Basic reading, writing, math, critical thinking, etc. -- Is it important (and fair) that all children have an opportunity to be educated, irrespective of their financial and parental situation? Of course, such a guarantee comes with a financial cost, and I expect that Objectivists would prefer uneducated children in our society to taxation? Correct?
I expect that Objectivists would prefer uneducated children in our society to taxation? Correct?
This is a false alternative. Voluntary taxation in a free market system of production and trade enables everyone who participates in the system to thrive and prosper. There is no metaphysical necessity for "losers" along with "winners." There is no reason why a system of voluntary taxation would necessarily leave anyone "out in the cold" with no means to obtain a basic education for himself or his children. A system of freedom of production and trade, founded on individualism and reason, does not require victims in order to function. The same cannot be said of the "social planners'" perspective, which tries to cut down the greatest producers the most and generally spread the suffering across the whole society. (Voluntary taxation wouldn't apply to schools, which would be entirely privately owned and operated. Those who want an education and can pay for it would be free to do so. Those who seek values of any kind which they cannot pay for would be free to earn the means to afford them and/or seek voluntary charity. They would not have the power to force anyone else to provide those values against the free choice of the providers, and the incredible prosperity associated with free markets would greatly facilitate both avenues for obtaining values of any kind.)
Update: Additional Considerations
For those seeking more explanation and evidence regarding the mechanism of a free market and how it would operate in regard to education and the whole range of economic activities in general, I can recommend the following references in the literature of Objectivism:
It must also be emphasized that the economic aspects of free markets are a secondary issue. There is a far more basic moral issue involved in mandatory taxation for public education: the evil of initiating physical force against anyone, for any reason. Objectivism opposes initiation of physical force on moral grounds regardless of any economic considerations. Objectivism also points out that the economic consequences of freedom would be overwhelmingly positive compared to the conditions that exist today wherever individual rights are infringed. Objectivism strongly denies that it is good, economically or morally, to force anyone to pay for benefits for others.
In reading this question, I was particularly struck by the casualness with which the question so matter-of-factly endorses the infringement of individual rights and initiation of physical force against citizens for the alleged benefit of the allegedly "needy":
Is it important (and fair) that all children have an opportunity to be educated, irrespective of their financial and parental situation? Of course, such a guarantee comes with a financial cost....
This formulation anticipates the response, "At whose expense," by offering "taxation" as the alleged "solution," without mentioning the initiation of physical force that any form of mandatory taxation represents. From the standpoint of fairness, why, exactly, should anyone be forced to pay for the education of anyone else's child? If one wants to pay for it, one should be free to do so. The issue is initiation of physical force, which Objectivism classifies as a major, fundamental evil (along with evasion, which underlies initiation of physical force).
There is a further economic and political issue, as well: anything that is tax supported will also need to be government controlled (sooner or later). There is no other way to attempt to assure the quality of the product when it is exempted from having to compete in a free market.