*The following essay won the 2016 Milton Friedman Essay Contest
Joshua Durgin, Matthew Gagnon
Parental choice in education should be the norm, not the exception. The idea that government and society should decide how individual students are educated is backwards from the founding principles of this nation.
Government and society should help set standards and norms to aid in the education of the youth, not dictate their education like a socialist state where individuals are seen as nothing more than cogs in the wheel.
Parental choice is the philosophy of our nation’s founders, and the ideals upon which our country was founded. It is the philosophical belief that children are more than just the next generation of human beings, but the literal individual descendants of their parents. It is upon this Judeo-Christian foundation that education was built in America. That our children should not only be educated, but educated in the manner which makes them the unique inheritors of their parents.
This concept is especially true in Maine where there are so many rural vocations that in many ways can only be handed down father to son, and mother to daughter. Take myself for example, I received not only homeschooling education in history, literature and other “regular” curriculums from my mother who was a public school teacher, but also specialized training in the fisheries from my father, a lobsterman.
I also learned from my parents a unique outlook on life, a fisherman’s philosophy on nature and the universe from my father, and the will and knowledge on how to deal with a system and society which differs from my own views by my mother.
Parental choice in education goes far beyond the regular classes and curriculum in schools; it gives a unique transference of lineage to the student. You don’t just learn how to read and write, you learn how to express yourself. Not only do you learn about history, but your ancestors’ place in it.
The educational choices parents make not only imbue knowledge into the student, but a concept of individuality, a realization of where you come from, and an understanding of where you can go. The choices of our parents in education do not just guide our educational pursuits, they define the very essence of what is being pursued: the creation of an individual in the image of his or her forbearers, ready to take up the banner for a new generation.
What makes educational choice by parents so important? Because it is more than just an oblique societal structure creating cogs in the wheel; it is about families which create healthy and strong individuals capable of carrying on not only the knowledge of past generations, but the ideals of it, and the desire to pursue and expand beyond that which was given.
Society can create wonderful schooling structures, but only the parents can be the springboard to help grow their children into the truly independent adults they are capable of being. Anything else would merely create drones who are defined by the system, rather than individuals created by the love and commitment of dedicated parents intent on seeing their children become all that they can be.
This is especially true in Maine which has so many rural communities that have rich with histories in forestry, fisheries and farming.
When we talk about parental choice in education, we are not just talking about books to choose between, we are talking about inheritance. About children becoming the apple of their parent’s eye, the progeny all parents dream of: individuals who one day shall inherit lineages that only they can achieve and a spirit of family that is distinctly theirs.
*Joshua Durgin is an undergraduate student from Cornish, Maine.