by Al Benson Jr.
I can recall, thinking back years ago now, that my friend and Mentor. Pastor Ennio Cugini, had talked about what needed to be done to ensure real educational freedom in this country. He mentioned two specific things I still remember. He said that you needed to get rid of compulsory attendance laws in the various states. At one point, years ago, the state of Mississippi had done that, but somewhere along the line that got changed so that Mississippi became just like the other states.
I had never heard of anyone else that advocated that except Pastor Cugini. He was ahead of his time, as he was on many other issues. It was and still is a fact that the majority of the property tax in most states goes to find the public schools. I’ve seen some people’s property tax bills here and there and almost without exception, somewhere between two thirds and three quarters of the property tax they paid went to fund the public schools. Pastor Cugini advocated that only those who use the public schools should have to pay this and not everyone else. I agree with him–and neither of us was a big fan of the property tax.
The property tax shows you who really owns the property you live on. Fail to pay the property tax and government at some level can take “your” property away from you. The prevailing theory here is that government really owns it all and the property tax you pay is your yearly rent for the use of some of it.
But, in regard to education, I ran across an article on https://fee.org for back on April 2, 2019 by Kerry McDonald that took compulsory schooling laws to task. McDonald is a senior education editor at FEE, with an ME in education from Harvard. She wrote: “Someone asked me recently if I could wave a magic wand and do one thing to improve American education what would it be. Without hesitation, I replied: ‘Eliminate state compulsory schooling statutes. Stripping the state of its power to define and control education under a legal threat of force is a necessary step in pursuit of education freedom and parental empowerment…While it’s true that some parents may have access to government schooling alternatives, many states require private schools to receive authorization in order to operate…Homeschoolers in most states must comply with state or local reporting mandates that is some areas require homeschoolers to take standardized tests or meet state-determined curriculum requirements. Those hoops are for those lucky enough to jump out of compulsory mass schooling.'”
McDonald went into the history of compulsory attendance laws somewhat as she noted: “Indeed, between 1820 and 1840, Boston’s population more than doubled, and most of these newcomers were poor Irish Catholic immigrants escaping Ireland’s deadly potato famine. They challenged the dominant Anglo-Saxon norms of the time, prompting many state leaders to lobby for a new compulsory schooling statute that would mandate children’s attendance in state-controlled public schools.” One editor wrote in 1851 that: “Nothing can operate effectually here but stringent legislation, thoroughly carried out by an efficient police; the children must be gathered up and forced into school ,and those who resist or impede this plan, whether parents or priests, must be held accountable and punished.” Sounds like Massachusetts was operating on the premise that the children belonged to the state rather than to the parents. We have similar situations today all across the country.
And so McDonald concludes that: “The first step to restore education freedom and empower parents with choice and opportunity for their children is to eliminate compulsory schooling laws that authorize state control of education. States could still require cities and towns to provide public schools to those who want them, but the power to compel parents to send their children there would disappear. In its place, a decentralized network of educational opportunities (including, but not limited to, various types of schooling) would unfold, fueled by visionary parents, educators, and entrepreneurs. Parents, not the state, would decide how and when their children are educated…Education freedom begins when government compulsion ends.” I think she’s right on the money. After all, the kids belong to their parents as God ordained it, and not to the state as man tries to ordain it.