By Ian Underwood
Once upon a time, public schools were largely a response to two constraints: scarcity of educational resources, and difficulty of travel. But those constraints are no longer as significant as they once were.
In particular, travel has become easy enough that many people think nothing of driving 30 miles to go out to dinner. A hundred years ago, there were people who never traveled that far from where they were born.
But now the hidden costs of travel are emerging. Not monetary costs, but environmental costs.
That is, whether it’s jetting across the country, or jaunting to the next town to pick up a pizza, every time we get in a vehicle when we don’t absolutely have to, we’re kicking Mother Earth in the nads.
During the current school year, more than 500 thousand buses will transport more than 25 million students to and from school and school-related activities, traveling almost 3.5 billion miles. And almost all those trips are unnecessary.
Why? Because we no longer have a scarcity of educational resources, and therefore we no longer have any good reason to ship kids to centralized locations so they can share them. Digital resources are infinitely reproducible, and have negligible costs of transmission. Anyone who can connect to the Internet has access to more educational materials — including more high-quality instructors — than he could ever make use of, many of them available for free.
These days, when a kid leaves his house to go to school, his opportunities to become educated are reduced rather than increased.
And, if you’ve been reading the news, or following social media, you know that there are a lot of other problems that come along with concentrating lots of kids into shared spaces where many of them don’t want to be:
- School buildings are expensive to build, maintain, heat, staff, and operate. Once emptied of students and teachers, they can be rented or sold to businesses that would contribute to the tax base instead of draining it.
- Like prisons, schools create an environment in which bullying is going to be the rule, rather than the exception.
- Because they are funded with taxes, schools must necessarily serve as battlegrounds for political issues like experimental curricula and assessments, parental rights, transgender issues, and so on.
- Schools encourage breaking kids into cohorts, which is the pedagogical equivalent of astrology (i.e., the idea that just knowing when you were born is enough to determine what you should be learning now). This in turn encourages prioritizing seat time over achievement.
- Schools, being shared facilities, allow the rich to be subsidized by the poor. In contrast, supplying a laptop and an internet connection only to those who can’t afford them would eliminate this perverse situation.
- Schools require parents who want to make changes for their children to try to change the practices of an entire school or district, which is often impossible.
- Schools, because they must offer the least restrictive environment for students with developmental and disciplinary problems, often end up creating the most disruptive environment for all the other students.
- Schools are inherently wasteful, presenting educational content at a markup of about 10,000 percent.
- Schools are the only places where school shootings can occur.
All these problems simply go away if the kids learn at home, rather than in these prison-like environments.
The #YellowNewDeal is simply this: Keep the kids at home, where they can learn in comfort and safety, secure in the knowledge that they are being educated in a way that respects and protects the earth.
What makes the #YellowNewDeal such an extraordinary opportunity is its win-win-win nature. We protect the earth, we protect the kids, and we protect the taxpayers. The only things we give up are the kinds of problems listed above.
As Greta Thunberg reminds us, future generations are watching us, and if we choose to fail them, they will never forgive us.
So let’s do the right thing. Keep the kids at home. #YellowNewDeal.
This article was originally published on GraniteGrok.com. This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Liberty Block or any of its members. We welcome all forms of serious feedback and debate.