IP-1-1996 (January 1996)
Author: Dave Kopel, Sheldon Richman
“Do you think nobody would willingly entrust his children to you or pay you for teaching them? Why do you have to extort your fees and collect your pupils by compulsion?”
As education is currently provided in the state of Colorado, and throughout the United States, one key fact is inexplicably overlooked: all the big decisions about how a child will be educated are made by someone other than the parents of that child. It is government that determines the significant elements of children’s education. Parents are shunted to the sidelines, where they are expected to be little more than cheerleaders supporting the decision-makers. In a society dedicated to the virtues of family life, this most salient feature of education should be, to say the least, suspect. Two ill-considered government policies make the system possible: compulsory tax-financing of schools and compulsory attendance. That combination of compulsion and learning also should be suspect. This paper will discuss why compulsory attendance should be abolished and education decisions left to parents and children.