Now here’s an interesting article about giving parents school choice by making school no longer mandatory. I’m not exactly sold on this approach, but by the looks of the dialogue that’s happening over there, it’s going to stir up – something.
I don’t know the compulsory school laws in Montana (remember, each state has its own laws about school attendance), but if Montana takes compulsory school attendance out of the educational codes, there’s a whole can of worms to contend with in how other laws are interpreted. That one “small” change, would effect everything, from admission to truancy to parental rights.
Another thing that Rick Jore, chair the Montana House Education Committee, wants to change, is public education funding. Which is an even bigger can of worms.
Socially, I doubt that changing the compulsory attendance laws would do much, especially in the beginning. As long as the schools are there, and are free, people will use them (I’d even argue that the same number of people would use them). However, over the long run, the children who were raised in these non-compulsory schools might eventually figure out that they don’t have to be there. And schools might eventually get used to the idea that the kids don’t have to be there. So the kids would be the responsible ones. And schools might have to be more responsible (to the students, not the govt.)
But even if school attendance became non-compulsory, that that brings about the question of – would public schools still be required to take any child who wants to be there – even if they are failing?
If children aren’t required to be in school, and schools got their funding by how well their children did on tests, what would happen to the kids that failed?
Another issue would be, of course, the effect on homeschooling. By making school no longer mandatory, there wouldn’t be any more laws to force parents to hand their children over to the state to be educated. So, would this cause an increase in parents who just kept their kids home to work at the family business or whatever? Would this increase poverty and would allow for immigrants to keep their children unfamiliar with American social ideals? I don’t know. I think it’s safe to say that the worry is definitely out there. And if it did bring this, what about the “real” homeschoolers who kept their kids home yet gave them an awesome education (albeit perhaps unconventional)? And, what about the argument that growing up working in the family business isn’t all that bad of a life, and a pretty darn good way to learn about the world and about how to succeed?
Oh, it’s so complicated. And although I don’t fear complicated, I just wonder – is our society ready for this? Is our society ready to say, “Yes, we belive that genearlly people are good and capable and can take care of themselves”? I’m not sure.
In any case, I doubt the the legislation will go through. Too many people use the public school. And too many people fear for the children. There is still the overwhelming idea that public school is the best place for kids. Also, this is being touted as a “republican” idea. And as such, doesn’t even get consideration from the average “liberal”/”democrat”.
All these elements are going to keep this from going through. But it might be the first of many attempts. If it’s going to work, however, our society has to mature a little (ok, maybe a lot) and it has to be a non-partisan, non-politically viewed proposal. Also, the idea of alternative education needs to become more widely accepted. Otherwise, it’s just one of those things that gets brushed aside because it’s equated with crazy troublemakers.
If you look at history, there were many crazy troublemakers that turned the world upside-down and changed everything. But many of them couldn’t do it right away. They had to hold back their findings and wait until later to bring it up (or wait until they died and someone else could). Copernicus and Galileo are two that come to mind immediately. I see the idea of repealing mandatory education in this way. It is a good idea that’s not ready yet. It would cause chaos, not because the idea itself wouldn’t’ work, but because our society isn’t ready yet to take that evolutionary step.