New York City mayors from Koch to Bloomberg have wanted to eliminate the Board of Education and replace it with a commissioner who reports directly to the mayor. The Manhattan Libertarian Party would agree with that proposal, if the education commissioner had a clear mandate of complete separation of school and state.Unfortunately, the aforementioned mayors were more likely interested in giving themselves more power than in reducing the size of the state. We also seek to end compulsory attendance laws and eliminate regulations that interfere with home schooling.
Some Libertarians advocate “school choice” programs, such as vouchers, charter schools and education tax credits, as interim steps towards breaking the virtual monopoly on our children’s education that is enjoyed by the government schools. Unfortunately, such “cures” have side effects that are often worse than the original disease. Vouchers spread the dependency attitude to independent families currently paying for their children’s education. Moreover, by transferring money from government to private schools, vouchers can lead to additional regulations and controls, such as class time wasted training students to pass standardized tests. Private schools that refuse vouchers will lose students to schools that accept them. The schools will then have to choose between accepting the vouchers,and the government control that accompanies them, or going out of business. The net result of these flaws is that private and religious schools become more and more like the government schools.
Charter schools also offer less than meets the eye. They are designed to fail, especially under New York State’s faulty legislation, which targets schools with the worst students. No matter how much “autonomy” the charter schools are supposedly given, it is ultimately the state that writes the checks and calls the shots.
Ultimately, the only real reform that makes sense is to get the government out of the education business completely. A free market in education will provide better education for every family at every income level.