Walkouts. Gun Control

I’d like to invite you to do a thought experiment with me.

Lay aside any opinions you have about school walkouts:

  • Those kids have no right to break the rules.
  • Those kids are brave for standing up for their convictions.

Let’s pretend that we are starting from scratch with education in America.

Some givens:

  • We have a huge, diverse nation of 330 million residents, many of whom are children.
  • We want these young people to learn the right things to become happy, productive members of society.
  • Because of our diversity, we don’t agree on all of these “right things.”
    • This is not a liability. Diversity of foundational opinions on education fundamentals can be an asset.
  • A vast majority of us would like all young people to have equal opportunity to learn what they need to succeed. Some would even like to see equality of outcomes.
  • In an overwhelming majority of cases (there are exceptions), parents and guardians have a bigger emotional investment in their children than does the state.
    • Thus, allowing for abusive exceptions, parents should have more say in the education of their children than the state.
    • An overwhelming majority of non-White urban parents would choose schools other than the public schools if they could afford it. Generally speaking, the only choice they have (urban public) are the worst schools in the country.
  • There is a set amount of money we are spending to educate our children (public and personal funds) every year.

For this thought experiment, we are starting from scratch. Here are some ideas.

  • Given we have tens of millions of young people to educate and X amount of dollars/resources, how should we go about constructing an educational system?
  • America is a much more diverse society than it was when the public schools were started (and it wasn’t as long ago as you might think).
    • There was more consensus on basic values when the public schools were begun.
    • As diversity can be seen as an asset and not a liability, what if differing world-views were equally funded?
  • What if each state (or county) were to take the funds available for education and divvy it out equally among all students?
    • And what if their parents/guardians could decide where they go to school?
    • The schools with the best results (emotional, social, and educational) would prosper and pay their teachers prime salaries.
    • Those schools attracting the most students would get the most funding, regardless of worldview.
  • What if infinite levels of free experimentation and competition (with emerging best practices) is a better way to improve our educational system than bureaucratic, government-based central planning?

Objections you might have:

  • “I don’t want any public money going to a school with a spiritual worldview.”
    • Why not? Perhaps the best educational policy in US history, the GI Bill, let soldiers decide where they wanted to go, regardless of the creed of the school. Good luck finding a government policy that has ever delivered more benefits to the citizens.
    • Why is a non-spiritual world view a better candidate for public funds than a spiritual world view?
      • Why should spiritually-oriented people be forced to pay for secular education for their children?
    • Truth is, secular schools, on a level playing field, would likely have inferior outcomes and results. This has certainly been the case in the Netherlands, which has had total educational diversity for a full century now.
      • In Holland, any group of parents (minimum 25) who want to set up a school are required to full access to public facilities and funds (per student). There are no fights as to what to teach in Holland.
        • Their primary school results are superior to those in the US, and the cost per student (public money) is just under half of what it is here.
  • This would favor rich kids and hurt inner city kids.
    • That’s what the teachers’ unions tell us. But ask any inner city parents what they think about their lack of choice.
      • Rich families already have choices in education. The bottom half our our economic ladder? Not so much, if at all. Why not choice for all?

Now, back to the school walkouts, today:

  • An overwhelming majority of those walking out are exiting government public schools to put leverage on the government to do more about gun violence in schools.
  • What if we didn’t have government schools? Nowhere in the US Constitution does it mention established education. In fact, Amendment X explicitly states that those things not specifically mentioned as federal responsibilities should be left to the states and the people. Somewhat bizarre that we have a federal (cabinet level) department of education (since the Carter years), even though statistically, it has done nothing to improve the output of our public schools.
  • If we had true educational diversity, then some schools could choose to arm guards, with the support of the parents. Some could choose to be gun-free zones, also with the support of the parents. Why do we have to have one method for everyone?
    • Parents would have a choice as to which schools to send their children.
    • Over time, more diversity in security practices would show us what the best safety results would be (I have no crystal ball–who knows which would be safer?), and other schools would begin to copy them.
    • Diversity would create smaller schools in general–most would agree that this is a good thing. Many introverted children are profoundly intimidated by the size of some of our mammoth-schools (perhaps you, the reader, have some painful memories of this…).
      • Many school shootings have occurred in huge schools where children who were alienated (partly by the size and social setting) do the shooting. Perhaps smaller schools would help minimize this.
  • In an educational-diversity setting, this walkout may never have happened.
    • Once again, it is an effort to force centralized federal action on centralized public school policy.
      • What if there was no federal department of education and no monopolistic school policy?
      • What if we had less coercion and more choice in the system?
      • What if we had more diversity and less centrally-planned mandates?
      • What if we let people decide how to educate their children and let the cream rise to the top?

What if we stopped trying to lobby the ‘system’ to have everyone else do it our way?

What if we were to let people do what they feel is best? As long as they don’t steal or initiate aggression against others?

Hey….that would be called a free society.

People who have real choices don’t have to walk out of schools; they don’t have to protest.

Protests happen when a society is less free, and people either feel forced to do something in which they don’t believe, or they are trying to make others do as they believe.

That’s not what America is about.

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