Liberty Commentary

Government Schools Are Bad for Your Kids

by Patrick Krey

Schools Dumbing Down America 12212008The closure of St. Rose of Lima in Buffalo, New York, ignited a fury in libertarian activist, attorney, and contributor James Ostrowski. Ostrowski was furious that his children, who were happily enrolled in the private school, now had to start all over.

“It made me angry that a good school was forced to close because the working class parents who constituted most of its customers could no longer afford to pay twice, first for the government schools they didn’t use and once again for the private school tuition for St. Rose.”

So, what did Ostrowski do in response? He wrote the book,Government Schools Are Bad for Your Kids: What You Need to Know. But according to Ostrowski, this isn’t just any ordinary book. His goal is to incite a movement among the various groups who are inspired by the message of liberty. Specifically, Ostrowski is targeting those who rose up to support Congressman Ron Paul’s presidential run and the multitude of people who have come together as part of the more recent so-called Tea Parties. “This book provides the tea party movement with a strategic roadmap to restore the Jeffersonian vision of individual liberty that is the very essence of America…. Direct citizen action is at the heart of the book.” (In the interests of full disclosure, I am friends with the writer of this book, reviewed the manuscript for him before publication, and regularly blog for his political site. I did my best, though, to write this review as an unbiased reader.)

Ostrowski focuses his sights on the government monopoly on education. Government schools weren’t always the mess they are today, but he claims they are too far gone to be saved. “I will admit there was a time when government schools worked better…. Those days are gone. Federal and state bureaucrats and teachers unions, not parents and local school boards, call the shots now. It is time to pull the plug on this failed 150-year-old experiment and move on.”


Ostrowski briefly delves into the history of government schooling before he begins diagnosing the problems facing so many today. “Before compulsory, tax-supported government schools became the norm around 1890, American society had survived and thrived without them for over 200 years while creating one of the most successful and literate societies in human history.” Ostrowski explains in painstakingly researched detail how political elites, particularly militant atheists and socialists, enthusiastically endorsed government schooling as part of an “utopian, egalitarian scheme” and not to actually educate the public. If anything, government involvement in schooling was detrimental to American education. He also explains the little-known fact that American religious conservatives contributed to the aggrandizement of state power in education as part of a misguided effort to stifle the spread of Catholic schools. This mistake would come back to haunt social conservatives in spades as the federal government would eventually strictly ban all forms of religious expression from government schools.

Furthermore, Ostrowski argues that government employees are poorly suited to even teach the subject of history. “What does a 99 in a government school American history course mean? That the student has mastered Propaganda 101?” According to Ostrowski, school teachers would never discuss how the Department of Education is unconstitutional because of its role in funding their salaries. On that same point, government employees will generally teach students that more government intervention throughout history has been a positive thing and that only more government involvement will solve almost any problems. Because government schools “control the past, they control the future.” As a matter of fact, Ostrowski argues that this is the reason why so many Americans are historically ignorant. “Being unaware, and thinking that the current regime is the best of all possible worlds, they are utterly unequipped to deal with the new harsh reality that the regime is falling and that the nation is in the process of collapse.”

Fundamental Problems

So what does Ostrowski regard as being the single biggest problem with government schools? “Government schools are coercive institutions; private schools are voluntary…. The rules and regulations governing government schools are rigid, inflexible and by definition, coercive…. The main point is that relations among people in government schools are coercive and involuntary…. It is a top-down, coercive, bureaucratic model of decision-making.” And it is entirely because of the coercive nature of government schooling that government schools are so poor says Ostrowski.

Read the rest at this link.