Education and the Marketplace, Education and the State

Privately contracted education collectives: home-based education moving out into the community

In 1982, Peter Frogley of Light Educational Ministries, wrote:

(In the beginning) in … Christian, and many other cultures, parents educated their own children.  When children came to an area of learning where parents’ expertise was inadequate, the parents called in the necessary expert.  It became clear that parents were often not equipped to adequately educate their children and that personalized tuition was too expensive for many.  Resultantly, local parents banded together, hired a teacher and established a school.  They saw this as their responsibility to their children.  No one but the parents and their chosen teachers were involved. … This system of education produced some of the best levels of literacy every known.  Essentially, this was the common method of education in earlier years in the United States of America; where the local school house was the educational centre (Frogley, 1982, p. 4).

In my PhD dissertation (Box, 2014, pp. 126-129) I argued that there is a role for privately funded educational collectives to exist.  There is a role for dedicated teachers to trade their knowledge and skills on the open, educational market.  Such teachers will be regulated by the market.  However, such teachers do not necessarily have to have state-certified qualifications, and there is no intrinsic requirement for state-mandated curriculum.

Many such collectives exist in the United States of America, and some of the them are called Co-operatives.  In the context of this article, the key issues surrounding Co-operatives are:

1.   They are private contractual arrangements

2.   There is no compulsion, and so parents can quickly withdraw their children if the arrangement does not unfold as originally conceived

3.   They do not require dedicated real estate, and can exist for the period of time that the demographics suit local educational need; and then be dissolved when the demographics shift – rented facilities would make sense, rather than expensive, purpose-built buildings.

This is not to suggest that such collectives replace parental responsibility for their children’s education.  As Frogley pointed out, “no one but the parents and their chosen teachers were involved.”  From the perspective of God’s revelation, parents will always be the ultimate authority in regards to the education of children.  It is parents who will stand before the Great White Throne on the day of resurrection, and give an account.  The church has a role in training teachers and parents concerning their educational duties before God, and the state has a role to ensure just weights and measures are being used in the private contractual arrangements conducted in the market place.

In his article, Frogley goes on to argue that:

Governments have not only built an educational bureaucracy, but have now legislated to control all teachers and all schools.  This is surely an intolerable situation for Christians! (Frogley, 1982, p. 5).

But is it?  What percentage of Christian families continue to send their children to state-funded schools?  State funding brings with it state control at every level of the educational process – even in private schools (which used to be called ‘independent schools’, because they truly were independent of the state’s control).  This is manifest in the number of formerly Christian schools that have recently embraced the Safe Schools Coalition Australia initiative (SSCA, 2014),(in the guise of bullying prevention, but actually affirmatively promoting the LGBT agenda).  In the words of Frogley, “we have created an enormous ‘white elephant’ called state education, which … should not exist” (Frogley, 1982, p. 5).

Home-based education remains the primary platform for the education of children.  However, there is a place for private education contracts beyond the home.  These could include small classes, or even more comprehensive courses.  However, the most important point is that parents maintain the control, and the state has a very minor role in the greater scheme of things.

References

Box, L. A. (2014). A Proposal to Deschool then Unschool Australian Biblical Christian Education. Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Christian Education, The New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy. Appomattox, Virginia, U.S.A.

Frogley, P. (1982). Regulation Part V Should there be State Education? Light of Life. Vol. 3, No. 5., pp. 4-6.  Booleroo Centre, SA: Light Educational Ministries

Safe Schools Coalition Australia [SSCA]. (2014). The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) web site. http://www.fya.org.au/inside-fya/initiatives/safe-schools-coalition-australia  Accessed: 18/10/2014 14:03

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