It is Time to End Compulsory Public Education
What is mandated public education but enslavement of the young?
The State is teaching second graders “restorative justice.” High schoolers are instructed that their families “reinforce racist/homophobic prejudices.” Government officials – teachers and school board members – are targeting parents for their opposition to the teachings of critical race theory.
And we grovel to the State, begging them to make it stop.
This is not the profile of a free people.
The fight against the government’s efforts to teach and promote evil will always exist as long as there are public schools. The evil may be different in degree – it won’t always be critical race theory or the like – but it’ll still be present. The struggle to control curriculum will take place not in the classroom but in the courts, the legislature, the school board, and the agencies.
And this struggle, this fight against the State, will continue until we address the greater problem. Until we excise the cancer. Until we end State control over families.
What I mean is this: The State has no authority to compel a child attend public school. It is time to end compulsory education.
A Brief History
Mandated education is a relatively new idea in the West. In America, it grew from colonial-era laws requiring towns to appoint teachers or create schools once they got to a certain size. Around that same time in Europe and England, schools emerged within the community and from the churches to provide religious training and practical instruction.
Public education in America proliferated in the early 1800’s.1 By 1890, “the majority of states and territories had passed mandatory attendance laws,” providing penalties (usually unenforced) for truancy and offering exemptions for equivalent education.2
By the early 1900’s, compulsory education laws were even more common in the United States. The Supreme Court had endorsed State power to “compel [school] attendance.”3 Save for a few publicly dissenting voices, the authority of the State to “impose reasonable regulations for the control and duration of basic education”4 has gone unopposed.
One would have to think that this has to do with public opinion. It’s tough to find parents that disagree with K-12 education generally. Every parent wants their child to be educated. Instead, they differ on the specifics: private or public school, the subjects emphasized, secular vs. religious instruction, etc.
Similarly, the Supreme Court has no appetite for considering laws compelling public schooling. (One of the failures of originalism has been their silence on this issue.) Instead, it takes up cases involving the rights of students. They’ll decide on matters involving the violation of a 13 year-old student’s Fourth Amendment rights after a strip search. They’ll consider whether, under the First Amendment, a school may ban student speech that promotes illegal drug use.
A young person may be forced to go to a government school – a restraint of their movement and freedom – but at least the Court lets them speak. Their freedom of association might be violated, but at least they can’t be subject to unreasonable strip searches. Even prisoners have rights.
This gets us to the question of authority.
By what authority does a State have to compel attendance at a government school?
The Supreme Court has held that students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate.5 What of the right to not attend school?
Is the right to not be forced to attend a government school lesser than the freedom of speech?
To this you might respond that society needs to have an educated populace, for kids to stay off the street. A more discerning mind might say that public education is a babysitter so the parents can work. A true cynic would agree with all of that and add that the public school system is a jobs program. Anyway, those are all State interests; they have nothing to do with State authority.
A Christian might observe that God created three institutions: the family, the church, and the civil government. Each has a separate jurisdiction. The government enforces civil and criminal laws; the family is governed from within, with parents providing discipline and educating their children as they see fit; and the church has jurisdiction over matters of religion and its members. Under Christian philosophy, then, the State exceeds its jurisdiction when it involves itself in matters reserved for the family. Something to think about.
But I digress.
And I’ll rephrase the attendance question in a way that’s more accurate:
“By what authority does a State have to force a child attend a government school, where they are taught poisonous and evil doctrines?”
I disagree that this is a power inherent to a State. This wasn’t a power accepted at the formation of this country or when the Constitution was drafted. Even where there were laws mandating schooling, they didn’t mandate public education. There’s a big difference there.
To that you might say it’s the consent of the governed: “The voters gave the State the authority to compel public education.”
My parents never gave the State that authority. Did yours?
Oh, you might answer that democracy allows for such laws. The majority – by way of votes – determines the education of the country’s youth.
Ah, the cliché of democracy. Voters that don’t know your child can control how your child is education?
Which one of you would give a stranger that power? Do you not see the problem?
Here is the truth: the consent of the governed is a myth.
And even if there were consent – and there certainly is not – consent of the governed isn’t good enough. It is the consent of the parents that matters.
And what is the parental consent? There is none. Even the concept of “Parental Oversight” of public schools and teachers is a legend promoted by those interested in retaining their power.
Let’s say your child goes to a public school.6 If you disagree with their curriculum, that means you’re in the minority. Too bad. The majority – through their elected officials, not yours – have already picked what’s being taught.
And if you fight their curriculum in court, they have the law on their side. The Supreme Court has held that educators have broad discretion to set curriculum so long as it is “reasonably related to a legitimate pedagogical concern.”7 This would include curriculum and viewpoints against which the parent or child disagrees. Their values, not yours.
With little chance for relief in the courts, you’re going to need to change the decision-makers to exercise your God-given parental right to oversee the education of your child.
Good luck. Your plan of action would be: (1) establish an agenda; (2) recruit candidates; (3) rally voters; (4) get your people elected; and (5) have the elected officials carry out your wishes.
Not one parent can change the agenda of the educational “elite.” And even if you are successful (a near impossibility), it would be too late. Your child has already been brainwashed, and thus victimized, by the nonsense they’re peddling.
Where do you re-educate the child who has been taught he is an oppressor?
How do you heal the psychological damage to a 9-year old who feels guilty for being white?
And even if there is change at the local level, how much will it really matter?
The Biden Department of Education plans to promote racial equity in schooling, brainwash students on “their own biases,” and endorses the inaccurate (and terrible) “1619 project.” Their plan to revolutionize American schools includes quotes from radicals Ibram X. Kendi (who alleges “Trumpism is the violent defense of white male supremacy”) and Becki Cohn-Vargas (who wants to educate young children on anti-racism and has endorsed garbage articles that claim “objectivity” or “neutrality” are parts of white supremacy culture).
All the while, mere disagreement with the insane educational priorities of the racially obsessed will make you a target. They’ll fight you every step of the way. If not in court then on the streets. If not at the school board then on the internet. Exercise your First Amendment rights and these government officials will put you on their list.
It’s happening in Loudon County, Virginia. Teachers, school staff, elected officials, and even the county prosecutor were part of a Facebook group that:
compiled a lengthy list of parents suspected of disagreeing with school system actions, including its teaching of controversial racial concepts — with a stated purpose in part to “infiltrate,” use “hackers” to silence parents’ communications, and “expose these people publicly.” (Source: Luke Rosiak of The Daily Wire.)
After some parents objected to the teaching of critical race theory, one teacher promised to shut down their “hateful garbage” while another teacher called a parent a “douche.” They fight with the support of the NAACP, which had e-mailed school officials to inform them that a teacher’s husband had criticized critical race theory. According to Rosiak, the e-mail stated the NAACP was hopeful the teacher “does not share the same ideologies as her husband.”
Loudon County is the exception, not the rule. These brawls typically aren’t so public. (Though Loudon County shows just how audacious these people have become.) Likewise, the change in policies aren’t done out in the open. Instead, they’re done in the bureaucratic back rooms, within the school boards, at the school districts. Most parents don’t know what’s going on until it’s too late.
One final point.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that the government does have authority to compel a child attend a public school. What happens when “education” transforms from reading, writing, and arithmetic to critical race theory and the LGBTQ agenda?
Does the State have the power to compel such education?
Under current law, yes.
If you accept the State’s authority to compel education, don’t you accept the State’s authority to define “education”?
You can think about that answer.
It’s hard to overstate what this fight is about, because it’s about nearly everything. It’s not just about what gets taught in the schools. It’s about the power of the State over the rights of the parents. It’s about indoctrination starting in elementary school. It’s about retaliation at the local level, fights in the courts, and forced compliance with their twisted worldview.
To break this down in its simplest form: this is good vs. evil fighting over the mind of a child.
Victory is removing the child from their grasp.
For background, see W. Reese, America's Public Schools: From the Common School to "No Child Left Behind" 11-12 (2005).
Vernonia School Dist. 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646, 655-656, 115 S.Ct. 2386, 132 L.Ed.2d 564 (1995) (quoting Tinker at 506, 89 S.Ct. 733).
I’ll acknowledge that private schools are an option for some parents if you acknowledge that millions of parents can’t afford them.
Hazelwood Sch. Dist. v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260, 273 (1988).