"There should be no debate about President Obama’s call to provide high-quality preschool to all children."
So began the NJ Star-Ledger about Obama's proposed $98 billion scheme. The editors ask: "The only question now should be: How will we pay for it?" I left the following comments:
I agree. In a country dedicated to the individual's inalienable right to his own life and property, there should be no debate: Obama's initiative is wrong. It is wrong to force some people to pay for the education of other people's children.
But how "we" pay for it is not "the only question." The corollary question is: Whose educational agenda will be forced on the children and parents? Good early education presupposes the right educational philosophy, methods, and curriculum. Who's to make those choices? Champions of government schools always sidestep this question, despite its incalculable importance. When the state funds schooling, it controls what is taught and how it is taught. What can be more dangerous to a civil society?
The two greatest tragedies of the American Founding were to allow slavery and tax-funded education to slip through the rights-protecting safety net provided by our founding documents. Education should have been separated form the state in the same way and for the same reasons as the Founders wisely separated church and state.
Instead of expanding government's grip on the schools through universal pre-school, we should be moving towards the abolition of government schools. We must begin moving in that direction now. First, extricate the federal government from education, which has always been a state matter. Next, fight on the state level for universal school choice. My liberty-advancing proposal is laid out here:
Toward a Free Market in Education: School Vouchers or Tax Credits
Yes, early education is vital to a child's development. But the idea that the ends justify the means is one of the great moral evils of the human experience. Immoral means invalidate any alleged good that lies at the proposed ends.
When the state funds schooling, it controls what is taught and how it is taught. The schools become less about education, and more about indoctrination. Schools become less about fostering independent thinking, and more about conformity to the group. What kind of kids would the state be more likely to want to turn out, adults who will challenge state authority or kids who will passively submit to state authority?
Yes, anyone can fight in the political arena to adopt his mode of education. But all that means is a collage of special interests fighting to impose their educational agenda on everyone else and at everyone else's expense. But, just as religious conservatives don't want the Left's progressive education agenda, so the Left shouldn't have a religious agenda forced on them, and rightists shouldn't have either forced on them.