Limited-government conservatives are not in favor of eliminating public funding for education, an assertion made by a progressive over at Citizen Tom’s blog. Instead, like Citizen Tom, I’d like to see education revert to local control, and be supplemented with a voucher system.

Vouchers will tend to make public schools (ideally, funded and directed at local levels) more responsive to their customers and more competitive. They have to deliver, or they will lose business. Of course leftists don’t like that, hence the prohibitions against the voucher/charter school approach in many jurisdictions.

I have written charter school plans, bylaws, and helped develop other supporting material, and was involved in an extended battle to get a school approved that made national news but ultimately was defeated by local authorities. I have been retained by public schools for other professional writings (as recently as last month), which have been 100% successful. (I’ve had an interesting life so far.) Not all charter schools are good ones — but the concept allows parents to make a choice. And my recent writings have been generally aimed at providing choice in public schools, and highlighting the differences.

In another decade or so, this might be (but for federal intervention) a non-issue. Educational materials are so readily available online that homeschooling is becoming more and more viable even for parents not skilled enough to develop a proper curriculum. The federal government has certainly demonstrated that it does not have that skill.

The federal government Leviathan fights to maintain control, for reasons ranging from political to ideological to the natural self-preservation, budget-coveting, and turf-war tendencies of bureaucracies. Limited-government conservatives oppose such federal control. Of course this is not opposing education, or even public funding of it. Some schools are religious in orientation, others are not; even as a non-theist I would note that religious schools have generally done a quite credible job of education.

Clearly, the public secular schools have failed. This is not because they are secular, but because they are insulated from the free market and the results of their own failure.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle