End compulsory education for children
The proposed Margin Tax is the latest revenue proposal from the Nevada State Education Association. It is opposed by all small-government candidates. There are many valid reasons to oppose the tax, and there will be many debates centered around the issue in the upcoming election.
What is public education in the first place? How can the promise of a government-funded public education be riddled with so many problems? The news is filled with failures with the education system. The U.S. is ranked low on student achievement, and the school districts that spend the most money per pupil often have the worst results. There is a continuous search for elusive equality.
The push for “universal free compulsory public education” began in the 19th century. It was not an American idea. America was largely home schooled, or taught in locally funded schoolhouses or by private tutors. Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America about farmers who brought classic books to the fields to read when on break. Despite the lack of organized school systems, literacy rates in America were very high. What changed?
Public education began in Prussia, roughly what is Germany today. It was specifically designed to educate for service to the state. Prussia lost a war with France and was organizing itself into a militaristic nation. The ability to take and execute orders was emphasized. Factories organized around work periods dominated by whistles signaling shift times and breaks became the model for students to sit in neat rows and face a teacher who acted like a shift supervisor or a commanding officer. Subjects were to be broken down into separate categories, and bells would signal Johnny to abruptly stop history lessons and take up math.
Horace Mann came to America with the mission of supplanting the American non-systemic education with the Prussian model. If you read the Nevada Constitutional debates you can see how this divided Nevada. Many delegates were ranchers and farmers who didn’t want to see their children gone from the farm for harvest time-the original reason for summer recess. But others simply did not want to surrender their children’s education to the state. When delegate E.F. Dunne from Storey County proposed compulsory public schooling for white children in Nevada—Progressives until relatively recently did not have a desire for racial inclusion—a T.H. Warwick from Lander County replied, “Are you giving larger liberty to Negroes than to whites … white people are compelled to send their children to school, while Negroes are not?”
Warwick spoke eloquently of liberty. He said, “The minute we invade any man’s home, telling him he must do this, or must not do that, seeking to make men good according to our notions of goodness, we are departing … from the fundamental principles of our Republican form of government. … [Y]ou cannot enact laws to compel the education of the people, because the very spirit of our institutions are against it. … Laws to enforce temperance, or compel virtue in any respect, are bad in principle, and bad in practice. … [I]t is not by such laws that morality, virtue and religion are advanced in the world. … [W]e are not living here under a Prussian monarchy.”
Compulsory education was not incorporated into the original Nevada Constitution. Maybe Nevada is not as libertarian as it was in 1864. Perhaps that is why our children are receiving a mediocre education while the educational establishment continuously wants more money to perpetuate their 19th century factory model of pedagogy. It is time for Nevada to go back to its roots to bring education into the 21st century.