I’ve been thinking about this for years, but this post of Kevin’s made something gel.
I say we should quit using the term “public school” and start using “coercively funded school”. My wife is not a public school teacher, she is a coercively funded school teacher. Why should we use their language when we have our own and ours is more to the point? It is one thing to say you’re for public schools, or you’re for “Our Children” but it’s another to come right out and say you’re for coercive funding.
Now I would hope, and predict, that most (though not all) church leaders would eschew coercive funding of their church on the grounds that with government funding comes government control (actually, churches are already government subsidized, but that’s a matter for another post).
As I said in comments at Smallest Minority; the purpose of coercively funded schools is to promote coercive funding. I.e. they’ll promote that which gave them life in the first place, and that which sustains them. What would be the result, after all, if the coercive schools actively and consistently promoted the American principals of liberty? They’d be working themselves into extinction of course. “You’re right” the students would conclude, “freedom, the free market, would be far superior both morally and functionally, in every respect including education.”
No doubt about it; the American founders got it wrong. Education should have been included with religion and the press in the first amendment, for exactly the same reasons. As a result of that failure, our coercively funded schools have become indoctrination centers– socialist missions, if you will, churning out useful idiots if not impassioned believers. For the life of me, I cannot understand why this was not predicted in the 1780s.
After all these years of entrenchment, what is the fix? So many states have education funding in their constitutions, I believe it will have to come from the states. Rex Rammell had a good plan for Idaho, but due to an incompetent campaign no one heard of it. He acknowledged the state constitutional mandate, but would have chopped much of the top off of the coercive education infrastructure and budget. It is currently extremely top heavy. Other measures would have opened the doors to more private schools.