Coercion vs. Choice
Coerced association will lead to a process by which the most vicious values of a culture assimilate all others. That must be emphasized when dealing with those who, while perhaps not opposing public education, do oppose the values that will inevitably come out on top.
A person may refuse to understand that the principle of coercion alone is a pernicious thing, but when they realize that coercion works to the exclusive end of destroying their values, they’ll become far less tolerant of it. That is what opponents of public education must emphasize.
So wrote Rudy Takala, a very perceptive, very articulate, homeschooled, 16 year old - and nationally published - commentator on politics and policy in his article A Brief Guide to Reforming Education.
I think he is on to something. Compulsory education has been the law of the land for over 100 years. It was intended to secure a universal education for all, thus assuring social justice and equality. An admirable goal, to be sure. And it has had measurable success despite the reluctance of critics to say so. I have been uncomfortable with those critics who argue that not all people have the same ability or desire to be educated and therefore imposed standards are more harmful than good. Some critics also argue that imposed schooling is contrary to true education, which they define as a critical mind and the internally motivated pursuit of knowledge. These arguments have some measure of truth in them, to be sure, but I am uncomfortable with them because if taken too far down this road of logic they have paved, it leads to social Darwinism and elitist thinking. No, I reject the idea that compulsory education is the problem. But I do accept the idea that coercive association and coercive modality is the problem. Modern education has failed us not because we require our children to be educated, but because we require them to be educated in a proscribed way with a proscribed peer group in a proscribed setting.
Plato warned that utopia, however attractive it may appear, will never work because of the degree of synthetic constraint on human nature it requires. This is where compulsory education has gone wrong. Modern education as it exists today constrains free peoples into the "approved" definition of education, complete with an "approved" method of attaining this education, an "approved" content of education, and an "approved" setting of education. This is not only contrary to the concept of freedom, but as Takala rightly points out, it is destructive of the positive value - education - it promotes.