This article is excerpted from LiberatED, a weekly email newsletter where FEE Senior Education Fellow Kerry McDonald brings you news and analysis on current education and parenting topics. Click here to sign up.
Many parents are not happy. They are upset because back-to-school masking policies are either too stringent or not stringent enough.
In one school district in Missouri, for example, a new mask mandate divided families and prompted some parents to remove their children from the local district school for private options. “We have been out all summer unmasked, at concerts, at the movies, at ball games with thousands of people!” We are looking at pulling our kids on Monday after we tour a private school here in St. Louis County,” one parent told Fox News this week.
Other parents in the district applauded the new mask mandate saying they would accept any policies that enable their kids to be back in school for full-time, in-person learning.
Meanwhile in Mississippi, a school district decided not to require masks this fall, prompting one father to say that he will now move to a new home in the district so that his kids can attend school mask-free. “I tend to lean more on the side of freedom than anything else,” he told the Sun Herald. “I’m also concerned about what kind of precedent does that set to our children, when our children begin to be submissive to these mandates.” Another parent said the mask-free policy is causing her to pull her child from the school district for a local private school that requires masking.
In suburban Tennessee, a school board meeting on Tuesday grew confrontational over the board’s decision to impose a school mask mandate, with attendees yelling in the parking lot “we will not comply.”
The back-to-school mask wars are the latest example of how government schooling breeds conflict and division. I wrote in June about a school board meeting in Virginia that ended in arrests, as tensions rose over critical race theory and curriculum in the local schools. “Whether it’s yesterday’s battles over prayer in school or today’s conflicts over critical race theory, public schooling causes people to fight. It’s a struggle between values and viewpoints that ends with one group imposing its will upon others. The curriculum that is adopted or the one that is shunned inevitably creates winners and losers.”
We see the same battles now with mask policies. It’s a tug-of-war between the parents demanding masks in schools and those demanding that masks be kept out of schools.
Like all such battles, the solution is education choice and freedom. In Florida, a mask stand-off between Governor Ron DeSantis, who declared that parents should be the ones to determine individually whether or not their children wear masks to school, and school districts who are ignoring him by imposing their own mask mandates, triggered an expansion of school choice policies in that state. DeSantis announced last week that the state’s Hope Scholarship vouchers would be available to parents who disagree with their district’s mandatory mask policies. They can use the voucher to enroll their child in another mask-free public school or a private school.
These vouchers should be available to all children all the time, regardless of the schooling battle du jour. Current education dollars should fund students instead of bureaucratic school systems, allowing parents to decide the best educational setting for their child, regardless of zip code. But that’s only the beginning.
The Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, who first popularized the idea of education vouchers in his classic 1955 paper, believed that these school choice mechanisms were a first, but not final, step toward eliminating the government schooling monopoly and creating a robust free market in education. “We regard the voucher plan as a partial solution because it affects neither the financing of schooling nor the compulsory attendance laws. We favor going much farther,” Friedman and his economist wife Rose wrote in their 1980 book, Free to Choose.
By weakening the government schooling stranglehold and encouraging the growth of private education options for parents, schooling battles will disappear. Parents who don’t like the mask policies, curriculum approach, or ideological bent at one school will be free to choose a different school that is more aligned with their personal preferences.
This is the beauty of free markets that facilitate peaceful, voluntary exchange. Every day, we choose which shops to visit or which services to buy based on our own individual preferences and needs. In this coronavirus era, we may choose to enter stores that require masks or choose stores that don’t, depending on our own personal risk tolerance. The market works efficiently to meet varied consumer demand. It falters when the government steps in to issue mandates and apply coercion preventing private businesses to independently and imaginatively serve their customers.
As the renowned economist Friedrich Hayek wrote in The Constitution of Liberty: “The argument for liberty is not an argument against organization, which is one of the most powerful tools human reason can employ, but an argument against all exclusive, privileged, monopolistic organization, against the use of coercion to prevent others from doing better.”
Government is coercion, as more families are beginning to realize through heated arguments in their district schools. Peaceful, voluntary exchange occurs when the government gets out of the way and allows individuals to make their own choices in a robust free market of goods and services.
As the Friedmans wrote in Free to Choose: “The strong American tradition of voluntary action has provided many excellent examples that demonstrate what can be done when parents have greater choice.”
Fortunately, more parents may now be discovering that choice over coercion is the path forward for American education.
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Kerry McDonald is a Senior Education Fellow at FEE and author of Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom (Chicago Review Press, 2019). She is also an adjunct scholar at The Cato Institute and a regular Forbes contributor. Kerry has a B.A. in economics from Bowdoin College and an M.Ed. in education policy from Harvard University. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband and four children. You can sign up for her weekly newsletter on parenting and education here.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.
The Dangers of Speaking the Truth Diminish If We Work Together
It’s becoming harder and harder for patriots to ignore the deep suppression of truth that’s happening in America today.
In all of my years in journalism, I have never received as many threats or been attacked by big companies like Google and Facebook as I have in 2021. I’d say that ever since we started covering widespread voter fraud, government-endorsed Pandemic Panic Theater, vaccine cover-ups, Critical Race Theory, and the various Neo-Marxist and Satanic agendas at play, I’ve been targeted more in months than the entirety of my life prior.
Speaking the truth is getting harder with so much censorship and suppression rampant. Prior to 2020, I was not a “conspiracy theorist” or an “anti-vaxxer,” but if there’s one thing the onslaught of exposed lies have taught us in the last 18 months, it’s that we cannot take what we’re told by the “arbiters of truth” at face value. There’s an agenda behind every message, a narrative driving every story, and a series of gigantic cover-ups designed to keep the masses in the dark.
This is why we’re building a network of news outlets that are willing to go against the narrative and expose the truth. We need help. We’re establishing strong partnerships with like-minded news outlets and courageous journalists. Even as Big Tech suppresses us, the honest messages they’re trying to quash are finding their way to the eyes and ears of patriots across the nation. With the help of new content partners like The Epoch Times and The Liberty Daily, we’re starting to see a real impact.
Our network is currently comprised of nine sites:
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I’ve said much of this before. From time to time I reframe this request for assistance by taking the most relevant message of the day and adjusting the story accordingly. We’ve discussed this network in previous articles. Now, it’s time to talk about help. First and foremost, we need financial assistance detailed below. But we could also use more writers who are willing to volunteer their thoughts for the sake of spreading the message. Those who are interested should contact me directly.
As far as money, we’re looking better than we have in the recent past, but we are currently experiencing a gap between revenue and expenses that cannot be overcome by click-ads and MyPillow promos alone (promo code “NOQ” by the way).
To overcome our revenue gap and keep these sites running, our needs fluctuate between $2200-$7800 per month. May, 2021, for example, was amazing and we almost broke even. June, revenue was sluggish at best and we had to make up a big difference out of our pockets. But we’re not just trying to get out of the red. If and when we start getting enough contributions to expand, we will do just that. Very few get into journalism to try to get rich and we’re definitely not among those who do. Our success is driven by spreading the truth, profitable or not.
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