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Harry Browne on Education

2000 Libertarian Nominee for President


National standards imply states can’t do it themselves

Q: Pass or veto a national test for students?

A: Education is a state and local issue, so that’s a veto.

Q: So the veto is based on states’ rights?

A: The 9th & 10th Amendments prohibit the federal government from taking on a lot of functions, except those specifically enumerated for the federal government. Education is not one of those enumerated functions. When Bush says he wants to set a “standard,” he’s saying that the state government isn’t smart enough to do it itself.

Source: Phone interview with Jim Babka, Browne’s Press Secretary , Aug 9, 2000

Separation of school & state: No Ten Commandments

Q: What do you think about posting the Ten Commandments in schools and in other public places? A: Once the American people elect me President, they would be sending a clear mandate to the country that we need to carry out the proposals of my campaign. One of those was very clear. The sale of federal assets.
My hope and prayer would be that we would have so few ‘public’ (government owned) places that this would not be an issue.
As an individual I support the Separation of School and State, as President I promise to keep my nose out of how your family and your community addresses the social development [of your] children.
Source: Email correspondence from the candidate with OnTheIssues.org , Jan 27, 2000

Separate school and state

Browne on K-12 education: “End all federal involvement in education. Repeal the income tax so that parents will have the resources necessary to choose the school they want.”

On college: “By ending the income tax most families will have the resources necessary to choose the college they want. Government involvement has increased the cost of higher education.”

On religion in schools: “We should separate school & state so individuals can make the right choices for themselves & their children.”

Source: 2000 National Political Awareness Test , Jan 13, 2000

Government educates our children badly

Q: What about education? A: If the government were in the food business, the debate would be “How do we get more vegetables in the store?” One side would say, “The taxpayers are going to have to cough up more money.” The other side would say, “We should issue food stamps to everybody.” Nobody would say, “Why don’t we get the government out of the food business?” Similarly, Why is government educating our children when government does everything so badly?
Source: The Alan Colmes Show, WEBD NY 1050 AM , Aug 26, 1999

Let people who care run our schools instead of government

Q: How would you guarantee that everyone got an education [if the government stops running the school system]? A: I can’t guarantee anything, whether the government is doing it or not doing it. But there are so many people that care about children’s education, and who care about having a literate country, they would make sure there are provisions for the poor as well. There are all kinds of systems, like private vouchers, with people putting up money for poor children to go to private schools.
Source: The Alan Colmes Show, WEBD NY 1050 AM , Aug 26, 1999

No School Prayer Amendment

Browne does not support amending the Constitution to allow voluntary prayer nor a moment of silence in public schools. Browne says, “remove the federal government from education entirely.”
Source: 1996 National Political Awareness Test , May 1, 1996

Remove the federal government from education entirely

Does not support students receiving money from the federal government for college in return for performing community service. “Remove the federal government from education entirely.”
Source: 1996 National Political Awareness Test , May 1, 1996

Teaching non-academic topics is cause of declining SATs

Since none of those subjects shows up on the SAT tests, it’s not surprising that SAT scores declined so much.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p.112-3 , Jul 2, 1995

Importance of education no reason for govt control

If important things [like education] must be handled by government, why doesn’t government provide free food-as it provides free schooling? One could live without knowing how to read, but no one can live without food. So why doesn’t government operate the supermarkets?

Imagine what it would be like. The food stores would become what the schools have become. Political battles would decide which foods are available. If you don’t like the choices, you’d have to attend “food board” meetings. Food would become more and more expensive, even as the quality deteriorated. And don’t get caught praying in a supermarket.

Now let’s reverse the picture. Imagine instead that schools were operated like today’s supermarkets. Most school systems would offer a variety of approaches to any one subject-just as a supermarket offers a variety of brands for any one food item. And if you didn’t like what one school offered, or if you didn’t like the way your child was treated, you could patronize another school.

Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.115 , Jul 2, 1995


Harry Browne on School Choice

Vouchers will result in govt control of private schools

Why won’t politicians [exert excessive control] over private schools once they get them hooked on federal money [via vouchers]? Has government ever subsidized anything without controlling it?

Look at what has happened to colleges. Since 1975, if a single student at a college-public or private-receives any kind of government grant (even if the money doesn’t pass through the college), the school must comply with a long, long list of federal rules. It might seem that any private elementary school could just drop out of a voucher program if the federal government began imposing oppressive controls. In principle, it could. And so could colleges resist controls by dropping out of aid programs. But colleges don’t drop out. Once it’s become dependent on the manna from Washington, no college will turn it down-no matter how bad the controls become. For example, VMI and the Citadel were forced to overturn their most basic policies. Either could have evaded by rejecting federal aid, but neither did.

Source: The Great Libertarian Offer, p.148-149 , Sep 9, 2000

Private vouchers do more to educate poor than govt does

Without “free” public schooling, how would the children of poor families be educated? First, an end to the income tax and school taxes would reduce dramatically the number of poor families. Second, poor children could acquire private schooling in the same manner as so many of them do now-through tuition aid provided by religious schools and private voucher programs.

Far more children attend private schools today through private voucher programs than through government voucher programs. Numerous agencies administer programs to put poor children in private schools-programs paid for by private companies.

And all this is achieved while government drains 47% of the national income from us in taxes. Suppose that tax load were cut in half-by repealing the federal income tax and local school taxes. Can you imagine how much money would be available to take care of any child in need of a good education?

Source: The Great Libertarian Offer, p.152 , Sep 9, 2000

Vouchers are just another way to attach federal strings

Q: Would Browne, if elected President, sign into law or veto a bill which would allow all states to institute voucher programs to use education funds in private schools?

A: Harry Browne is opposed to vouchers, because anytime government money goes anywhere, there are strings attached. Vouchers would be used as a means of exerting federal control over private and parochial schools.

Source: Phone interview with Jim Babka, Browne’s Press Secretary , Aug 9, 2000

Better schools without vouchers by removing federal govt

Q: You have a plan for better schools without vouchers?<>A: Yes, get the federal government out of education. That will reduce the cost and complexity of education. Repeal the income tax - so you can afford to put your child in any school you want, without pleading with the state for a voucher or fighting the school board for a better curriculum. Eventually, we must separate all schools from the state. Education is too important to leave to politicians.
Source: EVote.com on-line chat , Jun 14, 2000

Federal involvement in schools doesn’t work

As for schools, I support a complete return of the responsibility for education to parents and communities. According to the Constitution it is illegal for the federal government to manage or control education. Test scores and school violence seems to prove that federal involvement also doesn’t work.
Once we’ve ended the Income Tax, the thousands of dollars you would be able to keep could be applied to sending your children to a school that promotes your values.
Source: Email correspondence from the candidate with OnTheIssues.org , Jan 27, 2000

Give parents “total” control over school selection

Q: How much choice should parents be given in selecting their children’s schools? A: Total.

Q: There are millions of children in government-run schools right now-how best to deal with those kids’ education? A: I believe that the Department of Education should be closed. Trust me, that would be a big step in improving education in this country. Test scores seem to bear a close relationship with federal money spent - the more we spend the worse they get.
But I also believe it is important to empower parents and families. Ending all income taxes would do more to create prosperity in the general economy and improve the family budget than any step any Republican or Democrat politician is proposing today. Just to start with, many parents with more money available would choose a different school for their children.

Source: Email correspondence from the candidate with OnTheIssues.org , Jan 27, 2000

Get government out of education so parents can choose

We don’t want to solve the education crisis by giving government the power to dispense voucher money according to the politicians’ standards. We want to get the government completely out of education and repeal the income tax, so that parents have the power and the resources to make their own choices.
Source: http://www.harrybrowne2000.org/ “The pack” 5/16/99 , Apr 3, 1998

Repeal taxes so parents can afford any school they choose

Browne would “remove the federal government from education entirely. Repeal the income tax immediately, so parents can afford to send their children to schools of their own choice, or to home-school their children, without having to get vouchers or approval from government.”
Source: 1996 National Political Awareness Test , May 1, 1996

Vouchers better than public schools; no govt is best

The success of private schools-even private schools on skimpy budgets-has inspired the idea of “school choice” or “vouchers.” I understand well the attraction of this approach. And it might be an improvement over today’s poor schooling.
But government doesn’t work. And giving government control over education-in any form-is dangerous. A voucher program means requires a government bureaucracy to administer it and government “experts” to decide which schools are “qualified” to accept the vouchers.
It is especially dangerous to have the federal government administer such a program or set the rules for it. The Feds are too far removed from local school issues to have any competence in education.
It is far better to lower the tax burden so that parents are financially able to buy the education they want-with no rules imposed by government. Then each family could send its children to any school they want-or teach them at home.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.116 , Jul 2, 1995

Feds out of education and states out of education

    There are two important changes that must be made to improve education:
  1. The federal government must get completely out of education. It has made a bad situation much worse. And it has no Constitutional authority to meddle in education in any way- even if it were capable of helping.
  2. Federal taxes must be lowered dramatically so that parents have the ability to finance their children’s education directly.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.117 , Jul 2, 1995

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Education.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Harry Browne.
  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Harry Browne.
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Page last updated: Oct 08, 2013