading, then basic math, then writing, geography, etc.   They have a lot of student-directed learning.   The younger boy learned to read by devouring information on old pick up trucks, box trucks, flatbed trucks, semi-trailer trucks - anything having to do with trucks.   Engines, power traines, hydraulics - he was fascinated by it all so we just let him roll.   So much of the curricula developed by "professionals" is thoroughly corrupted with socialism, environmentalism, gay and transgender garbage, and politically correct dogma that you are better off just doing whatever you think best from day to day.   You can do more in 20 minutes than the school can do in 8 hours.  So what does it matter, you are going to be years ahead.  I was a professor.   When a student asked an articulate, well reasoned question I asked in front of a class of over 100 freshman:  you were homeschooled, weren't you.   I was never wrong.  

In reply to by erkme73

_mike123_ erkme73 Tue, 06/27/2017 - 00:34 Permalink

Not sure where you live but some States are friendlier than others towards home schooling families. We live in north Florida, in a rural county and have never had any problems, as long as we kept up with the annual paperwork and we did. My wife and I spent 20 years homeschooling our four sons, from the first one through the last. (Mostly my wife and she was amazing!).  We were a one income family for all but the first five years we had children; when we had just two boys and my wife had a job at the home, doing work for a hospital. My second job (mainly math and some science) started when I walked in the door from work. My boys remember me as their dad who was very involved in their lives. Everything we did, we did as a family or with families who we were close to and who also homeschooled. We became very close and are to this very day. Even as my oldest two are married and my third son has moved out of state to go to seminary. They knew how important this was to us because of the sacrifices my wife and I made on their behalf. We have neighbors who had a large family and also home schooled. They became very close to those children as well as homeschool kids from our church. And still are.Points to consider:1. You need a vision that what you are doing is far better for your children than the alternative (government schools). Trust me. the difference is like day and night. Their goal is to indoctrinate!!! 2. Since you have never walked this trail before, you will need a good homeschool support community. Befriend young families who are also just starting out; but seek out the older ones who have been doing this for a while. They will have the wisdom.  3. Dismiss the lie that you will harm your children. A lie from Hell! You will do well because no on this earth loves your children more than the two of you. (Certainly not the government schools) And you will do the research, take the time and make the sacrifices because of that. 4. Time will tell. My father was not pleased when I told him and my mom that we were going to homeschool HIS grandsons. They live about five hours drive from us. They had listened to the negative propaganda. And for 13 years he had serious questions as to whether we were doing the right thing. When my older two were 15 and 16 and graduating, he and my mom came to their graduation event where my oldest two gave speeches, were interviewed etc. When it was done we went out to dinner. My Dad pulled me aside and told me, he owed me an apology. And I ask for what. He then proceeded to tell me how he had questioned our decision about us homeschooling and after what he saw at the graduation event, he realized that he had never been more wrong about anything. With tears in both our eyes, he gave me a hug and I thanked him. I remember my wife telling me the only vindication in our decision to homeschool is what the end product looks like when our sons grow up. Boy was she right. My boys are our best friends. We love being around each other. And our entire family would do anything in the world for each other. You see, this is all we have ever known. Educating at home has been a part of our lifestyle not just a thing we did. As parents, we are to provide and support, make sacrifices, educate, we would go to church together and go out to eat together. It is holistic in nature. 5. Your children are different and will have different strengths and interests. And will progress differently. Cater to the strengths of your children.  I had one son who was reading at three. He is my CPA. I had another who did not read well till he was ten. A very close friend of ours who had worked for years in the homeschool community told my wife and I to not draw attention to his 'lack of progress' just keep working with him and when he is ready, he will take off. And guess what, she was right. He did. He is my Russian linguist. What would a government school have done to a boy at nine who was having reading difficulties? Labeled him. Today he does not even remember there ever being a ‘problem’. Why? Because there wasn’t and we did not draw attention to a non-problem. He just wasn’t ready. In a homeschool environment, you can cater to the individual child; not so in government schools.6. Be patient with your kids. They progress differently and they do not have to be Mozart by three years old or ever.The Good Book says 'Parents (not the state) train up your children in the way they should go.' We took it seriously and have never, never regretted it. Were there stressful times? Yes. After all, we had four boys! But I was there to give my wife a much-needed break. Sometimes, I even had to come home from work to settle problems. But the time came for her and me that they were no longer just our children but our friends that we wanted to be around. One more point of endorsement. Out two oldest who are married. Both them and their wives have told us they have already decided to school their kids at home as well.Homeschooling is not a reaction to something but the protection of something, our children. Hope this helps and is not too lengthy. Take care and God's speed.....     

In reply to by erkme73

c2nnib2l Mon, 06/26/2017 - 18:38 Permalink

I'm from Poland.... a socialist ex Soviet Block country where everything was (and still is) for freeEducation - Absolutely free up to University Levels ! our best universities (even the Jagiellonski one of the oldest one in Europe) are not listed in the first 400 universities in the world year after year is just getting worse Free Healthcare ! - yes ! isn't this amazing ?! the thing is... if you got a problem you can wait for a surgery up to 3-4 some times even 5 years ! this is not a joke National Coal Mines ! - nonprofitable ! yup... goverment is actually puting money into coal to keep them going !Natioanl Rail system - same story ! thanks god half of it was privatized and it's now  making some money ! the national rails are so fuckkkking expensive that nobody use them ! every time you got Goverment involved ... burocracy is expanding... so as the expenses... and this is no longer a business... there is no real competition so the quality goes down as well !   

GunnerySgtHartman Mon, 06/26/2017 - 18:47 Permalink

The only logical alternative to parental "ownership" of the child is for the State to seize the infant from the parents and to rear it completely itself.Already happening on an increasing scale as more lazy-ass parents cede "ownership" of their kids to the state.  When I was a kid in public school, the schools were closed (other than for maintenance) during the summer.  Nowadays the schools during summer break are effectively day-care centers, and they offer "free" (read: taxpayer-funded) breakfast and lunch to kids 5 days a week with food being sent home for the weekends because parents won't get off their lazy asses and work to feed their kids.  And don't get me started about what school systems do during the actual school year, with free breakfast and lunch for all of the kids regardless of income level (and more!).  This takeover of parental responsibilities by school boards is being pushed at ALL levels of government, and school boards are willing to do it because it gives them more money to spend and more control.Now don't get me wrong, I know that there are truly needy kids who get little, if anything, to eat at home - but again, that is the parents' fault.  There is no shortage of programs, both private and public, to feed those kids.  But too many parents these days are so consumed with themselves that they are more than happy to let the school system take care of their progeny.  One less thing to think about, right?

Consuelo Mon, 06/26/2017 - 18:47 Permalink

  Nothing is more amusing than listening to parents yammer on about how great the (public) schools are in the prospective upscale neighborhood in which they're looking to purchase a home.    Even despite their own 'higher education', they're too damned stupid to understand that the Kalifornia curriculum is universal across the State, and upscale Los Altos neighborhood Bobby is going to learn how to be a docile Fag all the same as East Oakland DeShawn...   

Deep Snorkeler Mon, 06/26/2017 - 18:55 Permalink

Americans are just too difficult to educateGradually, all school teachers gave up andstopped trying to explain things to the vastcolumns of overfed walking-dead.No one seemed to notice. 

FredFlintstone Mon, 06/26/2017 - 18:58 Permalink

If your kids are in public schools it is only an illusion that you have any say or control. You are there just to pay the bills. So just drop the kids off and STFU. That is why I pulled my 4 our and sent them the private route.

Old Poor Richard Mon, 06/26/2017 - 18:58 Permalink

Sending all our kids to government-run schools makes as much sense as all of us eating in government-run cafeterias or obtaining health care from government-employed doctors.  Public schools simply make no sense and should be abolished.