Something different?

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” — Socrates

Font Size




Menu Style

You are here You are here: Home Terrace Children Are Slaves Children Are Property Children are Property of the State

Children are Property of the State

Elián González: removed at gunpoint from home Elián González: removed at gunpoint from home

From: The Future of Freedom Foundation – by Jacob G. Hornberger, April 2000

Americans everywhere were outraged at the Cuban diplomat's remark that Elián Gonzales is the property of the Cuban state. If only their outrage extended to their own homeland!

For more than 100 years, Americans have lived under a system of state schooling or, as it is commonly termed, public schooling. Under compulsory-attendance laws, the state requires parents to deliver their children to a state institution to receive a state-approved education from a state-approved schoolteacher using state-approved textbooks and following a state-approved curriculum.

Several months ago, I spent a week in Cuba with the official permission of both the U.S. Treasury Department and the Cuban authorities. The purpose of my trip was to conduct an informal study of Cuba's socialist system as well as the effects of the U.S. embargo on the Cuban people.

One day I was visiting an official state historical museum, which was riddled, of course, with pro-communist and anti-CIA memorabilia. The exhibits were fascinating, but when about a hundred schoolchildren (all in uniform, of course) were suddenly ushered into the museum by their schoolteachers, they (and I) were treated to a couple of hours of Cuba's official version of history, which was even more fascinating.

And then there were the billboards. In the cities and in the countryside, the Cuban people are treated to giant government billboards proclaiming Fidel Castro's two proudest socialistic accomplishments: free public schooling and free national health care.

My conversations with Cubans on the street (I speak Spanish fluently) revealed that while many of them still revere Castro for having the courage to stand up to the imperialism of the United States, they despise (and quietly ridicule) the socialist economic system under which they suffer. But significantly, Cubans fully understand that such government programs as public schooling and national health care (and occupational licensure and economic regulations) are socialist programs.

Contrast this with the American people. Expressing outrage over the suggestion that children are the property of the state, Americans honestly believe that public schooling is a feature of free enterprise or capitalism . They block out of their minds that through public schooling, children are effectively made the property of the state right here at home.

Now, it's true that in recent years, homeschooling has made significant inroads into the state schooling system, but what really matters is who wields ultimate control over the education of the child. Even parents who homeschool their children are required to report to state education officials to secure official approval that they are educating their children in a correct manner.

In both Cuba and the United States, ultimate control over the education of the child rests with the state, not the family. When a child reaches the age of 6 years old, his status as property of the state requires that he be educated in a state-approved manner. In American public schools, for example, children are taught an official version of the 1959 Cuban Revolution that is diametrically opposed to the version that the state teaches schoolchildren in Cuba.

If a parent in either country resists, the state will ultimately punish him by removing his children from his control and placing them in the custody of state officials. Or the state will impose an even harsher sanction.

singer swapp familySinger Swapp familySeveral decades ago, a man in Utah, John Singer, paid the ultimate price for resisting the idea that children are the property of the state. Long before homeschooling became legal, Singer refused to permit his children to be subjected to the aberrant environment of public schooling and became one of the first homeschoolers in the nation.

The state ordered Singer to surrender his children to the public-school authorities so that they could receive a proper education, but he refused, believing that his children belonged to him, not the state.

One day, state law-enforcement officers secretly surrounded Singer's home and shot him dead as he went to his mailbox to retrieve his mail. They said that he resisted arrest when he reached for a pistol as they accosted him. [See "The Ballad of John Singer" for additional information]

The ultimate moral issue is: Who should have control over the educational decisions of children, the family or the state?

The ultimate pragmatic question is: If the free market produces the best of everything else, why shouldn't we end state involvement in education and let the free market reign in the educational arena as well?

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Virginia, publisher of Separating School & State: How to Liberate America's Families by Sheldon Richman. A detailed account of his trip to Cuba is found on The Foundation's website:

Children Are Property

Prev Next Page:

From Father’s Property To Childre…

From Father’s Property To Children’s Rights: A History of Child Custody

From: Berkeley Law – Mary Ann Mason 1994, Columbia University Press Introduction The relationship between parents, children, and the state is arguably the most fundamental relationship in a society. The social attitudes and legal norms embedded in this triangle determine the way we raise our children and provide the basis of social continuity within a nation. This...

Read more

Kevin Maillard on Children as Pro…

Kevin Maillard on Children as Property

By Kevin Maillard – Download 39 page PDF document Here is the abstract: Despite the collective view in law and social practice that it is intrinsically taboo to consider human beings as chattel, the law persists in treating children as property. Applying principles of property, this Article examines paternity disputes to explain and critique the law’s view of...

Read more

Children as property of parents

From: End Hereditary Religion | by Richard Collins Historically, children were considered the property of parents. Under the scheme of patriarchy  wives and children are under the control of the family head, the husband of the family. Much of this hoary antiquated thinking is still promoted by far right conservatives and the vestiges of ancient...

Read more

Future Children as Property

Future Children as Property

From: Social Science Research Network – by Carter Dillard, Loyola University New Orleans Abstract: Between Skinner v. Oklahoma and the advent of modern substantive due process, procreation, at least in the eyes of many courts and commentators, became entrenched as a fundamental, if not absolute, right. And yet ironically, the establishment of this right, often taken as...

Read more

Children are Property of the Stat…

Children are Property of the State

From: The Future of Freedom Foundation – by Jacob G. Hornberger, April 2000 Americans everywhere were outraged at the Cuban diplomat's remark that Elián Gonzales is the property of the Cuban state. If only their outrage extended to their own homeland!

Read more

Christianity stole my childhood –…

Christianity stole my childhood – Katy Perry

From: End Hereditary Religion – Posted by Richard Collins Katy Perry says she left her strict religious upbringing behind after her evangelical minister parents left her without a childhood. The pop singer is on the cover of the June issue of Vanity Fair magazine, where she revealed the differences between hers and her parents’ way of thinking...

Read more

Are Children Property?

Are Children Property?

From: – by Amanda Kloer · April 16, 201 Kids are great. They're miniature versions of us, with smaller bodies, less-developed minds, and a whole lot less emotional baggage than we grown-ups have. But we decided a long time ago that kids don't have all the fully autonomous rights that adults do until they reach a...

Read more

Progress Report: Are Children Mer…

Progress Report: Are Children Merely Property?

From: After wading through the headlines this past week at DetentionSlip, something seems to be bubbling up more and more. The issue here, is a general attitude in our society that people under the age of 18 are second class citizens. We treat them as property. Some folks in power actually believe it is ok to...

Read more

Contents: Children as Property