By Bryan Hyde
The term “God complex” is sometimes used to describe those in influential positions who behave with such arrogance that they believe they are acting as God Himself would–if only He had all the facts.
A fairly recent textbook example of such all-knowing behavior involved members of the Utah State Board of Education.
How ironic that it would involve an institution expressly forbidden from acknowledging the Creator by the much vaunted “separation of church and state“.
This particular God Complex surfaced in 2007 when board members defiantly refused to implement the tuition voucher laws passed by both houses of the state legislature and signed by the Governor.
The Board of Education’s actions verified just how deeply the government education establishment despises competition in any form.
But their contemptuous disregard for the rule of law was even more disturbing.
If the State Board of Education was willing to thumb its collective nose at duly enacted laws with which it disagreed, what other abuses might it be willing to countenance to protect its interests? What else could be justified with an assurance that the board “knows what’s best”?
The board’s actions demonstrated a classic statist mindset that anything pertaining to the education of the children of Utah must be firmly under its control or be considered out of control. So where does that leave parents and students who would seek alternatives to the government education monopoly?
Perhaps it’s time to consider a separation of school and state.
Imagine what would happen if the state divested itself of the responsibility of educating our children. The school buildings would remain, the productive teachers would still have employment, and the resources would still exist albeit under different ownership.
Parents would pay user fees or tuition instead of property taxes. The state would get back to the work of protecting the rights of its citizens and the teachers’ union leadership might finally enjoy the prospect of holding productive jobs in society.
No more fighting over vouchers, sex education, creationism vs. science or any of the other politicized issues that are the hallmarks of government provided education. Best of all, parents could choose the educational path that’s best for their children instead of being forced to simply dump them into the herd.
But too few Utahns are willing to think beyond the party slogans of the education establishment. Statists both in and out of government tend to view all non-government school alternatives as somehow destructive to the well-being of Utah students.
Far too many people still prefer the collectivist worldview that instills the notion that only the state, through ever-increasing taxation and compulsory attendance policies, can provide a uniform education to the masses.
Utah’s State Board of Education has done a masterful job of framing all attempts to enlarge parental choice in education as dangerous and anti-social.
It has likewise succeeded in promoting public conformity and obedience to the state’s educational bureaucracy as the sole arbiters of what is best for our children.
The education establishment’s interests come first. Our children’s educational needs are a secondary concern.
How did it come it to this? How could so many parents be persuaded that turning the responsibility for their child’s education over to the state was the proper thing to do?
Sheldon Richman of the Future of Freedom Foundation explains:
“Many of us grow up believing that government reflects the will of the people. But skeptics know better. Government has assumed more and more control over private life not because the people demanded it, but because power-seekers and privilege-seekers sought outlets for their ambitions. They then propagandized the public until a sufficient number of people came to believe government control was good for them.”
For the record, vouchers are not the best answer to breaking the state’s desired monopoly on education. They still allow money to pass through the hands of the government which means that conditions and strings will always be attached to its use.
Even tuition tax credits can be subject to a degree of state coercion through conditions under which they may be used. The only sure way to restore parental choice in education is through the separation of school and state.
It won’t be easy to accomplish.
George Contor’s Law of Conservation of Ignorance states:
“A false conclusion once arrived at and widely accepted is not easily dislodged, and the less it is understood, the more tenaciously it is held.”
These words are especially true when referring to how the public views the government education establishment.
Bryan blogs at Hydeologue.com. He and his wife Becky are raising their six children in Cedar City, Utah.