Amidst all the ongoing chaos, crises, and tensions emanating from Washington, D.C., a Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates in my district in Northern Virginia, a man named Tag Greason, has provided me with some amusement, which I would like to share with you.
Recently one of Greason’s supporters left a political flier on my front door, which is the source of my amusement.
Here is what the Greason flier stated:
* Invested a billion dollars in new education funding.
* Secured 4 teacher pay raises in the last 5 years.
* Reduced SOLs and passed laws that encourage flexibility and innovation in the classroom.
*Passed laws focused on individual student pathways, problem solving and critical thinking. Pushed DOE to move away from multiple choice questions and rote memorization.
* Instrumental in establishing redesign of our high schools.
Of course, the average voter would have no idea why those things are so amusing. Only a libertarian would understand why Greason’s bullet points are so funny and, well, so pathetic.
What Greason is essentially doing is telling voters in his district how effective he is in making Virginia public schooling work.
But there is one big problem with that: socialism, which is precisely what the institution that we know as “public schooling” is. In fact, while we call it “public” schooling, a more appropriate name would be “government” schooling. That because like all other socialist programs, public schooling is a government-owned, government-controlled, and government-run program.
In fact, it would be difficult to find a better example of a socialist program than public schooling. That’s why this particular institution is found in Cuba, Vietnam, China, North Korea, and other countries whose guiding principle is socialism.
At the local level, there is a school board charged with running the schools. The officials on the school board are voted into office in political elections, which ordinarily means that they have to be good politicians. The schoolteachers are government employees. The textbooks and curriculum are provided by the state board of education, which consists of government officials. Attendance is compulsory. Funding is through the coercive apparatus of the tax system.
That is the precise opposite of a free-market system or free-enterprise system. The reason that it’s called a “free” market system or a “free” enterprise system is because it is free of government involvement. It is entirely owned, operated, and run by private individuals or entities. Private entrepreneurs vie for people’s business, competing by providing a broad array of choices from which consumers can choose. In a free-market educational system, the consumer — i.e., families — would be sovereign in that the consumer would be free to decide what educational vehicles are best suited to each of his children.
For an enterprise based on the free market, think of grocery stores. For an enterprise based on socialism, think of the Postal Service. Notice any difference?
Or another way to think about public schooling is to think about the army, where people’s minds are molded to conform and to follow orders. Public schooling is army-lite. It’s main goal, like that of the army, is to produce conformist citizens who are highly reluctant or even unable to challenge things at a fundamental level and who think their responsibility as citizens is fulfilled by not questioning the dictates of their elected politicians or appointed bureaucrats, particularly on matters relating to foreign policy.
Ordinarily, it would be no big deal to receive the type of flier that Greason’s supporters put on my door. Both conservatives and liberals believe in public schooling and other socialist programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, foreign aid, and the like.
But the reason that I found the Greason flier so amusing is that it was a Republican — a conservative — bragging about how he is making public schooling work. Usually, that’s what a liberal Democrat does!
Another thing that amused me about Greason’s flier was an attack he leveled against his Democrat opponent, a man named David Reid. He quotes Reid’s position on “important issues like education”: “I don’t have answers to those questions….”
Now, I am fairly certain that Reid, like Greason, is a firm exponent of public schooling and other socialist programs. But here’s the funny part: Taking Reid’s quotation at face value, it is he, whether intentionally or inadvertently, who is telling the truth about socialism.
That’s because no one, including Greason, knows how to make socialism work. There is a simple reason for that: socialism is an inherently defective paradigm. That means it cannot be made to work, by anyone, including Greason or any other conservative Republican. That’s why there has been an ongoing education crisis for decades.
Socialism is the great destroyer. It destroys everything, especially the love of learning that characterizes people when they are children but smashes it out of them by the time they graduate. Maybe that’s why so many Republicans and Democrats still believe in socialism.
For more information, read The Future of Freedom Foundation’s award-winning book Separating School & State: How to Liberate America’s Families by Sheldon Richman.