On the Other Hand...

Bad News for N.H. Children

by Jim Davies

Neither of the two men at present most likely to be elected Governor in November has offered anything to rescue our children from the school fiasco.

Wayne King for the Democrats hasn't anything to say beyond to spend "whatever it takes" (theoretically, that could require a 100% tax rate) so when I had the chance on July 15th 1994 to attend a Press Conference to hear Gov. Merrill's new Education Plan, I hoped for better.

Everything he said (with great enthusiasm) presumed that government should be educating our children. Now, if that premise were granted, his is a business- like set of ideas; I'd have been supportive. But that premise is wrong.

He even presented a way for the State to involve itself more in the care of our younger children, in kindergarten. "Kindergarten" is a German word meaning "garden of children", with the idea that a wise and beneficent State can and should take control of cultivating our own kids so that the next generation will consist of patriotic, knowledgeable and obedient citizens. That is, for a fact, the whole idea behind all government schooling.

It originated in Prussia after its defeat by Napoleon, and with incredible folly was adopted in the United States in the mid-1800s. In its country of origin, it prepared for harvest the generations that created the German Empire, gladly fought for Kaiser Wilhelm and deliberately elected Adolph Hitler; all for the greater glory of the State that had cultivated them.

I may have been the only person in the room so affected, but Merrill's idea that his State should take a larger role in funding kindergartens left me profoundly horrified, for funding never goes anywhere without control. Is it not bad enough that we surrender our children to government "care" for 12 years? Must we hand them over for another two? Is what Thomas Paine called that "evil" institution to get its fangs on them even for part of their first five years of life, widely acknowledged as by far the most formative period of all? If we let all this happen without protest, we will deserve all that we - or rather, alas, our children - will certainly get.

Marxist

Every syllable of Merrill's Plan (and, it goes without saying, of King's also) is designed to achieve what Marx adopted for his Communist movement: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." What a curious world, that Merrill should be regarded as "Conservative", ie opposed to such Socialist poison! Yet, there it is, plain for all to read: he has labored to produce an Education Plan that would provide uniformly "excellent" schooling regardless of towns' ability to pay, and then subsidize "poorer" towns with money stolen from State taxpayers to make up any shortfall.

The only logical conclusion is that our genial Governor is a Marxist. And so, of course, is everyone else who knowingly and willingly supports the system of socialized schooling under which we suffer.

Yet, we are so near to the possibility of reform. Mr Merrill's own research data, which he handed out after the presentation, speaks volumes for the abolition of tax funding for schools, and for a 100% return of control to the parent. To look that data in the face and NOT propose a large-scale privatization of this monopoly confirms that regardless of the facts, he has not the slightest intention of doing that, any more than Mr King has.

He took time, for instance, to show The Coleman Report, quoted in the NY Times, which concluded that educational achievement was determined by the "attitudes of family and fellow students" and not by the level of school spending.

Follow the logic of that - which accords well, does it not, with our own informal experience. Students do best when their own families actively encourage academic success, and when their peers share their wish to find it.

Now, that shouts out loud that the best possible kind of schooling is Home Schooling! It could hardly be more obvious! Parents cannot be more supportive than when they are doing the teaching, nor fellow-students be more in harmony than when they are the siblings. Yet that very obvious conclusion was missing altogether from what our Governor said.

A second-best environment for learning, to fit the Coleman finding, would be a school for which parents paid directly, just as when they purchase a car. When you and I write a check to pay a bill, we make darn sure we got the best possible value for it, and if dissatisfied we shop elsewhere next time around.

So if the supplier whose bill we pay is a school, and if the service rendered is delivered to our own children, the motivation to ensure excellence and satisfaction is as high as it can be, excepting the Home-School case above. Yet this obvious conclusion, too, was ignored by Mr Merrill.

The Freedom Alternative

Over the years, the average family is forced to hand over about $150,000 to the government school monopoly. I firmly believe that if the schooling industry were a free, competitive market instead, two children could be schooled for half that much; and that a home education for them could be funded for one fifth as much. To the average family, therefore, the ideas in this column are worth between $75,000 and $120,000; plus better-educated children.

And as for our next Governor, take a close look at Libertarian Steve Winter. No, he's not proposing to scrap the monopoly outright. But he is proposing to start the process; he has prepared a school funding plan that (a) cuts property taxes, (b) greatly stimulates a free market in education, and yet (c) leaves more money per pupil in the government system! That's not as big a reform as I want, but it's a whole heap better than anything else on offer.

© Copyright Jim Davies 1999