OPINION — Washington County School District is asking voters yet again to approve a school bond, only this time it’s being sold as “tax neutral.” The latest fad are incremental bonds that specify “only x amount a month!” I’m opposed to all school bonds and bonds in general, but not for the reason you may think.
Let’s approach schooling from an 18th century Son of Liberty perspective in order to root out three principles from American history. We’re talking about colonial Boston, let’s start with a tea party.
Tea was more then a British beverage in 18th century Boston. Water was not safe to consume often causing sickness, leaving both ale and tea as primary options due to boiling processes. All colonialists knew was if they drank tea, they wouldn’t get sick. Over time, the medicinal plant providing relief for so many was the source of onerous regulation resulting in a tea monopoly appointment by then Governor Hutchinson to only three people.
Hutchinson ruled as a British loyalist and many rebels despised him for it. How despised was he? Picture a present-day Bostonian inserting himself in a Utah governor race with phony talking points claiming Utah values. Constituents couldn’t stomach the level of disingenuousness and the stage was set as a tea import racket on an island of 7,000 was controlled by a family everyone hates.
On Dec, 16, the Sons of Liberty held a meeting at the Old South meeting house. On the night of Dec 16, 1773, three ship’s full of tea sat in the Boston harbor. In an act of defiance, men dressed as Indians dumped an estimated 92,000 lbs of tea into the waters. As for Hutchinson, he was tarred and feathered multiple times for incompetence.
Boston Tea Party participants weren’t protesting excess taxes on an imported British beverage, they were protesting the power structures control over their lives.
A few of the agitators are household names: John Hancock was a smuggling powerhouse determined to bust the tea monopoly. Samuel Adams (who had nothing to do with beer) the formally bad tax collector turned Boston’s first rabble-rouser also known as a politician today. Benjamin Franklin was a Boston boy too. All three attended the first public school in America. Founded in 1635, Boston Latin School was a free and open school. Indians were taught gratis. Primary texts were the Bible and the law. Pupils learned in Classical antiquity while Boston enjoyed an astonishing 92 percent literacy rate!
Protesting became palpable as the populace engaged the political process. In addition, a passion for law and morality, which enough colonists comprehended due to their desire to obtain knowledge. The two principles are interconnected.
If the colonists lacked the ability to articulate rights possessed, how would they defend against British tyranny? For it was this crop of men and others, cultivated out of a humble, one-room schoolhouse, which laid the pivotal groundwork. The American Revolution began in Boston. All Philly has is a bell, and it’s broken.
Fortitude to push back overreaching government, coupled with wisdom of the law fused with moral truths shrouded in the Classics, brings us to the last principle: execution. Their chance came soon enough as those ruled dug deep into the core with a message for their rulers. A courageous dual between writs of assistance versus natural rights was brewing.
Writs of assistance were broad search warrants utilized by British officials to search homes and businesses of colonists. Boston was ground zero for these types of offenses. Often used in locating smuggled goods, they served as legal means to ransack homes, ships, or other property for any reason. Proving probable cause wasn’t required.
James Otis was a Massachusetts native and voracious defender of natural rights of Africans in addition to condemning slavery. Well ahead of his time, he also challenged the constitutionally of writs of assistance before the Massachusetts supreme court. After years of deliberation, Otis lost the case, which was heavily influenced by none other than the infamous Chief Justice Thomas Hutchinson.
Otis exclaimed in 1761, “I will to my dying day oppose, with all the powers and faculties God has given me, all such instruments of slavery on the one hand, and villainy on the other, as this writ of assistance is.”
Enter public schooling today.
A portion of this year’s school bond goes towards “security enhancements.” In the name of safety, students right to be secure in their possessions unfortunately do not extend on school property. If the need should arise pupils are questioned and searched without parental representation. This curtailment of juveniles rights is often blamed on the business of running a school and enforcing order. Security cameras are becoming the norm providing constant surveillance.
It wasn’t until my son recounted how his school resource officer threatened class with a home visit in the event of ditching school I realized school bullying assembles are in vain if the message doesn’t apply equally to students and faculty. More often than not, schooling employs elements of force.
Force conflicts with God given agency, lest we forgot a child is not a commodity, but a living breathing human. When external needs go unmet, prolonged force can extinguish that tiny flame equipped inside young souls. Each requires the right amount of desire, or curiosity, or passion or love in order to burn effectively. As unique sons and daughters of God, sacrifice is required. Parents seek divine power in harnessing the necessary elements and nurturing the flame.
In 1849, Frederick Bastiat had the following to say in “What is Money?”:
The most urgent necessity is, not that the State should teach, but that it should allow education. All monopolies are detestable, but the worst of all is the monopoly of education.
The solution to overcrowding public schools isn’t building more schools, its building more choice. Give parents freedom and flexibility to choose their education pathway. Ideally, releasing taxpayers from school property tax obligations who desire pursuing other forms of education like homeschooling, unschooling or online courses is critical.
Direct federal and state monies earmarked for education back where they came: the people’s pockets. We are better stewards of our own money then government. A schooling exodus knocks down barriers of entry, provides families more dollars for education, and creates new markets.
In addition to school monopoly busting, both online and traditional brick and mortar classrooms can experience success in an ever expanding market where competition would flow again as companies and groups cater to varied educational needs and wants of individuals.
John Dickinson of Delaware delivered a critique of innovation proposals or policies not rooted in American tradition during the Philadelphia Convention when he proclaimed, “Experience must be our only guide, reason may mislead us.”
While schooling falls under the purview of State, never conflate schooling with education. Schooling happens in school and is compulsory by nature. Learning can occur anytime, anywhere, as a lifelong process.
While opting out of public education physically (asking permission not to be taxed when consent was never given) presents multifaceted dilemmas relating to budgets and funding, opting out symbolically is very much doable. Each time a school bond is voted down taxpayers reaffirm educational choice is valued over forced taxation and schooling. Standing arm in arm at state legislature chambers signaling “We want out” is the starting point in charting your child’s educational destiny.
The founders accessed the precise foundation required enabling the overthrow of despotic rulers. Schooling today no longer resembles comparable knowledge disseminated from one-room schoolhouses.
Top-down, one-size-fits-all policies handed down from bureaucrats shackle both gifted and special needs. Age-segregation inhibits mentor-ships. Wisdom and morality have been exchanged for work force training. Change occurs daily all around us, yet schooling prevents children from engaging the world as classrooms remain relatively unchanged year after year.
A small force turned the tables in Boston which greatly impacted the course of our nation. The Sons of Liberty were small in number. The Boston Latin School was small—I hear they didn’t even have a STEM program! James Otis was one individual.
Flexible Education Spending Accounts (FSA) provide one avenue towards education freedom. FSA’s operate similar to medical HSA’s. An FSA is a portion of education dollars appropriated for schooling diverted towards a child’s education. Funds can be used for a variety of needs, including online classes, curriculum, or materials. Parents choose.
Although regulated, spending accounts do contain elements of freedom. Utah hopes to join several other states who currently offer FSA’s. A new bill will be introduced soon.
Educational choice shifts the burden of raising resilient kids back on parents heads where it belongs. Markets would expand offering everything from guidance mentoring via Skype to world experience where children and parents spend unforgettable moments together learning in foreign lands. Self-directed education provides learning while preserving agency. Apprenticeships for teenagers would come back. Or, perhaps a “home centered” curriculum sounds tempting. Where have I heard that phrase before?
Market driven reforms would benefit public schools by increasing school transparency and quality. Invoke real competition leading to decreased waste. Opportunities would exist for local teachers to enter private sector teaching. Education moves closer in the direction of individualized learning.
Each of us should be actively fighting for a world where we have better ways of signaling value creation. Multiple paths. Multiple means. Choice.
Submitted by RYAN SCHUDDE, St. George, Utah.
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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.