It’s dumb to delegate the education of children to the public schools

Parents who have chosen to pull their kids out of the mess that is the public schools already understand that the education of their children is no one else’s responsibility but their own.

For the rest of the parents who for whatever reason continue to avail themselves of publicly funded K-12 childcare, we hope the majority of them realize the limitations of the public school system.

Two opinion columns highlighted nicely some of what goes on and doesn’t go on inside the schools. Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby quoted from an endorsed statement from the Democratic Party Convention in 1892:

“FREEDOM of education, being an essential of civil and religious liberty . . . must not be interfered with under any pretext whatever,” the party’s national platform declared. “We are opposed to state interference with parental rights and rights of conscience in the education of children as an infringement of the fundamental . . . doctrine that the largest individual liberty consistent with the rights of others insures the highest type of American citizenship and the best government.”

Jacoby writes:

“That ringing endorsement of parental supremacy in education was adopted by the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1892, which just goes to show what was possible before the Democratic Party was taken hostage by the teachers unions.”

Both parties, according to Jacoby, have –

– “been transformed from a champion of ‘parental rights and rights of conscience in the education of children’ to a party whose leaders believe that parents ‘don’t get to impose’ their views and values on what their kids are taught in school. Do American parents see anything wrong with that?

Apparently not: The majority of them dutifully enroll their children in government-operated schools, where the only views and values permitted are the ones prescribed by the state.”

Jacoby lists the many things Americans disagree upon: same-sex marriage, evolution, the importance of sports, the value of phonics, and the right to bear arms; some parents are secularists, others are religious. Jacoby writes:

“With parents so often in loud disagreement, why should children be locked into a one-size-fits-all, government-knows-best model of education?

Nobody would want the government to run 90 percent of the nation’s entertainment industry. Nobody thinks that 90 percent of all housing should be owned by the state. Yet the government’s control of 90 percent of the nation’s schools leaves most Americans strangely unconcerned.”

He closes his column with this:

“What 19th-century Democrats understood, 21st-century Americans need to relearn: Education is too important to be left to the government.”

The other column relevant to this topic is one by Cal Thomas, in which he notes:

“For the third straight year, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute [ISI] has found that a large number of Americans cannot pass a basic 33-question civic literacy test on their country’s history and institutions. The multiple-choice questions ask about the inalienable rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness), the name of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1933 series of government programs (The New Deal) and the three branches of government (executive, legislative, judicial). No, I didn’t peek at the answers. I received a good education.”

For those parents ever-ready to explain how their local schools aren’t the problem, Thomas notes that civic illiteracy in the United States “crosses all educational lines, including Harvard, where seniors scored 69.56 on the test, or a D-plus.”

And I”m not surprised to read this paragraph:

“Other findings: ‘Elected officials score lower than the general public,’ which tells us all we need to know about Washington. ‘Television – including TV news – Dumbs America Down,’ says ISI.”

In his column, Cal Thomas included a quote from Thomas Jefferson that ISI had in its report:

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free … it expects what never was and never will be.”

I’ll use Thomas’ close for my own:

“Read the report at and weep. And then demand of yourself and others that something be done to fix the intellectual deficit.”

Read Jeff Jacoby’s column here.

Read Cal Thomas’ column here.