A 15-year-old Michigan girl is getting a taste of the apparatus of coercion that forms the foundation of public schooling. The teenager, who happens to be black, is being held in a juvenile detention facility for breaking the terms of her parole for domestic violence against her mother.
What parole term did she break? According to an article in the New York Times, she failed to complete her online coursework after her school was shut down because of the coronavirus crisis. Despite her pleas to be released to her mother, the state says no. In fact, the presiding judge in the case has held that continued detention is in the girl’s own best interests. “I think you are exactly where you are supposed to be,” Judge Mary Ellen Brennan, told the girl. “You are blooming there, but there is more work to be done.”
I don’t know what Brennan defines as “blooming,” but one distinct possibility is that what she means is that the teenager is getting her mind straight by becoming an obedient, conforming citizen, one who is deferential to the state.
After all, isn’t that the real purpose of public (i.e., state) schooling? Isn’t that why there is public schooling in countries like Cuba, North Korea, China, and Vietnam?
Oh sure, the public schooling system appears to be nice, sweet, and benign, with its nice school board meetings, parent-teach conferences, bell-ringing PTA meetings, and shiny yellow school buses picking up and delivering children to their assigned indoctrination center every weekday morning and then returning them home in the afternoon.
But that’s only because most everyone complies with the law. Some people avoid the indoctrination centers by homeschooling or by sending their kids to private schools. But most people passively go along with the deal by sending their kids into the state system.
Thus, it’s not often that we see the actual coercion involved here. If a parent refuses to subject his kid to the state’s “educational” system, either directly or indirectly (through supervised homeschooling or a state-licensed private school), he and his parents are ordered to appear before a state judge to show cause why they shouldn’t be punished for their recalcitrance.
If they fail to appear before the judge, he issues an arrest warrant for them, which will be served by a law-enforcement officer. The parents will be arrested and the child will be placed into the custody of state officials. Once the parents are forced into court, if they refuse to obey the orders of the judge to submit their child to the system, they are jailed indefinitely until they agree to comply. The child, meanwhile, is put into the “care” of state-approved foster parents.
Back in the 1970s, before homeschooling was made legal in Utah, state law-enforcement officials shot and killed a man named John Singer. They called it “resisting arrest” but the underlying reason was that Singer was insisting on homeschooling his children rather than submit them to the control of state officials.
The principle is the same with respect to how the state gets its money to fund its “educational” system. It raises its money through the coercion of taxation. If a person fails to pay his taxes, they seize his property and sell it. Or they send him to jail. Or both.
When a system has to gets its customers and its funding by force, that is persuasive evidence that that is one sordid system. A good system doesn’t need to resort to force. It gets customers and funding simply by offering a good product or service.
Not surprisingly, the teenager in question has been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. That’s always the diagnosis for kids who are bored or disgusted with the state’s army-like “educational” system of control, regimentation, memorization, and regurgitation. The state, and oftentimes the parents, can’t see that there is nothing wrong with the kid and that everything is wrong with the coercion apparatus of state schooling.
There is but one solution to this sordid system: educational liberty — the separation of school and state — the end of all state involvement in education — the adoption of a total free-market educational system.