Public schools are supposed to provide a good education for our children. More often than not, they don't. Each year public schools graduate more and more students who are unable to read, write, or do basic arithmetic. Our children's talents are wasted because we continue to trust politicians to do this important job. Politicians have had decades to fix these problems, and they haven't been able to do so.
In recent years, government involvement in education has grown rapidly. At the same time, the quality of the education offered to most public school students has gone down. We are finding, as with so many other government efforts, that throwing more money or more regulations at this problem does not fix it. The best way to end the crisis in education is to deal with the main cause — government involvement.
The politicians who run the public schools have created new regulations and mandated new programs. These are imposed on local schools. We have more bureaucracy and less innovation. We have more red tape and less creativity. More resources are spent on these matters. The cost of education goes up. The quality of education goes down.
Many public schools have become dangerous places for our children. The news is filled with reports of drug use, rapes, assaults, and murders in our schools. It's difficult to expect a child to learn in a place where the child does not feel safe. Yet most families have no choice but to send their children to the local public school, no matter how dangerous.
It's no surprise that poor children suffer the most under the current system. Wealthy parents can afford to send their children to better or safer schools. Poor parents have no choice. Their children generally end up in the schools with the worst problems. These children end up at a public school, which is obligated to accept every local student, even those who are not interested in learning or who have a reputation for being disruptive or dangerous. The current system traps poor children in poor schools. This is just one reason that many parents have given up hope that their children will escape the poverty they have known.
To solve a crisis, you must recognize and eliminate its cause. The crisis in education is no different. The most important step is to end government control of education. We must move toward a system where parents have good, safe, affordable choices for educating their children.
To transfer control of education from bureaucrats to parents and teachers and encourage alternatives to the public school monopoly, the Libertarian Party would:
- Support a true market in education — one in which parents and students would not be stuck with a bad local school, because they could choose another.
- Implement measures such as tax credits so that parents will have the financial ability to choose among schools.
- Provide financial incentives for businesses to help fund schools and for individuals to support students other than their own children.
- Eliminate the U.S. Department of Education, which spends billions on education and educates no one. The growth of this agency and its numerous regulations is a major reason for runaway costs in American schools.