um), I have seen the endless Hst of tort fund expenditures tornboost the morale of minority students and their parents (includingrnweekend trips to expensive resorts), and I have watchedrnan uneducated superintendent fighting an expensive turf battlernwith a barely literate “master” for the title of least articulate educationistrnthis side of Chicago. But in all of the official discussionrnvirtually no one has expressed any practical concern forrnwhat the students are actually learning apart from the annualrnritual of covering up the significance of the test scores, whichrnmean in plain English that no matter how they rig the tests orrndumb them down, the gap between rich and poor, black andrnwhite stays the same. Not bad after spending only $166 millionrn—over and above the districfs regular expenditures —inrnnine years.rnEver)- once in a while, it is true, a black parent goes on the radiornto point out that the deseg remedy is doing nothing for hisrnkids, but whenever he hears a non-black parent complainingrnabout high property’ taxes, he will turn around and condemnrnhim for racism and indifference. “You want to cut the taxes,rnbut what are you going to do about educating kids who are victimsrnof discrimination?”—as if it were everyman’s moral imperativernto rear otherman’s children. The one voice of sanit}’ hasrncome from an older black man who occasionally calls the ChrisrnBowman radio program to suggest that his neighbors ought tornquit complaining about white indifference and clean up theirrnyards and take care of their kids.rnWho is, ultimately, responsible for the education of children?rnDepending upon whom you ask, )ou will receivernone of hvo answers: the parents or the state. Homeschoolersrnand evangelicals t}pically give the former answer, while professionalrneducationists—when they can afford to be candid—givernthe latter, and many of the school wars in this century havernbeen carried out as a struggle of individual families banded togetherrnagainst a government that sees parents as an obstacle tornthe ultimate goal of education, which is to re-engineer Baptistsrnand Lutherans and don’t-give-a-damns into model subjects ofrnthe American Democracy.rnStatists are as alarmed by homeschooling as they once werernby private and religious schools. Back in the 1920’s and 50’s,rnthe disciples of John Dewey hardly took the trouble to disguiserntheir plans to outiaw all forms of private education, openlyrndeclaring that no child should be allowed to escape the democraticrnformation imposed by government schooling. Althoughrnthe case oi Pierce v. Society of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesusrnand Mary taught the educationists the valuable lesson ofrncaution, many public school teachers (including those who putrntheir children in private schools) openly oppose anv form ofrnvouchers or school choice on the grounds that they threaten thernpublic school monopoly that is vital to democracy.rnBut it is not only government teachers and other statists whornare suspicious of homeschooling. European Catholics havernfrequentiv remonstrated me for teaching my children at home.rnChildren do not belong simply to the parents, they say, becausernsome day those children will have to take their place in society.rnThis view, which goes back through St. Thomas to Aristotle, isrnnot a surrender to the state. On tiie contrar)’, it assumes a communityrnrooted in shared experience and a common faith. Bothrnin Europe and here in the United States, it was religiousrnschools that most successfully opposed the state’s monopolyrnover the schooling of children.rnThe desperate straits in which we find ourselves today arernlargely the result of over a century of direct state action againstrnthe family, an invasion whose trail is marked by acts givingrnrights to married women, delinquency and child protectionrnstatutes, women’s suffrage, compulsor}’ school attendance. SocialrnSecurity, and no-fault divorce laws. At each step in the subjugationrnof the family, liberal politicians and journalists werernable to identify a problem—loutish husbands who abused theirrnauthority, greasy immigrants who put their children to work insteadrnof sending them to school, loveless marriages that createdrnan unwholesome atmosphere for growing children—and thesernsocial problems served as a pretext for state intervention.rnUnfortunately, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers havernonly been able to fight back with the enemy’s weapons, the Jacobinicalrnrights of man, which all have poisoned handles, andrnwe are confronted with the depressing spectacle of the men’srnrights movement, organizations promoting fathers’ rights in radiornspots paid for by the Ad Council, and universal declarationsrnof parental rights that are an open invitation to U.N. interventionrninto domestic squabbles.rnHomeschooling and littlernacademies-and the choicernplans that are expected to sustainrnthem-may do some good, but wernshould never lose sight of the fact thatrnthey are desperate remedies.rnIn the school wars, the bad logic of parents’ rights usuallyrntakes concrete form in proposals for vouchers or school choice.rnOf course, sensible parents who send their children to privaternschools will welcome the tax relief promised by vouchers, andrnno one in his right mind can fail to appreciate the opportunitiesrnwhich the various school choice plans offer to desperate familiesrngroaning under the oppressive weight of the public schoolrnmonopoly. The underlying danger in any national scheme forrnschool choice, however, was revealed some years ago byrnCharles Glenn in his analysis of European school-choicernsystems (Choice of Schools in Six Nations), and both Lew Rockwellrnand I have argued —”proved” would be a less modestrnword—that the net effect of vouchers would be the destiuctionrnof private and religious education and the complete empowermentrnof the national school bureaucracy.rnThere are metaphysical reasons why an educational philosophyrnbased on a theory of parents’ rights cannot succeed, butrnthere is also a practical reason, hi any contest with government,rnindividual families can never win in the long run, since thernstate runs on energy that it sucks from the lives of families andrncommunities. Homeschooling and little academies —and thernchoice plans that are expected to sustain them —may do somerngood, but we should never lose sight of the fact that they are des-rnSEPTEMBER 1998/11rnrnrn