An Argument Against Government Education
Note: This is by no means a complete essay... there are many issues to consider when pushing for/advocating homeschooling for everyone. Yes, I believe it is biblical, but the way the world is right now it is not possible for everyone to homeschool. Yet we cannot just sit back and say the world isn't ready, because unless we start to change it, it never will. Start with what we can do, leave the rest to God.
And - I'll start Faith Victorious here on Reformation Day... the prologue (posted on my blog) may be able to give you a clue as to why that date is fitting. ;) I would start at the beginning of October, but I have another story to post (after 30 pages of editing!) After that I'll alternate between posting FV and other things...
Anyway, the essay:
Since 1870, every state in the United States of America has provided free elementary education. This education is not free, however. It is paid for by the tax dollars of American citizens, whether their children utilize the government school system or not. For years, Americans have used this program, blindly thinking that it is the duty of the government to provide children with free education. Frederic Bastiat would beg to differ. In his classic dissertation, The Law, Bastiat defines the purpose of law, and in doing so rejects the public school system. Batsiat supports his argument by saying that education is not the purpose of the government and that government education is socialistic.
Firstly, Bastiat denies the supposed right of government education by defining the purpose of the law. “Law is the common force organized to act as an obstacle to injustice. In short, law is justice,” writes Bastiat early in his essay. At another part of his article, Bastiat defines justice as the “collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.” If government is to enforce the law, then it is the duty of government to abolish injustice and replace it with justice. Yet Bastiat believes that three gifts from God “precede all human legislation.” These three things are “life, faculties, production – in other words, individuality, liberty, property.” The public school system does not encourage individuality and liberty. Instead of encouraging students to think freely and formulate opinions themselves, government schools teach a socialistic, conformist worldview. Of public education, Bastiat says, “if you desire to prevent [injurious] opinions and customs from becoming permanent, you will secure the second generation by a general system of… education.” In modern times, a Christian worldview is considered by many to be injurious. Thus, public education seeks to eliminate Christian reason, instead of letting “the seeds of truth germinate along with the development of reason.”
Secondly, Bastiat argues that the public school system is socialistic. As defined by Bastiat, socialism is legal plunder in an organized fashion – one of these fasions being the public schools. Legal plunder is not, however, legal. It is plunder guarded by the law, but it does not fulfill the true purpose of the law – to enforce justice. “It is best to wipe [legal plunder] out,” Bastiat states. “Not all socialism is bad,” one may say. “It is right that the law provide education for all.” Bastiat quickly refutes this thinking, defining it as a fallacy. “It is not sufficient… that the law guaranty to every citizen the free… use of his faculties,” Bastiat writes in The Law. “Instead, it is demanded that the law should directly extend… education… throughout the nation.” Bastiat calls this the seductive lure of socialism. Thoughts like these – of equality for all, physical, intellectual, and moral self-improvement – are not valid. The government does not exist as a nanny, but exists to protect its charges from injustice. Also, those with a biblical worldview should deny socialism. Christians are told not to conform to the world, but rather to be transformed by renewing their minds – not by letting the government wipe out ‘injurious’ yet biblical thoughts.
So what must be done? Must Christians continue to take part in socialistic education that the government has no lawful purpose in executing and, or is there an alternative? The Bible speaks of parents teaching their children. In Ephesians, fathers are commanded to “bring [your children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4, ESV). Deuteronomy 6 speaks of parents telling their children of the commands of God, not just during the evenings when the children are home from school, but “when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut. 6:7, ESV). Instead of conforming to the world and the public school system, let the words that God commands “be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children… you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets to your eyes” (Deut. 6:6-8). The only way for parents to teach the Bible to their children at all times is to homeschool, thus following the command to “train [your children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).