O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God. (Alma 37:35; Book of Mormon)
And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and by faith. (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118)
Latter-day Saints are commanded to learn wisdom and gain an education. We are to seek out the best institutions of education available to us. Not only are we to seek an education, we are to seek one that glorifies God and builds on our faith in him.
But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. (2 Nephi 9:29; Book of Mormon)
Yet one must question how our children are supposed to hearken unto the counsels of God if they are sent to institutions whose primary goal is to divorce faith in God from an education?
It is no coincidence that education in our public schools is moving more and more to a secular, and some may quite correctly say, evil form of learning. Public schools are being forced to divorce all mention and practice of worship within their campuses. Many Latter-day Saint parents send their children to public schools for 8-9 hours a day, 5 days a week where they are taught that a belief in God and a life of moral boundaries is not socially or scientifically acceptable. They are taught that one must conform to the ways of the world to succeed in life. As a Latter-day Saint, how can we stand by and watch this happen to our children?
But whoso shall offend one of the little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:6; King James Bible)
So who is offending the child when they are taught against the teachings of God? The teacher or the parent who put them in that situation? As Latter-day Saints we are taught to avoid situations, whenever possible, where our faith and resolve would be tried and questioned. Why would we send our children into such situations?
How can we improve the situation of our children when our only available option is a government funded and proscribed education? Where are we to turn?
There are several options at the moment. Some choose to home school their children. Others choose to send their children to private Christian schools. While others continue to send their children to public schools in the hopes that the little time they spend with their children in the evenings and weekends will be enough to reverse any damage done.
But there is a better way. There is a political party that understands that it is the parent’s right to choose where and how their children should be educated. This is once again the Libertarian Party:
Education, like any other service, is best provided by the free market, achieving greater quality and efficiency with more diversity of choice. Schools should be managed locally to achieve greater accountability and parental involvement. Recognizing that the education of children is inextricably linked to moral values, we would return authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government. In particular, parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children’s education. (Libertarian Party Platform 2.8)
The Libertarian Party seeks to remove the Federal Government as well as State Government from the education business. They desire that families and local communities have control over the education of their children.
In any discussion about the privatization of education, the question is raised about how can a poor family educate their child when an education is so expensive? This is one of the most alluring aspects of a public education. An education that is paid for by the tax payers of the state and nation is “free” for most people. Switching to a private school or home schooling often means taking on additional costs.
We want to avoid a situation that is described in the Book of Mormon:
And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning; yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches. (3 Nephi 6:12; Book of Mormon)
So how are we going to avoid this without a public “free” option for education? Through the generosity of those who have money. It seems like a cop out on the surface, but when looked at in the broad picture of life, people with money don’t hoard it. Many rich individuals work to establish charities for those less fortunate than themselves.
Look at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as an example. Here is one of the richest people in the world parting of his own money and rallying other people to donate to the cause of bringing an education and health to the people of the world.
As Latter-day Saints, we have a closer example. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints formed the Perpetual Education Fund in 2001. This fund was founded with the sole purpose of bring higher education and trade training to people in less fortunately circumstances. Do you think that the Church would let those less fortunate in the US go without an education due to cost? I don’t. The Lord doesn’t. The Lord has the foresight to prepare for these instances through the same means that the Lord provides for the care of the sick and needy.
But this is not all. If we were to abolish the state run education system, we would be able to reduce the budget of both the Federal and State governments and would be able to ease the tax burden of the people. With more income coming to the people, they will have more money to spend on the education of their children.
We should be looking to abolish the state mandated public education and establish places of learning that not only meet the secular education needs of our children, but also strengthen their faith in God. We can only do this in an environment that allows for such deviation from the oppressive nature of public education.
To do otherwise would be to offend our children and condemn ourselves.