In his  On the Square this morning , Russell E. Saltzman reports on a curious proposal in Utah:

Utah state senator Aaron Osmond has proposed eliminating compulsory public school education. He is a member of the senate’s education appropriations committee. Critics suggest—among other things—that he is out to reduce the billions of taxpayer dollars required for public education.

Sen. Osmond  complains  that compulsory education has produced indifferent parents who have thoroughly disengaged from their children’s education. This has forced teachers into becoming all sorts of things classroom teachers were never meant to be: sex educators, sensitivity trainers, behavioral counselors, and nutritional dieticians. Besides, a compulsory education law inevitably lessens respect for teachers while turning them into surrogate parents.


Saltzman considers alternatives to compulsory education. What about compulsory employment? Or parents who love their children?
One of the perceived problems addressed by the 1852 Massachusetts compulsory education law was what to do with parents who are “unfit to have [their] children educated properly.”

Nowadays, we worry more about schools that have become unfit to properly educate children. A lot of that, I suppose, falls back on the parents, again. Yet I agree with Sen. Osmond to a small extent. If compulsion isn’t working, and maybe it isn’t, it would be nice to find something that will.


Read the full column here .

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