Liberty. It is America’s foundational value. We have failed to uphold it for far too many people much too often, but the freedom of Americans to choose what they will believe, and how they will live, is at the very heart of the American experiment. It is fitting, then, that we kick off five days of National School Choice Week posts on Cato@Liberty with a reminder of the fundamental good that is sacrificed when government controls education.
As we will be doing all week, I direct your attention to a clip from Andrew Coulson’s award-winning School Inc., a documentary series that ran on PBS stations nationwide in 2017 and can still be watched, in its entirety, on the website of Free to Choose Media. Here, after discussing sometimes even deadly fights that Americans have had over what the public schools will teach, Andrew invokes Thomas Jefferson’s warning about the tyranny of compelled support of others’ views, and explains how, by compelling such support, public schooling forces wrenching, divisive conflict. Such conflict could be avoided were people allowed to direct the funding for their children’s education to educators who share their values. In other words, by upholding liberty school choice is both more just, and more conducive to social harmony, than public schooling.