An Argument Against Government Education

Submitted by Kyleigh on Tue, 09/22/2009 - 17:17

Note: This is by no means a complete essay... there are many issues to consider when pushing for/advocating homeschooling for everyone. Yes, I believe it is biblical, but the way the world is right now it is not possible for everyone to homeschool. Yet we cannot just sit back and say the world isn't ready, because unless we start to change it, it never will. Start with what we can do, leave the rest to God.


And - I'll start Faith Victorious here on Reformation Day... the prologue (posted on my blog) may be able to give you a clue as to why that date is fitting. ;) I would start at the beginning of October, but I have another story to post (after 30 pages of editing!) After that I'll alternate between posting FV and other things...

Anyway, the essay: 

Since 1870, every state in the United States of America has provided free elementary education. This education is not free, however. It is paid for by the tax dollars of American citizens, whether their children utilize the government school system or not. For years, Americans have used this program, blindly thinking that it is the duty of the government to provide children with free education. Frederic Bastiat would beg to differ. In his classic dissertation, The Law, Bastiat defines the purpose of law, and in doing so rejects the public school system. Batsiat supports his argument by saying that education is not the purpose of the government and that government education is socialistic.

            Firstly, Bastiat denies the supposed right of government education by defining the purpose of the law. “Law is the common force organized to act as an obstacle to injustice. In short, law is justice,” writes Bastiat early in his essay. At another part of his article, Bastiat defines justice as the “collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.” If government is to enforce the law, then it is the duty of government to abolish injustice and replace it with justice. Yet Bastiat believes that three gifts from God “precede all human legislation.” These three things are “life, faculties, production – in other words, individuality, liberty, property.” The public school system does not encourage individuality and liberty. Instead of encouraging students to think freely and formulate opinions themselves, government schools teach a socialistic, conformist worldview.  Of public education, Bastiat says, “if you desire to prevent [injurious] opinions and customs from becoming permanent, you will secure the second generation by a general system of… education.” In modern times, a Christian worldview is considered by many to be injurious. Thus, public education seeks to eliminate Christian reason, instead of letting “the seeds of truth germinate along with the development of reason.”  

            Secondly, Bastiat argues that the public school system is socialistic. As defined by Bastiat, socialism is legal plunder in an organized fashion – one of these fasions being the public schools. Legal plunder is not, however, legal. It is plunder guarded by the law, but it does not fulfill the true purpose of the law – to enforce justice. “It is best to wipe [legal plunder] out,” Bastiat states. “Not all socialism is bad,” one may say. “It is right that the law provide education for all.” Bastiat quickly refutes this thinking, defining it as a fallacy. “It is not sufficient… that the law guaranty to every citizen the free… use of his faculties,” Bastiat writes in The Law. “Instead, it is demanded that the law should directly extend… education… throughout the nation.” Bastiat calls this the seductive lure of socialism. Thoughts like these – of equality for all, physical, intellectual, and moral self-improvement – are not valid. The government does not exist as a nanny, but exists to protect its charges from injustice. Also, those with a biblical worldview should deny socialism. Christians are told not to conform to the world, but rather to be transformed by renewing their minds – not by letting the government wipe out ‘injurious’ yet biblical thoughts.

            So what must be done? Must Christians continue to take part in socialistic education that the government has no lawful purpose in executing and, or is there an alternative? The Bible speaks of parents teaching their children. In Ephesians, fathers are commanded to “bring [your children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4, ESV). Deuteronomy 6 speaks of parents telling their children of the commands of God, not just during the evenings when the children are home from school, but “when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut. 6:7, ESV). Instead of conforming to the world and the public school system, let the words that God commands “be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children… you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets to your eyes” (Deut. 6:6-8). The only way for parents to teach the Bible to their children at all times is to homeschool, thus following the command to “train [your children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).


Author's age when written


I agree that the public schools are useless and faulty, and that a majority of families really should homeschool. Good essay :-)

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

As soon as I read this, I thought to myself, "I need to look up this Frederic Bastiat."  And I found him here (  A good essay, Kyleigh, and a much needed reminder.  I wish more people had even a basic grasp of this issue.

"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

Thanks, James. Bastiat is definitely worth reading. I think reading The Law has been the highlight of the school year so far. Reading "Uncle Eric books" for Economics comes in a close second, though... that's my family, the politically incorrect and proud of it. :)

Hannah - Yes, definitely! And another thing about Christian schools in general - Catholic or Protestant - is that they run in the name of helping parents, when really they are taking away the God-given duty of parents to teach their own children.


I quite agree with you. :) And I might add that Catholic schools, while they do try to teach the faith, they make religion and all the other subjects seem so separate. Being homeschooled all my books are called stuff like "Christ in the Americas". Totally more connected. It makes everything seem very relevant, as well. So yeah. Homeschooling is basically the way to go. :D

good essay, Kyleigh, but I sort of have to make a point;

is every kid fit for homeschooling? probably not. for instance, my sister and two brothers aren't homeschooled. Please don't get super angry at my family. they just can't really focus on doing their work well enough, and my sister likes high school a lot.

second, is every parent fit to homeschool? single moms or dads might not be, and working moms and dads might not be able to fit it into their schedules. it is a lot of work when you think about it. and that mom who works at a job for the small income it brings to her family can't give all that up because her kids want to homeschool.

third, the Bible says that parents should teach their children, yes. but where does it say that a parent should teach them every single thing they know? that might have been easy in bible times, but now? you'd have to have a teaching degree, a bible degree, be excellent at manners, etc. I think that parents should teach their children the Bible and be there for them when they need help.  After all, some moms aren't algebra scholars.

lastly, and I'm sorry this is so long, but just one more thing, what would the teachers do if all their students left? i don't even know how many teachers would be out of work. that's not even counting the janitors, lunch ladies, principals, etc. and the school boards, and all the government people who are there for the schools.

please, please, please don't get angry at me for this. it's merely what a homeschooler who spent 3 years in public school thinks. 

whether this ends up before or after the other comment i don't know, but the next anonymous comment or the one before this is mine. sorry!!!

“Oh Ronnie! I can’t believe you’re a prefect! That’s everyone in the family!” said Mrs. Weasley.
“What are Fred and I, next-door neighbors?”
–George Weasley

I agree that not everyone can homeschool, but the proposition that the government does not "owe" anyone an education does not sit well with me--for an unidentifiable slew of reasons.

I agree about "individuality, liberty, property,”  but it also seems to me that...well, I read an essay in World magazine about how "all men are equal" morphs into "all men are equally entitled to everything" to "no man should have more than another." Overall, though, this is an excellent, thought-provoking essay.

Formerly Kestrel

It's an interesting and thought-provoking essay, Kyleigh, but I don't quite agree the government does not owe education to citizens. Actually, I'm not entirely sure what you're suggesting--are you saying that all Christians should homeschool? I agree with that, though it might be hard to apply...but if you're saying that public schools should be eliminated altogether...well, I think that Americans are ignorant and foolish enough as it is.

Annabel - In your opinion, what is the duty of government? To protect citizens or to take care of them? I do believe that all Christians should homeschool. I know that this is not possible in this day and age, which is the reason for the note at the beginning of my essay. It will take work, culture-changing, heart-changing... but if we don't start now it will never happen. The Founding Fathers didn't say "Oh, I wish we could be free from the tyrranys of England," and then sit back and say it was too hard. They took action, and that action had results.

Kestrel - Why do you think that government should provide education? 

Honestly, I can't argue this point very well. For starting, the government is supposed to provide for "the general welfare" of the country--so much the Constitution declares. Yes, and I think  that the statement, "The purpose of law is to protect the citizens from injustice," is an oversimplification. There is more to it than that. And really, isn't the lack of education an injustice? Oh, I don't know what to say--I suppose I sound like a bleeding-heart, politcally correct liberal (I'm not one, really!). Perhaps public education might fall outside of the government's duties if you think about it hard enough, but..."this saying is too hard for me."

I don't believe that "the general welfare" includes education.
I prefer (though that's not the right word) small government. Government only to ensure justice, basically. No government programs like health care or public schools. One thing I find not right is that those who do not use the public schools still have to pay taxes for it. People say we wouldn't be able to pay for education were it not for public schools. Cut back programs, cut back taxes, people have more money.
Another thing... if we're saying that not providing education is unjust, then is not Biblical Hebrew/Israeli law unjust? 
I think it is the most just legal system, because it is given by God.

This argument either way has its faults. The only way to get around it would be to start from scratch again. And even so, in this fallen world it would only end up a terrible government again.

Hmm...I don't know if government's role is or should be that small. What do you think "general welfare" means? And I wasn't quite saying that the lack of public education was unjust in all cases--the Biblical society was quite a bit different than ours. What was doable in their case might not be practical in ours.

Theoretically, and on paper (urgh, I hate that phrase) your argument may be sound (I use the word may because I'm still not wholly convinced) but I don't believe it could ever be put into practice. perhaps we should just leave it at that.

On the role of government, it says in Romans 13:3-5 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

That is a much smaller role than either Annabel or Kyleigh has said. And as Kyleigh says, the some of  the rules given in the Old Testment are not appliable in today's society; for example, Leviticus 19:19'Keep my decrees.
      " 'Do not mate different kinds of animals.
      " 'Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.
      " 'Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material..
But the principals are what we need to follow. The 2nd commandment is Love your neighbor as yourself.

Does that mean our neighbor should have similar oppuritinities to ours? Yes.

Does it say who should provide those? No.

Therein lies the problem. I believe that, in today's society, people need to be educated--which is not always the same as attending school, but I digress--but I am not sure how that should arise. Because not everyone is Christian, I think there is a place for education outside the home--perhaps charter schools?

*The last paragraph applies to primary education. College is a whole nother kettle of fish which I will avoid here.



Formerly Kestrel

Are you saying government exists for the sole purpose of punishing wrong? That's...not quite consitutional. Nor quite Biblical--I don't think that verse in Romans is saying that the ruler's only role is to punish evildoers. But to get back to the main argument--honestly, I don't know what exactly government's role should be. Intellectually speaking, it seems ridiculous and wrong for it to "nanny" citizens by providing education, but practically speaking, who else will?

But I'm wading too deeply into an argument I know nothing about, and can't resolve.

This is a wonderful discussion: things we need to be talking about.  I'd like to weigh in again.  I noticed there was some debate over the meaning of "general welfare."  I think the meaning of "general welfare" is beside the point, whether or not it includes education.  What is important is the immediately preceding phrase.

As a fellow American, Annabel, I am compelled to point this out to you.  The consitution does not declare that the government is to "provide for" the general welfare.  Yes, this is what our government has been trying to do for nearly a century now, and many in the government would like us to think it says "provide for."  But it doesn't.  It says "promote the general welfare."  This is a HUGE difference.  When a government promotes the general welfare, it creates the conditions where the citizens of the country can fare well -- that is, live well, under just laws, and be able to make a good living by working hard, without interference from more powerful people.  In short, the government is to promote the general welfare by enforcing justice.  When a government tries to "provide for" the general welfare, it uses tax money to elivate the living standard of those that it deems "to poor."  So, be sure that you understand that the constitution does NOT call for "providing for" the general welfare.

Also, you made a point made that in spite of the horrible job the government is doing with the education system, someone has to provide for it, and who else will?  "Americans are ignorant and foolish enough as it is..."  I would suggest that the reason so many Americans are this way is precisely because of the public school system.  It's a system that really doesn't care if its students fail (despite what they say), but rather is concerned that its students are trained to be good little statists.  It's all about brainwashing.  Now of course, there are also some brilliant minds that go through the system -- yet many of them could also be considered foolish and ignorant.  Here's what I mean:  A man who never went to school a day in his life, works hard on his farm and feeds his family, pays his taxes, frequently makes spelling and grammar mistakes and can only do math below the algebra level would probably make a better, more informed citizen then the bright academic who graduates from an Ivy League University; because the later, although well versed in literature and the arts, has most likely been indoctrinated with a conformist worldview and molded into a minion of the state.  My point:  Ironically, the citizenry of the United States would probably be better off largely uneducated than conditioned and indoctrinated.  It will be a blessed day when the government school system is shut down.

"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

 This is Mary.  I'm currently searching AP for essays on homeschooling and I remembered this one.  I've linked to it from my blog,   If you have any problem with this at all, please let me know and I will remove the link.  Thanks.

Brother: Your character should drive a motorcycle.
Me: He can't. He's in the wilderness.
Brother: Then make it a four-wheel-drive motorcycle!