Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Objectivism on Public Education

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Obviously the idea of a "nationalized educational service" is something Objectivists do not like. The problem is, is there a viable solution?

One could say that we should just make education a private field and let competition control prices, but what about children with negligent parents?

I was just arguing this point with someone today and I could not, for the life of me, come up with an alternative.

Link to post
Share on other sites
One could say that we should just make education a private field and let competition control prices, but what about children with negligent parents?

There's no need for an alternative; that isn't a valid objection. One person's negligence cannot justify violating another person's rights. If it could then you could argue for enslaving everybody on the grounds that some people will use their freedom self-destructively. If you see a child that you think should be better educated than it is, offer to pay for the additional education using your own resources. Don't force other people to pay for it at the point of a gun. If the child's parents are so negligent that they are causing an objectively provable irreparable harm to the child (e.g. by locking it in a closet or something like that), that's child abuse and warrants loss of custody. Below that standard, it's none of your business. One person's 'negligence' is another person's free-range parenting.

Edited by khaight
Link to post
Share on other sites
There's no need for an alternative; that isn't a valid objection. One person's negligence cannot justify violating another person's rights. If it could then you could argue for enslaving everybody on the grounds that some people will use their freedom self-destructively. If you see a child that you think should be better educated than it is, offer to pay for the additional education using your own resources. Don't force other people to pay for it at the point of a gun. If the child's parents are so negligent that they are causing an objectively provable irreparable harm to the child (e.g. by locking it in a closet or something like that), that's child abuse and warrants loss of custody. Below that standard, it's none of your business. One person's 'negligence' is another person's free-range parenting.

Wow that is a great way to look at it. Need cannot be a claim more or less?

And I am saying, just what if educational made a capitalistic turn and a set of parents refused to send their children to school to save a penny, though it would not be in the child's interest not to get an education.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You won't hear this from a liberal, but homeschooling and private school prevent usually produce better results than public school.

Sure, there are people that can't homeschool because they can't provide an education themselves, but that's what private schools are for.

Private schools are expensive, yes, but mainly because private schools are centralized and lack much competition. The competition is there, but the expense of a private school feeds on itself. That's because people decide that expensive school = really good school, and fail to separate their wants with needs. There would be much more competition if public schools were abolished.

It's unethical to force individuals to pay for other children's schooling. If an individual decides that that person needs better education, he should be the one to fund it. He has no right to force others to pay.

Link to post
Share on other sites
And I am saying, just what if educational made a capitalistic turn and a set of parents refused to send their children to school to save a penny, though it would not be in the child's interest not to get an education.

Even in our current culture there are philanthropists who fund scholarships to provide educations to poor children. A free society would be much more prosperous, and such philanthropy would likely be much easier to come by if necessary. In brief, in a free society if such children exist there is nothing to stop you from helping them. (This contrasts with our current society, in which your productivity is cut in half by pointless government regulation and half of what you do produce is taken from you by force through taxation, resulting in your having to live on something like a quarter of the wealth you could have had.) The kind of hypothetical parents you describe are such a corner case they're hardly worth considering; any society in which the majority of people were so irrational and nihilistic as to treat their children in such a manner would collapse into anarchy or dictatorship in short order.

One other rhetorical point: the 'what if bad people screw things up' argument cuts both ways. What if some bizarre pedagogical cabal seizes control of the public school system, grossly failing to provide a proper education to the children placed in their care? What if, as a result, massive numbers of children grow up with no knowledge of history, science, art, or even basic literacy? What could you do to protect your own child, trapped in such a world, forced to support the very comprachicos who are crippling his mind? And, as a bonus question, what is the difference between the educational nightmare sketched above and the state of the American public schools today?

Link to post
Share on other sites
You won't hear this from a liberal, but homeschooling and private school prevent usually produce better results than public school.

My boss (technically my boss' boss' boss) is a liberal, who lives in Palo Alto -- an expensive city with a better-than-average public school system. When she told me she had moved there and paid the premium price for the real estate because of the schools, I said "Yes, that's the way rich white liberals exercise the school choice they want to deny to poor black children." Oy, she gave me such a look. :glare:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Even in our current culture there are philanthropists who fund scholarships to provide educations to poor children. A free society would be much more prosperous, and such philanthropy would likely be much easier to come by if necessary. In brief, in a free society if such children exist there is nothing to stop you from helping them. (This contrasts with our current society, in which your productivity is cut in half by pointless government regulation and half of what you do produce is taken from you by force through taxation, resulting in your having to live on something like a quarter of the wealth you could have had.) The kind of hypothetical parents you describe are such a corner case they're hardly worth considering; any society in which the majority of people were so irrational and nihilistic as to treat their children in such a manner would collapse into anarchy or dictatorship in short order.

One other rhetorical point: the 'what if bad people screw things up' argument cuts both ways. What if some bizarre pedagogical cabal seizes control of the public school system, grossly failing to provide a proper education to the children placed in their care? What if, as a result, massive numbers of children grow up with no knowledge of history, science, art, or even basic literacy? What could you do to protect your own child, trapped in such a world, forced to support the very comprachicos who are crippling his mind? And, as a bonus question, what is the difference between the educational nightmare sketched above and the state of the American public schools today?

I think cases like which I provided are uncommon in a "middle class" setting, but what about when you get to the slums of the nation? The few children there that do attend school do so only because it is free to them more or less. Their parents, based on the fact that they live in the slums, probably wouldn't even pay for them to have an education. This is neglect but not in a traditional way. Are these kids not to get a shot in life because of their parent's bad judgment calls?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's something I bookmarked a little while back that I think somebody else here has posted before about if private education can work out to not leave lots of people flat out unable to pay for schooling kids: Private Schools for the Poor I haven't seen the book it says it comes from, but if it indeed is accurate, then the issue clearly is not that we'd need to worry about affording good education for kids, the question instead sounds to be more about stupid parents who would choose to not have kids educated once laws forcing kids to be educated were gone. However, as has been said, anything which is extreme enough it could cause irreparable damage to their ability to develop would be abuse and therefore not legal while anything not so bad as to be irreparably seriously stunting can be let go and once the kid is an adult if their parents never let them get much formal education, then the kid can seek it out themself.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I think cases like which I provided are uncommon in a "middle class" setting, but what about when you get to the slums of the nation? The few children there that do attend school do so only because it is free to them more or less. Their parents, based on the fact that they live in the slums, probably wouldn't even pay for them to have an education. This is neglect but not in a traditional way. Are these kids not to get a shot in life because of their parent's bad judgment calls?

Three points.

First, we currently have a public education system -- and its worst failures are in the inner cities, with respect to exactly the kinds of children for whom you are professing such concern. Literacy rates among black inner city children today are actually lower than they were among slaves in the antebellum South -- when it was actually illegal to teach blacks to read. Trying to defend public education on the grounds of the needs of the poor in the slums is a sick joke. Any society which had the political will to force a public education system to operate effectively in the slums would have the will to provide voluntary charitable support for the education of the poor.

Second, there are ample instances of people with little to no formal education achieving great success in life. These hypothetical children, who have evil parents and who cannot find any charitable support for their education, would no doubt achieve less than they could have. But so what? I'm achieving less than I could have had I been able to afford to attend Harvard. That doesn't entitle me to force someone else to pay my tuition at the point of a gun.

Third, the pathologies of the slums are in large measure created, supported and exacerbated by the lack of freedom. Why bother to get your child an education when he's just going to go on welfare anyhow? The myriad opportunities for advancement that freedom provides to people at all economic levels makes the value of an education more apparent, and serve to motivate more parents even in poor parts of society to try to educate their kids because the connection between education and success would be more apparent to them. There was a time when poor families aspired to send their kids to college. There could be again.

Edited by khaight
Link to post
Share on other sites
Three points.

First, we currently have a public education system -- and its worst failures are in the inner cities, with respect to exactly the kinds of children for whom you are professing such concern. Literacy rates among black inner city children today are actually lower than they were among slaves in the antebellum South -- when it was actually illegal to teach blacks to read. Trying to defend public education on the grounds of the needs of the poor in the slums is a sick joke. Any society which had the political will to force a public education system to operate effectively in the slums would have the will to provide voluntary charitable support for the education of the poor.

Second, there are ample instances of people with little to no formal education achieving great success in life. These hypothetical children, who have evil parents and who cannot find any charitable support for their education, would no doubt achieve less than they could have. But so what? I'm achieving less than I could have had I been able to afford to attend Harvard. That doesn't entitle me to force someone else to pay my tuition at the point of a gun.

Third, the pathologies of the slums are in large measure created, supported and exacerbated by the lack of freedom. Why bother to get your child an education when he's just going to go on welfare anyhow? The myriad opportunities for advancement that freedom provides to people at all economic levels makes the value of an education more apparent, and serve to motivate more parents even in poor parts of society to try to educate their kids because the connection between education and success would be more apparent to them. There was a time when poor families aspired to send their kids to college. There could be again.

That was a beautiful response :glare:

I agree with all of this, just wanted some opinions and ideas and you nailed it.

Thanks for the link to the website too, was quite an interesting read!

Link to post
Share on other sites
These hypothetical children, who have evil parents and who cannot find any charitable support for their education, would no doubt achieve less than they could have.

Even though it's irrelevant, I still wouldn't surrender that point to the statists. Having a society where individual rights were fully respected would, as you said, be so much more prosperous, that I wonder if an uneducated kid in such a place really would do worse than an educated one is ours. Even without an education you can start at the bottom and work your way up, and I'm sure there would be far more jobs available.

Edited by philosopher
Link to post
Share on other sites
Even though it's irrelevant, I still wouldn't surrender that point to the statists. Having a society where individual rights were fully respected would, as you said, be so much more prosperous, that I wonder if an uneducated kid in such a place really would do worse than an educated one is ours. Even without an education you can start at the bottom and work your way up, and I'm sure there would be far more jobs available.

There was an implicit 'ceteris paribus' there. I wasn't comparing the poor uneducated child in a free society with the poor public-educated child in a semi-free society; I was comparing him with the poor educated child in a free society. Surely it isn't a concession to acknowledge that, all else being equal, it is better to be educated than ignorant?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Obviously the idea of a "nationalized educational service" is something Objectivists do not like. The problem is, is there a viable solution?

One could say that we should just make education a private field and let competition control prices, but what about children with negligent parents?

I was just arguing this point with someone today and I could not, for the life of me, come up with an alternative.

As an alternative, you can "finance" with public funds the education of every children (if their parents require it). Like a voucher.

When he grows-up he must pay-back the loan.

That's a better alternative to state-run public schools.

Link to post
Share on other sites
There was an implicit 'ceteris paribus' there. I wasn't comparing the poor uneducated child in a free society with the poor public-educated child in a semi-free society; I was comparing him with the poor educated child in a free society. Surely it isn't a concession to acknowledge that, all else being equal, it is better to be educated than ignorant?

Ok. I initially thought you might be comparing a poor uneducated free child with a poor educated free child, but then dismissed it, because in the context of this argument that would mean a poor educated free child whose education was paid for by government, which would be a contradiction. So I thought you must be comparing an uneducated free child with an educated statist child.

Edited by philosopher
Link to post
Share on other sites
My boss (technically my boss' boss' boss) is a liberal, who lives in Palo Alto -- an expensive city with a better-than-average public school system. When she told me she had moved there and paid the premium price for the real estate because of the schools, I said "Yes, that's the way rich white liberals exercise the school choice they want to deny to poor black children." Oy, she gave me such a look. :glare:

This is the best quote I've seen all year! I am surrounded by liberals, I know this woman ten times over!

I've heard Belgium gives vouchers for education, or credit or whatever, and you can spend it wherever you want. That includes the 'public option'. Of course, the public option must compete with private schools, so is very good I understand (that is, they don't receive money independent of the students who choose to go there). How is it that ours is such a worse system? Such a system in America would be wonderful compared to what there is now. And I don't see how liberals can honestly object with the 'public option' intact.

Curse Jefferson and his public educationism! Though his ideal was more in line with another 'better' idea I've heard propose: public school until the 5th grade, period. Nothing, no vouchers, after that. Reading, writing, arithmetic, women's studies - that all (minus one).

Link to post
Share on other sites
As an alternative, you can "finance" with public funds the education of every children (if their parents require it). Like a voucher.

When he grows-up he must pay-back the loan.

That's a better alternative to state-run public schools.

A contract between an adult and a child? Hmmm.. I don't know about that one.

Can't the parents pay back the loan?

Link to post
Share on other sites
This is the best quote I've seen all year! I am surrounded by liberals, I know this woman ten times over!

I've heard Belgium gives vouchers for education, or credit or whatever, and you can spend it wherever you want. That includes the 'public option'. Of course, the public option must compete with private schools, so is very good I understand (that is, they don't receive money independent of the students who choose to go there). How is it that ours is such a worse system? Such a system in America would be wonderful compared to what there is now. And I don't see how liberals can honestly object with the 'public option' intact.

Curse Jefferson and his public educationism! Though his ideal was more in line with another 'better' idea I've heard propose: public school until the 5th grade, period. Nothing, no vouchers, after that. Reading, writing, arithmetic, women's studies - that all (minus one).

I am guessing it's partially a religious complaint. Most private schools are religious (or rather, it has been stereotyped that they are), so they'd be against vouchers because they'd see it as combining church and state.

Which is stupid and irrational. But then again, perhaps so is publicly funded vouchers.

Link to post
Share on other sites
As an alternative, you can "finance" with public funds the education of every children (if their parents require it). Like a voucher.

When he grows-up he must pay-back the loan.

That's a better alternative to state-run public schools.

The financing argument is another interesting one to use against statists I think. It's not a moral one, but a practical one (without implying the two are opposed). Namely, that lack of access to education or healthcare or such, if they wish to call it a "problem" (which I disagree with) is not a problem with the healthcare, education etc industries but with the finance industry.

The job of education and healthcare industries is to educate and heal people, respectively. The job the finance industry is to help people pay for stuff. And until recently banks gave out credit cards like candy, so there should have been no need for public education or healthcare systems, even given that you think there should be someone controlling us all, solving these "problems" (which I don't).

Edited by philosopher
Link to post
Share on other sites
A contract between an adult and a child? Hmmm.. I don't know about that one.

Can't the parents pay back the loan?

Yes, why not.

I am guessing it's partially a religious complaint. Most private schools are religious (or rather, it has been stereotyped that they are), so they'd be against vouchers because they'd see it as combining church and state.

Which is stupid and irrational. But then again, perhaps so is publicly funded vouchers.

Yes, actual vouchers programs have been cancelled, deemed unconstitutional based on church and state separation.

But, if it is a "loan", then it is not "federal money", it is -your- money, so the "unconstitutional based on church and state separation"

(valid) argument does not apply. (I think)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Most schools in the country I was born (Ecuador) were private. Usually sending your kids to Public School meant you would get the worst education, and that essentially you'd have to pray and hope they wouldn't come out criminals.

There are many private schools in Ecuador that are priced quite high. There are also many, including the one I went to, that were priced quite low and, although lacking in the latest technology, could deliver a *solid* education. I had philosophy as a subject, which is something most american public schools have never even contemplated.

Link to post
Share on other sites
The job the finance industry is to help people pay for stuff.

That's laughable. That's like saying the job of a stock market speculator is to make markets more efficient. The "job" of a stock market speculator is to make predictions about the market and cash in on those predictions, if correct. The job of the finance industry is to make as much money as possible by utilizing every opportunity available to them, including investment and making loans. The fact that credit fills a vital need in society is only incidental to that.

Anyway, this thread is seriously on the wrong track. I have never heard so many Objectivists seriously claim that leaving a child without an education would be a morally acceptable thing to do. Peikoff wouldn't agree with that. The act of having a child obligates one to provide certain things, just as surely as signing a contract does. Among those is an education-- in the sense that the child must be educated about the world in order to gain their own self-sufficiency (not necessarily in the formal, academic sense).

Making the claim that anything less than locking a child in a closet 24/7 constitutes fulfilling that educational obligation is absurd. What's lacking from the discourse here is the concept that individuals under the age of 18 ought to have the ability to enforce their own rights. If a minor can provide substantial proof that their parents are neglecting fulfilling their educational duty, he or she should be able to enforce that obligation through the courts or law enforcement.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Anyway, this thread is seriously on the wrong track. I have never heard so many Objectivists seriously claim that leaving a child without an education would be a morally acceptable thing to do. Peikoff wouldn't agree with that. The act of having a child obligates one to provide certain things, just as surely as signing a contract does. Among those is an education-- in the sense that the child must be educated about the world in order to gain their own self-sufficiency (not necessarily in the formal, academic sense).

Making the claim that anything less than locking a child in a closet 24/7 constitutes fulfilling that educational obligation is absurd. What's lacking from the discourse here is the concept that individuals under the age of 18 ought to have the ability to enforce their own rights. If a minor can provide substantial proof that their parents are neglecting fulfilling their educational duty, he or she should be able to enforce that obligation through the courts or law enforcement.

Really? an 8 years old providing "substantial proof" that their parents are neglecting fulfilling their "educational duty" in a court of law?

Let's be more realistic.

If leaving a child without an education would NOT be a morally acceptable thing to do. (I agree)

(and considering "reality" in which a child is not an adult.)

How do you provide education?

Link to post
Share on other sites
I have never heard so many Objectivists seriously claim that leaving a child without an education would be a morally acceptable thing to do. Peikoff wouldn't agree with that. The act of having a child obligates one to provide certain things, just as surely as signing a contract does. Among those is an education-- in the sense that the child must be educated about the world in order to gain their own self-sufficiency (not necessarily in the formal, academic sense).

Making the claim that anything less than locking a child in a closet 24/7 constitutes fulfilling that educational obligation is absurd.

I don't think anyone (myself included) has been arguing that failing to properly educate a child is morally acceptable. The argument has been over whether such a failure is a rights violation. There is a point where it isn't, and a point where it is. A parent who refuses to scrimp and send their kid to Harvard, instead sending them to the local community college, has not violated the child's rights even though the child is undereducated relative to what was possible. That's one end of the spectrum. The other end is a deliberate blocking of the child's ability to learn anything about the world. That's a willful blocking of the development of the child's basic means of survival, and probably is a rights violation. And there's a range in between. The 'locking in a closet' point is an illustration of the far end of the spectrum; it isn't a bright line this side of which anything is acceptable. The key point, and I think Peikoff agrees with me here, is that the parent cannot cause irreparable harm to the child. Mere ignorance is correctable as an adult.

One other point. We must clearly distinguish between obligations that parents have to their own children and alleged obligations of 'society'. Even if we stipulate that a child has a legally enforceable right to some minimal form of education provided by his parents, you can not move from that to the conclusion that any form of public education is justified. Your failure to discharge your obligation to your own child does not create an obligation in me to clean up your mess.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Really? an 8 years old providing "substantial proof" that their parents are neglecting fulfilling their "educational duty" in a court of law?

Let's be more realistic.

In principle this is no different from the question 'How do you figure out that a parent is abusing their child?' Indeed, to the extent that there is a legitimate point here at all, it is that beyond a certain point a parent's failure to educate their child is a form of child abuse.

If leaving a child without an education would NOT be a morally acceptable thing to do. (I agree) How do you provide education?

On the private market. If I, as a parent, have a legally enforceable obligation to provide an education to my child, it is nevertheless my choice as to how to go about doing so. I can homeschool, for example. I can hire a tutor or tutors. I can pay to send my child to a private school. What I cannot do is use force to take money from others to pay for my child's education. Merely because I have a responsibility does not entitle me to force others to fulfill it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...