Dear Rev. Rich Peacock and other members of Peace Action of Michigan:
It was interesting to read a bit about your group’s history. Especially that one of the original organizations was Nuclear Freeze, which I actively promoted and protested for when I was a student at Western Michigan University through-out the 1980’s.
As you probably recall I have spent much of my campaign time in more recent years advocating a non-interventionist foreign policy, which would scale down the military industrial complex, and remove many of the excuses given for large stockpiles of weapons.
As a libertarian I too seek a world without violence, even when the noble goals are given as justification. I too seek a demilitarized sustainable economy, the abolition of weapons of mass destruction, and diplomatic resolutions to global conflicts.
I will humbly ask your endorsement and answer the two questions:
- If the Education Secretary Betsy Devos gives states the ability to buy guns for schools, what will you do?
I would point out that she is making a cynical attempt to score points with some constituency, by taking credit for doing something purely symbolic. States can already buy guns for schools, and to some extent they already do. Detroit, for instance, has its own police force and most of the district’s funding comes from the state.
Libertarian’s view taxation as theft, in that it ultimately depends on the use of violence to extort funds from peaceful people. So in principal, I object to the aggressive extortion of funds to buy guns or other things for individuals and local institutions.
What I can do directly is limited, but I can use my position to advise legislators to adopt less aggressive policies and urge them to move in the direction non-aggression and voluntarism.
The shift of funding to more distant controlling organizations impairs flexibility by those who are closest to students and best understand their needs. Much of this is the result of state and Federal taxes becoming a larger source of public school funding. In advising legislators and our superintendent I will advocate returning more control to local districts and reducing state involvement, including funding for local school police.
- What do you think of the recently proposed changes to the social studies curriculum?
Here I assume you are referring to the politically motivated, agenda driven changes first advanced by Senator Patrick Colbeck. In looking closely at the many of the pages of the new and old state curriculum, I saw largely cosmetic changes designed to score points with the Senators reactionary base. For instance, many reports show huge amounts of content stricken from a description in one column of the curriculum outline. That content often took the form of a list of examples in parenthesis. What is often omitted from reports is that most of that content was simply moved to a separate “Example” column. This gave the appearance of sweeping change, while doing little more than make the revised description more compact and easier to read.
As a matter of principal, I object to government mandated curricula in general. As long as education is in the hands of the politicians instead of educators, families and students, it will be a political football. And it is difficult to imagine true political and ideological neutrality being possible in a social studies curriculum. There are only so many hours in a day, and the choice of what information to include or exclude will have an agenda behind it. As a member of a third party I recall childhood civics classes as being structured to push the two party system and a one dimensional approach to political philosophy. As a substitute in K-12 classes I find this is often still the case. As a Board member I won’t be using my position to infuse libertarianism into the curriculum, rather I will work to diversify curriculum by giving autonomy to educational institutions, families and students. Assimilation is not liberation. The cookie-cutter approach to education is poor pedagogy and impairs innovation. Educators need to be able to compete to attract students based on applying methods that are most effective on particular individuals.