A blupete Essay

The State as Parent, Part 3 to blupete's Essay
"Education & The Voucher System"

Government's business, which it limps through in a very expensive and intrusive way, is -- in the running of itself. It barely succeeds. What is for sure, government cannot run an educational system. The evidence is there for anyone of us to behold - it cannot, it seems at any price, do the job. Even supposing it could, there are important constitutional reasons why it should not. (From the outset, it should be made clear, that there is a distinction to be made between those who run something such as the educational system and those who are charged with the grave responsibility of setting educational standards, which all educators are bound to live up to if they expect to maintain their license. On how to achieve the standards, or at least, to achieve the best possible level; is, of necessity, a job for that marvelous mechanism we know as the free market.)

Any system which splits interest and responsibility apart is not a system that likely will work. It is in the nature of man, as an individual person, to take responsibility for a situation in which he or she has an interest. While we all have a general interest in an educated population, it is the parents who have the primary interest in seeing to the education of their child, therefore the primary responsibility must also be left to them. Now, it may be that the state should supply the means; but, even if the state could - and the evidence is that it cannot - the responsibility to educate the young in our society does not lie with the state.

We have experimented, and have now experienced, what it is like to have the great collective apparatus of government involve itself in individual personal matters; the laudable aim, of course, was to solve problems. The collective approach - with all evidence running against it - does not work. The collective approach to education has but created a collective problem, the extent of which has only begun to make itself felt. The collective problem is all about us, there, to be inherited; it comes about when the state takes over the responsibility for events which can only be governed by the individuals who have a specific interest in the outcome of these events. The education system, such as it is now, while one of the older ones, is, nonetheless, just another government run program, one that alleviates the necessity for the individual to see to himself and to his family. The fact of the matter is the government school system has diminished parental responsibility. This problem is a problem that was foreseen at the start:

"... the fatal error ... was that the gratuitous system would diminish the sentiment of parental responsibility. To bring a child into the world was to incur a grave responsibility, and no action of the State should tend to obscure the fact. But to relieve a parent from the cost of his children's schooling would most emphatically diminish his motives for forethought."
After thus quoting Sir Leslie Stephen (the father of Virginia Woolf and one of the "Bloomsbury" gang), B. H. Alford then proceeds in his work, Free Education (New York: Appleton) to quote a correspondent from New Zealand:
"[The citizens, the voters] look to the government for help, and such legislation in the name of progress shifts the centre of gravity in the moral world from the parent to the State - slowly but surely undermining the foundation of national life by the deterioration of the unit of the family. (pp. 268-71.)"
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2011