At age 45, Rubenstein left her job in advertising to pursue her lifelong dream of teaching. While raising two children, she worked full-time and went to school part-time to get her master’s degree in education. It was “exhausting, but worth it,” she said, because she was finally able to pursue a career that was meaningful to her.
Over the past fifteen years, however, Rubenstein grew increasingly disillusioned in her job. She witnessed the “depressing gradual downfall and misdirection of education.” She found the government-run schools increasingly “demanding both uniformity and conformity” from students and teachers. Rubenstein says the government stripped her of autonomy and freedom to teach and replaced them with “mandated curriculums, administrative audits, and dictated schedules.”
The classroom teacher is no longer trusted or in control of what, when, or how she teaches. . . . More and more we are being forced to administer paper and pencil tasks, multiple-choice tests that can be graded by a computer, and skill-and-drill assignments that don’t require or reflect higher-level thinking. . . . I’m being forced to function as a cog in a wheel, and this wheel is not turning in the right direction.
Rubenstein further describes how administrators in the government-run school system “rule as dictators through fear and intimidation.” They suppress constructive dialogue and punish those who dare disagree with mandated policies. “There is nowhere to turn for support, and unless you are a ‘yes-man’ you will soon find out that your only choice is to become one or leave,” she laments.
During the last few days of school earlier this year, without any warning, Rubenstein along with three other colleagues were handed letters of “involuntary transfer” to another school, allegedly for fostering a “negative environment.” This move, Rubenstein suggests, was an attempt to silence her—and it is what prompted her to turn to YouTube to tell her story.
Unfortunately, Rubenstein’s experiences are not an isolated example of the problems of government schools—they are typical, as C. Bradley Thompson explains in his article, “The New Abolitionism: Why Education Emancipation is the Moral Imperative of our Time.”
What is the fundamental source of the problems? The government operates its schools by force: by forcing parents to use them and by forcing taxpayers to finance them. As a consequence, to a large degree parents lack the freedom to hire the teachers who best meet their children’s needs, and teachers lack the opportunities to seek the types of fulfilling jobs that would be available in a free market.
As Ayn Rand notes, “force and mind are opposites,” and a system that functions through compulsion necessarily will stifle creativity, independence, and quality education. To free education from the mind-stifling controls of bureaucrats, teachers—no less than parents and students—should demand that education be fully privatized.