Tag Archives: choice

Public Education, and the Fight Against Indoctrination

Why do the supporters of public schools so abhor the idea of free choice and competition in the education industry? One of the more often-heard reasons is that allowing parents to send their children to alternative schools or to homeschool presents the unbearable risk of indoctrination. Indoctrinated children grow up to be dysfunctional members of society, so it is incumbent upon the rest of society to intervene and provide children with a standard, unbiased, and robust education, which the state is uniquely able to facilitate.

This concern by public school proponents about the risk of indoctrination seems oddly contrived, however, considering the ideology that informs public education policy prescriptions in the first place. The whole premise of public schooling is the instillation of knowledge not according to professional consensus, the scientific method, or the power of creative destruction, but according to ordained dogma of a political majority. This fact may sometimes be obscured by the implicit trust we have for our “professional” education bureaucracy, but remember that the bureaucrats are always appointed by the politicians.

That elections determine what we teach in school is an inherent volatility of public education which the system’s proponents are shockingly quick to tolerate. Does it not bother them, for example, that while evolution is currently the predominant theory of human origins taught in public science classrooms, it is possible—even likely, in certain localities—that a shift in the political winds could grant the power of crafting education policy to those who believe in the propriety of creationism as an alternative scientific theory? Having a free market in education would alleviate this volatility by allowing those who disagree to extricate their children from schools with such curricula and pursue alternative methods of schooling. Yet those who favor public schooling—a few on the right, but mostly on the left—abhor the idea of letting parents choose for themselves what kind of education their kids receive.

Why would people concerned with the education of their children expose themselves to such unnecessary risk? Why would they endlessly and restlessly struggle for control over education policy?

The explanation is simple: Public school proponents are not only concerned with the education of their own children—they are also concerned with the education of everyone else’s. As much as parents would love the freedom to teach their own children according to their own values and beliefs, having that freedom necessarily means granting it to others; but that means some parents could teach their children views which others find disagreeable. The only way for parents to have their cake and eat it too is the creation of compulsory public education, so that a majority of parents—busybodies—may teach their kids as they please while denying that same right to those without political power.

Paradoxically, their reliance on state power in the education sector displays both arrogance and diffidence simultaneously. So confident are they in the infallibility of their own ideas that they feel compelled to impress them upon all children in the pursuance of comprehensive and effective societal education, yet so insecure are they about the same ideas that they refuse to let their teaching methods and curricula stand alone in a free market without the aid of government force.

This paradox may be resolved, perhaps, by assuming that the individual consumers of education are too stupid to recognize infallible ideas, and that force is the only way to achieve proper education. If this is the case, however, then the ideas being forced upon people need not be valid or true, and consumers (voters) would have no way of holding education officials accountable for not providing true and valid curricula in the schools anyway.

Regardless of the particular rationale used to defend public schooling, we should ask ourselves—based on actions rather than words—who truly seems more worried about indoctrination? Those who believe in a competition of curricula and ideas, or those who seek to impose upon everyone else what they sincerely believe must always and forever be the correct worldview?

Abortion

I like to unwind with a social issue every now and then.

I would like to start out by saying that based on my views, I would have to identify more with the pro-life side of the argument. However, I am not pro-life for the more conventional reasons as are usually presented in the abortion debate. My argument is based on reasons of personal responsibility, not religious views.

The most common pro-choice argument, that “the woman has the right to choose” is inherently illogical and irrelevant, regardless of where you stand. What many pro-choice supporters fail to realize or choose not to realize is that the woman already made her choice. She was faced with a choice between having unprotected sex, and not having unprotected sex. At the first moment the question of abortion comes to the table, the argument is no longer “the woman has the right to choose” but instead, “the woman has the right to change her mind”. She has made an apparently unadvantageous decision, and she wants to now terminate the pregnancy to make it all right. The problem lies in the fact that abortion nullifies the apparently negative consequences of partaking in risky behavior. By allowing abortion, society has decreed that this behavior is responsible, and even respectable. And when people are no longer forced to take responsibility for their actions, they are more likely to repeat those actions. I guess you could say I am pro-choice also, but I am for a different choice. Also, I know that there are a few cases in which women are raped, and in a few cases the woman’s health is endangered by the birth of a child, but those make up a very small percentage of total pregnancies, and even then in the case of rape, there are alternatives to abortion.

The second most common pro-choice argument, that “the woman has the right to control her body (and the fetus, as it resides within her body)” is logical, but only depending on how far you are willing to extend that logic. I could kill another person by using my finger to pull the trigger of a gun, and then argue that I should not be punished because I have the right to control my body. I would be laughed at, though, as any action a human being exercises requires control over one’s own body. We outlaw certain actions in order to protect the freedom of other people. To question this pro-choice argument, I would say “Why not allow the rape of a woman? She will just have an abortion anyway, and the rapist was simply exercising control over his body.”

In the previous paragraph, I outlined the reason we have laws: To protect the rights of other people. I now realize that this begs the question of “When does the fetus become a person?” Although I will be more than willing to take in to account any definitive scientific proof on this matter, for the time being, I will address the question through a lens of practicality. The mutual objective of the progenitors (excluding cases of rape) is to create a new human being, and since conception is the first purposeful and definitive step to fulfilling this objective, I will define this moment as when the group of cells begins to identify as a person. However, let not this assumption shift the focus of my main argument: It’s mostly about personal responsibility. If more people used good judgment, many fewer people would need abortions in the first place, and many more people could get along.

If we must retain abortion as an acceptable action in society, government should act regarding abortion as it did before Roe v. Wade, and have the power reside in the states to decide how abortions are handled. Or perhaps no government regulation is needed at all. All I ask is that abortion be justified as a responsible act first (which I see as a very difficult task), and then perhaps let the market decide its fate.