School Choice and Two Spheres of Liberty

Infobae – On January 31, the Cato Institute published an interesting note from Neal McCluskey, director of the Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom. His concepts exceed the American reality and apply without doubt to our educational reality, at a time when discussing the road map to reverse the critical scenario reflected by the most diverse indicators is the priority.

The note discusses two areas of freedom: the freedom to act and the preservation of a society in which there is diversity.

Freedom to act essentially means maximizing self-determination, ensuring freedom from the use of force; that is, do not use coercion over others. Of course, that implies that the government treats all people equally and does not favor some, or disadvantage others, in their attempts to achieve their goals in life.

Educational freedom, understood as the right of parents to decide the education of their children, is consistent with that meaning of freedom, and public education is not. Public education intrinsically implies that the government takes money from taxpayers and says: “This is what children will learn, or will not learn and if their parents want or need anything else for their children, they must pay twice for such differential education, one through their taxes and the other through payment to the private institution to which they eventually choose to send their children. ” It is clear that this is independent of the process by which the government decides what is taught, be it democratic or totalitarian, in any scenario the freedom of families is restricted in deciding what their children will learn.

The other sphere of freedom, also consistent with the concept of educational freedom but not with public education, is pluralism, diversity. How to defend it but by putting limits on the actions of the government, so that it does not have the power to standardize society to the detriment of specific groups of citizens?

As an example, let’s think of parents of certain religious, ethnic, or any other group that wants a specific type of education for their children, in some specific topics that go beyond the skills that every child must possess to develop in life. Public education is based on the premise that, regardless of the values ​​of the parents, the political majority – or a powerful minority – will have to decide what will enter the children’s heads with the money raised. Of course, that means that some segments of society will have a greater influence on those decisions, some less and others none at all. The freedom of parents to decide the school to which their children will attend, to allow diversity and independence in private school curricula, instead restricts the government from taking sides between the multiple interests and/or values ​​of different families that make up society.

In the best case, the current education system is reversed. Instead of a system in which the norm is education based on the different preferences of families and on the freedom of parents to decide what is best for their children, by virtue of their abilities, tastes, interests and / or family values, the norm is the uniformity of education provided by the government.

The only way to change this reality, says Neal McCluskey, is to help more Americans understand why freedom is crucial, and why education provided by the government, despite many good intentions, is simply incompatible with it.

It is clear that this conclusion applies perfectly to our reality. After all, who can have more right than the parents themselves to exercise the freedom to choose the education that their children will receive, regardless of their economic possibilities?


By Edgardo Zablotsky

The author is rector of the CEMA University and member of the National Academy of Education