The Fallacy of America’s Education “System”

by | Mar 18, 2001

Q: How would you correct the problem of education in this country if you had complete control of the system? A: I would not seek “complete control of the system.” Nor do I — or anyone else (be it George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, the NEA, or whomever) –have the moral/political right to do so. […]

Q: How would you correct the problem of education in this country if you had complete control of the system?

A: I would not seek “complete control of the system.” Nor do I — or anyone else (be it George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, the NEA, or whomever) –have the moral/political right to do so.

The term “system” implies that all of education is, somehow, the private property of some unnamed entity. That unnamed entity is, presumably, “society.” Since society in actuality consists of some number of individuals, this means that some number of people are allowed to obtain ownership over that system.

One problem with this whole line of thinking is that it presumes whoever manages to seize power (and it’s usually either the NEA/Democratic Party, or the more moderate-liberal wing of the Republican Party, as at present) owns education. This is preposterous. And immoral. And impossible.

Education is, objectively speaking, a purely individual matter. This is not just the way it should be; it’s also the way it is. Education is probably the most individual matter there is. Although I believe there are universal principles which apply to all people, there are many different methods and styles of education which will work for different children. Of all the things for the government to seize control over, education is probably the worst of all.

Americans are, in many ways, a virtuous and rational people — even in some respects (I hesitate to say) today. Virtuous and rational people profoundly value education. What most do not — or will not — understand is that precisely because education is so important, the government should stay completely out of it.

Education is first and foremost a parent’s responsibility. If a parent is too irresponsible to understand this fact, then no government intervention is going to save the child. A concerned relative or private charity would do much better. Nearly anyone or anything could do better than our existing command-and-control, one-size-fits-all education “system.” It’s absolute socialism, and people who oppose socialism in other areas for some inexplicable reason accept socialism — without question — in the area of education. It’s mystifying.

One reason so many children are doing poorly in school today is because so many families are full of chaos — whether due to divorce, abuse, or sheer inattentive torpidity. We can scream all we want that “education is failing, and the government’s got to do something about it!” It still won’t improve if the great majority of parents don’t wake up, focus, and realize that taking command of their child’s intellectual-psychological nourishment is every bit as crucial as taking command of their child’s physical nourishment.

This can’t be done through delegating the task to government. It can only be done by shopping for the most sensible alternatives in the marketplace, like they must do with most other things. First, we need to get rid of the public school monopoly and create a marketplace. This, however, won’t happen until there is a revolution in the hearts and minds of parents themselves.

There are some heroic parents out there who fit my criteria — but they are few and far between. If they were not few and far between, great majorities would be pushing for the privatization of the school system, through tax credits and the eventual closing down of public schools altogether.

Instead, through applying pressure both on conservative Republican Presidents and liberal Democrat Presidents (who seem to differ on little other than whether there should be prayer in schools), the great majority of soccer-mom mentality parents out there seem to be saying: “Fix our schools — without imposing any responsibility on us to fix ourselves.”

Politicians — most recently, George W. Bush — meekly reply: “OK, OK, we’ll fix it for you.”

All I have to say is: good luck!

Visit Dr. Hurd’s website at http://drhurd.com

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.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.

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