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Homeschooling As Evidence of the Decrepitude of Government K-12 “Education”

Here’s a letter to National Review:


Nate Hochman eviscerates the left’s case against homeschooling (“‘A Revulsion from Distinctness’,” Dec. 1). No greater indictment of the poor quality of government schooling exists than the move toward homeschooling.

In nearly all facets of our lives, a virtuous cycle plays out: As we become wealthier, we rely more and more upon specialists to perform tasks for us, and as we rely more and more upon specialists, we become wealthier. Compared to just a few decades ago, today we less often prepare our own meals at home and more often dine on meals prepared by restaurants and supermarkets; today we less often change the oil in our own cars and more often go to Jiffy Lube and Pep Boys; today we less often even drive ourselves to restaurants and supermarkets, as we more and more outsource to companies such as DoorDash and Uber Eats the task of delivering our groceries and meals from supermarkets and restaurants to our front doors.

As Adam Smith taught, prosperity grows with greater specialization. Compared to non-specialists, specialists perform their tasks more reliably and faster. But if specialists are to develop and use skills that are beneficial not only to themselves but also to the public, specialization must be driven by markets – that is, driven by consumers and producers spending their own money.

In the case of government schooling, the specialists who operate this system are shielded from market forces. Government arranges for their ‘customers’ to be captive and for their pay to be disconnected from how well or poorly the children under their charge are educated. Government-school administrators’ prosperity depends not on educating children but on playing politics. As such, the specialized skills acquired and honed by government-schooling administrators have little to do with teaching and almost everything to do with politicking.

The fact that so many Americans, who rely more and more upon specialists in most areas of life, now are turning to homeschooling is strong evidence that the specialized skills of government-school administrators are not ones that make these schools sources of true learning.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030