The libertarian prescription to the education mess

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The libertarian prescription for our educational mess can, then, be summed up simply: Get the government out of the educational process. The government has attempted to indoctrinate and mould the nation's youth through the public school system, and to mould the future leaders through State operation and control of higher education. Abolition of compulsory attendance laws would end the schools' role as prison custodians of the nation's youth, and would free all those better off outside the schools for independence and for productive work. The abolition of the public schools would end the crippling property tax burden and provide a vast range of education to satisfy all the freely exercised needs and demands of our diverse and varied population. The abolition of government schooling would end the unjust coerced subsidy granted to large families, and, often, toward the upper classes and against the poor. The miasma of government, of moulding the youth of America in the direction of the State, would be replaced by freely chosen and voluntary actions – in short, by a genuine and truly free education, both in and out of formal schools.

~ Murray Rothbard, For a New Liberty, Chapter 7

http://mises.org/rothbard/newlibertywhole.asp#p119

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FrankChodorov
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Wouldn't we do better to duplicate proven, successful models that seem to work really well around the globe? Models that have put us in 26th and 27th place in math and science?

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

The end of public education means the end of universal education.

Not only would children from poor families be put at risk, but so, too, would special needs children, who cost a lot to educate.

Without universal education, democracy becomes meaningless.

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Nguarorerue
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Jan. 11, 2011 12:44 pm

Who has a better education system and what do they do differently?

chilidog
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I can't speak for poly, but I would observe that American society has an anti-intellectual cultural bias, while other cultures (Asian, German, Slavic) value and reward intellectual achievements.

When an American calls somebody a "college boy," it is not a compliment.

Consequently, Americans will never achieve the sorts of intellectual accomplishments one finds elsewhere, irrespective of how we structure our public and private schools.

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Nguarorerue
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Quote polycarp2:

Wouldn't we do better to duplicate proven, successful models that seem to work really well around the globe? Models that have put us in 26th and 27th place in math and science?

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

"The United States was founded, formed and grew to international prominence and prestige without compulsory schooling and with virtually no government involvement in schooling. Before the advent of government-controlled schools, literacy was high (91-97% in the North, 81% in the South), private and community schools proliferated, and people cared about education and acted on their desire to learn and have their children learn."

from The Separation of School and State Website.

http://www.schoolandstate.org/case.htm

I would consider that a proven, successful model. The main reason public schools, which were modeled on the Prussian system, were started in the U.S. was to create a compliant citizenry.

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John Dewey was not a Prussian in any sense.

The education needs in the 20th Century were different than in the 19th. The amount of education required for an average decent job is now more than a high school degree. Successful countries have free public education through college, with stipends in many cases. They recognize that having lots of educated "college boys and girls" makes everyone more prosperous.

They make the good investments and do not drag their graduates with huge debts. Those debts prevent many from going into public service, to our loss.

The idea that public education "indoctrinates" is based on several partisan perspectives. There is no question that socialization is a major function of public education and that it smooths out differences and bridges gaps of bias. If you are a religious fundamentalist, you have good reason to fear that your children will encounter others who do not hold the same beliefs.

But the point is that you want to live in this society and are not creating your own separate community of withdrawal. Therefor, we have a major stake in socializing your children to live and work well with others. If you have not learned how to do that, you will be another theocratic jerk in public. It goes beyond freedom of conscience and tolerance.

I would also agree that the Liberal North had a vision of America that was embedded in the curriculum. The history taught was in praise of White Men of WASP persuasion, and "America" was catechized as their patriotic heritage and mission. The difference is that the Northern civil vision had a place for everyone to participate equally and only asked a faith in democracy, not any religious test.

The Southern version defines the moral covenant with God and puts the brand on America as a religious Manifestly Destined nation. It is about believing the right things and opposing the wrong things, mostly about sex apart from the God and Flag conjunction. It is not a model community in any political sense that is proposed. It is the "holy community" defined by anti-gay, and anti-abortion. Justice is not a consideration as personal charity is always the way people get taken care of. This is the State as the Church.

The most serious attack on public education came with the Reagan Greed Culture and the Get the Good Job Panic for parents and kids. Instead of learning communities and discovery learning, the curriculum became packed with technical "learning." Math and science, lots of quantifiable knowledge and the stuff that workers need to have jobs, not the kind of thing that inspires anyone to vocation. There is no time for any personal narrative other than the job search. From kindergarten on.

Then came the attack on revenue combined with the incredible waste of war and empire. Public schools are the only taxes many people get to vote on. Many have beaten up the schools in anger about being taxed for war. It is hard to take it out on the Pentagon.

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@Frank: As the US Federal Government has had an Education policy since March 18th, 1792, as signed into law by President George Washington, the statements of that website are incredibly obsolete, as the last time it's claims were valid was under the Articles of Confederation.

As the US has had a comprehensive Federal Education program under the Office of Education, then the Bureau of Education, and now the Department of Education, save for a period in the 1970's when Nixon managed to axe the department, but Carter reinstated it in 1980. So, with over 200 years of Federally regulated education, that websites basic claim is false on it's face.

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downix
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Oct. 12, 2010 10:04 am

Let's get America on the Catholic-School standard nationwide with debt free vouchers.

Then America would kick ass in education again.

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Volitzer
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"The libertarian prescription to the education mess"

Oxymoron?

Public education is a necessity in a democracy.....not necessarily with our current system however.

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I should point out that the countries with the largest rates of illiteracy have ineffective/nonexistent governments:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_literacy_rate

And those stateless situations have been in place for a long, long time... it would appear to me that if what Frank C. said is true, surely at least ONE of these countries could achieve a literacy rate higher than, say, Cuba or Russia.

ptron
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote ptron:

I should point out that the countries with the largest rates of illiteracy have ineffective/nonexistent governments:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_literacy_rate

And those stateless situations have been in place for a long, long time... it would appear to me that if what Frank C. said is true, surely at least ONE of these countries could achieve a literacy rate higher than, say, Cuba or Russia.

How do you explain the high literacy rates in the U.S. before 1850? Before that time, there was almost no government involvement in education.

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Quote FrankChodorov:

How do you explain the high literacy rates in the U.S. before 1850? Before that time, there was almost no government involvement in education.

What, exactly, were those rates before 1850? My great-great-great-great grandfather signed his Revolutionary War pension with an "X" in 1830.

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The polls Frank lies to us with were polls taken just of white people in urban populations. All of them had money, enough to afford school, and they rarely included rates of "minority" populations or rural populations. In fact, prior to the Civil War, it was ILLEGAL to teach blacks to read and write. After the civil war, only those who could afford school went to school, leaving most of the minorities out of the opportunity. And even if they could read or write, they knew little else, having only learned to read and write from parents, sometimes only being able to write their own name. They knew nothing of history, mathematics, or science. Yet still, they considered them "literate", using it as an excuse to justify letting them fall further through the cracks.

Once again, we have Frank the Traitor lying to us.

He wants private schools only, which are far more expensive than public schools, so he can suppress the population and further his own greedy ideology. He merely attempts to UNDERMINE this country and government for his own ends, even though we would fall even further behind other countries by taking any of his advice. He is a traitor and does not care about this country, only his ability to subject people he hates and has prejudice over before him.

Any country that hasn't any public schools has a far inferior work force and far inferior country, and he knows this. But his hatred is what makes him the traitor, becuase he is willing to let America become a third world nation as long as he can abuse others he has bias over. Racists like Frank deserve to kicked out of this nation for the traitors they are.

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I want to Separate Education and State just like our ancestors separated Church and State. In fact, the same arguments can be used for and against the latter as the former.

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Quote FrankChodorov:
Quote ptron:

I should point out that the countries with the largest rates of illiteracy have ineffective/nonexistent governments:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_literacy_rate

And those stateless situations have been in place for a long, long time... it would appear to me that if what Frank C. said is true, surely at least ONE of these countries could achieve a literacy rate higher than, say, Cuba or Russia.

How do you explain the high literacy rates in the U.S. before 1850? Before that time, there was almost no government involvement in education.

False, there has been Federal involvement in education since the 1790's, as pointed out above. Ignoring facts in order to try and prove a point only makes the argument look foolish.

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Quote jim of Binghamton:

The polls Frank lies to us with were polls taken just of white people in urban populations. All of them had money, enough to afford school, and they rarely included rates of "minority" populations or rural populations. In fact, prior to the Civil War, it was ILLEGAL to teach blacks to read and write. After the civil war, only those who could afford school went to school, leaving most of the minorities out of the opportunity. And even if they could read or write, they knew little else, having only learned to read and write from parents, sometimes only being able to write their own name. They knew nothing of history, mathematics, or science. Yet still, they considered them "literate", using it as an excuse to justify letting them fall further through the cracks.

Once again, we have Frank the Traitor lying to us.

He wants private schools only, which are far more expensive than public schools, so he can suppress the population and further his own greedy ideology. He merely attempts to UNDERMINE this country and government for his own ends, even though we would fall even further behind other countries by taking any of his advice. He is a traitor and does not care about this country, only his ability to subject people he hates and has prejudice over before him.

Any country that hasn't any public schools has a far inferior work force and far inferior country, and he knows this. But his hatred is what makes him the traitor, becuase he is willing to let America become a third world nation as long as he can abuse others he has bias over. Racists like Frank deserve to kicked out of this nation for the traitors they are.

He ignores facts which does not fit his viewpoint.

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downix
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Exactly what 1790s policy are you talking about.

Compulsory Attendance policies did not occur until about 1840-1900 in this country (each state adopted their own policy one at a time during this broad period).

The possible reason for the claimed 94% literacy rate?

1. Only a small number of people we counted. It did not include African Americans, probably Irish, Native Americans, the disabled and a number of other minority groups. (possibly women).

2. Record keeping, in general, was not so good.

3. The demographic in terms of geographical region and class was probably extremely limited.

4. The statistical method to calculate it was not valid and the study probably conducted by a freemarket think tank rather than an independent, peer reviewed academic.

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 9:00 pm

Government has been involved in education for a long, long, time. Providing free public land for the purpose goes way, way back.

"The oldest school to hold land-grant status presently is Rutgers University, founded in 1766 and designated the land-grant college of New Jersey in 1864."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land-grant_university

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease:"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Our forefathers dreamed of the day that this nation could "graduate" up to public education. Thomas Jefferson called for it as the direction to go towards, and he was right. Too bad these traitors can not understand the wonder of our greatest forefathers, and how their vision was the right one.

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jim of Binghamton
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MURRAY ROTHBARD?? For crissakes, "This isn't a Libertarian free market message board here on The Thom Hartmann Program!!"

Don't go away mad, just go away.

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Apr. 5, 2010 9:24 am

It keeps us up on the lunatics.

I described what good education takes earlier, and it is simple. The students need to feel cared for and about as persons. If that is present, learning can happen and the curiosity of the learners will drive the curriculum. Nobody will need to go to the whip to get students to do the work.

They will need to learn what quality work takes, but that comes as your early efforts turn out to lead you into deeper waters and as what you think you are seeing is not what others see. We learn collegially, not just individually. But we grow in our own personhood and follow our own questions if education is doing its job.

This is not how the current system is working, and criticizing public schools for me is about having great public schools instead of less than adequate ones. While some private experiments can offer alternative models, and others can provide the parochial or "special needs" of a few, the social value of social integration in shared public education cannot be served by the private schools. If the public schools establish that culture and socialization, private schools can work with it.

The great problem of private schools is that they serve the elite and keep them isolated from "real" Americans. Somewhat the same problem occurs where private schools teach ideologies and myths to people who want to live, work, play and vote among us. They fail to get the church/state thing at all.

Frank, the separation of school and "state" has to do with sovereignty of function, not with isolation. Public schools are intensely local, so the idea that the fed is indoctrinating the nation is a bit far fetched. Because schools are the last best experience of democracy left, including their administration and support, school taxes become a serious bone of contention. They become the symbol of all tax unfairness and having to pay our teachers is where we can hit back at the banksters in our delusion and confusion. That is where anger blinds.

I wish our public education were less job driven, but I wish our whole culture and politics had any vision beyond a crooked bottom line. Blaming the schools for the failure of our society from the top is silly. The reforms that will work flourish in democracy even if they are hard to initiate when money is running us. Letting money run us is bad economics as well as bad education policy. The issue is democracy. Public schools are on the side of democracy, and that is why the Right attacks them. The Right hates democracy.

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You're referring to a college. The discussion about about public schooling for minors. There was almost no gov't involvement in that area until the 1850's.

Of course, I oppose the government's stealing of land, probably from American Indians, and giving to away to set up colleges.

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While the purity of your ideology and your commitment to the rights of those living in America before the White Man is commendable, the Indians did not "own" the land and were very civil in many cases to sharing it with whomever showed up in peace.

The issue of public education needs to include college today to get anywhere near what it meant when employment did not require certified education. Having "free" public education allows all access to the infrastructure of prosperity as well as many other pleasures and community interests. Our university system brings in something like 20:1 in dollars to taxpayer investment. We could get more by investing more even if the ration declined. Education more than pays for itself when not required to finance itself as if it were an expense.

It did take a while for the Public School Movement to gain ground, so your statistics cover for a period of intense organizing and interest in having public schools. It is like claiming that the Civil Rights Movement only became influential when the laws changed. The dream of universal public education making access to the American Dream equal for all is hardly mind control. Even education for participation in a democracy fails to be ideological warping or propaganda. If you want me to reject the teaching of monarchism in our schools, you might have a point.

That is what I reject in many "private" schools for the education of the sabotage of democracy. Theocracy and the politics of conscience on the one hand, and money and the protection of inherited wealth on the other. If I did not have to live with the products of these catechetical academies as fellow citizens, it might not matter that they hate democracy.

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Yes our education is Prussian based a la Horace Mann etc. Read books by John Taylor Gatto for some of the background. Also, I blog about it at 3rseduc.blogspot.com our education system models Prussia to the T, Even NCLB does, we just replaced kings with corporations.

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Mar. 13, 2011 5:21 pm

Public education in the past has been used to create a compliant population of willing factory workers. That does not in and of itself negate the need...the necessity of public education. Just as government isn't bad...only bad government is bad....public education needs to be modeled after more successful educational paradigms. Paying teachers what they are worth would be a good start.

Take a given public institution...appoint incompetent cronies and sycophants to run them...when said institution fails....announce the futility of public institutions and agitate for private take over. Corporatocracy 101.

Public education is a requirement for a successful democracy.

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Kids back then read Shakespeare in grade 5, but Prussian Education brought in "whole language" reading instead of phonics or a blended system. The Prussian system -in Prussia at least -was free compulsory education but took the bottom 94% and gave them this education (top 6% got some kind of private ed) with this whole language reading. That way people would learn to read but not read great. They featured basal readers with set vocabulary, sight words, and stories blanched of things except words "at the student level" and "including sight words". Look in any elementary reading book today in America and guess what you see? The same thing Prussia had. We just finally got our head out of our..... and added phonics but we stil ldo sight words and "blanched" stories,reminds me of Owellian Newspeak. I worked at an elementary "Reading First" school in grade 5 and was told students were not allowed to read on their own, they had to be read to, they weren't "able" to read and needed "phonics and abc cards" in class. The stories had newspeak...oops I mean sight words which were inserted into a stoy, often changing the classic story a bit to fit these sight words. Really realy scary and sad. Not to toot my own horn but I believe I recount my experiences in my blog at http://3rseduc.blogspot.com  and if not, it is on my agenda to do just that.

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Ooooops I had a few typos, sorry...I was burping a newborn, typing, having a meal...the usual multitasking mother duties.

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3rseduc
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SURE!

GET RID OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS!

A person should be FREE to decide for themselves if they want to be bothered with an education.

They should be allowed to start working in a career as early as they want. If they start sweeping floors at 10 years old then they can be the CEO by 30 RIGHT!?

They won't need to learn to read until they need to sign the big checks they will be handing out to all of their adoring associates, Hell what am I saying, who needs to be able to read or write when you can hire some lacky to do it for you.

Work hard, put your shoulder to the wheel, nose to the grind stone, climb that corporate ladder.

Thats how to do it!

The tower of Babble.

God came to see their city and the tower they were building. He perceived their intentions, and in His infinite wisdom, He knew this "stairway to heaven" would only lead the people away from God. He noted the powerful force within their unity of purpose. As a result, God confused their language, causing them to speak different languages so they would not understand each other. By doing this, God thwarted their plans. He also scattered the people of the city all over the face of the earth.Who is playing GOD This week?I Almost never quote the Bible but in light of the current socio political conditions in America this seemed apropriate.E pluribus unum, Out of many, one Divide and conquer (derived from the Latin saying Divide et impera).The true light of reality is simple.

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MA'AT
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Jul. 6, 2010 5:45 pm

I believe John Taylor Gatto offers "The Underground History of American Education" for free on his website, http://johntaylorgatto.com/.

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Quote MA'AT:

SURE!

GET RID OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS!

A person should be FREE to decide for themselves if they want to be bothered with an education.

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." -- Mark Twain.
Education and schooling are not the same thing.
Quote MA'AT:

They should be allowed to start working in a career as early as they want. If they start sweeping floors at 10 years old then they can be the CEO by 30 RIGHT!?

Parents and children should decide the education setting. Who says that a child's goal should be to be a CEO? Let each person find their own path.

Quote MA'AT:

They won't need to learn to read until they need to sign the big checks they will be handing out to all of their adoring associates, Hell what am I saying, who needs to be able to read or write when you can hire some lacky to do it for you.

People can learn to read and write without government schools, or any schools for that matter.

Quote MA'AT:

Work hard, put your shoulder to the wheel, nose to the grind stone, climb that corporate ladder.

Again. Why do you assume that I want people to be a cog in the corporate structure just because I oppose mandatory youth indoctrination camps, called public schools?

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FrankChodorov
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Dec. 23, 2010 6:00 am

Frank, if your goal is to have locally controlled schools instead of the federal public school system, you have it. There is no federal public school system or coordinated propaganda from on high. I think there a number of things wrong with the way we are going about public education today, but the problem is not that there is government involved or that the feds are part of the picture.

If the issue is pedagogy and curriculum, let's talk about reading and how the natural curiosity and narrative frame of the student is nurtured instead of "coerced." Let's get at the "suitcase for life" curriculum that crushes the natural questions and imposes a list of learnings for later in life. How are students supposed to make sense of material they will "need later?" I think it makes them dependent upon what their teachers tell them rather than what they discover. I would join with critics of this pedagogy. But most of my allies in this issue are teachers.

I want parents involved, but I want teachers in charge of the classroom. Parents and the school board tend to have amateur ideas about teaching and learning, and when they attack the teachers and the unions because budgets reflect external economic issues, they do not tend to think about what really works. They want "results" and that means test scores.

I am not crazy about the Obama reforms. There is a wave of CEO culture undermining sound ideas of management and what it takes to be a principal. Teachers do not need "bosses" running the schools. They need educators supporting the learning environment and championing the cause of education against its domination by Commerce.

See, it is not the State that is propagandizing anyone. Too bad. It once saw education for democracy as its stake in education. Now it is all about "jobs." The dominant institution is Commerce, and I agree that separation of Commerce and Education is needed. I think the State is the appropriate structure for socializing citizens. This is not the same as inculcating students in the Myth of American Exceptionalism, the superiority of Christianity or Corporate Capitalism and Your Future. I think democracy is neutral enough to qualify as appropriate "indoctrination."

And we do have separation of school and state in our local school boards. Or we would were they not being taken over by local extremists. Schools need to be able to reject the teaching of Creationism and other nonsense with legal protections to keep their own children from being damaged. Instead of taking my kids to the Howard Zinn Liberation Theology academy, even though I think that is the best expression of intellectual and moral integrity around, I want them to be part of the social mix of their generation.

I can appreciate the social and cultural histories that have produced the sectarian protests against public education and the indoctrination of their children with science and history. There is a story to be told about liberal insensitivity to WASP subcultural alienation. There is a reason these folk think of secularism as a cold materialism without any soul. It does not make them right about what they need to do now. Which is learn how to get along with their fellow Americans. The culture war has to go. We cannot have religion for science and history without the inconvenient facts.

It is in the mix of local politics that we will address this basic need to have a common culture. The open pluralism of the Commons, an unbranded neutral place of religious freedom, is where we learn in the interchange of ideas, perspectives and traditions. Religion and politics can only mix freely here when no brands are imposed by external partisans. Keeping the institutions separate is what the separation of Church and State is about. In the same sense, keeping Commerce from running the curriculum or the pedagogy is essential to education. It does not make economics or even vocation irrelevant to education. It just makes it the student's agenda instead of whatever is dominating education to perverse ends.

I want school boards filled with passion about education and not about which ideology is being pushed. None other than the mission of education for democracy is appropriate for the public schools; but that is clearly in opposition to the idea of "parental control" as a way to make sure that no foreign ideas or images enter their kids pure minds.

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The world we're leaving for today's teens...

Without immediate global action on climate change, today's teenagers will be forced to live with the consequences of our inaction. The World Bank has issued their third report of climate change, and it says that global temperatures could rise by as much as 4 degrees Celsius by the time today's teens hit their 80th birthday.

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