Compulsory Education Should Be Eliminated Essay

1723 words - 7 pages

March 25, 2012

Compulsory Education Should be Eliminated

Compulsory education has a long-standing history in the United States. Many people in our society, especially public school teachers, administrators, and education association officials, believe it should remain in place. However, many parents and students would agree that forcing students to attend school, especially poorly run public schools, creates more problems than it is worth. It costs our state and its taxpayers billions of dollars each year, and many critics claim that students graduate unprepared for higher education and employment. For these, and several other reasons, compulsory education laws should be ...view middle of the document...

It is interesting to note that in 1849, only about 5% of Boston’s children were truant from school without compulsory attendance laws. Most of the children were attending school even though they were not forced to (Blumenfield, Part 2).
One of the earliest objections to compulsory education was voiced by Thomas Jefferson, who stated: “It is better to tolerate the rare instance of a parent refusing to let his child be educated, than to shock the common feelings and ideas by the forcible transportation and education of the infant against the will of the father” (in Rothbard, Arguments For and Against sections, ¶ 1). Many others also believed it was the parents’ right to educate their children as they saw fit, and government should not interfere. The fight for compulsory education in Pennsylvania took at least three attempts over five years, because the governors believed that forcing parents to educate their children in public schools was un-American.
Some of the goals of compulsory education provided by the state were controversial. Many people wanted their children to receive a religion-based education, which was prohibited early on in public schools. Some early supporters of compulsory education believed that children should be considered the property of the State, not their parents, and therefore should be educated by the state. Many people objected to the idea of teaching children conformity and obedience to authority, which was part of the plan of many of the educational leaders of the time, such as Archibald D. Murphey of North Carolina and Reverend Jeremy Belknap of New Hampshire. On the extreme edge of the egalitarian push for education were Francis Wright and Robert Dale Owen, who were early Socialists in the United States. They wanted to remove children from their families at the age of two and place them in educational institutions, where they would reside twenty-four hours a day. Parents would have visiting rights, but the children would be completely raised at the state-run institution (Rothbard).
While listening to the media in today’s society, it is clear that public schools are not meeting the earlier goals of literacy for all students. Many people believe, in fact, that public education is actually harming our young people. Samuel Blumenfield states: “…the present situation in which the state has assumed the function of educator, at great
expense to the taxpayer, with…laws and regulations forcing population to patronize a system that is turning out functional illiterates by the millions” (Part 1, ¶ 11). He reports that approximately 26 million Americans are illiterate. The American education system is plagued with issues: SAT scores are dropping, students aren’t interested in science and math, dropout rates are increasing dramatically, and many students are apathetic about school and their future.
There are many reasons that public education is not successfully educating America’s children. ...

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