Cue Card Libertarianism: Education
Each 'Cue Card Libertarianism' entry forms part of a series intended to introduce newbies to the terms used (or as used) by local libertarians. The series so far can be found archived here, and here, and the Introduction here.“A tax-supported, compulsory educational system is the complete model of the totalitarian state.”
– Isabel Paterson, 'The God of the Machine.'
EDUCATION: The system of compulsory, taxpayer-funded education is another prime example of the state performing the opposite role to its proper one, i.e. initiating force against its citizens, rather than protecting them from it.
It forces children from their parents; it forces a curriculum on children with or without the parents’ approval; it treats the child’s mind as the property of the state; it forces people to pay for the education of other people’s children.
New Zealand’s public education has followed in the path of the United States: beginning with educating children to submit to the collective feelings of the group, rather than to develop their own minds ands use their own independent judgement – i.e. it teaches them to value 'consensus' before truth, and 'fitting in' above facts.
Peer pressure and politics are now important than good pedagogy. “Humanities” subjects have been hi-jacked by the purveyors of fashionable political viewpoints, and even the sciences have been infected with irrational nature-worship and notions like "Maori Science," ie., myth. A recent Minister of Education even claimed that science is not even concerned with the discovery of truth.
The travesty of education being perpetrated by the state currently is nothing short of criminal. Taxpayers paying more and more to get less and less -- more money spent, to fill the heads of more and more young New Zealanders with mush.
Despite governments doling out increasing election bribes on the state's factory schools, Labour Department figures estimate there are more than half-a-million New Zealanders who are functionally illiterate. It's clear what we have is neither free, nor a system of education.
We're left to deduce (as we must with all government spending binges) that education isn't a function of the money that's thrown at it; what matters more is what that money is spent on.
What it's been spent on in recent years is bullshit, mush and toxic swill -- and the seven-lesson inculcation of servitude.
“Education in the government's factory schools is pumping out an ever-increasing number of functionally illiterate and unemployable youths - good for nothing beyond stuffing a ballot box."
The 'liberal' view is that all that is wrong with state education can be fixed with more money, better staff-student ratios, greater control of curriculum, more qualified teachers and more paperwork. But as more and more money spent on education has shown that more of the same just produces more and more failure. The view of conservatives is generally that public education needs to be made more efficient. With more efficiency, they say, 'delivery' of education will be better.
Libertarians however maintain that public education is all too efficient: it has been ruthlessly efficient at delivering the government’s chosen values. After generations of indoctrination at the knee of the state we now have several generations who are 'culturally safe' and politically correct -- ‘good citizens’ unable to use the brains they were born with, unthinkingly compliant in every respect with the values in which they've been totally immersed; braindead automatons to whom group-think is good and for forty-two percent of whom the reading of a bus timetable or the operation of a simple appliance is beyond them.
In previous decades the government's chosen values included banning the speaking of Maori in schools; speaking Maori in schools is fast becoming compulsory, along with the teaching of the ordained versions of Te Tiriti and the inculcation of the ideas of multiculturalism and the inferiority of western culture. Governments and their values change, but their use of their factory schools for indoctination doesn't.
The government's recently chosen values are "fairness, opportunity and security." We know that because Helen Clark said so. Orwell would have recognised these words, as he might the rigid orthodoxies of what passes for teacher training. "What happens in our schools is a very big part of shaping the future of New Zealand," says Ms Clark in the same speech, acknowledging that this is the way to make subjects out of citizens. Libertarians agree with Ms Clark's statement, which is precisely why we want governments away from the schools and away from control of curricula. Both Liberals and conservatives endorse state control of schools and of curricula, and they both seek to be the state. Libertarians don't.
Rather than delivering new generations of New Zealand's children to be indoctrinated into servitude and their heads filled with mush, it's time for a radical rethink and a wholesale rejection of NZ's educational establishment -- of those who've sucked up the money, and produced only failure. It's time for a permanent and constituional separation of school and state, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of church and state.
Even the critics of state education, however, cannot imagine life without it, simply because they’ve never known anything else. They would have the same difficulty grasping the possibility of removing the state from the production of clothing if, all their lives, the state had exercised a coercive monopoly in that field.
Libertarianism holds that the removal of the state from education is a reform needed more urgently than most; and that all education should be private, non-compulsory, and paid for by the parents whose children are receiving it.
This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by New Zealand libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here.