Really? You'd take schools away from the government just because you think learning institutions should allow prayer? Wow.
I'd take schools back
from the government because the government shouldn't be indoctrinating and institutionalizing children, youth and young adults with an education of omission, misinformation, and propaganda let alone unnecessary compulsory attendance.
Part of the reason for this tyranny over the nation's youth is misplaced altruism on the part of the educated middle class. The workers, or the "lower classes," they felt, should have the opportunity to enjoy the schooling the middle classes value so highly. And if the parents or the children of the masses should be so benighted as to balk at this glorious opportunity set before them, well, then, a little coercion must be applied — "for their own good," of course.
A crucial fallacy of the middle-class school worshippers is confusion between formal schooling and education in general. Education is a lifelong process of learning, and learning takes place not only in school, but in all areas of life. When the child plays, or listens to parents or friends, or reads a newspaper, or works at a job, he or she is becoming educated. Formal schooling is only a small part of the educational process, and is really only suitable for formal subjects of instruction, particularly in the more advanced and systematic subjects. The elementary subjects, reading, writing, arithmetic and their corollaries, can easily be learned at home and outside the school.
Furthermore, one of the great glories of mankind is its diversity, the [p. 121] fact that each individual is unique, with unique abilities, interests, and aptitudes. To coerce into formal schooling children who have neither the ability nor the interest in this area is a criminal warping of the soul and mind of the child.
Indeed, if we look into the history of the drive for public schooling and compulsory attendance in this and other countries, we find at the root not so much misguided altruism as a conscious scheme to coerce the mass of the population into a mould desired by the Establishment. Recalcitrant minorities were to be forced into a majority mould; all citizens were to be inculcated in the civic virtues, notably and always including obedience to the State apparatus. Indeed, if the mass of the populace is to be educated in government schools, how could these schools not become a mighty instrument for the inculcation of obedience to the State authorities? Martin Luther, a leader in the first modern drive for compulsory State education, phrased the plea typically in his famous letter of 1524 to the rulers of Germany:
Dear rulers . . . . I maintain that the civil authorities are under obligation to compel the people to send their children to school . . . . If the government can compel such citizens as are fit for military service to bear spear and rifle, to mount ramparts, and perform other martial duties in time of war, how much more has it a right to the people to send their children to school, because in this case we are warring with the devil, whose object it is secretly to exhaust our cities and principalities . . . .
The government has attempted to indoctrinate and mould the nation's youth through the public school system, and to mould the future leaders through State operation and control of higher education. Abolition of compulsory attendance laws would end the schools' role as prison custodians of the nation's youth, and would free all those better off outside the schools for independence and for productive work. The abolition of the public schools would end the crippling property tax burden and provide a vast range of education to satisfy all the freely exercised needs and demands of our diverse and varied population. The abolition of government schooling would end the unjust coerced subsidy granted to large families, and, often, toward the upper classes and against the poor. The miasma of government, of moulding the youth of America in the direction desired by the State, would be replaced by freely chosen and voluntary actions — in short, by a genuine and truly free education, both in and out of formal schools.
- Murray N. Rothbard, For a New Liberty (excerpts)
Then who's going to pay for the schools? Okay, the government does not pay for the school. Now there will only be private schools.
What's wrong with that? Market competition would increase efficiency, diversity and decrease cost. Lack of mandated coercion from the state would lower demand and decrease cost. Lack of state-funded and state-managed schools would eliminate the state's coercive monopoly on the education system, allowing for decreased costs in the private sector, as well as improved quality.
School isn't free now, just as it wouldn't be free without government. The difference is we'd actually have a variety of choice and options open up to individuals, families and communities. It is also feasible to suggest that private charities may arise to provide for elementary education to the lower classes.
Of course, I don't think I'd personally suggest liberating the education system from the oppressive hand of the state prior to greater overhauls in economic policy, as the transition would be much more smooth and manageable only after certain other changes have taken place.