The New Abolitionism: Why Education Emancipation is the Moral Imperative of Our Time

This article is from The Objective Standard, Vol. 7, No. 4.

c-bradley-thompson

I begin with my conclusion: The “public” school system is the most immoral and corrupt institution in the United States of America today, and it should be abolished. It should be abolished for the same reason that chattel slavery was ended in the 19th century: Although different in purpose and in magnitude of harm to its victims, public education, like slavery, is a form of involuntary servitude. The primary difference is that public schools force children to serve the interests of the state rather than those of an individual master.

These are—to be sure—radical claims, but they are true, and the abolition of public schools is an idea whose time has come. It is time for Americans to reexamine—radically and comprehensively—the nature and purpose of their disastrously failing public school system, and to launch a new abolitionist movement, a movement to liberate tens of millions of children and their parents from this form of bondage.1

Twenty-first century Abolitionists are confronted, however, by a paradoxical fact: Most Americans recognize that something is deeply wrong with the country’s elementary and secondary schools, yet they support them like no other institution. Mention the possibility of abolishing the public schools, and most people look at you as though you are crazy. And, of course, no politician would ever dare cut spending to our schools and to the “kids.”

For those who take seriously the idea that our public schools are broken and need to be fixed, the most common solutions include spending more money, raising standards, reducing class size, issuing vouchers, and establishing charter schools. And yet, despite decades of such reforms, our schools only get worse.

The solution is not further reforms. The solution is abolition.

Just as antebellum Americans in the North had to be roused, educated, and radicalized on the evils of government-sanctioned involuntary servitude and on the need to abolish slavery, so too 21st-century Americans need to be shown the horrors of government-run, involuntary schools and persuaded to abolish them. Americans must come to see not only that the public school system is failing, but also that it cannot be reformed—because, like slavery, it is fundamentally immoral. Abolition will not be achieved anytime soon, but we must work tirelessly, step by step, to achieve that goal.

The purpose of this essay is to inspire a revolution in the minds of the American people—to shake them of their sentimental attachment to the public school system—and to convince them to unify into an unstoppable movement toward the eventual abolition of public schools. To that end, we will examine what the “public” schools are, why they are immoral, why they are impractical, and why the only rational, moral course of action is to eliminate them.2 . . .

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