Public education has been provided by governments in Ontario for more than 130 years. A long history of government involvement makes it difficult for most to envision an Ontario in which there is no government role whatsoever in providing this important service. Nonetheless, the policy of the Ontario Libertarian Party is to create conditions in which quality education can develop by completely ending all government participation and allowing education to be a matter of individual choice.
The inspiration for public education in Ontario was a model taken from the German state of Prussia in the nineteenth century. Its primary purpose was to instil obedience, conformity and, above all, reverence for the Prussian military state. Public education in Ontario continues to be dominated by that regimented learning model. The man often called "the architect of the US education system," socialist John Dewey, famously said, "Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society." Socializing the student remains of paramount importance. New ideas, creativity, originality and dissent from conventional thinking are discouraged.
There are many talented, conscientious educators working within the public system. However, direction by government bureaucrats through the Ministry of Education will always limit what can be accomplished. No amount of fiddling with the existing system or spending more confiscated money on education will fundamentally change anything.
Until now, it is only a small minority which has either been able to afford, or has been prepared to make financial sacrifices to receive the benefits seen in private education. The rest have had no alternative but to hope for the best from the public system. Since parents are responsible for raising their children, a libertarian government will return to them the responsibility for educating their children which governments have appropriated. It follows that the education of adult students will in all respects be the responsibility of the student.
The mind is the human means of survival which nature has provided. The acquisition and implementation of knowledge in the pursuit of happiness and prosperity are both natural and necessary. Training the mind should be an exciting, empowering prospect, not an ordeal to be endured. Private education will succeed in this where public education has failed. Excellence will be acknowledged and rewarded. There will be an end to political arguments about academic goals and standards, teacher credentialing, school accreditation, curriculum, financing, or whatever else happens to be in dispute at any particular time. Exciting innovation and advances will become the norm instead of the exception.
Libertarian ideas must be understood in context. Getting government out of education will eliminate the considerable taxes now levied for that purpose, but more than that will change. Once libertarian ideas are generally accepted, growth of productivity and higher incomes will make it easier to afford a good education. Everyone, no matter what their circumstances, will have more opportunities than what is now available. Undoubtedly there are some who will have financial difficulty in caring for their children. That number will be small. Over time it will become even smaller.
It is normal for humans to cooperate with one another to achieve common goals and, when able, to help others in difficult circumstances. That natural human trait has been stifled by taxes and other obstacles to prosperity which governments have imposed as well as the general culture of irresponsibility which they have fostered. It will flourish when libertarian ideas concerning the proper role of government prevail and result in the election of libertarian governments. Respect for liberty encourages benevolence and wealth creation. When such conditions exist, there will certainly be spontaneous voluntary help for needy children.
We have experienced great progress and innovation in fields left untouched by governments. Most advances have come about in unpredictable ways and very few would have occurred if a government ministry had been in charge. We continue to be held back by present day thinking bestowing legitimacy upon government interference in far too many areas of human activity. A total change in that thinking is the only way to end stagnation in education.
The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next. – Abraham Lincoln
Schools Should Focus on the Essentials
- A new book by Mike Schmoker effectively makes the case for schools to focus on the basics of teaching and learning. Research fellow Michael Zwaagstra at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy points out the need for schools to focus on teaching and learning.
The Khan Academy
provides effective online education through YouTube. It provides over 2,100 videos on topics from arithmetic to physics, finance and history. It demonstrates what one person (Salman Khan) can accomplish with a little technology. It has the potential to make our government-run school system irrelevant.
: This YouTube video tells the history of public education in the United States and its origins in Prussia, and mentions how Egerton Ryerson imported Prussian education into Ontario Schools. The purpose of the system was to indoctrinate the population to be loyal to the state. You might want to watch a few of the other videos on this topic as well.
Children First: School Choice Trust
is Canada's first privately funded program to help families improve their educational choices. Children First offers tuition assistance grants, so that parents who could not otherwise afford it can choose an independent elementary school for their children.
Society for Quality Education
is a charitable non-profit organization whose mission is to provide the facts arising from research about quality education to policy makers, legislators, educators and the public. It maintain a particular focus on the positive consequences of the introduction of market-like forces in education including charter schools
, parental choice
, education tax credits, and vouchers. See for example their informal summary of School Choice in Canada
and their General Information
page with links to a wide variety of pages such as School Choice Mythbusters
and Tax Credit Mythbusters
Ontario - Sunshine on Schools
is an interactive clearinghouse containing financial data for Ontario’s publicly funded school boards. The Society for Quality Education provides this site to shine a light on school board data which up until now, although publicly available, were scattered and often difficult to locate. This site gathers the data into one online location that is simple to access.
Harlem Children's Zone
is an example of a school that takes a holistic approach to education of children in a poor neighbourhood, with an amazing track record. "Through a coordinated effort by hundreds of devoted men and women, The Harlem Children's Zone has established a new method to end the cycle of generational poverty. By addressing the needs of the entire community, HCZ isn't simply helping children beat the odds, it's helping to change the odds." Be sure to watch the video. (Note that the Colbert Report is available only from the Comedy Network.)
by John Stossel on the Human Events
web site talks about the success of charter schools, especially those in New Orleans. Competition is good for education.