Saturday, October 13, 2007

Thomas B. Fordham and the distrust of parents

Thomas B. Fordham Foundation claims it advocates for school choice, yet it only means choice within the bounds set by government. Read its Gadfly article To our libertarian friends.

My response:

Editor:

In this passage from "To our libertarian friends," Liam Julian exposes his views as a blend of mistrust in parents and the assumed omniscience of government:

But strict libertarianism fails in education reform not merely because of its political infeasibility, but because it prizes individual liberty so greatly that it must allow parents to make dreadful educational choices that could set up their children for failure. Thus, the strict libertarian's k-12 paradox: Allowing parents the liberty to make such decisions on their children's behalf stymies liberty (the child's rights, really) more than encourages it.


Julian obviously prizes the collectivist solution for the failures of public education. To that end, I have to ask him what he thinks of parents who choose to live within the city school limits of most any urban area in the US -- his home in DC being the top of the list. Assuming that residence is a choice, what does the selection of failed city schools say about parental decision-making under the Julian model? What does it say about his ability to choose a proper home?

I agree that choice is the solution. However, where there is government and tax dollars, there is no real choice. Of course, real choice is never a Julian solution. When he speaks of choice, he means choice within limits; limits set by government under advisement of fellows such as Hess and Finn (note "Leave no (none, zero, nada) child behind?" where both writers share their lack of constitutional proficiency).

I will buy the Julian solution the moment he decides to send his children to the lowest performing DC school. Though, I will assume -- on almost no chance of being wrong, that Julian has chosen to live in an area zoned to protect his slice of society's supposed responsibilities.

The libertarian view is that he is wrong on this account: viewing government as the provider of choice all the while using government to limit property usage in the suburbs.

The irony is that the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation advocates for parental choice with regard to charter schools, yet takes a stand opposite choice when government is removed. Is it possible that Julian and TBF have it right and that government serves as a protection from a parental frontal lobotomy? For without government, parents appear to lose the ability to act in the best interest of their children.

Does TBF actually believe in choice; parental choice?

1 comment:

mith said...

"Is it possible that Julian and TBF have it right and that government serves as a protection from a parental frontal lobotomy?"

I don't think he believes it's a parental responsibility at all. Note his ninth paragraph:

"It [Libertarian writing on education] is able to merge libertarian principles with the understanding that society has an obligation to educate its future members..."

See? It's society's obligation to educate children, not parents.

The state ought to just take them off our hands from the moment they're born, to make sure we don't exercise any undue influence prior to kindergarten.