At the core of Libertarian values is the belief of absolute sovereignty. The minimum amount of government involvement results in the maximum amount of freedom. Freedom naturally brings about diversity, peace, and prosperity, as no one is forced to reconcile his or her values for the sake of others. Under a Libertarian government, individuals would have the right to exercise sole dominion over their lives so long as they didn’t infringe upon the beliefs or practices of others.
The inherent rights of individuals include the rights to life, liberty of speech or action, and property—any interference on the part of the government that affects these rights is opposed. Since people are most free of government restriction when left to make their own economic and property decisions, a free market economy is believed to be the only one compatible with these viewpoints.
Libertarian Views on Public Education
Libertarians advocate for the complete separation of education and state, because it is believed that is not the role of the government to educate the youth of the country. Public government schools can also lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. As such, the ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools from the elementary level through the college level should be ended. Libertarians call for the repeal of guarantees of tax-funded, government-provided education found in most state constitutions. Compulsory education laws are condemned on the basis of they create prison-like schools, with many of the problems associated with prisons. As such, it is advocated that such laws are immediately repealed. Until such a time when government involvement in education ceases to exist, the Libertarian Party supports eliminating corporeal punishment and the forced busing of children to public schools. They also support the immediate reduction of tax support for schools and the collection of school taxes from people who are not responsible for the education of children.
Free Market Education
Education, like the economy, is best left to a free market, where it can achieve greater quality, accountability, efficiency, and diversity of choice. Because the government is not responsible for the education of youth, parents are able to determine when and how they would educate their children; this includes home schooling, technology or trade-based education, etc. Since it is recognized that education is important to the development of values for children, the authority of parents in this matter is important and should be returned to them. Parents would also be responsible for all funds in regards to educating their children.
In order to encourage the growth of private schools and variety education, Libertarians support interim measures such as tax credits for tuition and other education-related expenditures. Tax credits for childcare would also be supported at this time; national childcare is another frowned upon industry. The denial of tax-exempt statuses to schools because of private policies on hiring, admissions, and student deportment is opposed, and the repeal of taxes on income or property of private schools, both for-profit and non-profit, is supported.
Under free market education, poor children would not necessarily be stuck with poor schools. In the current education system, public schools must accept every local student, regardless of whether they are dangerous, disruptive, or simply have no desire to learn. This impacts the quality of education for everyone in those schools, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and poor education. On the other hand, wealthy parents, especially in inner city areas, can afford to send their children to better or safer schools. Free market education would allow competition between local schools, and would allow parents to send their children to the one with the best reputation, or which best matches their educational or ideological goals.
Free market education would have a similar effect on the affordability of colleges, according to the Libertarian Party. In response to President Obama’s proposal to spend more taxpayer dollars on community college, the party insists that federal intervention in schools drives up the price of higher education due to subsidies and costly mandates. Competition is the solution, forcing colleges to choose between decreasing tuition, or going out of business due to lack of enrollment. This would theoretically wipe out massive student debt for future generation. Free-market competition, it is believed, will raise educational standards, lower costs, and prepare students to compete in a global economy.
Libertarian vs. Conservative Views on Education
On the surface level, it may seem as though conservatives and Libertarians agree on some issues, including education and public schooling; however, there are many philosophical differences between the two parties.
Libertarians and conservatives may both point out similar issues, such as the drop in SAT scores, opposition to Common Core education standards, the anti-Christian bias of public schools, the teaching of evolution as an established fact, the power of teachers unions, the bureaucracy in the federal Department of Education, etc. These are considered to be subtopics, however, that are largely unrelated to the larger Libertarian case against the public school system. Even without these issues, the party would still reject government schools on the basis of they are schools owned and operated by the government. It isn’t up to the government to educate children, or to force Americans to pay for the education of children.
The Department of Education
Conservatives propose solutions intended to fix the public school system, ranging from instituting school uniforms, instituting higher standards for students and teachers, a more conservative curriculum and classes on the Constitutions, etc. Some conservatives have suggested eliminating the federal Department of Education. The latter is the only point in which Libertarians and conservatives overlap: the Department of Education should be abolished, according to party ideology, not because of expense, or bureaucracy, but simply because a department of education, run by the government, shouldn’t exist. The rest of the solutions are considered invalid, because they require as stringent reform and government involvement as liberals propose. The conservative solution still requires government-provided education and forcing Americans who object to public schools to pay for the education of the children of others.
If there are to be any public schools, the Libertarian Party would only accept state-government schools, because within every state constitution there are provisions for the operations of K-12, college, and university level schools. The Constitution of the nation has decreed no such authority to the federal government.
- Libertarian Party on Education – On The Issues
- Libertarian Party Platform – The Libertarian Party
- The Libertarian Case Against Public Schools – Lew Rockwell
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