Take Back the Schools!

16 April 2003

Few systems boast incentives more perverse than public education, where teacher’s tenure – not merit – is remunerated, students with an “appetite for destruction” are coddled with therapy, and school failure is rewarded with an increased budget. And these are the least offensive facets of child-centred, progressive public education. It’s a sluggard of a system, and it’s turning out bumper crops of ignoramuses, which, all too often, have no more than dangerously inflated self-esteems to show for years of compulsory attendance. Ilana Mercer

The state has no business in education. It has signally failed in the job, and its compulsory factory-schools are little more than politically correct brainwashing factories wherein children’s minds are turned into mush. Literacy levels are less than they were a century ago, and students now spend more time absorbing the politically correct mush with which they are spoon-fed than they do learning how to use the minds they were born with. 

Since their inception, state schools have indoctrinated children with the State’s chosen values – and it is the only thing at which they have been truly efficient! Half a century ago, the State’s values dictated that children were not allowed to speak Maori in schools; half a century later we can’t enter a classroom without a waiata being sung! It is time to remove the State’s values from the schools forthwith; it is time that school and state be separated, for the same reasons as the separation of church and state.  

Libertarianz, if elected, would return people’s tax money to allow them to make their own choices in education. We would privatise all education institutions and outstanding student loans, and abolish the loan scheme and all forms of allowances and subsidies.

Libertarianz, in short, advocate giving the schools back to the parents – quite literally!  

Libertarianz say:

1 Abandon taxpayer-funded payments to all schools forthwith, and hand over the title deeds and keys of each school to the teachers and the boards of trustees who are currently running them under the encumbrance of state control, and to the parents of the children currently suffering there. Between them, they may run them as they see fit. Remove all govt enforced schooling attendance regulations. Parents will be free to educate their children as they wish.

2) Abolish all state-mandated curricula, qualification and registration requirements, and all other state requirements restricting the pursuit of excellence and achievement in schools. Educators will be free to promote their own methods in an open market to a clientele who have their tax dollars back in their pockets.

3) Privatise the Education Review Office. Its expertise can still be made available to whomever wants to pay for it.

4) Sell off the student loan scheme, at whatever rate it will earn.

5) Abolish the Ministry of Education, the NZ Qualifications Authority and all the related alphabet agencies that have overseen the mind-washing of our young.

The new owners of these schools and tertiary institutions – the parents, teachers and trustees – would have just been handed a valuable tradable asset: if they need any transitional funding they will be able to sell equity, take on debt, or enter into whatever lease-back deals they can negotiate. They will be left free to sell all or parts thereof; to run whatever curriculum at whatever hours they think will bring in customers; and to hire, fire or retire any or all staff. They will be left free to profit from their new schools in whatever way they wish.

Also, and as a matter of urgency, Libertarianz say that Teachers’ Colleges around the country should be burnt to the ground, in the hope that the politically correct evil oozing from them for so long can be eradicated permanently from our culture!

Government is the organisation that holds a monopoly on physical force – it is not appropriate that such an organisation educates children. As in all things, libertarians say that those paying the piper should call the tune, and be free to choose their piper they wish to hire – no one should be forced to pay for a service they don’t want to fund. And NO-ONE should be force to pay for or to send their children to an institution they despise. 

As architect Frank Lloyd Wright said many years ago, “mass production in education appeals to us as a prostitution we are not inclined to encourage. . . . Not only do I regard the thing miscalled education – which such a building as you propose is intended to serve – as murder, but a worse form of murder than war, because war disposes of the carcass while [your] so-called education murders the soul and leaves the dead to walk for a lifetime. 

Libertarianz say we should end the murder now! 

They would have just been handed a valuable tradable asset: if they need any transitional funding they will be able to sell equity, take on debt, or enter into whatever lease-back deals they can negotiate. 

Peter Cresswell

Libertarianz Spokesman to Deregulate Early Childhood Education

Libertarianz Policy Coordinator
[email protected]


Q&A:

Q: Whilst I can support the argument of freeing taxation to enable individuals to choose and pay for the education of their liking, this assumes that the persons making this decision will look to provide their children with an education.

In the current ‘handout’ climate how will we educate the children of those members of our society who do not have a sense of responsibility for providing for their children and expect the state to pay for and provide? Surely the children who are left to be “brought up” by such people will get no education and become alienated and disenfranchised due to their parents’ irresponsibilities and through no fault of their own?

I agree wholeheartedly that we, as adults, make choices and are responsible for those choices and the consequences of them but are children able to do so ? And should they suffer because of the choices their parents make or fail to make? Unfortunately, not all parents are responsible

A: Let me say that underlying all our policies is the desire to free up people to make their own choices, and to take responsibility for those choices. Necessary to that is a change in the culture to diminish the ‘handout culture’ you recognise as wrong. After all, if we don’t get rid of the handout culture, then children will continue to grow up learning that no sense of individual responsibility is necessary!

And that’s what they are growing up with now: the state has assumed responsibility for all of us in the name of looking after those few who cannot help themselves – and over time fewer and fewer are made able to look after themselves. The fact is, it is not up to us to assume that the persons making this decision will look to provide their children with an education. That is not the state’s responsibility. It is up to the parents. As you say, this may not be the choice of everyone, but I think perhaps you are confusing education with schooling.

The fact is that attending govt approved factory schools is compulsory at present, but education is not! In many cases, education is what children get ‘after hours.’ Many of the factory schools are attended only because they are compulsory, and would not be able to attract anyone otherwise. Must the state force parents to send children to these (at best) glorified day-care centres? Are they so bad that children would not attend them otherwise? What it comes down to I guess is this question: How can children learn to abhor aggression when they are taught them in a school system built on aggression? How can they learn to abhor theft when they are taught in schools funded by theft? Do we expect them to disregard these lessons offered to them? Why should we be surprised when many of them then conclude that theft is efficient, and that force is necessary to success? 

In any case, the school system is not efficient – except at transmitting the values of the State. A recent report by the U.S. National Center for Policy Analysis concluded: “In no other industry in U.S. history has there been so little technological change as in the field of public school education.” NZ schools are no different – we now have parliament arguing whether schools should be ‘allowed’ to teach phonics again, decades after phonics was abandoned by the politically correct state-school monopoly, and long after private practitioners – who kept the phonics flame alive – have demonstrated the disaster of ‘look-say’ reading. 

Isn’t it best we simply removed this state-school monopoly?

Schooling is not education, and not all education is done in schools. But when the monopoly is broken, factory schools will need to change in order to induce attendance rather than force it, and then they might get rather closer to educating children.