Oak Norton’s talk on ending compulsory education from the 2012 Agency-Based Education conference. Click that link for more presentations from the conference. Some related notes including Utah state law and Supreme court cases regarding the “fundamental liberty interest” of parents to guide their children’s education are below.

Utah Compulsory Attendance Related Laws

62A-4a-201.   Rights of parents — Children’s rights — Interest and responsibility of state.

“Under both the United States Constitution and the constitution of this state, a parent possesses a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and management of the parent’s children.”

“(d) The state recognizes that:
(i) a parent has the right, obligation, responsibility, and authority to raise, manage, train, educate, provide for, and reasonably discipline the parent’s children; and
(ii) the state’s role is secondary and supportive to the primary role of a parent.”

Utah Code 53A-11-(101, 101.3, 101.5, 101.7, 102, 103, 104, and 105)

Utah Administrative Rule R277-438 and 607


“As long as these [socialist] ideas prevail, it is clear that the responsibility of government is enormous… It is burdened with everything, it undertakes everything, it does everything; therefore it is responsible for everything…In creating a monopoly of education, the government must answer to the hopes of the fathers of families who have thus been deprived of their liberty; and if these hopes are shattered, whose fault is it?” – Frederick Bastiat, The Law

“Is it a right or a duty in society to take care of their infant members in opposition to the will of the parent? How far does this right and duty extend? –to guard the life of the infant, his property, his instruction, his morals? The Roman father was supreme in all these: we draw a line, but where? –public sentiment does not seem to have traced it precisely. . . It is better to tolerate the rare instance of a parent refusing to let his child be educated, than to shock the common feelings and ideas by the forcible asportation and education of the infant against the will of the father. . . What is proposed. . . is to remove the objection of expense, by offering education gratis, and to strengthen parental excitement by the disfranchisement of his child while uneducated.”  -Thomas Jefferson: Note to Elementary School Act, 1817, ME 17:423

“Compulsory education is the chink in the armor of capitalist societies: they try to teach children the values of contract and initiative, but base their educational system on compulsion and conformity. Communist societies suffer from no such inconsistency: they try to teach their children command and obedience, and their educational system is consistent with inculcating this ethic.” -Thomas Szasz

“God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies… persons are so constituted that they will develop themselves harmoniously in the clean air of liberty… Away with their artificial systems…the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their government schools, their state religions…

And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.” – Frederick Bastiat, The Law

Shocking Quotes:

“What the church has been for medieval man, the public school must become for democratic and rational man. God will be replaced by the concept of the public good.” – Horace Mann

“The school is primarily a social institution. Education being a social process, the school is simply that form of community life in which all those agencies are concentrated that will be most effective in bringing the child to share in the inherited resources of the race, and to use his own powers for social ends.” –John Dewey

“Public education has served as a check on the power of parents, and this is another powerful reason for maintaining it.” – John Goodlad

“Enlightened social engineering is required to face situations that demand global action now… Parents and the general public must be reached also, otherwise, children and youth enrolled in globally oriented programs may find themselves in conflict with values assumed in the home. And then the educational institution frequently comes under scrutiny and must pull back.” – John Goodlad

Other Resources:

HSLDA References to Supreme Court Cases on the “fundamental liberty interest” of parents to control their children’s education

www.Improve-Education.org (Bruce Deitrick Price – Excellent website)

“The Leipzig Connection, the systematic destruction of American education” by Paolo Lionni


Provo Daily Herald: District goes to lengths for at-risk students (http://bit.ly/Qkq9Cg) (cap sensitive)

John Taylor Gatto’s 3rd Teacher of the Year award acceptance speech:


The Costs of Compulsory Education http://mises.org/daily/5384

Ending Compulsory Education

About The Author


  • Jesse Fisher

    As a former educator who saw firsthand the damage we do to children when we coerce them to learn, I felt like cheering during Oak’s presentation at least once a minute. Great ideas that are very timely.

  • Kim

    I love this idea! It allows parents to choose the mentors for their children. It allows for education system to get rid of the bad teachers by popular demand. It allows children to feel empowered making their own decisions for their future. It is not a one size fits all. Naturally shifts the responsibility of teachers to TEACH the children and it provides a natural system for accountability. Great Video! This eliminates so many problems!

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