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It's A Gray Area: Apply libertarian philosphy to education for success

September 27, 2013|By James P. Gray

Last week we discussed how the U.S. would thrive in several important areas, including education, by using a functional libertarian approach.

Because education really is a common denominator and a key to success for individuals as well as our country, it deserves more exploration.

Today most people agree that many schools are failing our children, particularly those youngsters who come from lower economic areas. Simply spending more money hasn't really worked.

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Last week I asked, "Who is in a better position to decide where and how children should be educated, their parents or the government?"

Virtually everyone agrees that parents are in that better position.

If parents could dictate how government money was used for education from kindergarten to 12th grade, they would demand and receive excellence. The government could issue some form of document — a voucher, scholarship or coupon — that would allow parents to spend their children's allotted education money at the school of their choosing.

With the government currently making the educational decisions, we get programs like the No Child Left Behind Act, which is almost universally seen as a failure.

Why? Because governments thrive on statistics, which in this case resulted in standardized testing and even more bureaucracy. And that has led to teaching to the test, which, in turn, has led to memorization instead of learning, and even to cheating by some teachers.

But this new voucher system could have problems. For example, what would happen to children whose parents don't particularly value an education or are "too busy" to get involved? There are such parents, although probably fewer than is commonly believed.

Nevertheless, there still are parents who, for one reason or another, are not involved. But as a practical matter, most of the children of those parents probably play with other children whose parents care. So when their playmates start changing schools, those children would probably pester their parents to go to the new school as well.

The voucher system would bring creativity and innovation back into education, both public and private. Of course, each school would have to meet minimum state standards, but otherwise, parents could choose their child's school, whether it be public, private, military, religious, trade or vocational.

Some schools would probably follow what Poland has done for the past 15 years by better teaching their students to think.

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