Free Washing Machine, $50

I remember reading the following story as a kid – probably in the Readers Digest.

A family buys a new washing machine, so they leave the old one out front of their house with a sign “Free”.  No-one takes the washing machine.  So they change the sign to “Works Great, Only $50”.  The washing machine is “stolen” that night.

This is a question of perceived value.  If you give it away for nothing then it must be worth nothing. 

Which leaves us where, exactly, with public education.

In the United States, parents rate their child’s education much higher than the public rates K-12 education in general.  Here are the results of the 2009 Gallup study.

School SatisfactionPresumably this is because parents have actual experience with their local schools, and also because of the psychological effect that “I have chosen it, so it must be good.”  Conversely, those who reject public schools also must justify their choice.

Since the government is already taking money out of our pockets to pay for the public education system, and because the government increases the financial burdens on those who homeschool or private school their children, many parents feel forced to turn their children over to strangers in government schools for six or seven hours a day, for 180 days a year.  This is time that will never be recovered by the family.  Parents who send their kids off to government schools find themselves less able to connect with and maintain a loving relationship with their children. They find themselves less able to impart values to their children.  Public schools are driving a wedge between parents and their children, and destroying the family unit in this country.

This writer describes public schools as “government” schools – a purposely chosen loaded word.  The argument is weak because, presumably, parents who send their children to private schools also have chosen for them to be educated by “strangers”.

How can we get beyond the thinking that my choice is good so yours is by definition bad?


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