Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said at a lunch yesterday that individuals can’t educate young people well, if at all, themselves. This will come as a surprise to the thousands of homeschool and school choice families across the state. If you are a homeschool parent, or believe there are educational advantages in pulling your child out from under government’s pervasive bureaucratic control, Hickenlooper’s assertion might offend you.
Government should do what people individually can’t do, or can’t do well themselves. You know, educating our young people, [emphasis added] making sure our roads are designed and built properly, making sure our communities are safe…that our economic system is robust, but at the same time fair…that every person has a fair shot at creating their own quality of life…we protect for the longterm our environment and Colorado’s natural splendor…I mean, that’s pretty much the basic…when I look at the core list…I’m sure you would all have something you would add…but that’s where it’s gets the problem.
Although Hickenlooper won reelection this year his descent from one of the most popular Governors in the nation to a narrow victory at the ballot box can be explained, at least in part, by his stream-of-consciousness speaking style. In the above clip Hickenlooper reveals his concerning mentality regarding the superiority of government over the individual in some areas.
The perennial left-right debate of the proper role of federal, state and local governments will continue to wage for years to come. Yet, the lefty condescension toward people who choose a more individualized path; whether that be in education, self-defense and security, or in economic opportunity creation, is on full display in the Governor’s comments.
Hickenlooper’s statement is most offensive to people who choose to homeschool, but should also concern anyone who advocates for school choice. In Colorado, although charters are public schools and can be chartered through either a school district or a state chartering institution, they are classified as charitable organizations through the IRS. This classification comes with an autonomous board of directors and operating bylaws, just like any other charity. In many cases these charters were started by the very individuals that Hickenlooper asserts are incapable of educating young people themselves either well or at all, and as a direct result of the failures of traditional government-run schools. Often times, these individuals who have come together to create an autonomous solution outside of a traditional government path exceed educational outcomes offered by the government with fewer resources.
Colorado State Senator Owen Hill, incoming Chairman of Colorado’s Senate Education Committee had this to say about the Governor’s comments: “I hope to be able to work with the Governor’s office in the upcoming legislative session, but hopefully we can find consensus that in order to improve the educational landscape in Colorado we must embrace the idea that individuals are fully capable of not only educating young people well, but creating solutions to educational needs that don’t always fit just under the one-size-fits-all banner of government.”