Fixing Public Education

The Chicago Teacher’s Union strike, in September of 2012, is yet another reminder of how unproductive our public education system has become. Over 400,000 students had to stay at home while the teacher’s union and teachers held Chicago hostage for a 25% increase in salary and a halt on teacher performance standards. If those demands were not greedy enough by themselves, they came on top of the fact that Chicago teachers were already the highest paid in our nation. Their average salary at the time was approximately $76K per year while the tax payer, who has to support them, averaged only around $46K per year.

Unfortunately, greedy teachers backed by unions are only part of this account, because high salaries could be somewhat justifiable if the students they taught performed at exceptionally high academic levels. Yet, the opposite is true, the only things exceptional about our public schools are how exceptionally bad and expensive they are.

The number of high school seniors who read at or above “Proficient” has been declining since 1992, according to the NAEP reading test (NCES, 2002). Anyone who honestly compares the academic performance of current students to those of 150 years ago would be rightfully shocked how uneducated modern students are in comparison. American schools used to lead the world in academic performance, now we lead the world in the highest cost schools with the lowest performance.

This decline in academic performance did not happen overnight, but its root cause can be traced back to when local governments all across the nation took over the schools in the 1870s. If anyone believes that governments are good at running anything, they need to look at the US Postal Service, Amtrak, the numerous bankrupt cities around the nation, or the functioning of our national government to understand their claim is patently false. Definitively, the most efficiently run government is still less efficient then the least efficiently run private business that is still in business. It is for this reason we must take education out of the hands of government, at any level, and return it to the parents.

At the national level there is no constitutional justification for government interference in schools. The Constitution, which is an express powers document and the supreme law of the Land, does not delegate any authority to the national government with regards to education, because it does not mention education at all within the document. Correspondingly, in addition to being expensive, dysfunctional and counter-productive, the Department of Education is also unconstitutional and should be abolished.

If the Constitution does not delegate authority in education to Congress, then it is illegal for the national government to assume authority over education and use tax payer money to run an unauthorized department.  Money spent by the Department of Education is better left in the hands of tax payers, because after the Department has spent sizable portions to run their unconstitutional organization they then spend the rest on decisions not subject to cost/benefit scrutiny that parents, by necessity, must make.

Cost/benefit scrutiny is the mechanism by which people make sound economic decisions and no person or organization that is spending someone else’s money will ever be able to do this. That is another reason why education decisions are best left in the hands of parents.

State and local governments should also stay out of education, because governments are not responsible for children, parents are… or at least parents should be! Additionally, any education decision passed by a State, local government or a school board will also not be subject to cost/benefit scrutiny.

Finally, education is out of the biblical jurisdiction of any government. Romans 13:3-5 describes the main purpose of government, to wield the sword of justice against evil doers, but nowhere in the Bible will you find education as one of its functions. You will, however, find in Proverbs 22:6 the Bible giving responsibility of a child’s education to the parents. The Bible also states in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” and since public schools have completely pushed Christ out of the classroom it is no wonder their academic performance has gone with Him.

Fortunately, there is nothing wrong with public schools that non-public schools cannot fix. Non-public schools operate at a fraction of the cost of public schools and academically outperform them in nearly every category. Yet, many people argue that non-public schools will deny inner city children a “right” to education, but this claim is also patently false. Given the quality of inner city schools, they are already being denied an education, so any alternative system will be an improvement and certainly cost less. Besides, people have a tendency not to value what they do not pay for, so it is no wonder inner city schools do not function well.

The idea that public education is a right is also wrong; education is a government granted privilege not a right. [1] Property ownership is a right and nearly every public school system in America is funded in part or entirely by property taxes. Public school systems have caused property taxes to be so high in many locations that retired people living on fixed incomes are forced to move out of the homes they have worked a lifetime to purchase or face the prospect of government confiscation for non-payment of taxes. It is by this scheme public schools, a government granted privilege, are supported through the violation of a God given right and one of the rights specifically alluded to in the Declaration of Independence.[2] This violation of our rights must be stopped!

A hidden cost of schools rarely ever mentioned by the media are the numerous cases tying up our publicly funded courts. Court cases concerning what should or should not be taught in public schools are costing tax payers untold millions of dollars. By restoring education to parents these costly court cases go away reaping further savings for overtaxed citizens.

Along with extremely high costs and poor performance of public schools, we should also return education to parents because, “Free education for all children in public schools” is one of the Ten Planks of Communism in the Communist Manifesto. Marx may not have originated this idea, but his mere endorsement of it is proof positive that we should not endorse it. All of the ideas put forward by Marx contradict one or more of America’s founding principles and simply will never function as advertised as no socialist system ever has or ever will. Returning education to the responsibility of parents will restore choice and academic performance, so that America can once again lead the world in education.

[1] American Founding Principles, The Origin of Rights, August 27, 2012.

[2] Pursuit of Happiness.


4 thoughts on “Fixing Public Education

  1. The modern public education system was first founded in Prussia during the early 1800’s as a method to indoctrinate children so they would be raised to blindly obey orders. During the industrial revolution industrial revolutionaries desperately needed large volumes of moderately educated people to provide the needed labor for American expansion. These revolutionaries donated large sums of money and made other large contributions motivating the nation toward the development of a public schooling system in lieu of an educations system. I encourage readers to view the following video and listen closely to interviews of John Taylor Gatto who was a New York City public school teacher for 30 years:

  2. D Lively says:

    “At the national level there is no constitutional justification for government interference in schools. The Constitution, which is an express powers document and the supreme law of the Land, does not delegate any authority to the national government with regards to education, because it does not mention education at all within the document. Correspondingly, in addition to being expensive, dysfunctional and counter-productive, the Department of Education is also unconstitutional and should be abolished.” …”State and local governments should also stay out of education, because governments are not responsible for children, parents are…” Amen to that unless you consider your local school board “local government.”

    American Founding Principles says:

    There is nothing wrong with local school boards if financial support of local school systems and their school boards are completely voluntary and not forced through taxation of any kind.

  3. D Lively says:

    “Property ownership is a right…” I’m not sure where this comes from. The only mention of “property” in the Constitution is in Article III, Section 3, second paragraph which refers to “or other Property belonging to the United States”. There is no question that the founders consider the right to own property fundamental to our freedom but they don’t describe it as a right in either the Constitution or the Declaration.

    American Founding Principles says:

    If you read Origin of Rights, you will understand that property ownership is a right derived from the Bible and hence comes from God. In order to understand how property ownership is a right protected by our national constitution one must look at the original State Constitutions to see where our founders obtained the ideas and principles they used to write the phrase Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness in the Declaration of Independence.

    Daniel J. Ford states it best in his book The Legacy of Liberty and Property.

    “Long before the adoption of our federal Constitution in 1789, state constitutions expressed those essential principles of American liberty and independence. The Constitution adopted by Pennsylvania explicitly stated that among its objectives was to secure the “blessings, which the Author of existence has bestowed upon man.” Pennsylvania’s Declaration of Rights of 1776 identified those blessings as “inherent and unalienable rights, among which are, the enjoying and defending [of] life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”

    Virginia’s Declaration of Rights if 1776 was similar, stating that the people cannot be deprived of certain “inherent rights” which were listed as “namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.” New Hampshire’s Constitution of 1783 was worded nearly the same, speaking of the “essential and inherent right,” which it stated as “the enjoying and defending [of] life and liberty – acquiring, possessing and protecting property – and in a word, of seeking and obtaining happiness.”

    Any imposition on the people’s property was strictly limited to taxes or fees approved by their elected representatives. Massachusetts’ Constitution qualified its power to tax by the premise that “no part of the property of any individual, can, with justice, be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent, or that of the representative body of the people.”

    Similarly, the Constitution of Pennsylvania expressed the same principle of limited taxation by beginning with the premise that “every member of society has a right to be protected in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property.” It also added, however, that he is “bound to contribute his proportion towards the expense of that protection.” In other words, the reason that a member of civil society has a duty to “contribute his proportion” in taxes is simply for the government to cover its costs of protecting and defending the people’s liberty and property.”

    After studying the original State Constitutions, one can easily see from where the founders obtained the phrase “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” and it is also easy to see that it included property rights, because the phrase used in the Declaration of Independence was not meant to be a complete enumeration of rights. That is why they preceded the phrase with “that among these [rights] are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    American governments are instituted to protect the rights of citizens, not infringe upon them. People are only obligated to pay taxes to fund the government, so the government can protect their rights, which includes property rights. Any other purpose of taxation is a usurpation of power.

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