When I need to purchase a new computer (or software program), I know that computer entrepreneurs are free to innovate and compete for my money, and I am free to choose the best offer in terms of performance, quality and price.

Am I free to purchase the best education value that a free market would offer? No. Public education — that sacred cow — blocks such freedom.

When I find the best deal, a wonderful event occurs: I reward the company for their superlative performance, and I reward myself for getting the best product at the best price. Whatever I save on computers can go towards my other values and needs.

This free market in computers has delivered continuously better products at ever lower prices (not to mention the enormous boost in economic prosperity due to overall productive efficiency). Who can predict what radically new innovation will take place in a mere decade, or how much greater value the same $ 3000 will buy then?

I value my computer, but not nearly as much as I value my children. I understand the crucial importance of education to their well being. I know that if they acquire a solid foundation in factual knowledge and efficacious thinking skills they will be equipped to live an exciting, healthy, prosperous and happy life.

If a computer supplier offers “politically correct” computers that don’t perform well, I don’t have to spend precious time arguing with “management,” or organizing a public protest, or competing with various pressure groups for the Minister of Computers’ attention — I simply take my money and go to another supplier.

But are education entrepreneurs free to innovate and compete for my money? Am I free to purchase the best education value that a free market would offer? No.

Public education — that sacred cow — blocks such freedom. If the government-backed education bureaucracy decides to adopt an education pedagogy that I regard as inadequate and even harmful to my children, such as one that places “socialization” and “political correctness” above factual knowledge and independent, efficacious thinking — a “Progressive” philosophy that says to hell with precision in spelling, grammar and math, or phonics in reading, or principles in science, or objective truth in history, or logic in thinking — I’m forced to pay for it.

If a computer supplier offers “politically correct” computers that don’t perform well, I don’t have to spend precious time arguing with “management,” or organizing a public protest, or competing with various pressure groups for the Minister of Computers’ attention — I simply take my money and go to another supplier.

Not so with public education. It’s no use telling me that the solution is to make public education more accountable to parents. There is no real incentive for the bloated education bureaucracy to be more accountable. We are rendered virtually impotent by the fact that we are forced to pay for it.

It’s no use telling me that the solution is to make public education more accountable to parents. There is no real incentive for the bloated education bureaucracy to be more accountable. We are rendered virtually impotent by the fact that we are forced to pay for it.

Oh sure, I can put my children in private schools and pay the tuition, over and above what I’m forced to pay for public education. But that doesn’t justify public education. If the government formed a computer company and taxed everyone to provide free computers to all, the benefits of a free market would be greatly diminished, especially if the government dictated computer standards and who can be allowed to produce computers.

But that’s just the practical-economic argument. Why should the government stop education entrepreneurs from freely offering me their products and services, and why should I be forced to fund a public education system I don’t use, especially when I know it stifles education? By what moral right?

The real reason, an old one, reared its ugly head recently when the Alberta government announced a 20 % increase in government for “private schools,” which brings the total spending to around 1% of the $3.3 billion currently spent on public schools. Leaving aside the fact that the extra money will go only to government-approved private schools with strings attached — a far cry from free enterprise — the move was assailed by critics as “elitist.”

…I should be denied the benefits of privatized education because those parents who are the most ambitious, productive and successful — and consequently earn much money — would be able to buy better education for their children.

According to Dale Wallace, spokesman for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, an advocacy group for public schools and their teachers, such funding promotes “segregating kids based on … family income. Now we are giving some of the richest people in the province more money to send their kids to private schools.”

In other words, I should be denied the benefits of privatized education because those parents who are the most ambitious, productive and successful — and consequently earn much money — would be able to buy better education for their children.

Does this sound familiar? It’s the basic ethical doctrine underlying socialism — the belief that it is immoral for an individual to personally benefit from his own success. One’s mind, life and property belong to “society.” The government must bulldoze everyone down to the equality line because “equality” — not freedom or individual rights — is “good for society.”

Nowadays, most Canadians can afford a powerful computer with incredible software — while the wealthy minority can afford “super” computers. Had the socialist “equality” doctrine been applied to computers (and everything else) twenty years ago, all Canadians today would have the same products — ones that don’t do very much.

Does this sound familiar? It’s the basic ethical doctrine underlying socialism — the belief that it is immoral for an individual to personally benefit from his own success. One’s mind, life and property belong to “society.”

Thanks to public education, our schools today don’t do very much either. Who knows what new innovations we could have had today in terms of teaching methods, motivational techniques and curriculum design if schools were private? Instead of asking today why Johnny can’t spell, read, write, calculate, concentrate or think — we adults could have been enjoying the sight of a Johnny who is more knowledgeable, literate, ambitious, inquisitive, efficacious in thought, and radiantly alive than we were at his age.

Why is it immoral for education entrepreneurs to be free to innovate and compete for my education dollars? By what moral right does the government tell me how to educate my children and where to spend my education dollars? If morality is one’s guide to successful living, then public education is immoral — which is precisely why it is impractical.

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Glenn Woiceshyn

Glenn Woiceshyn is a freelance writer, residing in Calgary. Visit his education resources website at Powerful Minds.