Thomas Jefferson believed an educated citizenry is necessary for a people to remain free. But how has the federal government done in advancing this goal? Every American politician promises to improve education. President Obama has held up universal access to preschool and college as an admirable aspiration. President Bush signed “No Child Left Behind” into law and vastly increased the size of the federal education bureaucracy.

Ever since President Jimmy Carter oversaw the creation of the Department of Education, we have witnessed a decline in test scores and basic proficiency in math, reading, civics, and the sciences, even as extracurricular activities like sports and music have also suffered. Meanwhile, government spending per pupil has risen across the country, and at the college level federal financing has only dramatically increased the cost to students and parents.

Not that long ago, the federal government was much less involved in education. Indeed, there is no reason we must look to Washington to run our schools, which could be handled locally, in accordance with America’s great diversity of community norms, as well as by the market. As homeschooling and private schools have consistently outperformed government education even at a lower cost, now is the time to move away from the bureaucratization of this very fundamental part of society. The federal government has outstayed its welcome and failed to improve the poor state of our public schools. By removing the influence of Washington, which itself does not add at all to the teaching of our children, we can save many billions a year, but more important, we can improve the sad conditions of education in America.

Learn more about the Education problems and the solutions:

“Making College Affordable”
Vicki E. Alger (Star Tribune) August 20, 2012

“Higher-Education Accreditation: Market Regulation or Government Regulation?”
Joshua C. Hall (The Independent Review) Fall 2012

“The Mass Production of Credentials: Subsidies and the Rise of the Higher Education Industry”
Carl L. Bankston III (The Independent Review) Winter 2011

“Will Universal Preschool Give All Kids a Head Start?”
Wendy McElroy (Independent Institute) November 30, 2005

“Education Reforms Typically Ignore Root Causes”
John D. Merrifield (Independent Institute) November 6, 2000

“Higher Education at Lower Cost”
Richard K. Vedder (Wall Street Journal) August 31, 1998

“Education: A Bad Public Good?”
Jane S. Shaw (The Independent Review) Fall 2010

“Albert J. Nock on Education”
Wendy McElroy (The Freeman) January 1, 2000

See Also:

The Independent Institute’s Archive on Education