Absence of coercion in learning and educating

Web Sites

Maybe We Would Be Amazed
Expands on information in Carla Howell's Maybe We Would Be Amazed package
"New posibilities for a child's education ... Facts about government vs. non-government schooling ... Homeschooling ... Cooperatives: How to homeschool without sacrificing your life or your income ... Private schooling"

Web Pages

A project of the Alliance for the Separation of School and State for Christian families
"Mission: Assist Christians to work within their own denominations to alert parents of the staggering loss of faith and morals in children who attend the officially neutral 'public schools,' and help them find ways to move children into Christian education, whether in campus schools or homeschooling."


America's Most Dangerous Politician, by Gary Johnson, Michael W. Lynch, Reason, Jan 2001
Topics discussed include: drugs, why he stopped smoking marijuana, drug legalization, school vouchers, charter schools, road building and tax cuts
"Go down the list of the main criticisms: Vouchers only favor the rich. Baloney! People with money live in good neighborhoods that have good schools. Give me a break. Vouchers are for the poor. Vouchers are for those that don't have money, who live in the worst neighborhoods, go to the worst schools, and can't get away from them. ... Let's just bring competition to public education. This is not about getting rid of public education; it is about providing alternatives that public schools very, very quickly will react to. Public schools will get better if they are subject to competition."
A National Wealth Tax to Fund Education?, by George Leef, 25 Mar 2005
Examines a proposal from Robert Reich to do away with local property taxes and instead levy a national wealth tax to fund public education
"Like all socialist enterprises, “public education” in the United States is very high in cost and very low in positive results ... The teachers are protected by union contracts with piranha-like teeth and they have little incentive to do their best ... Poor people can buy high-quality food, clothing, and other necessities because they get the benefit of a free market in those things. For good education, what they need is a free market in schools. If you really care about the education of children — and not just poor ones — you should forget about new taxes or "reforms" and advocate the separation of school and state. "
Are Southern Baptists About To Abandon Government Schools?, by Steven Yates, 29 May 2004
Examines a resolution proposed by Southern Baptists calling on parents to withdraw their children from the Pharaoh's (government) school system
"... the government schools initially established in Massachusetts by Horace Mann and his Unitarian cohorts followed what has become known as the 'Prussian model,' holding that the individual should be educated into the service of the omnipotent state. ... Nowhere does the U.S. Constitution mention education as a federal responsibility. The Framers considered education to be a matter for states and local communities to undertake."
Islam and the Discovery of Freedom, by George Leef, The Freeman, Sep 1998
Review of the 1997 book, based on Rose Wilder Lane's The Discovery of Freedom, with introduction and commentary by Imad-Ad-Dean Ahmad
"Islamic universities ... were simply places where those with knowledge could sell it to those who desired it. Lane writes, "Men who knew (or thought they knew) something, and wanted to teach it, opened a school to sell their knowledge ..." She contrasts the Islamic approach to education with the European, writing disparagingly of the "European belief that minds acquire knowledge, not by actively seeking to know, but by passively being taught whatever Authority decides that they should know." If you have ever wondered what a true free market in education would be like, this book provides some clues."
Clint Bolick - Hero of the Day, The Daily Objectivist, 2000
Describes Bolick's unusual biographical blurb website at the Institute for Justice as well as his struggles with the educational establishment in Milwaukee (and elsewhere) over school vouchers
"Setting aside the bogus laments of teacher's unions and other bulwarks of the educational establishment, who are motivated by the desire to protect turf, the most challenging criticism of vouchers have come from libertarians who fear the specter of increased government control of private schools, and that vouchers do not represent a way station to complete privatization of schooling but an end game ... Still, vouchers have done a lot to shake up the public school monopoly, and if they're not the final ... answer, they do give plenty of hope to strapped parents whose kids would otherwise be trapped in shoddily performing schools."
Related Topics: Clint Bolick, Wisconsin
Democracy and Government Schools, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Jan 2007
Discusses the current state of government education, including "creative solutions" such as charter schools and vouchers, and the influence of the "religion of democracy" in attaining a real solution
"Charter schools have made inroads in various states, but I wouldn't count them as part of an eroding of state education. ... Likewise vouchers. ... Financed out of the taxpayers' money, these schools can't operate freely as market schools. ... A free market in education requires liberty on both the supply side and the demand side. Entrepreneurs have to be free to offer any education service, subject only to the verdict of parents, who in turn must be free to spend their own (not the taxpayers') money as they wish. Only under these circumstances are schools really accountable to the parents."
Related Topics: Children, Democracy
Freedom of Education, by Jacob Hornberger, Mar 1993
Recounts a potential discussion between an advocate of religious freedom and a proponent of an imagined system of public, i.e., government-sponsored, churches
"Advocate of Religious Freedom: ... I believe that we should repeal all compulsory-attendance laws and church taxes and then sell the public churches to the highest bidder at public auction. Parents should have the freedom and responsibility for rearing their children.
Advocate of Public Churching: Are you crazy? Do you hate religion?"
Freeing the Education Market, by Sheldon Richman, Mar 1993
Examines the effects of compulsory public education on literacy rates and suggests market alternatives
"The urgent solution to the education crisis is the complete separation of school and state. The public schools should be sold to the highest bidder, school taxes scrapped, and compulsory-attendance laws repealed. Anyone should be free to start any kind of school, profit or non-profit, religious or secular. There should be no governmental requirements for curricula or textbooks. Parents should be free to send their children to any kind of school — or to none at all. Laws regarding child labor and apprenticeships should be scrapped. All restrictions on homeschooling should be abolished."
Interview with Adam Smith [via Edwin West], by E. G. West, The Region, Jun 1994
Professor Edwin G. West stands in for Adam Smith and answers questions from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis banking and policy issues magazine
"My point was that where fees are charged, the decision of a parent to transfer an offspring from a less efficient to a more efficient school, places immediate and meaningful pressure on the inferior supplier because the tuition funds automatically follow the child. The principals of US government schools, in contrast, face no such direct economic pressure. Indeed the unions of teachers in such schools usually ensure that when the student population of one school shrinks, jobs for the 'losing' teachers are created elsewhere in the system."
Monopoly, Competition, and Educational Freedom, by Jacob Hornberger, Mar 2000
Reviews monopolies and competition in the religious, postal delivery and educational realms and a speech by Gary Becker on competition in religion and education
"What effect do government licensure requirements have on freedom to enter the private-education market? In the interests of competition, wouldn't the repeal of educational licensure laws be preferable to such reforms as charter schools and vouchers? After all, wouldn't repeal of educational licensure increase competition in the supplying of education as well as reduce (rather than expand) governmental control over education?"
Separating school and state, by Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe, 12 Jun 2005
Presents three recent examples of disagreements between public schools and parents on topics such as sexuality and religion and recommends putting "an end to government control of the schools"
"There is nothing indispensable about a state role in education. Parents don't expect the government to provide their children's food or clothing or medical care; there is no reason why it must provide their schooling. ... Imagine how diverse and lively American education would be if it were liberated from government control."
The Freedom to Reject the Best, by Jim Fedako, Mises Daily, 8 Aug 2006
Discusses a study comparing public and private schools, presenting Consumer Reports magazine having legislative power as analogous to the public school system
"A free market system of education would create for those who seek different options a system that encourages the implementation of the spectrum of educational choices best viewed as experiments, just as each new product, service, store, etc., is a market experiment. The successful experiments become the market standard that new entrepreneurs seek to surpass."
The Global Education Industry: Lessons from Private Education in Developing Countries, by Antony Flew, The Freeman, Sep 2000
Reviews the tittle 1999 book by James Tooley, which includes surveys of "private education alternatives in 13 developing countries" as well as analysis and recommendations
"The findings of this study are astonishing and should prove invaluable to all of those ... who are working to privatize and introduce competition into the provision of education services. ... In 'Equity Issues,' we are unsurprisingly told that for-profit suppliers in developing countries, as in the developed, mainly serve the middle and upper classes. But in developing countries there are also some services geared toward the poor. ... if the private market for education continues to develop, with more and more people paying for just the education they choose, the 'rob the poor to give to the rich' phenomenon will dissipate."
Related Topics: Brazil, India, United Kingdom
The Need for Educational Freedom in the Nation's Capital, by Casey Lartigue, Jr., Policy Analysis, 10 Dec 2002
Examines problems with the District of Columbia Public Schools and suggests alternatives
"Contrary to the claims of defenders of the public school system, DCPS does not lack money. Despite having per-pupil spending that ranks among the highest in the nation—$10,550 for 1999–2000—public school students in the District rank near the bottom on standardized tests and in achievement levels. ... the system lacks qualified teachers, safe facilities, and even basic supplies such as pencils and text-books."
The Trouble with Vouchers, by Joseph Sobran, 11 Sep 1997
Responds to an article by the Denver Archbishop advocating for vouchers, pointing out the problem with such a plan: it "leave[s] the state in charge of all schools"
" Education, after all, is largely thought control. Unthinking people who merely repeat clichés will tell you they are all in favor of the one and absolutely opposed to the other. But it's precisely because schools do control what children and adolescents think that the power of doing so, like most forms of power, should be dispersed in private hands rather than concentrated in the state. ... The correct approach is to get government out of the education business altogether. Education isn't free unless schools can define success on their own terms rather than the state's."
Related Topic: Compulsory Education
The "Value" of Public Schooling, by Jacob Hornberger, Future of Freedom, Nov 2006
Examines public schooling, first comparing it to military boot camp and the draft and then discussing indoctrination
"Under a free-market educational system, however, each family would be free to fashion the education that would fit each child in the family. ... reflect on the fact that many students travel abroad each summer to study nothing but a foreign language and that they study that language for several hours every single day for several weeks at a time. No math or science classes."
Vouchers and Educational Freedom: A Debate, by Joseph Bast, Policy Analysis, 12 Mar 1997
Joseph L. Bast, Heartland Institute president, and David Harmer, former Heritage Foundation researcher, versus Douglas Dewey, National Scholarship Center president
"Bast and Harmer argue that voucher plans would eventually lead to the complete separation of school and state ... Dewey counters that vouchers would not substantially reduce the state's role in education. Indeed, vouchers would create a vast system of government contractors and parents with 'school stamps,' a massive lobby for ever-increasing subsidies. He warns that government money always comes with strings attached."
Vouchers or School Choice?, by Sheldon Richman, 12 Nov 2007
Examines the vote in Utah that refused ratification of a bill on school vouchers, and explains how only education entrepreneurs, free from government interference, can provide real choice and innovation
"Regardless of why Utahans said no, in the long run they have struck a blow for education free of state control. That may seem hard to believe, since the voucher movement promotes itself as being in favor of 'school choice.' But while their hearts are in the right place, their solution won't get them where they want to go. The way to create school choice is not to give the state more excuses to regulate the private schools. That's what vouchers would do. ... The point is to free the system from the dead hand of bureaucracy so that innovation can flourish."
Related Topic: Entrepreneurship
We Need Freedom, Not School Standards, by Sheldon Richman, Jun 1996
Compares the levels of education of Americans before and after 1840, when Horace Mann and others architected "public schools"
"Ironically, the basic problem with the schools is that government has been setting standards for over 150 years. Before about 1840, government had little or nothing to do with education in the United States. It didn't set standards. It didn't tell children how many hours a day, how many days a year, or how many years they had to attend school. Children didn't have to attend school at all! Yet, America was a highly literate society–the most dynamic and enterprising in history. ... When government became involved later in the 19th century, things went downhill."
Related Topics: Children, Government
What's Wrong with Public Schools?, by Sheldon Richman, Separating School & State, 25 Mar 2005
Excerpt from chapter 2 of Separating School & State: How to Liberate Americas Families (1994)
"Public education's dependence on taxation ... will enable us to contrast public schooling with its alternative, free market education (which includes many possibilities, including home schooling). ... In a private education market, parents, if need be, could even send their children to one school to study French and to another to study math. The market is the most flexible arrangement for satisfying consumers that can be imagined. It is precisely that flexibility that is missing in bureaucracy, whether controlled democratically or not."
W(h)ither Public Schools?, by Sheldon Richman, Separating School & State, 1994
Chapter 1, made available online on tenth anniversary of the book's publication; discusses how even mild "public school" reforms are treated as "deadly threats", why a new vision is needed and the role of the family in educating children
"Is anyone happy with the public schools? It seems not. ... The public schools, despite their widely recognized problems, have a mystique that prevents people from imagining life without them. You would think we have always had them. People get nervous hearing any criticism of the schools that sounds fundamental. You may find fault with the schools, of course, and you may propose to tinker with them. But if you even imply that the schools are irretrievably lost or should be changed in some really drastic way, you will stimulate a reflex response and vicious counterattack."
Why Not a Free Market in Education?, by Jacob Hornberger, 25 Mar 2005
Discusses an op-ed by Bill Gates arguing for reforms in the public schools
"At a local level, public schooling consists of a government board of successful politicians. That should make anyone suspicious. The board plans the educational decisions of thousands of children in a top-down, command-and-control process. ... I challenge anyone to come up with a better example of socialism than that."
Winning the Battle for Freedom and Prosperity, by John Mackey, Liberty, Jun 2006
Updated from speech given at FreedomFest 2004; after a brief background on himself, Mackey criticises the freedom movement from a marketing and branding perspective and suggests a different approach by de-emphasising some issues and prioritising others
"What would happen with true competition in school choice, with students and parents becoming truly empowered consumers instead of virtual prisoners and slaves, as they are in the socialized system that exists today? ... We would see incredible diversity in types of schools and styles of education meeting the diverse needs and desires of students and parents, instead of the dictates of the educational bureaucracy and teachers' unions."


Education: Free & Compulsory
    by Murray Rothbard, 1972
Table of contents: The Individual's Education - Compulsory Education in Europe - Compulsory Education in the United States
Separating School & State: How to Liberate America's Families
    by Sheldon Richman, The Future of Freedom Foundation, 1994
Partial table of contents: W(h)ither Public Schools? - What's Wrong With Public Schools - Why There Are Public Schools - Opponents of Public Schools - Without Public Schools - Appendix: The State of Public Schools
Voucher Wars: Waging the Legal Battle over School Choice
    by Clint Bolick, Cato Institute, 2003
Contents: Introduction - Laying the Groundwork - Polly - False Starts - And Then There Were Five - Valley Forge - One in the Bank - A Blizzard of Decisions - Battles Within and Without - The Road to the Supremes - D-Day - The Road Ahead - Lessons


Marshall Fritz on the Separation of School and State, by Marshall Fritz, 1996
Recording of talk given at the 1996 International Society of Individual Liberty conference held in Canada; Fritz explains why government, tax-funded education is detrimental to liberty and what parents can do about it
Schools of Thought in Classical Liberalism, Part 2: Milton Friedman and the Chicago School, by Nigel Ashford, 9 May 2012
Short video, with transcript; discusses the answers to the question "What is the proper role of government?" from the viewpoint of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of economics
"Friedman believes that ... governments have these responsibilities, but as far as possible, they should use market mechanisms to achieve these ends.So for example, it is a responsibility of government to make sure every child is educated, but that does not mean that government has to provide the schools. Government, for example, could give vouchers or some form of school choice, private schools, but parents can chose whichever school they want to go to."

We Don't Need No (Public) Education: Sheldon Richman on the Separation of School and State, by Sheldon Richman, Reason TV, 25 Apr 2011
Sheldon discusses unschooling, home schooling, private schools and criticises school "choice"