State Should Not Fully Abandon Education

Published March 6, 2007

Dear Editor:

In “A call for separation of school and state” (March 4), columnist Jeff Jacoby astutely diagnoses what ails government-controlled education: winner-take-all politics in a society no longer united as to what schools should teach.

But his prescription would have severe side-effects. Absolute separation of school and state would render millions of low- and moderate-income families unable to afford schooling unless they were fortunate enough to find charity.

A different prescription could preserve universal education as a societal obligation while advancing individual freedom: Subsidize parents, not bureaucracies. Let parents use their share of public money to choose the school–private, parochial, or public–that offers the values and education they want for their children. That prescription would spread liberty without killing public education.

Robert Holland ([email protected]) is senior fellow for education policy at The Heartland Institute.