(and how much power should the government have over Education?)
America is a land born of rebellion against Tyranny and a healthy distrust of Government. So it’s a little strange that it’s become the norm for the State (i.e. the Government, and increasingly the Federal Government) to have any significant control of the education system. After all, Education is perhaps the primary tool for Tyrants.
Don’t forget, being the primary educators of our children is not only an obligation as parents, but a privilege and natural right. It should not be that we are “allowed” (or not allowed, as is often the case) by the State to educate our own children. It should, in fact, be the other way around. The correct thinking is: If the parents so choose, they may allow others (other teachers or institutions, private or public) to help educate their children, while still remaining primarily responsible.
Americans have yielded too much power to the State when it comes to education. In the process, we’ve seen erosion of parental rights, a reduction of parental influence on child formation, the co-opting of curricula to serve outside agendas, and a less effective educational system.
No matter how a family chooses to educate their children, we do well to remember the proper role of Government in all of it. Here is a valuable and clarifying declaration made back in 1929 (by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales) and it is a trusty and wise guide for all of us still today:
- It is no part of the normal function of the State to teach.
- The State is entitled to see that citizens receive due education sufficient to enable them to discharge the duties of citizenship in its various degrees.
- The State ought, therefore, to encourage every form of sound educational endeavour, and may take means to safeguard the efficiency of education.
- To parents whose economic means are insufficient to pay for the education of their children, it is the duty of the State to furnish the necessary means, providing them from the common funds arising out of taxation of the whole community. But in so doing the State must not interfere with parental responsibility, nor hamper the reasonable liberty of parents in their choice of a school for their children. Above all, where the people are not all of one creed, there must be no differentiation on the ground of religion.
- Where there is need of greater school accommodation the State may, in default of other agencies, intervene to supply it; but it may do so only ‘in default of, and in substitution for, and to the extent of, the responsibility of the parents’ of the children who need this accommodation.
- The teacher is always acting in loco parentis, never in loco civitatis, though the State to safeguard its citizenship may take reasonable care to see that teachers are efficient.
- Thus a teacher never is and never can be a civil servant, and should never regard himself or allow himself to be so regarded. Whatever authority he may possess to teach and control children, and to claim their respect and obedience, comes to him from God through the parents, and not through the State, except in so far as the State is acting on behalf of the parents
[h/t to Chesterton Society Magazine for the list!]