Please note that this is not the official position of the Libertarian Party of Oregon. This is an example of thought as viewed through the lens of liberty and freedom.
A Libertarian view on education is as follows but may not be limited to the following.
Compulsory public education, those institutions that government uses to coerce children and families to attend, is immoral from the very utterance of “compulsory” public education. Once force is brought into the equation in the form of threats, limitations, and economic barriers to earn a living in the future and the present, we enter into an immoral and coercion relationship between the people and the governments from city, state, and federal that mandate humans to attend these institutions. All human relationships should be voluntary.
Coerced taxation and other coercive means are used to fund these institutions. Already within a principled argument we are faced with two conditions of immorality concerning government education. We could end our argument there if we wanted to and the case would be shut. Government provided education is immoral and unjust on all levels. Public education fails the tests of reason, logic, and ethics.
Examining public education on other levels we find that since the government has taken control of education and modeled it after the Prussian system of the late 1800’s, education has become more costly yet has produced poorer results. Public education fails every trend line test that a private business would use to measure success. Thus on a purely economic test we, the public, receive less by paying more each and every year. This would be an F grade on any test.
When we examine how humans, especially kids, learn it is not by memorizing data, then regurgitating it for a test and then moving on to the next lesson immediately. People, especially children, need to explore and learn how to ask questions. The Socratic method has proven to be the best method yet our public schools ignore curiosity and do not foster independent thinking. Instead schools indoctrinate children into not thinking but to believe what they are told rather it be a fact or just an opinion of the teacher, not by believing in what they discover through investigating.
Children are lined up in rows like a military unit and are regimented all day long. The bells ring and the student must go to the next class. If a student is enjoying a subject they must stop immediately when that bell rings and then go to the next subject. That is not how humans learn nor want to learn. In fact if the child does not fit into the public education system they are regarded as abnormal and put on psychotropic drugs.
THE LIBERTARIAN SOLUTION
The Libertarian solution is to get governments out of the way of the parents and communities. To once again empower parents and communities to create their learning centers or systems. Predicting how this all will look would be an act of arrogance as this writer would have to assume an omnipotent body of knowledge about every human involved. However, we can make some predictions based on human action and basic economics.
- Where there is a need and a desire someone will fill that need. Entrepreneurs are ingenious and private schools would start to appear. After some time bad ideas would be left behind as the good ideas spread. The cost of education would come down dramatically and the quality of education would go up. These are basic functions of the market as competition drives these market participants to excel by pleasing and serving other humans well.
- Home schooling and all the various forms of unschooling would spring to life. Parents and all property owners would be getting a good percentage of their earnings back that the governments were taking by force. Example – A person may have a $2,600 dollar property tax bill and 60% is due to various measures, levies, taxes, and etc…. going to public education. Property taxes are nothing more than a ransom, a claim upon and held against your property.
- Already wonderful ideas and learning academies have appeared online. Even Libertarian theme sources such as the Ron Paul Curriculum andTom Woods Liberty Classroom offer excellent alternatives for families to use.
There is no telling what truly ingenious and innovative people will come up with. Voluntary and mutual cooperation always produces the best results for creativity always happens in the absence of coercion.
If there are any cases that communities decide on a public funded education system then it must always be done as locally as possible. This is not an endorsement of coercive and publicly funded education but a statement that in a Libertarian world like-minded people can choose, people need to have the power, influence and say, not politicians. However, even in those communities no one human must be subjected to force and coercion. People must be allowed not to participate in any public system. People have a right to the freedom of association and the right to freely not associate.