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Monday, March 06, 2006

Town Meeting And Education

It's Town Meeting Day here in Vermont. In my town (Weybridge), the school board is proposing a 10% increase in the elementary school budget. My prediction is that it will pass with almost no real debate. In particular, no one will question why it is that government is involved in education.

In "Changing the Education Paradigm", Scott McPherson wrote (http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0509e.asp),

The idea of replacing bread lines and empty store shelves with a free market in food production and distribution appeared ridiculous to the Soviets. They simply couldn’t imagine what such a system would look like, and we laughed at their feeble attempts to reform their flawed policies.

So too do most Americans shut their eyes to the possibilities accessible to everyone if government were to get out of the education business.

Just as the Russians couldn’t feed their citizens using a system of collective agriculture, Americans are failing to give every child a chance to live up to his fullest potential by locking children in a system of collective education. Government’s “one size fits all” approach to learning is failing 40 million school kids. The stultifying effects of our public schools can be seen everywhere.

At a home-schooling conference in Maryland last April, author John Taylor Gatto — an award-winning teacher with almost three decades of classroom experience — told his audience that debates over high-stakes testing, sex education, “new math,” and phonics are merely red herrings that deflect us from identifying the real problem: government schools are unfixable.

We don’t have a Department of Sustenance because food is far too important to be controlled by a government bureaucracy. Likewise, we don’t need education central planners of any kind, from the federal Department of Education to state boards of education to local school boards. It’s time we stopped arguing about petty details about how best to run state schools and instead started talking about true educational freedom in America.

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