Education Through the Libertarian
I appreciate the opportunity
to reflect and comment upon the status of education in America
and particularly the effect of the federal government’s involvement in education.
Certainly, with the current election pending, it is valuable
for voters to understand how politics and governments have
impacted their children’s educational choices.
In addition to currently teaching at three colleges,
I was privileged to visit over 200 colleges and universities
throughout America with my son, in order for us to evaluate
their unique approaches and consequent quality of education.
It was and is interesting
to explore what has worked, and what does not work when it
comes to delivering a high degree of excellence in education.
In my view, the same ‘existential’ and ‘libertarian’ principles
result in successful outcomes across all levels of the educational
As an educator and as
a libertarian, I have come to see the effect of the federal
in education. The current No Child Left Behind program
is the latest example of an attempt to control the quality
of education from the ‘top-down’, as opposed to
a ‘bottom-up’ approach. Many writers have correctly
opined that this legislation adds another layer of bureaucracy
to the already overburdened local school administrators and
students, while doing very little to elevate the quality of
education in America, and in many ways detracting from its
Many are aware that
the United States once had the highest quality of education
of anywhere in the world, before the federal government became
involved. I believe the founders of this nation were very
wise to specifically exclude education of the citizens from
the enumerated powers granted to the federal government under
our constitution. I believe they understand the intelligence
of leaving the education of our children to the States or
to ‘the people’,
as the 10th amendment details.
In addition to taking up to 75% of the $60
billion dollars per year given to the U.S. Department of Education
(to be kept within the bureaucracy) the federal government
issues regulations and mandates that interfere with the administration
of education at the local levels. The shortage of dollars for
education that many complain of may best be addressed by allowing
U.S. taxpayers to use their tax dollars directly to benefit
education at the local level, rather than give it to an ineffective,
inefficient and interfering federal bureaucracy.
The founders understood
that every human was unique, and “endowed by our creator with certain unalienable
rights,” with their own right “to pursue happiness” as
they individually desire. Anyone who has attempted to teach
children knows the unique nature of every child, who each has
distinct personalities, talents and creativity that is specific
to them. From this perspective, it is easy to see that a top-down,
uniform approach to education will almost always stifle creativity
and interfere with the development of the individual. The resultant
lack of individual development has led to deep dissatisfaction
among our young people, which in turn leads to drug abuse,
crime, depression, and societal breakdown.
would include respecting and fostering the uniqueness and
individuality of students and teachers, rather than governmental
attempts to bring about uniformity (that are requested generally
to serve the government’s
administrative purposes). These principles also support the
maximum degree of local freedom to choose forms of curriculum,
courses of study, and individualized programs.
Direct parental, extended family, and neighborhood
involvement in the education of every child is axiomatic to
a libertarian society, and would also respect the principle
of responsibility that is the co-equal partner to desired liberty.
It is obvious that there is no shortage of human
creativity, love and commitment to serve our students and to
deliver to them the very finest education possible. Allowing
local communities to choose from among the proven, high-level
educational models that exist throughout the world, without
governmental interference, will dramatically improve the quality
of education. The “information
age” we have entered makes possible unprecedented access
to knowledge from anywhere in the world, including the opportunity
for educators to communicate with each other as to what works
and does not work in their chosen fields. Unbridled freedom to choose has never
been more necessary and advantageous than in today’s
modern information age.
By embracing libertarian principles we can remove
the institutional and governmental layers, which interfere
with our ability to deliver this desired excellence to our
children. We can once again honor the original vision of our
Nation as a diverse, independent and sovereign people and return
to an education system that is without equal anywhere in the
Richard Campagna is the Libertarian Party candidate
for Vice-President of the U.S..