DSM: Why is it not the responsibility of society/community to educate the future generation ? (was:The Value of the Sudbury Model)

From: David Rovner (rovners@netvision.net.il)
Date: Tue Apr 17 2001 - 14:24:32 EDT

The following essay may give you an answer,

David Rovner, Haifa, Israel rovners@netvision.net.il


by Nathaniel Branden

    The answer to this question becomes more evident if one makes the question
more concrete and specific, as follows: Should the government be permitted to
remove children forcibly from their homes, with or without the parents' consent, and
subject the children to educational training and procedures of which the parents may
or may no approve? Should citizens have their wealth expropriated to support an
educational system which they may or may not sanction, and to pay for the education
of children who are not their own? To anyone who understands and is consistently
committed to the principle of individual rights, the answer is clearly: NO.

    There are no moral grounds whatever for the claim that education is the
prerogative of the state - or for the claim that it is proper to expropriate the wealth of
some men for the unearned benefit of others.

    The doctrine that education should be controlled by the State is consistent with
Nazi or communist theory of government. It is not consistent with the American
theory of government.

    The totalitarian implications of State education (preposterously described as "free
education") have in part been obscured by the fact that in America, unlike Nazi
Germany or Soviet Russia, private schools are legally tolerated. Such schools,
however, exist not by right but only by PERMISSION.

    Further, the facts remain that: (a) most parents are effectively compelled to send
their children to State schools, since they are taxed to support these schools and
cannot afford to pay the additional fees required to send their children to private
schools; (b) the STANDARDS of education, controlling ALL schools, are prescribed
by the state; (c) the growing trend in American education is for the government to
exert wider and wider control over every aspect of education.

    As an example of this last: when many parents, who objected to pictographic
method of teaching schoolchildren to read, undertook to teach their children at home
by the phonetic method -- a proposal was made LEGALLY TO FORBID parents to do
so. What is the implication of this, if not that the child's mind belongs to the State?

    When the State assumes FINANCIAL control of education, it is logically appropriate
that the State should progressively assume control of the CONTENT of education --
since the State has the responsibility of judging whether or not its funds are being
used "satisfactorily." But when the government enters the sphere of IDEAS, when it
presumes to prescribe in issues concerning intellectual CONTENT, that is the death
of a free society.

    To quote Isabel Paterson in THE GOD OF THE MACHINE:
    "Educational texts are necessarily selective, in subject matter, language, and point
of view. Where teaching is conducted by private schools, there will be a considerable
variation in different schools; the parents must judge what they want their children
taught, by the curriculum offered. Then each must strive for objective truth. . . .
Nowhere will there be any inducement to teach the "supremacy of the state" as a
compulsory philosophy. But every politically controlled educational system will
inculcate the doctrine of state supremacy sooner or later, wether as the divine right
of kings, or the "will of the people" in "democracy." Once that doctrine has
been accepted, it becomes an almost superhuman task to break the
stranglehold of the political power over the life of the citizen. It has his body,
property, and mind in its clutches from infancy." (8)

     The disgracefully low level of education in America today is the predictable result of
a State-controlled school system. Schooling, to a marked extent, has become a
status symbol and ritual. More and more people are entering college -- and fewer and
fewer people are emerging properly educated. Our educational system is like a vast
bureaucracy, a vast civil service, in which the trend is toward a policy of considering
everything about a teacher's qualifications (such as the number of his publications)
EXCEPT HIS TEACHING ABILITY; and considering everything about a student's
qualifications (such as his "social adaptability") EXCEPT HIS INTELLECTUAL


    There is an urgent ECONOMIC NEED for education. When educational institutions
have to compete with one another in the quality of the training they offer -- when they
have to compete for the value that will be attached to the diplomas they issue --
education standards will necessarily rise. When they have to compete for the
services of the best teachers, the teachers who will attract the greatest number of
students, then the caliber of teaching -- and of teacher's salaries -- will necessarily
rise. (Today, the most talented teachers often abandon their profession and enter
private industry, where they know their efforts will be better rewarded.) When the
economic principles that have resulted in the superlative efficiency of American
industry are permitted to operate in the field of education, the result will be a
revolution, in the direction of unprecedented educational development and worth.

    Education should be liberated from the control or intervention of government, and
turned over to PROFIT-MAKING private enterprise, not because education is
unimportant, but because education is so CRUCIALLY IMPORTANT.

     What must be challenged is the prevalent belief that education is some sort of
"natural gift" - in effect, a free gift of nature. There ARE no such free gifts. But it is in
the interests of statism to foster this delusion -- in order to throw a smoke screen
over the issue of whose freedom must be sacrificed to pay for such "free gifts."

    As a result of the fact that education has been tax-supported for such a long time,
most people find it difficult to project an alternative. Yet there is nothing unique about
education that distinguishes it from the many other human needs which are filled by
private enterprise. If, for many years, the government had undertaken to provide all
the citizens with shoes (on the grounds that shoes are an urgent necessity), and if
someone were subsequently to propose that this field should be turned over to private
enterprise, he would doubtless be told indignantly: "What! Do you want everyone
except the rich to walk around barefoot?"

    But the shoe industry is doing its job with immeasurably greater competence than
public education is doing ITS job.

    To quote Isabel Paterson once more:

    "The most vindictive resentment may be expected from the pedagogic profession
for any suggestion that they should be dislodge from their dictatorial position; it will be
expressed mainly in epithets, such as "reactionary," at the mildest. Nevertheless, the
question to put to any teacher moved to such indignation is: Do you think nobody
would WILLINGLY entrust his children to you and pay you for teaching them? Why do
you have to extort your fees and collect your pupils by compulsion? (9)
(JUNE 1963)

(8) Caldwell, Idaho: The Caxton Printers, 1964, pp. 271-271. Originally published by
G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1943.
(9)Ibid., p. 274

 by Nathaniel Branden
              signet, 1963]

---------- Original Message ----------

From: "Lisa J. Cooley" <coollit@echonyc.com>
To: discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org
Cc: <discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org>
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 07:59:25 -0400
Subject: Re: Re[2]: DSM: The Value of the Sudbury Model

>Pardon me for butting in.

>Why is it not the responsibility of society/community to educate the future
>generation? Why is that idea anathema? Let's deal with the theory for a
>moment, instead of the reality of the inequality of education across the
>board. Why should it not fall to the community -- all of us -- to see that
>future generations are educated?

>I just sent off a big tax check, and it hurt, not because it'll pay for
>education but because of the part that goes to military pork.

>I have no problem financing the education of my neighbor's children -- even
>if I decide to homeschool! Why should we shirk that responsibility?

>Lisa Cooley

>"Daddy dirty! Oh, man. Bathtub!

> ---Eli, age 1, upon seeing his father covered with dust
> from sanding the drywall.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can
change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

(Margaret Mead)

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