Two Governors Promise That Socialist Education Can Work

Socialism is the “public” ownership of the means of production. At Politico.com yesterday, the article attributed to Governors Bob McDonnell and Bill Haslam, of Virginia and Tennessee respectively, is a reminder of how politicians love their socialism and how it stifles rational thinking and discussion. By owning the means of education production for all but a few who can afford the cost of opting out, the state can presume to take credit for the areas where families and communities already support education in many ways that have nothing to do with the state system. In other areas, where poverty and crime are detrimental to education, they can claim what is needed is more money and more effort. But one possibility that is never considered is that the state is more or less incompetent at education and some parts of society suffer from that incompetence more than others.

Both governors brag on the strata of students in their states who they see succeeding, as if the state government was the reason for that success. Then they admit a problem:

“Right now, in Virginia and Tennessee, there are students sitting in classrooms where their chance of success – a post-secondary education or a suitable job – is less than 10 percent. Some Virginians and Tennesseans have no choice but to send their children to schools that chronically fail to meet basic standards, sometimes for their child’s entire K-12 career. These schools have literacy rates in the teens, and students there are often more likely to drop out than to graduate. A free society cannot afford to relegate its children to failing schools year after year simply because of their ZIP code. In Virginia and Tennessee, we are taking action.”

Let’s be honest about what is happening. There are students who face truancy laws and who are not permitted in the work force who are thus required to sit and rot in prison-cell classrooms that are doing nothing for their mental, social, or intellectual development. Rather than free those children, the only option is to sit there and trust politicians to improve their circumstances next year. They can do nothing for themselves. They are simply hostages to the chance that a government bureaucracy might improve their education next year. Again, the governors simply assume that the classrooms are “working” for the other students. But where is the evidence? It is just as possible that some students are better able to ignore or overcome classroom education. Or it is possible that some students are helped by classroom education and others aren’t.

The bottom line is that the governors admit that these students have “no choice,” and promise to perpetuate that problem. They salve their consciences by promising new government efforts. What are the chances that these promises are really going to help these hostages to socialism?

Worse, most of the boasting in these articles are about planning for changes or starting changes in management that have not yet changed anything else—going back to 2010. So because of the public school system, you have been required to rot in these useless classrooms for years while the state slowly built up new programs to rescue younger students. The only concrete claims of success come from Tennessee:

“In just two years, 55,000 more students are proficient or advanced in 3rd through 8th grade math and 38,000 more students are proficient or advanced in science. These are not numbers. They are real students who have been given a better opportunity for lifetime learning and success.”

Even if these measures are accurate, this is a bait and switch. The article tugged out our heartstrings about schools with literacy rates in the teens. Those students are obviously not the ones getting these marginal improvements in math and science. The illiterate kids are still being shoved around from classroom to classroom learning nothing but how to comply with the ringing of a bell, waiting for the next time a politician needs to shed some crocodile tears over their fate in the hands of socialist education and justify and new “five-year plan.”

We don’t need education “reform”; we need abolition.