We Don’t Need to Control Education

This op-ed originally appeared in Daily Herald on November 24, 2023.

Education is changing. That simple statement can make people on the left and right nervous.

The rise of microschools and the increase in homeschooling are leading factors for their anxiety.

Kerry McDonald pointed this out in her recent article: “There can be a strong desire, especially in public policy, to control others by imposing on them a specific set of beliefs or preferences.” This statement came after a quote from both The Washington Post and the Fordham Institute. One on the political left, the other on the political right.

Education choice makes the right and left nervous

Both The Washington Post and the Fordham Institute implied that progress of these students should be monitored in some way.

From the Post, “In 11 states … officials do not require notification when families decide to educate their children at home or monitor how those students are faring.”

And from the Fordham Institute, “To ensure that those children receive the education they deserve, it will require policymakers to craft smart laws to govern these new institutions and the movement itself.”

We don’t need to fear parental choice

Both of these statements show the desire to control others. There is an assumption that parents are not great judges of what their children need. There is a desire to impose an artificial standard of what is a “good” education.

As a former teacher and principal, and as a father of five children, I can tell you that one size does not, in fact, fit all children.

As a principal, I spent much of my time working with students who did not fit into the traditional education model.

Since leaving the public system, I have found amazing entrepreneurs that are creating fantastic models to meet the needs of these students.

New and amazing models

Models like Kiwi Gym, which combines world-class physical fitness, cognitive games, and science and engineering instruction. I recently visited this learning center and was told about one student with a processing disorder who went from taking hours to complete math homework to finishing the assignments in about 30 minutes.

Heron School in Moab focuses on students who are considered twice exceptional — students with a learning disability and high intelligence. This school completes only four courses each semester. The school allows the students to dive deep into subjects by making each class at least two hours long. The school day starts at 9 o’clock and ends at 2 o’clock with a one-hour lunch break.

Education needs the free market

Milton Friedman said it best: “(A free economy) gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”

Milton Friedman.

Education is not different. A free education system will allow parents to decide what they want and need for their children rather than what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against this type of education is a lack of belief in a parent’s ability to decide.