What is Wrong with Public Schools?

by | Mar 21, 1999

The physical and mind crippling hazards of government schools are only manifestations of a deeper problem.

“What is wrong with public schools?” There is a lot wrong with public schools. An easier question these days is, “What’s right with public schools?” At least the list would be shorter.

The government school system in America today is sadly lacking, and not just in the realm of academic achievement. Children are, in effect, risking their lives by attending school. Fatal attacks from deranged students are spreading like an epidemic.

When I was a teenager in the 70’s, high schools had some problems with drugs and racism, but there was still a remnant of respect for teachers and school property. Not so now. Police are a common sight on school grounds, anti-drug campaigns are routine even in elementary schools, kids bring weapons to class and actually kill innocent people. Public schoolsñwith the weapons, police, drugs, and violenceñare looking more like jails all the time.

Public “education” is a misnomer. Children aren’t able to concentrate in such a threatening environment. But the physical danger to a child’s well-being is only partly responsible for the terrible decline in schools today.

The Real Goal of State Schooling: “Socialization”

A neighbor once mentioned in passing that he thought the purpose of school attendance was socialization. He was right, but his idea of “becoming socialized” was not the same as the government’s.

School socialization can mean either of two things. The common, benevolent usage is: just getting along with others, happily playing together, and learning to be a responsible citizen. But in modern schools, socialization is taking on a darker significance.

Public schools are controlled by the government. Their main goal is not really to educate peopleñthey want to create a future society of passive, dependent, obedient citizens. They take a malleable young mind and shape it to be intellectually reliant, not on itself, but on an authority. The teacher, the majority, or the government proclaims the truth; individuals merely “accept” it.

This is the type of socialization that children are subjected to in public schools. The independent spirit is gradually crushed so that when those would-be leaders grow up, they will be easy to rule.

Don’t be shocked. It’s happening right here, right now all around you. Ironically, while the rest of the world is discovering that socialism doesn’t work, America is embracing it. All socialist countries have to prepare fertile ground for their ideology. It’s a long-term investment that begins in the schools. Here’s how they do it.

First, they create a law to force parents to send their kids to school. Since our tax dollars support government schools, many parents feel inclined to send their children there, to the “free” schools, rather than pay extra for a private school education. The law, by the way, is only an attendance lawñit carries no accountability for the teachers to actually impart knowledge to their students. Schools have a captive audience, but no accountability to provide a good education to them.

Then, while the students are still young (the younger, the better) government schools start to breed out independent thoughtñ”the group is everything; the individual, nothing.” Examples of the methods used to obliterate student independence include:

– classroom-wide punishments for a single student’s poor behavior
– book reports or projects that are assigned to a team, with a single grade issued and divvied up among the team members, regardless of individual achievements
– peer pressure for all to conform to “group think”

There is tremendous pressure to fit into the mold. Anyone who has trouble being part of the group is evaluated by the school psychologist to see what’s wrong with him. Psychologists frequently label the kids that resist the mold as suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Parents are then advised to subdue those children with drugs to make them more complacent and submissiveñto shave off the resistant corners so they can pound a square peg into a round hole.

Now that the schools have a captive, submissive audience, they seal the fate of the defenseless minds in their charge. Government schools undercut their students’ ability to think by the very method of teaching. Not only does the curriculum reek of political correctness, the teachers make it unintelligible by breaking it up into a zillion bits and pieces. Teachers cram their students’ heads full of random data with no attempt to illustrate the point of what they’re learning. Students are not taught how the knowledge interrelates; they don’t know what it all means. All the students “learn” are stray facts that don’t add up to anything. They can’t integrate what they don’t understand, so they “cram” to pass the test — afterwards, they forget it all.

The end result? Kids who can’t think beyond a concrete level by the time they are finally released from their high school prison. They’ve become intellectual cripples, dependent upon others to fill their heads. They enter society as moral relativists who mutter, “Who are we to know?” and passively obey whatever the government or society dictates.
Government Schools are Immoral

The physical and mind crippling hazards of government schools are only manifestations of a deeper problem. The very idea of forcing all citizens to pay for a poorly run, inadequate, useless institution designed to create a society of followers for the government to rule — is evil.

Chris Cardiff makes a moral case against compulsory, tax-funded, government-run schools, wherein he writes:

The dichotomy between homeschooling and government schooling is the difference between a moral and an immoral system. Homeschooling respects the rights of individual families to choose for themselves, while government schooling imposes its ideology on all children through predatory financing and its monopoly of force.1

Putting aside the corrupt form and content of government education, Mr. Cardiff correctly identifies the moral injustice of forced taxation to fund a program that works against one’s own values. He goes on to say that attempts to reform public education cannot possibly work, and that to try to make government schools “better” only sanctions an immoral system. He recommends instead that we get rid of the school system and replace it with free market education:

The only way to ‘reform’ [the immoral government school] system is to replace it with a proven, superior approachña free market in education, exemplified by today’s homeschooling families.

Mr. Cardiff is not saying that all families should homeschool. He is using the homeschooling community as a great example of what a free market in education can accomplish. If we had a free market in education, families would have numerous educational choices. Some would homeschool, others would send their kids to schools of their choosing.

The quality of education would go up because these free market schools would have to compete with each other for students. Parents would be more involved in their children’s education because they would need to decide which school service to buy. If they had to pay the bill directly, parents would want to make sure they were satisfied with the purchase. Schools would have to be accountable to their customers, or they’d go out of business. Free market education would be supported by those who actually use the service. Child-less citizens would be able to keep more of their money and invest it in other valuable areas, rather than sinking it into the school-tax hole.


1. The Critical Distinction Between Homeschooling and Government Schooling, The Education Liberator (Vol. 1, No. 5, February 1996)

Home Taught – Gail Withrow’s fantastic web Home Schooling web site

Gail Withrow, primary teacher and owner, home-schooled her two daughters for 8 years prior to founding Austin's HomeTaught School. http://www.hometaught.com

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

Have a comment?

Post your response in our Capitalism Community on X.

Related articles

No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.

Pin It on Pinterest