Safeguarding Our Independence

Safeguarding Our Independence
July 2, 2014

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)

School Choice Weekly #43

Liberty is precious, and precious things require careful preservation. Like an exquisite but delicate flower, liberty needs nurturing and protection. One of the institutions America’s founders created to preserve our culture of liberty and self-government was education.

In their day, education was not a monolithic system controlled by national nannies. It was an institution similar to, and springing from, the family. When we say the word “family” we automatically think of our own, but when we say “education” we often now think of a sprawling system of mandates, money, and power players. Where an education provides nourishment for a mind that loves and thus defends liberty, however, it is always intensely personal and local.

This week, when every year we celebrate the uniquely American tradition of hard-won independence, is an excellent time to ponder these words of Russell Kirk, and apply them to education.

Conservatism’s most conspicuous difficulty in our time is that conservative leaders confront a people who have come to look upon society, vaguely, as a homogeneous mass of identical individuals whose happiness may be obtained by direction from above, through legislation or some scheme of public instruction. Conservatives endeavor to teach humanity once more that the germ of public affections (in Burke’s words) is ‘to learn to love the little platoon we belong to in society.’

A task for conservative leaders is to reconcile individualism––which sustained nineteenth century life even while it starved the soul of the nineteenth century––with the sense of community that ran strong in Burke and Adams. If conservatives cannot redeem the modern masses from the sterile modern mass–mind, then a miserable collectivism impoverishing body and soul impends over Britain and America––the collectivism that has submerged Eastern Europe and much of Asia and Africa, the collectivism (as Orwell wrote) of ‘the stream–lined men who think in slogans and talk in bullets.’

All politics is local, and so is all education. An education worthy of the name teaches us what is good, that we may love it. In loving what is good, and teaching this to children, we may yet hope to preserve and regenerate the country we also love.

SOURCE: The Imaginative Conservative


School Choice Roundup

  • INDIANA: The anti-choice Indiana Department of Education says voucher students cost the state $16 million this past school year. Actually, this economic analyst says, voucher students save taxpayers at least that much, if not much more.
  • POLLS: The Friedman Foundation’s annual school choice poll has arrived. Notable findings: Higher percentages of Americans support school choice, in all its forms, and the support is especially strong among coveted demographics such as low-income, minority, and young voters. Support for and opposition to Common Core is split, but most voters say the issue makes little difference to them.

Common Core Watch

  • POLLS: Support for Common Core among parents of school-age children has plummeted since November, from 52 percent support to 34 percent support, a new poll finds.

Education Today

  • EDTECH: A series of studies are finding that giving kids computers does not reduce achievement gaps between poor and wealthier kids. It actually increases those gaps, because parents in wealthier families direct their kids’ computer use, while parents in poor families typically don’t.

Thank you for reading! If you need a quicker fix of news about school choice, you can find daily updates online under the Ed News Roundup at

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)