Separation of School and State

Until and unless we develop a separation between school and state, human development will be profoundly limited around the world.  As far as I know, every nation around the world controls most of education at both the K-12 and post-secondary levels.  But all government control of education (and government funding of education always implies government control of education) means that “education” will be defined by government.

Smaller governments, or governments in culturally homogenous nations (such as Finland) may allow some discretion for educators.  But as governments become larger and more heterogenous, government funding will increasingly be based on performance against measurable results and publicly defensible content (for instance, history that offends no one, or sex ed that offends no one).  But the most important essences of human development are not measurable, and the most important innovations of the human spirit may well not be defensible to a diverse public.

Thus I am saddened when I see well-intentioned people who attempt to promote good things in education or human development – but do not assert clearly and unequivocally that government control of education is the crucial problem.

The Luma Institute is one such example, great work, but hopeless to implement for younger human beings in a scaleable, high quality manner as long as government dominates K-12 education.  No Right Brain Left Behind is another such well-intentioned effort (though I give Dan Pink credit for claiming to be a founding member of “Democrats for School Choice”).  Everytime someone sends me Ken Robinson’s TED talk on “How Schools Kill Creativity” I become ill, because Robinson himself continues to support government involvement in education DESPITE knowing that schools kill creativity.  I’m afraid the romantic attachment to government funding of education is one of the greatest of modern tragedies.

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About Michael Strong

Co-founder, Ko School + Incubator, Conscious Capitalism, Radical Social Entrepreneurs, lead author of Be the Solution: How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalists Can Solve All the World's Problems, author of The Habit of Thought: From Socratic Seminars to Socratic Practice.
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One Response to Separation of School and State

  1. stpeter says:

    Michael, I think we could take our cue from the post-communist experience in eastern Europe. My proposal is to simply give the schools to the teachers. Each school would be owned and run by the teachers and other employees at that location, with funding coming from their ability to attract paying customers. Turn the teachers into entrepreneurs and see how fast things change! I sketched out the concept years ago at http://me.stpeter.im/journal/2003-09-03.html but perhaps I need to explore it more fully, or convince someone else to take the idea and run with it.

    –Peter

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