NH Libertarian Senate Candidate's Response to NEA Questionnaire on Education
Hello, I'm Ian Freeman. As you may know by now, I filed last month to run as a Libertarian for NH Senate district 10 (the Keene area). As with my previous campaigns, I'm not accepting campaign contributions though I will certainly accept media requests and fill out candidate questionnaires sent by various interest groups from across NH and beyond.
Additionally, I'll be posting those filled-out questionnaires online for everyone to see. Starting with the first one I've received and just mailed back today, to the National Education Association of New Hampshire (NEA-NH). Click for PDF.
[National Education Association – New Hampshire]
I'll also use these posts as an opportunity to state my position in much-easier-to-read text on the various issues raised by the interest groups. So, here's a summary of what I said to them regarding education:
The problems with public education today aren't the people running the system. They are good people who genuinely want to help educate the youth and are doing their best under the circumstances. The problem with the system is that it is "public", meaning government-run and funded through coercive taxation.
Government schools, whether they be standard or charter are never going to rise to the level of quality they could reach if they were self-owning competitors in a free market in education. Instead, because of the one-system-fits-all structure of the government schools, everyone is brought down to the lowest common denominator and there are constant public fights between interest groups and political parties over how the money is to be spent. The NEA questionnaire brings up multiple issues that people are frequently warring over including pensions, charter schools, and vouchers. None of these things would be an issue in a free market in education. People could just choose to support the school models they like. No need for fighting with your neighbors.
[The school people are good, but the system sucks.]
I've proposed this before locally on a talk show and was told by the host (a former city councilor, Cynthia Georgina) that it would be great, but that it can't happen.
Well, why not? Just because government schools have existed in our lifetimes and have been funded through taxes doesn't mean it always has to be that way. Change your beliefs, and you'll change reality.
How do we get from here - where education is provided by the slow, expensive monopoly on violence known as the State of New Hampshire - to the free market in education where a thousand ideas can bloom without any coercion?
In order to create as much of a win-win transition to the market as possible, I propose each government school be turned into a self-owning, market-based school with shares of ownership distributed to all current and retired school staff. This would set the schools free to determine their own future. They figure out funding, retirement, rules, curriculum, etc. If they fail, they can sell off their assets, like anyone else who fails in the market. If they succeed, they'll do that by satisfying their customers. Anyone who doesn't like their educational model would just choose to send their child elsewhere.(html comment removed: more)
Ended would be all controversy over how to spend the "public" money, because there wouldn't be any to fight over. Presumably the best way to implement this would be to set the schools free as self-owning entities as I described and give them some final deadline for when their last taxpayer funding would come in - give them a buffer and then take off the training wheels, so-to-speak. Then abolish the NH Department of Education and terminate all existing ties to the federal education bureaucracy and its bribe money.
But what about the poor? Don't we need the government schools stealing money to help educate the least wealthy? The answer is never to threaten our neighbors, and that's what taxes are. In New Hampshire, if you're a homeowner and you decide you object to the system and don't pay property tax, the government will steal your home from you - or what you thought was your home. The poor can be educated through charity. Charity is always more efficient than government. Whether it's scholarships offered by the schools themselves or other local charitable groups or churches, the community can handle it. They're already paying through the nose now - here in Keene schools are the majority chunk of the property tax bill. Charity in the free market will help the poor better than a coercive government program.
Stay tuned here to the Free Keene blog as I address more issues as the questionnaires come in over the next few months. For more about my near-zero budget campaign (spent a total of $0.50 so far to send this response to the NEA-NH) and the main issues I'm promoting, please visit my campaign page here at NHLiberty.info.