Skylar Burris's Reviews > On Liberty

On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
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Jun 19, 2011

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bookshelves: politics, philosophy, education, economics-finance
Read from April 08 to June 19, 2011

One moment I had my highlighter scrolling like crazy, and the next I felt bored out of my wits. Worth reading for the importance of Mill's classical liberal / libertarian arguments. I was especially interested in what he had to say about education: the idea that the state, while it should require an education for every child, should not be the supplier of education, though it can be the funder for those who cannot afford an education for their children. This would spare us the political battles about what should be taught in school, increase competition and choice, and limit the power of the government to, not his words precisely, but – make clones. This seems like an early libertarian perspective on education, which could be carried out through a sort of universal voucher system scaled to income. But he makes a better argument for the idea than I think I've heard before - that parents are morally responsible for the education of their children. He does suggest annual testing, however, and we see the mess NCLB has left us I'm not so sure about that. In his plan, however, the parents, and not the public schools (because there wouldn't be any), would be held accountable (fined) and be required to see that the children secured a decent enough education (privately, though possibly with public funding) to pass the next time. However, the state would still have to determine what was worthy of putting on the test, design the tests (or pay someone to do so), and approve the tests and enforce them...which returns us again to many of the problems of giving power over education to the state. Anyway, his thoughts on education most intrigued me, because that is a particular, current area of interest for me. There were many more points I highlighted, and I may return to ruminate on them.
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