My formal education
effectively ended in the eighth grade. I attended a Catholic parochial school
for eight years. I do retain memories of that experience, some of them not so
fondly but now recalled with humor. One is of a nun aptly named Sister
Barbarossa, of the order of St. Joseph, a six-foot-plus ogre tough enough to
beat up the school’s football players, and with a permanently red face that
reflected a high blood pressure problem, congenital anger, or constant
inebriation. She would persecute the disobedient and dream up unusual
punishments. She often whacked my knuckles with a wooden ruler for doodling
instead of studying, and many times made me sit in the leg space beneath her
desk and kicked me with her brogans.
Another nun, Sister Angela,
one day decided to introduce the notion of “government” to our
seventh grade class. We would elect a class “president” by secret
ballot. I thought so little of the idea – I couldn’t imagine what benefit there
was in having a pretend “president” – that on my ballot I entered the
name of a classmate who was as dumb as a doorknob (I don’t think he could even
read) and given to epileptic fits and whom we’d been instructed to be kind to.
When he had a seizure, he would foam at the mouth and it would take six of us
to hold him down because he would acquire the strength of two Sister Barbarossas.
In any event, Sister Angela
grew red in the face when she read my ballot. “Who,” she demanded, “put
Robert’s name on this ballot
???” The class gasped as one. Robert, who
as a rule sat like a vegetable at his desk, seemed to smile. But, then, he
always seemed to be smiling.
Without a tinge of guilt, I
raised my hand. Sister Angela chewed me out, and subsequently informed my
parents of my act of cruelty. My parents chewed me out, and sent me to my room
without dinner. (Steadfast Catholics, in a later year they burned my small
library after I declared my atheism, but that’s another story.)
Still, for all that, I
learned how to read, write and “cipher” (that is, do math). I learned
something of American history, world geography, absorbed dollops of science, and
I excelled in art. I was drawing three-dimensional human objects when everyone
else was stuck on stick figures. However, I remember nothing of the mandatory
religious instruction, except that it employed rote memorization, which I was
never good at.
The money set aside to send
me to a Catholic boy’s high school was eaten up by hospital expenses for my
grandparents after they were in a car accident. I don’t know if I should be
grateful for that accident, to judge by stories I’ve heard about such schools. But
not attending school was not an
option. Parents were obliged to send their kids to some school, regardless of
its quality or reputation. So I wound up going to two “free” – albeit
taxpayer supported – public high schools, where I effectively learned nothing
of value but gained a distaste for public schools which I have since honed into
utter contempt.
Memories? Among many others,
my U.S. history teacher would hold “bull” sessions to ponder
hypothetical questions such as: If all the guns fired during World War II were
fired simultaneously in the same direction, would it alter the rotation of the
earth? My world history teacher would have the class dress in the national
costume of a country and sample its cuisine, with a desultory mention of the
country’s history. My English teacher would lecture the class on sentence
structure, grammar, and parsing in such an incomprehensible and drill sergeant
manner that I’m still recovering. My chemistry teacher would chalk equations on
the blackboard to solve as homework, but then talk to us about honesty, ethics,
and how great a man was Franklin D. Roosevelt, without once instructing us on
what the symbols and numbers meant.
My high school years spanned
the early 1960’s. As I later learned, John Dewey was the principal-at-large in
both schools and his anti-intellectual, anti-mind pedagogical philosophy
reigned supreme and unopposed even then. 
I shudder to think what public high school students must endure today. If
Americans acquire any real-world “smarts,” it is only after they have
left school and escaped the brow-beating cajolings and ministrations of
teachers dedicated to indoctrinating students to become selfless, tolerant,
non-judgmental, and self-sacrificial “good citizens.”
On July 12th,
State Senator Aaron
Osmond
of Utah called for the end of compulsory education.
The
idea of forcing children to attend school is outdated and should be scrapped in
favor of a system that encourages learning by choice, state Sen. Aaron Osmond
said in calling for an end to compulsory education in Utah.
“Some
parents act as if the responsibility to educate, and even care for their child,
is primarily the responsibility of the public school system,” the South
Jordan Republican first wrote on a state Senate blog on Friday.

Moreover, Osmond noted that:
“As
a result, our teachers and schools have been forced to become surrogate
parents, expected to do everything from behavioral counseling, to providing
adequate nutrition, to teaching sex education, as well as ensuring full college
and career readiness.”
Opposition to the idea was
immediately voiced by a state
educator
:
State
School Board member Leslie Castle said she agrees that schools have become
burdened with nonacademic responsibilities, like daily nutrition, basic health
screenings and behavioral counseling. But the reality of Utah’s increasingly
diverse population is that many children require those services….
She
said because of compulsory education, teachers and educators are typically the
first to see evidence of trouble at home, from abuse to malnourishment. Without
the requirement to attend school, or if nonacademic services were removed from
the public education system, it would be necessary for the state to create some
other form of publicly funded service to fill that role.
I had to laugh when I read
that “teachers and educators are typically the first to see evidence of
trouble at home….” Trayvon
Martin
, the “child” shot by George Zimmerman in self-defense, was
“trouble” looking for punching bag, preferably a human one. What did
his public school or his parents do about his “nonacademic” problems?
 School suspensions, slaps on wrists, behavioral
counseling, and impotent finger-wagging.
Senator Osmond’s position on
compulsory education is laudable. But it fails to address the issue of why schooling is compulsory. What, after
all, is the premise behind the forced education of children? Are children wards
or the responsibility of the state (or of “society”), or are they the
responsibility of their parents. In short: Who owns them?
Logically, no one, not even
the parents. But parents are responsible for bringing a child into existence,
and for its education. They are responsible for preparing their children to
live as rational, responsible adults. Public school educators could make that
same claim, citing the need for a civil society of a population of rational,
responsible adults and that compulsory schooling was the best answer to that
need, because the state had the facilities and resources to address a multitude
of issues. And I’ve never read of any public school advocate say that without
qualifying the claim by including some form of collectivist virtue that should
be imbued in children as well as in the parents.
And where do those facilities
and resources come from? From taxpaying parents, and also from taxpaying
individuals who have no children to send to any school, public or private.
Individuals produce children. Governments do not. There is no such thing as a
government-run stud farm (or a Huxleyian Brave
New World
“hatchery”) that produces children who automatically
become the responsibility of the state, which nominally “owns” them
after parents waive custody of their offspring.
Governments do not even
produce children in the most collectivist, totalitarian countries. Parents do.
All the state can do, whether it is totalitarian or “democratic” in
nature, is appropriate children for the state’s purposes. Whether or not those
purposes are benign or malign, is irrelevant. Nor do state-run orphanages
“own” the children in them. Such institutions are inappropriately
charged with the responsibility of sheltering and feeding children left
parentless.
State-run orphanages and
state-run educational systems grew and spread in direct proportion to the
growth and scale of taxation and expropriated private wealth. Privately owned
orphanages, run as voluntary charities, and private schooling, have diminished
in direct proportion to state interference and state intervention in the
private sector.
Together with public school
teachers’ unions and our left-leaning news media, the state is a natural enemy
of private education, and especially of homeschooling, because children being
educated by their parents are removed from the state’s power to
“mold” and “shape” children according to its collectivist
notion of a “good citizen.”
In April, Melissa
Harris-Perry
of MSNBC expressed that idea in a controversial commercial:
MSNBC
host Melissa Harris-Perry recorded a commercial for the network in which she
stated that children do not belong to their parents, but are instead the
responsibility of the members of their community.
“We
have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve
always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours and totally
your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our
children,” she says in a spot for the network’s “Lean Forward” campaign. “So
part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids
belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that
kids belong to whole communities.”
Harris-Perry ropes everyone
into a “community organizing” gestalt
to overcome that “private idea” and bolster the “collective
notion” of mutual responsibility for children between parents, the state,
and the “community.” Harris-Perry’s notion is frankly Nazi in essence
and in practice.
The travails of a
homeschooling German
family
who applied for asylum in the U.S. to escape the punitive measures
of a government aggressively hostile to homeschooling, are a case in point. The
government, specifically Attorney General Eric Holder, opposed granting the
family asylum because the benefits to “society” of public education
trump individual rights and parental controls, values and discretion. The
family is evangelical Christian and the parents wish to imbue their children
with Christian values, but that is irrelevant. Holder and the Justice
Department would oppose, for the same reasons, the homeschooling of children by
their atheist parents, as well. In May the family lost an appeal
to remain in the U.S. 
The
Justice Department said German laws outlawing homeschooling do not constitute
persecution and they want a German homeschooling family kicked out of the
United States, according to a briefing filed in a high profile asylum case.
“The goal in Germany is
for an open, pluralistic society,” the Justice Department brief states in their
battle against the Romeike family. “Teaching tolerance to children of all
backgrounds helps to develop the ability to interact as a fully functioning
citizen in Germany.”Germany has a national law requiring children to either
attend public school or a government-approved private school.
The
Romeikes had already been fined and German police once forcibly escorted their
five children to school. They were notified that they could ultimately lose
custody if they continued to home school.
Persecution
by the German government in the form of fines, jail, and loss of custody of the
children by the parents, was not reason enough to grant the Romeikes permanent
asylum, the court decided.
The
Romeikes fled Germany in 2008 when they were subjected to criminal prosecution
for homeschooling, which is largely illegal in their country. In 2010, however,
the family was granted asylum by Immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burman, whose
decision was overturned by the Board of Immigration Appeals in 2012. A
three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit heard the Romeikes’ appeal on April
23rd and issued a unanimous decision against the family.
In
its decision, the court said that the Romeikes had not made a sufficient case
and that the United States has not opened its doors to every victim of unfair
treatment.
While
the court acknowledged that the U.S. Constitution recognizes the rights of
parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children, it refused to
concede that the threats of heavy fines or loss of custody of their children by
German authorities if the Romeikes refused to send their children to government
schools were enough to classify them as a persecuted group and warrant asylum
in the United States.
Petitions to the White
House
to allow the Romeikes to remain in the “land of the free”
will undoubtedly be ignored. Since when did President Obama care about
individual rights? He’d look at a child and say to the parents, “You
didn’t build that.”
Todd Starnes of Fox
News
reveals the collectivist alliance between our Justice Department, our
courts, and the German courts.
In
their latest court briefing, the Justice Department referenced international
court rulings that held “parents could not refuse the right to education of a
child on the basis of the parents’ convictions, because the child has an
independent right to education.”
They
[the court] also referenced a German court ruling that states “the general
public has a justified interest in counteracting the development of religiously
or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies’ and in integrating minorities
in this area.”
Of course the German
government is against the development of philosophically motivated
“parallel societies” – except for the viral Islamic one that is
growing right under its nose, complete with its own philosophical motive of
imposing Sharia law on all Germans.
Daniel Greenfield in his Front
Page
article cites the Justice Department’s collectivist position:
“The
goal in Germany is for an open, pluralistic society,” the Justice Department
brief states in their battle against the Romeike family. “Teaching tolerance to
children of all backgrounds helps to develop the ability to interact as a fully
functioning citizen [sic] in Germany.”
Except when the fully
functioning citizen (whatever that might mean in Germany) is being harassed and
raped by Muslims and
taxed by the government to support state-supported
Muslims-only schools and “cultural” programs.
Here in the U.S., to teach “tolerance” to the plane loads of
intolerant Muslims being imported into the U.S. by President Obama and his
cronies  (as refugees seeking asylum from
their Islamic hellholes) would be deemed racial or religious “profiling”
and highly “offensive” to Muslim “convictions,” and that
wouldn’t be, well, tolerated, either.
The best solution will go
Senator Osmond one better:  Get the
government out of education altogether, repeal all compulsory education laws, auction
off all state or government schools (including universities), and return the
educational custody and responsibility where they belong morally and
politically: to parents.