Re: DSM: public school prisons (sharing the SVS model, etc.)

Scott Gray (
Fri, 10 Nov 2000 00:24:22 -0500 (EST)

On Thu, 9 Nov 2000, John Axtell wrote:

> There is nothing inherently wrong with a system, as the public school system,
> existing to meet the needs of those people who wish to participate in that
> system. What is wrong is that it is the ONLY FREE educational option for most of
> our citizens. I really believe that when we get vouchers for every child, and
> yes I believe someday that will happen, the majority of parents will choose to
> send their children to what is today called the "public school". But vouchers
> will give those that want an alternative the choice.
> What is important, in my opinion, is that we work to have public money go to
> vouchers for private, non sectarian, schools. Such a program is totally legal
> and would support programs such as the SVM. I also think it is important to work
> against any national testing program. One size does not fit all.

Personally, I don't mind very much that public schools exist. I don't
mind the fact that some of my money goes to a system that I consider silly
and useless -- that is the case with many programs that my tax dollars pay
into. What I _do_ think is worth fighting are truancy laws. If we get
rid of truancy laws, then market forces will _really_ be able to play --
because people won't _have_ to go to school when school doesn't make sense
for them.

As to the voucher solution... I don't think that it solves the
fundamental problem -- the assault on the basic first ammendment right to
freedom of assembly and to freedom from any "official truth" conducted by
the state through truancy laws.

I worry, in particular, that government regulation will follow the money.
It's only natural -- once I start paying for something I naturally claim
the right to oversee that thing and make sure that it does the job I'm
paying for. Of _course_ the state will expect schools that take _state_
money away from _state_ schools to live up (or down) to particular

What kinds of standards would eventually creep in once vouchers can be
used to pay for private schools? Probably that the adults will have to be
licensed by the state, probably standardized tests will have to be taken
by the kids at least once every few years a la the MCAS tests, kids would
probably be forbidden from engaging in commerce during the school day, and
the schools curriculum goals will have to be expressly stated and it will
have to be demonstrated that students acheive those goals. Every one of
those requirements makes _sense_ given the standard definition of school
if state money is going into schools and any _one_ of those standards
could close a school like Sudbury Valley. In other words, I fear that if
the state pays for _all_ schools, then _all_ schools will begin to
resemble state schools.

Take care,

--Scott David Gray
reply to:
A government system of education in Prussia is not inconsistent with the
theory of Prussian society, for there all wisdom is supposed to be lodged
in the government. But the thing is wholly inadmissible here . . .
because, according to our theory, the people are supposed to be wiser than
the government. Here, the people do not look to the government for light,
for instruction, but the government looks to the people. The people give
the law to the government. To entrust, then, the government with the
power of determining the education which our children shall receive is
entrusting our servant with the power to be our master. This fundamental
difference between the two countries, we apprehend, has been overlooked by
the board of education and its supporters.

-- Orestes Brownson

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