WHY DO WE NEED COMPULSORY-ATTENDANCE LAWS?
By Joel Turtel
June 3, 2006
Why do we need compulsory-attendance laws? Why compel parents to send their children to public schools? Wouldn't parents naturally educate their children without compulsion? Human nature and history prove this to be the case. All over the world, parents push to educate their children, with or without public schools.
In Japan, school is compulsory only up to the equivalent of junior high school (ninth-grade level). High schools in Japan, like colleges in America, are privately owned and charge tuition. Middle-school students compete fiercely for a place in high schools even though their parents must pay to get them in. Yet most Japanese parents push their kids to apply for high school and scrape up the money for tuition, without the Japanese government's pressuring them to do so.
In America, millions of parents voluntarily pay thousands of dollars a year in tuition to send their young children to private kindergartens, and their older children to a private college. Obviously, most parents think that educating their children is important. So why do we need compulsory-attendance laws for first through twelfth-grade education?
Compulsory-attendance laws imply that government has to force parents to educate their children. Common sense and history prove this notion false. Up to the 1850s, before we had public schools in America, the average literacy rate was almost 90 percent (excluding slaves of course, because it was a crime to teach a slave to read). Yet most parents taught their children to read at home. They did not need town officials to force them to educate their children. All over the world, most parents' want to give their children a good education so they can have a secure future.
Compulsory-attendance laws also imply that some parents are too ignorant or indifferent to their children's welfare to educate their kids. If this was not the case, then why compel parents at all? Local governments therefore believe they have to force these "bad" parents to deposit their kids in public schools, for the alleged good of the children.
In effect, local governments and public-school authorities don't trust average parents to have the decency and common sense to educate their kids unless school authorities force them to. That notion is as absurd as claiming that parents would not feed their children unless government authorities forced them to.
There is a saying that if you want to know the real purpose of a law or social system, follow the money. Who benefits the most from our public schools? Certainly not our kids. I submit that the real purpose of compulsory-attendance laws is to enforce a public-school system that benefits public-school employees.
Tenured public-school teachers get guaranteed jobs, unlike the rest of us who have to prove our competence to our employers or customers. Teachers and principals get fat salaries, pensions, and benefits compared to the end product they put out. If anything, many teachers are over-paid, not under-paid, considering the fact that public schools can barely teach millions of children to read by the time they graduate high-school.
According to a 2002 survey by the Dep't. of Labor, teachers get paid a hefty average salary of $30.75 an hour. That is more than the average nurse, chemist, biologist, civil engineer, mechanical engineer, or police officer gets paid. Teachers only have to take simple education courses to "qualify" as a teacher, yet they make only slightly less than the average physicist, who earns about $32 an hour. The notion that teachers are underpaid is therefore a farce.
Many public-school teachers are competent and dedicated. However, tenured teachers and principals rarely get fired no matter how much parents might complain about them. A private-school owner can fire a lazy or incompetent teacher. Public-school teachers, in contrast, can be as lazy, mediocre, or incompetent as they wish, and it is almost impossible to fire them. That's quite a cushy set-up. That's also one reason why public-school employees like compulsory-attendance laws and other laws that deny parents school choice.
Compulsory-attendance laws create, in effect, an education prison system. Prisons get their prisoners because the police drag them in. Public schools get their students because compulsory-attendance laws let school authorities drag children into their schools, with or without parent's consent.
Public schools get their students by force (even though many parents voluntarily send their kids to these schools). If parents refuse to send their children to these schools and don't obey the state's homeschooling regulations, school authorities can sic child-welfare authorities on the parents. These child-welfare agents can prosecute parents for "child abuse" or other alleged crimes against their children because the parents won't send their kids to a public school. Also, if parents refuse to pay their school taxes to 'support' these schools, their friendly local government will foreclose on their home.
In effect, public-school authorities say to parents, "give me your children or I will put you in jail or foreclose on your home." Public schools are therefore, in my considered opinion, simply a legalized extortion racquet against parents and their children for the benefit of public-school employees.
© 2006 Joel Turtel - All Rights
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Joel Turtel, author of Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie To Parents and Betray Our Children, holds a degree in Psychology. For the last ten years he has served as an Education Policy Analyst, studying the climate of today's public schools and its effect on children and parents.
Mr. Turtel has written two books, published over fifty articles, and has been interviewed in both print and broadcast media on the subject. His latest book, Public Schools, Public Menace has garnered national media attention – recently, for example, Dr. Laura Schlessinger featured the book on her nationally syndicated radio show.
Joel Turtel is available to discuss his book Public Schools, Public Menace in the media, at conferences, or with individual groups. Be warned though, you may be shocked by the revelations he has uncovered in America's public-school system.
If parents refuse to send their children to these schools and don't obey the state's homeschooling regulations, school authorities can sic child-welfare authorities on the parents.