The pros and cons of removing compulsory school attendance are numerous. One of the biggest cons is that we can’t be sure what the larger effect on our culture and society will be. The benefits, on the other hand, might be worth it.
What we know for sure is that, despite what many people believe to be true, education is not compulsory in our country. It is physically impossible to impose an education on people (it is tried though, isn’t it?) Dennis Fermoyle, author of In the Trenches: A Teacher’s Defense of Public Education, offers some thoughts on the value of forcing children to go to school, and what the changes might be if we didn’t.
I like his piece because it isn’t a public school fan-boy diatribe, nor is it a “throw the baby out with the bath water” anti-school rant. It is a reasoned look at an educational reform that just might make a real difference.
Of course, there’s no way to know what the end result of removing compulsory education would be. On the one hand, it might have the effect of increasing the polarization of our country and encouraging a societal phase of “Oh my god, we’re free, let’s party!” On the other hand, it might be exactly what we need, requiring only a short period of adjustment before we move into a stage where we prove that we’re a responsible society, with a high number of individuals who can take care of themselves if given the opportunity.