My daughter-in-law and son home-school their children, with excellent results, as far as I am able to tell from occasional visits to their home 1500 miles away. It takes loving dedication and vast outlays of time and energy to educate several children in subjects ranging from the “three Rs” to French, German, and Latin, while also arranging extramural music lessons and other educational activities and transporting the children to and from those activities. The effort will have continued, without pause, for about three decades by the time the youngest child has completed the equivalent of 12 grades of schooling. To put it simply, I am in awe of my daughter-in-law and son for what they are doing to ensure that their children are thoroughly and roundly educated.
We should become modern abolitionists, like the abolitionists of the nineteenth century who demanded the end of slavery, and for similar reasons. Abolition brings an end to the government’s role in schools, which means four things: the end of compulsory attendance; the end of government control of content; the end of government control of who teaches; and the end of the government’s practice of taxing some people to pay for other people’s children to go to school. With the end of government’s role, learning would flourish. I can’t tell you how. No one can. I can tell you what I think is unlikely: classes every day in big buildings from 8:30 to 3:00, or, in the case of our local government middle school, from 8:13 to 2:40. The beauty and the power of freedom is that different people use their freedom differently to produce all kinds of results, results that they themselves, and certainly the rest of us, can’t predict.
He follows up with some horror stories about the goings on in the public schools of his youth. They remind me, too much, of the public schools of my own youth. I would have given anything to have been placed in an environment where the emphasis was on learning, not on suffering through hours, days, months, and years of classes with packs of pre-adolescent and adolescent animals.
That is the reality of public schools for most American children, who don’t attend the idealized schools of Hollywood teen movies, where the bullies are well-groomed, drive sports cars, and are put down by beautiful blonds with hearts of gold who prefer nerds to jocks. Nor do most American children attend exclusive private schools (and their “public” counterparts), which are mainly the preserves of the children of the upper professional classes, high government officials, well-paid senior civil servants, and public-school teachers.