Getting to Educational Freedom: Politics is Not The Answer

Might some political answer improve education in a systemic manner? Probably not, unless a wise and benevolent dictator has a striking change of heart, and in one fell swoop brings about complete educational freedom, along the same lines as religious freedom – no interference, funding, provision, or other contact between government and education.

Political systems seldom change radically; they blindly and unthinkingly shamble, creep, ooze, encroach, envelop and eat; they never apologize for making a meal of the rest of us and our aspirations.

Substantive changes happen outside of politics. In the 70s, America had about 10,000 home-schooling families; they were a rare breed, seldom spotted. Now, about 4% of American children are taught at home. Might these families be doing something different? It’s a good question to ask, when so many are winning awards, starting college early, rising to the top of their fields.

In “developing” nations, another trend: independent, parent-funded schools, delivering education to as many as 80% of the students in some provinces. Their customers are some of the poorest people in the world. James Tooley discovered these unknown schools, and tells his story in The Beautiful Tree. This transformation was not planned; it was not organized; it was not mandated by the government. It happened by itself – bit by bit, entrepreneur by entrepreneur, family by family. It was invisible to the government, until it became too large to ignore.

The strong suit of politicians is not thinking; it is the art of “faking sincerity.”

For Americans, Common Core is not the reform you are looking for; neither is the abolition of Common Core. The reform we are looking for is bit by bit, from the ground up, one by one repudiation of the entire idea of state-financed, -mandated, -provided, and -controlled education, in favor of bottom up institutions which are controlled by parents, teachers, students, and entrepreneurs, and which are completely free of ties to any level of government.

1 thought on “Getting to Educational Freedom: Politics is Not The Answer”

  1. Some might say “you have to get the politicians to vote to allow you the freedom to . . . well, sometimes; but politics lags real life; politicians tend to catch up to the reality on the ground. When parents refuse to pay taxes for school, and refuse to send their children, politicians will finally think about repealing compulsory attendance laws and school taxes. The 3rd world movement is happening because their governments are too weak to enforce the regulations on the books – and in many cases, do not even know what is happening outside of their purview.


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