The citizens of New Hampshire are presently going through the agonies
of deciding which is more important: freedom or money. They have been
put in this dilemma by the state's Supreme Court, which ruled in 1997 --
in its great and unfathomable wisdom -- that the current system of
raising revenue for education with local property taxes creates
unconstitutional inequities between rich and poor towns. Does this also
imply that the inequities that exist between rich and poor are also
unconstitutional? If that's the case, then New Hampshire has a
constitution rewritten by Karl Marx. But who in the state legislature
really cares? These days, constitutions are mainly used by liberals to
promote socialist revolution, even though there may be nothing in the
constitution doing so. But who reads state constitutions these days?
Certainly not the lawmakers.
It is assumed that equal education consists of equal amounts of money
for each pupil, as if all pupils have the same brain capacity to make
use of what passes for education in today's public schools. Apparently,
God did not distribute brains equally. Is that unconstitutional? How
come nobody in New Hampshire is willing to challenge the court in its
unconstitutional thinking. Has anybody in New Hampshire bothered to
define education and find out whether or not it is actually taking place
in the public schools? The court assumed that schools with more money
provide better education than schools with less money. They didn't
bother to test that assumption or listen to testimony challenging that
assumption. But they imposed a deadline of April 1, 1999 for the state
lawmakers to come up with an alternative financing scheme.
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Believe it or not, New Hampshire is the only state left in the union
that does not have a sales tax or a state income tax. As Jere Daniell, a
professor of history at Dartmouth College put it, "What's going on now
is that New Hampshire is becoming more like the rest of the states in
the country that have had to work out the process of providing more
equal funding for education." That "process," by the way, is part of the
liberal movement to restructure American education along socialist
And so, the Governor and the legislature are frantically trying to
find an alternative way of raising the $900-million needed to run the
public schools. House Speaker Donna Systek has proposed a statewide
property tax, the revenues of which would be redistributed among the
towns by way of a complicated formula. Meanwhile, the
Republican-controlled House, narrowly -- 194 to 190 -- approved an
income tax, which Democrat Gov. Jeanne Shaheen has vowed to veto. The
state Senate, controlled by Democrats, may or may not go along with the
House. As for the governor, her plan is for a new tax on businesses to
replace the current business profits and business enterprise taxes.
But believe it or not there is another solution to the problem, which
nobody in New Hampshire has even bothered to think about. If the people
of that state truly cherish freedom over money, then a very simple way
to live free, avoid an income tax, and reduce property taxes
significantly would be to privatize the entire state education system.
This could very easily be done. Let each school in each community become
a private school, run by a board of trustees, charging a reasonable
tuition, and let the communities set up education funds to help those
families that cannot afford the tuition. Thus, the cost of education
would be borne primarily by those who use it.
Privatization would create a real revolution for good. It would
eliminate the state monopoly education system. (Monopolies always charge
the highest price for the worst goods.) It would give parents real
choice. It would force the schools to actually teach rather than
miseducate with such trendy fads as whole language, invented spelling,
and the new, new math. The people of New Hampshire would get better
education at lower cost, and the stifling power of the teachers' unions
would be greatly reduced if not entirely eliminated.
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In other words, the realities of economics would impact on education
the same way they do on every other sector of the economy. Waste and
fraud would be eliminated since there would be little money or tolerance
for that sort of thing. Also, nothing would prevent the schools from
raising money through means other than tuition. Creativity in the
community would flourish.
The benefits of privatization would be incalculable. Taxpayers would
be relieved of a huge tax burden, permitting them to use their money in
more productive ways. Privatization would eliminate the cultural and
religious conflicts that now plague the government schools. It would
open an entire new field for free enterprise and technology. It would
produce better prepared students in academic and technological skills.
It would free up education from the stifling hand of government
regulation. It would de-politicize education, remove it from the
politician's domain, and reduce the size and cost of government
If New Hampshire took such a bold step as to privatize its schools,
it would be a beacon of freedom to the rest of America, and it would
remain true to its inspiring and uplifting motto: Live Free or Die.
Samuel L. Blumenfeld is the author of "The Whole-Language/OBE Fraud"
and seven other books on education. His books are available on