Public schools today are crime-ridden, unhealthful places where children are exposed to sex, drugs and diseases and taught a sanitized version of American history and a loyalty to and dependence on big government, according to James Ostrowski in his book, Government Schools Are Bad For Your Kids.
Ostrowski is a trial and appellate lawyer and libertarian writer, and he has drawn on the works of the top libertarian thinkers and organizations in researching his book. He lays out a case that should give pause to anyone with children or grandchildren in today’s government-run school system.
Government schools have not always existed, nor were they immaculately conceived. In fact, prior to the last quarter of the 19th century when compulsory, tax-supported education became the norm, American society had thrived without it for more than 200 years while developing the most prosperous and literate society in human history.
Ostrowski takes the reader on a short but informative history lesson on the roots of compulsory government schools in the western world. They began with Martin Luther in 1524 who urged German princes to “compel the people to send their children to school” because “we are warring with the devil.”
He quotes historian Murray Rothbard: “The Reformers advocated compulsory education for all as a means of inculcating the entire population with their particular religious views…”
Later, John Calvin endorsed compulsory schooling. Like Luther, Calvin did so to spread his religious doctrine by government force.
Early in the 19th century the militaristic and authoritarian Prussians pioneered compulsory education in Europe. Following its defeat at the hands of Napoleon, the Prussian nation began to reorganize itself and prepare for future wars. Under King Frederick William III, the absolute state was made stronger and the nation’s minister, von Stein, began abolishing the semi-religious private schools and placed education under the minister of the Interior. Then the ministry set up a system for certification of all teachers and created a graduation exam.
Again quoting Rothbard, Ostrowski writes: “It is also interesting that it was this reorganized system that first began to promote the new teaching philosophy of Pestalozzi, who was one of the early proponents of ‘progressive education.’ Hand in hand with the compulsory school system went a revival and great extension of the army, and in particular the institution of universal compulsory military service.”
Quoting professor Richard M. Ebeling, Ostrowski writes: “Modern universal compulsory education has its origin in the 19th century Prussian idea that it is the duty and responsibility of the state to indoctrinate each new generation of children into being good, obedient subjects who will be loyal and subservient to political authority and to the legitimacy of the political order. Young minds are to be filled with a certain set of ideas that reflect the vision of the official state educators concerning ‘proper behavior’ and ‘good citizenship.’
Among the disadvantages of compulsory government schooling is the fact that there are so many students who don’t want to be there, or shouldn’t be there because of their criminal proclivities. Yet because attending school is mandated by the government they must be there.
And then there is the watered down education that the children receive and the misinformation they are taught: That we needed the Constitution because the nation was in chaos, Franklin Delano Roosevelt saved us from the Great Depression and Theodore Roosevelt saved us from the “robber barons.”
There are also the myriad of special interests that have become involved in the process—teachers’ unions, suppliers, publishers administrators, parents seeking free babysitting services and politicians who reap the benefits of union contributions.
Ostrowski believes private schools are better venues for learning because the students want to be there, parents have a vested interest (and therefore the students have a vested interest) in their children doing well, and the school can expel students who are unruly, undisciplined or unmotivated.
He advocates pulling your children out of public schools and enrolling them in private schools or home schooling them. Ostrowski believes the loss of tax dollars based on declining enrollment will lead to the end of government schools and a growth in the number of private schools.
And he presents a three-part plan for ending the stranglehold government has on the education of our children.
A short, easy read, Government Schools Are Bad for Your Kids is an excellent book for parents of school children or soon-to-be school children. It will help parents decide how to get the best education for their children and will also serve as a nice primer for anyone interested in working within the system to better the education system for future generations of children.