Wednesday, January 25, 2006

More Libertarianism?

It seems to me that libertarianism is the right's anarchy... or else that anarchy is the left's libertarianism. As the cosmologists teach us, if you go far enough in one direction, you end up coming back from the other direction...

So anyway, back to homeschooling. This is a subject dear to my heart, mainly because I've invested so much time making a movie about it. (Still in postproduction, wait for it...) It seems to me that what's-his-name's article about how silly it is to have so-called "government" schools instead of leaving education to the private sector (along, presumably, with everything else) fails on a few grounds. First of all, it seems to me fairly obvious that if public education is abandoned, then lots of kids will be abandoned with it; and abandoned kids are not prone to work toward social goods. They tend to work instead toward various forms of bad behavior, many of which will, I promise you, be bad for lots of people besides themselves.

It is not a valid response to this concern to point out that public schools often do a poor job or that they abandon kids, too. A system that isn't working well is still a system, and can often be fixed or gamed or used regardless. But if there's no system... who you gonna call?

I also find it unpersuasive to argue that "historically" education proceeded in thus and such a way, without public schools. Historically, people sent their children to work in factories at a young age; historically, inequalities in resources ensured inequalities in education, which in turn ensured that it was almost impossible to escape one's (lower) class.

Finally (for now), while it is true that almost anyone who really, really wants to, is intellectually capable of homeschooling their children, or else of seeking out an optimal education for them (assuming they are able to pay for such a thing)... why should children be made dependent on the goodwill of their parents to receive an education? What basis is there for equating the "good" (read, economic benefit) of the parents with the "good" of their offspring? Again, it comes down to the preposterous assumption that people are rational actors, possessing good information, and in agreement with the author of the paper about what constitutes a "good."

I would argue that in making "receiving a free education" the default situation for children, the state has done a lot of good (yes, including economic good) for a lot of people. An awful lot of people, including those who don't own the children in question. You can call it welfare and wish you didn't have to pay those taxes, but what is that to me?


At 7:41 AM, Blogger Zuska said...

I am not a homeschooler - although when my daughters were young, I did look into it. I was scared off no matter what though b/c 1) i'm lazy-ish; 2) i grew up in a fundamentalist born-again atmosphere where MANY MANY children were homeschooled, and it screwed them up, and their parents used it as an opportunity to drill bible verses into the kids' heads.

However - I have to take issue with your "why should kids have to be dependent on their parents' good will for their education" argument - kids are dependent on their parents' good will for so many things, and that is FINE with the state. If we could not depend on parents' good will toward their children in so many different areas, we would have serious concerns about the longevity of our species.

I'd also like to say that any child who is TRULY going to get an education crafted for them -- an education that will push them, and that will really teach them -- while attending a public (or private) school is STILL dependent on their parents' good will.

My daughters attend public school in a very reputable Boston-area public school system (which you may want to if you get into Harvard and do public school for your kids) - and without at LOT of effort by my partner and myself, they'd be skating along with bare minimums. My 4th grader was tested as having an 8th grade literacy level and spelling ability - yet her teacher gives the entire class (in a TOP RATED School system!) remedial spelling words! she explained the thinking as having something to do with provided a very solid foundation .... blah blah blah.

Anyway - if I wasn't at work, i'd give this issue more treatment. glad to have found your blog.

At 1:48 PM, Blogger Murky Thoughts said...

You pay for schools now or you pay for policing and prisons and war to protect your feeble economy later. Were you arguing against vouchers too or only against public funding for education? (Haven't read the person you're responding to.) I like your conclusion, but I'd feel obliged to concede vouchers as a kind of "system" for the purposes of your argument.

At 3:00 PM, Blogger jomama said...

You folks keep paying those taxes for that ther' edykashun u gave me.

I'll jus' sit back and laugh a lot.

At 4:31 PM, Blogger rain_rain said...

Murky, you may have misunderstood me. (Or else I misunderstood what I was writing, which is always possible.) I was arguing for public funding of education.

Actually, I was arguing against a certain class of arguments against public funding of education, but... well, it comes to much the same thing, at least for the time being.


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