Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A "Right" to Education

Well, I’m glad that I didn’t hold my opinion expressed in the last post for too long (my thanks to Nicholas Provenzo for his blog comments and to SB for his personal comments). The difference between parents providing an education and providing necessary medical treatment is clear.

In fact, now that I understand exactly how separate the two issues are, I am even more convinced that ensuring that a child has basic education is not the proper function of government as there is no physical manifestation of a poor, or even lack of, education.

I do not understand the position that the moral obligation of parents (to provide for their children) translates into government action beyond rights protection.

The child’s rights, the protection of which is ensured by the government, allow him the freedom from the use of force against him. These are not positive rights (e.g. the “right” to an education, the “right” to his own room, the “right” to Guitar Hero, etc).

By the very nature of children to be unable to live independently without immediate intervention, parents must be responsible for the child’s basic physical needs of survival: food, shelter, and protection from physical harm. It is proper for the government to intervene if these basic needs are not met, and significantly, it is possible to objectively assess these violations as they manifest themselves physically.

Although the ability to think is also necessary for man to survive as an independent being, the cognitive requirements for his survival do not necessarily fall directly from his abilities to read, write, and do math. The only basic requirement for a child to learn to think is the freedom to operate his own sensory apparatus and his conceptual faculty. Barring a child from this freedom (i.e. putting them in a box, or locking them in a room for 10 years) is covered in the standard of protection from physical harm. Mathematics, phonetic reading, and writing as well as many other subjects will help considerably in training the mind, but they are not a basic requirement of survival.

I do not understand how any government test which attempts to objectively measure the degree of education necessary for a child’s proper survival can remain within the rigidly defined limits of proper government actions.


Kim said...

I wonder if there isn't some bare minimum required. Certainly not speaking to your child or letting them play with blocks would not produce evident physical harm, but would impair them for life by not allowing the wiring of the speech or numerical and spacial sense part of their brains. Would that count as neglect? Is it close enough to nurturing to be covered by the basics of parenting or is it too close to an education of some sort?

Lynne said...

Hi Kim, thanks for the comment.

I'm not in anyway suggesting that parents have no moral obligation to provide for their children - we do! (See my post on Lisa VanDamme's beautiful paragraph on why we homeschool. http://3-ring-binder.blogspot.com/2008/03/make-no-mistake.html )

But the government's intervention/overview should be limited to protecting rights (to protect the child from physical harm).

If the government were in anyway to compel speaking to your child or letting them play with blocks then that would constitute a violation of rights.

Kim said...

I don't know of a good way to define a limit of some sort.