EDITORIAL
Government School Lesson #758
By Tibor Machan - April 01, 2010

The New York Times reports that according to a ruling by a federal judge "a Mississippi school board was grossly discriminatory and mean-spirited when it told Constance McMillen that she could not attend her high school prom with her girlfriend." According to the court, "Ms. McMillen's constitutional rights had been violated." Ms. McMillen, who is a senior at Itawamba Agriculture High School, is and has for many years been a lesbian and government schools are not permitted to discriminate against lesbians. Never mind the school administration's or parents' choices about the matter. What matters is that current government policy opposes such discrimination. Of course, in the past government policies used to be different and they endorsed discrimination against blacks and homosexuals.

Because education is so heavily politicized, what the government decrees is mandated policy, regardless of anyone's else's judgment in the matter. If one wants to send one's child to a school where lesbianism isn't sanctioned, this is forbidden and one will have to take one's child to a religious or some other non-government funded and administered school and come up with the extra funds, apart from the property taxes one has already been forced to contribution to local schools.

This is not about being against or for lesbians in schools but about whether this should be a matter of federal law. The country of the United States of America is often urged to be multicultural, make room for the great variety of humanity living in it, with its great variety of religious convictions, life styles, political and other convictions. This is completely subverted by the one-size-fits-all policy brought down upon all government school attendees by the federal government, by way of the courts.

In a bona fide free country parents would get to have a decisive say about what kind of schools their children will attend, even if parents next door totally disapprove. But that requires the complete separation of government and education. As the (interestingly) Left Wing intellectual Ivan Illich wrote several decades ago:

"Two centuries ago the United states led the world in a movement to disestablish the monopoly of a single church. Now we need the constitutional disestablishment of the monopoly of the school, and thereby of a system which legally combines prejudice with discrimination. The first article of a bill of rights for a modern humanist society would correspond to the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution: 'The State shall make no law with respect to the establishment of education'."

Illich had no illusions about private schools behaving perfectly, nor should anyone else. But in a privatized educational system hardly anyone would be denied the sort of schooling thought appropriate for his or her child. Yes, one would need to pay. But educational professionals need to make a living and to demand that those who benefit from their work should do so free of charge is bizarre.

If one wants to have children, one will have to live with the consequences. These include having to cover the expenses that come with child rearing. No free riders can be expected when services, equipment, overhead and such all cost a pretty penny.

What would certainly be absent in a privatized school system is the government's meddling in how parents must raise their kids, to what sort of schools they send them, and so forth. It would be, as I have argued on numerous occasions, comparable to how magazines, newspapers, and books are edited and published in a free country, without any intervention by the government. And the population would simply have to cope, as it must cope with the immense variety of religions in the country made possible by the constitutional separation of church and state.

As it stands now, the court's ruling makes sense but only because any government service must be delivered without unjust discrimination. But this is a pipe dream and instead what we are likely to get is a one-size-fits-all policy of unjust discrimination.

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