"Government schools can't teach reading, writing, and arithmetic -- why should we trust them to teach morality, respect, and character? If public education does for ethics what it's done for learning, we'll end up with a generation of immoral, disrespectful, and characterless students."
by:
Steve Dasbach
Chair of the Libertarian National Committee (1993-1998) and its National Executive Director (1998-2002)
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Ah, the split between medieval and modernism; nature and theocracy once divorced caused a tidal wave of issues that have yet to be adequately addressed. Time has yet to show exactly the outcome of such goings on. Nowadays we teach ethics within the parameters of nature, but such arguments -- however popular -- are completely arbitrary. The state cannot teach morality or we'll end up with another form of the Spanish Inquisition; hence the reason Machiavelli and a host of other political philosophers -- although hating religion -- saw its need in society. Atheistic education is an ignorant education, because atheism is scared to even address the matters of religion -- even in an academic circle. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and several other forms of religion should be taught openly is public discourse -- it is an ignorant and intolerable society that cannot endure ideas. You do not have to teach the divinity of Christ or of Allah to be educated in religion, but our society is ignorant enough to believe that "ethics" can be taught in reason alone... Not even Nietzsche was able to fully do this -- like Thomas Paine, he could not overcome the obstacle of every atheistic paradox: where did man first learn morality and ethics? The oldest forms of ethics and morality in history are from religious writings; how did the atheist learn morality and ethics? From his society that is altered because of the religious norms in that country... Government's a poor educators.
 -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    There seems to be a big difference between "schooling" and "education". A lot of college graduates get a real education after they graduate. This is especially true if they majored in some su bject like Eastern Mongolian Art or womens studies. The education comes when they think their degree is going to help in finding a job and they start looking for work.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    He is a Libertarian hack so what kind of truth or honest analysis can we expect? I wish Libety-tree would give us much better quotes for talking points. Thank God Logan that we do not have Government education in America. Thank God that we have community schools that allow free association of children with different religions who attend to their religion together with their parents without regard to the community school. Thank God that these students share their own private religion with each other in respect and with a sense that outside of their diverse religions or sects they all have a commonality with each other. Most Americans in my opinion then carry this same idea of respect and at least brotherhood in diversity into the market place, Montesquie commented on this American phenomenon when he toured here in 1830. He wrote about how impressed he was that Americans worked together, dealt with each other in commerce, civic and frateral groups all week and then went to their various separate churches on Sunday, often one on each corner of downtown main street. Of course I understand that for decades or centuries the Roman Church disdained this mixing of their people with those who were not of or loyal to that Cities Church. For this reason the Vatican was generally anti-American or against its founding principles. If you want to read about subversive education study the Jesuit Orders' main reason for being in the business. I believe you will find that it is for the purpose of controlling society.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    Unfortunately, schools fail at teaching academics and ethics.
     -- Mark, Buffalo,NY     
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    I think we're already there! Kids are already significantly more immoral, disrespectful and characterless. Although I tend to blame parents more than schools in this department.
     -- Alicia, regina     
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    Very true. The proudly government-educated Waffler proves it well -- his thoughts are unorganized, spelling and grammar suck, AND he shows no respect, morality, or character. I respectfully disagree regarding 'there is no morality without religion,' Logan. Certainly reason accomodates the concepts of 'garbage in, garbage out.' 'As you sew, so shall you reap' doesn't need the threat of damnation to be true -- it is just common sense. 'Honor' and 'compassion' are not exclusive to religionists. Reality is what it is, whether we can understand it or not. The benefits of being true, loving, and courageous seem to me to be self-evident as do the consequences of lies, hatred, greed, and cowardice. Obviously, the virtues required for a happy life are integral to a cohesive society -- where do we get them? We learn from everyone, and we either get it right or suffer the consequences. Frankly I do not consider Clinton, Bush, or Obama to be good examples to follow nor anything they have institutionalized for the rest of us.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Archer, in your context -- I agree. What we have to ask ourselves is where "ethics" and "morality" ever began. Without the concept of religion (the paradigm of no divine origin) then all perception merely becomes a matter of what works and what doesn't (discovery of science). Religion, at its basic level, does not require hell and damnation; it does not have to be taught this way (although, sadly, this is the way it is usually taught). The foundation of a religious morality stems from the concept that there was an authority that stated the way things were (law); without such an authority, all reason, argument, morality, ethics, etc. become completely arbitrary as reflected and accepted by social customs and norms (democracy of knowledge, as it were). If all we are left with is science (nature), questions of morality have trouble finding place: Was it moral for the big bang to happen? Was it moral for plants and animals to evolve? Was it moral for lightning to strike violently in the oceans to cause the first spark of life? Is gravity moral? These are questions morality cannot answer, because these are matters of science -- and science only deals with what happens and what does or does not work. If I kill someone, we say that's immoral (religious imperative); however, according to science, there is no "moral" objection -- murder is just what happened. How we interact with each other in society, even if through reason and logic, is nothing but arbitrary assessments of what the majority wants or accepts if there is no absolute authority to define the absolute (all logic and reason would be nothing but an accumulation of societal history). We have yet to find the "absolute". Every good scientist will say that they don't "absolutely know" that something happens; what they can tell you, however, is that something happens with greater probability -- within a certain criteria -- than it doesn't happen. Love, courage, lies, greed, and cowardice -- these are not concrete absolutes, but they are merely patterns in social interaction wherein we have arbitrarily affixed a general application/understanding to a general concept. Who is to say whether they are right or wrong, or moral or immoral? I would argue that even right and wrong are themselves totally and completely arbitrary without the concept of a Supreme Being or authority figure. By one last analogy: Consider a room full of students staring at a whiteboard with advanced mathematics formulas written on the board (these marks are arbitrary signs that represent the concrete nature of the universe that exist independently, as observed). The students only have this classroom for reference (which is to say that we assume that cannot currently perceive anything outside this classroom). These students may, with their reason and capacity of thought, be able to distinguish and find their way through the questions on the board to find answers for themselves without being told how; however, without an authority who knows how they apply out of the classroom, the students don't "know" anything -- but they can comprehend with certain levels of certainty that they are right. It takes a teacher to move this probability to make it an absolute. Regardless of one's concept of a God/divine being/deity/Savior/etc., absolutism is impossible -- everything is relative; otherwise, we are merely left questioning what works better than something else... which is, in itself, completely arbitrary.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Before there were schools there were religions, from the most primitive to the most organized. These made the rules for co-existence and survival within the clan, the tribe, the group. Organized education began as a way to teach necessary skills and crafts (an outgrowth of the apprentice system), so that the people could succeed and prosper within the group, and be able to trade with other groups. Politics evolved as a way of regulating, controlling, policing and profiting from the work and success of the people within the clans, tribes, and groups. Now Government controls people's rights to chose and practice a religion; to chose an education which will suit their specific needs rather than the economic needs of the Government; and, with the aid of the tool of the Government and Private Interest Groups...the Media... they control the information, opinion, and morals/ethics of the people. We are manipulated to the advantage of the politicians and private interest. This is the natural progression of the avaricious and power-hungry, be it Church or State, in its take-over of the minds of its people. We've bought it.....now we are paying for it!
     -- Nancy Grigsby, Franklin     
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    Logan: five stars!
     -- Nancy Grigsby, Franklin     
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    Yup, and they grow up to be immoral, disrespectful, and characterless politicians. Anything else we're going to blame on public schools?
     -- A.WOODS, Gloucester     
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    I don't blame public schools for anything. I blame the parents who abdicate their responsibility and send their children to them. Amoral, disrespectful, irresponsible parents breed amoral, disrespectful, and irresponsible children. Nobody should expect amoral, secular schools to teach morality, in the same manner that nobody should expect teachers who are barely literate to teach their children to read. Logan, very good exposition of the boundaries and capabilities of science, morality and religion. Those are much my own thoughts on the subject.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    Why it is that you all who believe that teaching should be up to the parents then complain that the community school does not teach morals or correct morals really bothers me. Why do you not expect the parents to teach morals? I think I know the answer of many it is not community school that you are against, your opinions are caused by a subliminal foundational anathema to paying for it, or paying for anything of a community nature.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    No one here is against the "community"; I'm an active member of my community and participate in many service projects, as I have heard of Mike and Archer doing also and most of those who you would probably label as "anti-community". I don't even mind paying for it (which I have voluntarily done). Rather than carry on, I'll just refer everyone to this article: http://mises.org/story/3271
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    The seat of learning begins with the board of education (and I don't mean a committee of PTA members). Education took a major turn for the worse when corporal punishment was taken out of the equation. Educators with a bright idea thought that unruly children can be reasoned with, and they sold that idea to parents. Children are basically uncivilized and it is the parents responsibility to civilize them. The problem is the uncivilized cannot be reasoned with, whether they are children, barbarians, or terrorists. They do understand physical force and punishment, however. Nothing focuses the mind like a swat on the behind. It is much more effective than Rytalin as a matter of fact. Because both parents and teachers have abdicated their duty and had rather be the friend of the child rather than the authority figure they have failed to civilize the children. The lack of real learning is the fault of a failed social policy that too many have bought into.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    Another stupid statement!
     -- RBESRQ     
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    Excellent erudition, Logan! I do think the roots of morality are quite simple: to live is good; death is bad. Truth is reality; lies are illusion. The bonds of love between our families and friends (i.e. mother and child, brother and sister, lovers, spouses, friends, etc., etc.) form the natural orders of society. Matters of the heart will always set the attitude, pitch, and speed of the various cultures and sub-cultures of society -- going in different directions results in different destinations. ;-) That is the essence of Liberalism -- the freedom to choose. And the essence of Conservatism understands that we cannot avoid the benefits or the consequences of those choices. How else are we to learn?
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Leaving any thing up to public schools is a mistake. Children are the responsibility of the parents. Parents transferring their responsibilities to the state are the source of the problem.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    For the last sentence of Warren's post.
     -- A.WOODS, Gloucester     
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    In response to the initial quote (in which I take offense): You referenced "governmental schools" and since I teach in one, you are making reference to me and others who, while we "can't even teach reading, writing, and arithmetic", daily face the those "immoral, disrespectful, and characterless students." Please, I invite you to come spend a week in my shoes. Or, maybe you will only last the day. Those who are not in the classroom are quick to begin playing the "blame game" and pointing fingers, instead of searching for the root of the problem. From a teacher's viewpoint, laziness, apathy, students' feelings of entitlement, and lack of accountability and responsibility are major problems we face daily in the classroom. My job is to teach, not "raise" children. If that were the case, I'd be a nanny or a governess. Morality, respect, and character should first be taught and modeled at home, then continued to be molded in the classroom. If they were, then we would not end up with "a generation of immoral, disrespectful, and characterless students." All training should begin at home and is the responsibility and moral obligation of the parent. My parents are the reason I am the person I am and my teachers are the reason I became what I am. There is a vast difference in the two. While my teachers encouraged me to be respectful and have character and integrity, it was my parents who instilled those traits in me and taught me how to be. That's part of parenting. If I had a thought to share with parents, it would be: "Parents, please, do your job and be the parent so I can continue to do mine as the teacher." * P.S. Haven't you heard...children are a reflection of their parents, in actions as well as character.
     -- Dr. Cooper, Ed.D., Seneca     
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    Well Dr. Cooper....when the same state that hands down the "education agenda" that you must adhere to, relinquishes it's hold on parents to discipline and teach their own children morality and ethics....you might have an argument. Until the government under whose directives you work...gets the hell out of our family lives...and quits "dictating" morality...you have no argument.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Government schools can teach reading, writing, arithmetic, morality, respect, and character based on natural law - BUT, either they wont or, they will diminish the immediate assessable elements (reading, writing, arithmetic) and completely distort the carnally perceived other (morality, respect, and character based on natural law). Government schools diminish and distort because the alternative or all such other is ultimately destructive to god like control (despotism, socialism, tyranny, the occupying statist theocracy infesting this land, etc.)

    There is a huge difference between the BE and the DO. If corporeal man IS that which portrays morality, respect and character based on natural law there will be true education, law, order, justice, liberty and rights. When sheeple are subjected to only the DO of public schools, societies will end up with a generation of immoral, disrespectful, characterless and low level of educated students.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Certain religious secs, and their ability by Fear, to indoctrinate socialism. Over 70% are left with doubt, concerning their personal Liberty. Perhaps even higher a percentage. Origins of morality and natural law come from the oldest textual accounts. These text are manipulated in the fullest degree, by ignorance and/or for personal gain. a paycheck ! cookie cutter mentality, producing slave like behavior. The indoctrination of socialism and the mystery of iniquity which resides in the denominational religious systems of Protestantism. Corrupt baggage from Europe still resides in the church at large. The universal natural law of morality, a gift from our Creator, has taken a National and Global stance against corruption of a wholesome life style. This has been made Self Evident. The Iron Helm of Fate has been Moved. Divine Providence inters the room. Great Reads from the Ron Paul Institute, concerning the current Presidential Election 2016. Don't blame the teacher, blame the parent, don't blame the parent, blame the State, don't blame the State, blame the Church. Liberty and Freedom are color blind, so Also is OPPRESSION AND CHAINS OF SLAVERY , those that promote ignorance of our Foundation of Philosophical Roots and their sources are worthy of being tagged, treasonous and held in contempt !
     -- Ronw13, Oregon     
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