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Should formally educating one's children (i.e. teaching basic math, reading, writing, etc.) through whatever available means (i.e. home school, private school, public school, etc.) be legally mandatory?

NOTE: I recognize the evil of public schooling and how such a project lies outside the scope of a legitimate government's function.

asked Nov 30 '12 at 18:21

JK%20Gregg's gravatar image

JK Gregg ♦

No. No-one has a right to an education.

There must be laws against child abuse, but failing to educate a child is not a form of abuse. A parent is responsible for caring for a child. Education, which goes beyond basic care, is desirable, of course, but it should not be mandatory.

One problem with mandatory education is in defining exactly what it should consist of. Mandating education necessarily forbids unorthodox or unconventional education. Innovation in education then suffers -- as it has, already, in America due to public schooling. To mandate schooling is to cause stagnation in schooling.

Education is a value. It costs money. People who want education for their children have to work for it. Forcing people to pay for a certain amount and kind of education, whether it be for other peoples' children, or their own, is a violation of individual rights.

People should buy what education they can afford, and no more. Each parent should be allowed to make those purchases which fit his/her budget. If that budget has no room for education of children, so be it. Such a budget probably can barely afford food, let alone education.

answered Nov 30 '12 at 18:49

John%20Paquette's gravatar image

John Paquette ♦

How do you respond to those who say that failing to educate a child is child abuse, considering the correlation with criminality later in life?

(Nov 30 '12 at 18:57) JK Gregg ♦ JK%20Gregg's gravatar image

Child abuse is an initiation of force. A failure to educate one's child is not an initiation of force; no abuse is present. Also, correlation does not imply causation.

(Dec 01 '12 at 04:14) user890 user890's gravatar image

The legal obligations of parenting should not be expanded, because the more they expand, the more the government gets to determine exactly what parenting should consist of. Just because something is good to do, doesn't mean it should be made mandatory by government.

Failure to educate might be compared with a failure to feed. Clearly, parents must feed their children, presuming they have means to do so.

Food and shelter are things parents must provide, qua parents. But Education, as such, is the inculcation of knowledge and ideas.

(Dec 02 '12 at 01:02) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

Knowledge and ideas are not the government's responsibility -- the use of physical force is.

(Dec 02 '12 at 01:05) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

Abuse may be properly defined as initiation of force but what then of neglect? Should there be no authority given to a government to interfere when a parent refuses to properly feed, i.e. starve, their child? If such authority should be given, for incidents of physical malnourishment, then why not also for intellectual malnourishment? As noted above, education is not a right, and neither is food, however shouldn't I act to save a child's life if their parent neglects them? Doesn't this fall under Rand's exception for emergencies, given that children are in a constant state of vulnerability?

(Dec 10 '12 at 21:53) MarcMercier ♦ MarcMercier's gravatar image

Physical neglect of children is the government's business. If a child is physically forced not to learn then I'd say the government should intervene. But the government should not be in the business of deciding exactly what it is a child should learn. Children learn if allowed to. If an adult fisherman teaches his child to fish, that's an education as I see it. But if he locks the kid up in a small room and never lets him see a lake, that's a completely different story.

(Dec 10 '12 at 22:04) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

So if a parent does not enroll their child into a school, refuses to organize learning at home, and will not or cannot answer the child's questions about life, is that parent physically forcing the child not to learn? This may be a question for the field of law, rather than philosophy, but I'm interested nonetheless.

(Dec 11 '12 at 11:21) JK Gregg ♦ JK%20Gregg's gravatar image

I don't know where the line should be drawn by law. But the principle is to rationally determine what, if anything, constitutes criminal intellectual neglect of a child. We all may wish that every child learn to read and write and do arithmetic, just as we may wish that every child get some amount of medical care.

Education, just like health care, is a service which must be paid for. To educate a child is not to defend him from physical force, and so the government has no role in it.

It is when a child is forced not to do what his life requires, that the government should step in.

(Dec 11 '12 at 11:34) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

Government is not responsible for maintaining some minimum quality of life for a child. As well, Government certainly is not properly in the business of setting some intellectual standard for what a child must learn. Ideas are not the job of government to decide.

The only question government should ask about a child is: "Is the child being physically harmed, or prevented from living?"

Beyond that, government should set no standards for parenting.

(Dec 11 '12 at 11:40) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

Excellent answer. Thank you John for clearing that up.

(Dec 11 '12 at 11:53) JK Gregg ♦ JK%20Gregg's gravatar image
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Asked: Nov 30 '12 at 18:21

Seen: 1,136 times

Last updated: Dec 11 '12 at 11:53