The state of public education is abominable. The national graduation rate doesn’t top 70%, out of 34 nations we only rank 17th in science and 25th in mathematics, and 20 percent of high school seniors can be classified as being functionally illiterate at the time they graduate (if they graduate). Despite what public sector unions and partisan celebrities say, this is not due to a lack of funding. The United States spends the second most per student on education in the world, substantially more than nations such as Finland and South Korea that put us to shame. Despite the government’s inability to effectively teach or to efficiently spend the money they take from us in taxes, government and public education advocates continue to demand more control over our children’s education and even more money. Taxpayers should be livid. Not only is the government spending enormous amounts of our money in a failed attempt to educate (as if that is their aim), they are actually destroying the lives of the next generation.
One individual out of 310 million can only do so much to fix failed public policy, especially when they find themselves pitted against the corporate, special and political interests that control our federal and local governments. I don’t know of anyone who petitions their government to arrest people for selling raw milk, to shoot a young black male five times in the back for not paying a $2 bus fare, or to have SWAT teams invade the homes of veterans and shoot them to death, yet even in the face of such extreme abuses of government, where is the outrage? Why are the people not in the streets? And if people don’t get up in arms over such blatant examples of government abuse, how can we expect them to organize over the less visible and drawn out destruction of children’s futures through a corrupt education system?
The appropriate response to coercive and violent government is non-compliance and civil disobedience. In order to stop the abuses of law enforcement agencies the masses would only need to refuse to comply with them. No amount of police force can round up scores of millions of people who deliberately commit victimless crimes. In order to stop the wars the masses would only need to refuse to join the military and the soldiers would simply need to sit down and refuse to deploy. The military will not hand weapons and deploy tens of thousands of troops who refuse to put on their boots or stand at attention for a superior officer. In order to reject the various actions of the state that people find improper or immoral they would only need to refuse to pay taxes, en masse. The problem with all of these actions is that they place tremendous burden on the ones who attempts to resist what they see as government abuse, and unless waves of people join them, they end up in jail, having won nothing but a moral victory.
Public education is different. While most taxpayers are not able to engage in non-compliance or civil disobedience in public education (other than refusing to pay taxes), parents are able to. Non-compliance is as simple as homeschooling. Refusing to turn children over to the state has the benefit of saving a child from the torture of schooling, stripping away funds from the local public school, and delegitimizing public education in the eyes of the public that is burdened with the high costs of failing schools. Unlike the previous examples of non-compliance, refusing to comply with the public education system does not put the parent at significant risk of being thrown in jail. As millions of parents reject public education for the benefit of their children, they will help undermine a corrupt system that has been undermining the lives of scores of millions for decades.