Although I am generally in favor of a smaller government that intervenes less in the daily lives of its citizens, I am in favor of having well funded public schools, that all citizens pay to support. I explain my reasons for this below:
We Can Build and Fund Schools or Jails
Empirical data collected over many years, from around the world, shows that low education is strongly correlated with higher likelihood that an individual will become a criminal. This shouldn’t be too surprising, given the fact that a lot of crime is committed by people who believe that crime is the only way they can get ahead in life. This does not excuse their intentional violations of the law, or mean that we can stop all crime, but does indicate that we as a society have ways of reducing the number of criminals in our midsts.
It is Better to Educate Children than to be Robbed by Them Later
Even those people who don’t feel that they have any duty or obligation to help educate the children in our society should still support a good, free, public education system out of pure self interest. The reason for that is their own personal safety and peace of mind. As many people who have been robbed will attest, the worst part is usually not the loss of money. It is the fear that one’s life is about to end or change forever due to permanent injury. It is the way the robbery or other crime is not soon forgotten, and how that shakes one’s confidence. If funding schools will reduce the likelihood of being robbed or suffering other crimes, then it may very well be better to pay the money in taxes for education, than to pay it to a criminal at gunpoint.
Altruism and Decency
It has been said that one can measure a society by the manner in which it treats it lowest member. Applying this to the question of education, I think that it is sad that some children are “punished” with a substandard education due to the poor financial and life choices their parents have made. Don’t think that this is my primary reason for supporting free public education, since I’m far from a bleeding heart type person, and believe in personal responsibility.
Note: I have had a reader suggest that my support of a free public education system cannot be reconciled with my dislike of unions, as teachers unions tend to dominate public schools. I don’t find there to be a conflict here, and I still believe that well funded public schools are essential to ensuring a well educated populace that can grow up to be responsible citizens. The issues within public education certainly need to be addressed, however I don’t see defunding public schools as the answer.