Repeal Obamacare - but Keep Socialized Education?
During the recent Fox News and Google presidential debate, Ron Paul opined to the crowd, "You ought to have a right to opt out of the public system if you want." Although he could have been drawing comparisons between Obamacare and European socialized medicine, the congressman was actually referencing America's socialized educational system. It was a brilliant point. Just as the "public option" is merely a different term for socialized medicine, public education is simply a euphemized phrase for socialized education.
In the early 1800s, Horace Mann led a movement to replace America's community and parent-controlled school model with Prussian-style public schools. He believed that free education was a right and demeaned religious institutions that already made education available.
Mann's vision was originally met with strong resistance, as parents were reluctant to cede control of their children's education to government bureaucrats. Ultimately, a compulsory attendance mandate was passed -- not unlike the individual mandate found in Obamacare. Shortly afterward, private schools began to close.
Three-time New York City teacher of the year John Taylor Gatto notes that archetypal Americans like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Edison were leading productive, fulfilled lives by the time they were in their teens, and yet "[t]hey were too unpredictable and insufficiently pliable. What better way to (change this) than by removing children from the steadying influences of their families, and placing them instead in the hands of (free government) schools[?] Just in case parents were unwilling to comply, the powers that be committed school attendance into law."
However, as we all know, "free education" isn't free, but subsidized through tax levies on all citizens -- even those with no school-age children and those who have chosen to educate their children privately. Herein lies the genius of the left: by dictating the funding of government-run education and health care programs, millions of families are left with few alternatives outside the government's control. Although the right to enroll their children in private schools remains, this "right," for all practical purposes, often cannot be exercised due to income limitations. The reality is that many middle- and lower-income families cannot afford to pay taxes towards our public schools while also sending their own children to schools of their choice. The same holds true for health insurance policies -- thus, freedom of choice is suddenly available only to the elite and wealthy.
Ronald Reagan said it perfectly: "We can't socialize the doctors without socializing the patients." His words could easily be changed from "doctor" to "teacher" and "patient" to "student." For seven hours a day, five days a week, and nine months out of the year, the government enjoys an exclusive opportunity to attack all contrary opinions and freely instill in young people the state's values, perspective, and beliefs. It doesn't matter how conservative or religious a community might be -- most efforts to exert local school involvement are virtually nullified by mandates and government funds with strings attached.
In Texas, a fourteen-year-old student was suspended for telling a classmate that homosexuality is wrong. In the state of Washington, a science and social studies teacher used her classroom to demonize rural farm kids for driving trucks. In California, Wisconsin, and numerous other states, students use class time to design union logos and membership cards and to calculate "union dues as a percentage of wages."
As with all socialized systems, government-run education unavoidably leads to the rationing of services. Unable or unwilling to meet the individual needs of every student, the government pushes aside those who fail to succeed in their "one size fits all" model. Advanced students find their intellects confined as they are forced to learn the same material at the same speed as those with less ability. Lacking personalized instruction and learning methods, the educationally challenged and undeserved never reach the level of their peers. These students are labeled ADHD, mentally challenged, or otherwise, and they're often stigmatized. Eventually, many are switched to separate classrooms for "slow" kids.
The failures of our government's factory-style socialistic educational system are even further revealed by astronomically low test scores and graduation rates. Granted, not every student fails, but then again, not every European dies from socialized health care. The ability of some to succeed doesn't in any way change the realities or failures of socialism.
Inadequate funding isn't the reason U.S. public schools are ranked 18th among industrialized nations. On average, $11,223 is spent per student in public schools, and since 1985, inflation-adjusted federal spending has increased 138 percent. Meanwhile, the Homeschool Progress Report 2009 found that without world-class facilities, million-dollar budgets, and licensed educators, U.S. home-schooled students in grades K-12, averaged 37 percentile points higher on standardized academic achievement tests than their public-school counterparts.
Despite such failures, public schools remain the "sacred cow" of many politicians and their constituents who otherwise tout free-market solutions. Meanwhile, the government forces more people into programs completely under government control and unaccountable to the public. As a result, freedom is destroyed, and the ultimate goal of socialized medicine and education comes closer to completion.
Josiah Cantrall is a 21-year-old columnist and political commentator. His works have been referenced by the Huffington Post, Daily Kos, USA Today, Human Events, and Fox News. www.Josiahcantrall.com