Home Schools Remedy Public School Woes, New Book Says

Published July 1, 2005

Review of Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie to Parents and Betray Our Children
by Joel Turtel
New York: Liberty Books, 2005, 387 pages, ISBN 0-9645693-2-9, $17.95

“[T]ake their future into your hands, now.”

That’s Joel Turtel’s blunt message for parents of school-age children in Public Schools, Public Menace. Turtel contends government-run schools have become so dangerous and so completely unable to teach that parents should give up on those schools and look elsewhere–he recommends homeschooling–to educate their kids.

Turtel provides a range of measures indicating the current public school system’s shortcomings. These, he argues, are a result of government control of K-12 education and the suppression of a free-market education system.

“The main reason our public schools fail, and will continue to fail, is because they are a compulsory, government-run, near-total education monopoly,” he writes.

Competition Ensures Accountability

Turtel contrasts the way apologists offer excuses for public schools’ poor performance with the way service providers in the rest of the economy offer the quality of their work as the proper measure of their performance. Whereas poorly performing public schools continue to exist (and in fact typically receive increased funding), a lack of customers soon puts poorly performing service providers out of business.

In a revealing analogy, Turtel speculates on the likely consequences of charging the government with providing adequate food or “No Child Left Hungry.” Under his imaginary plan, a local Food Board would levy food taxes to operate government-owned supermarkets, where tenured civil-service staff would provide publicly funded groceries “free” to their assigned customers. All concerns about food and staff quality, and requests to shop at other stores, would be handled through the Food Board.

“If this system sounds absurd to you,” Turtel asks, “why do you put up with such a system when it comes to your children’s education?”

The book also provides responses to questions parents considering homeschooling often ask about access to curricula, time required, qualifications, socialization, college admission, and other issues.

George A. Clowes ([email protected]) is associate editor of School Reform News.