Tea Party candidate David Harmer, who is running as a Republican for the U.S. House of Representatives in California's 11th District, thinks the nation's public education system should more closely resemble the way it looked in 1825. In other words, Harmer would abolish public schools altogether.
In an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2000, Harmer wrote the following:
To attain quantum leaps in educational quality and opportunity, however, we need to separate school and state entirely. Government should exit the business of running and funding schools.
This is no utopian ideal; it's the way things worked through the first century of American nationhood, when literacy levels among all classes, at least outside the South, matched or exceeded those prevailing now, and when public discourse and even tabloid content was pitched at what today would be considered a college-level audience.
Figures provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Census Bureau, however, show that illiteracy rates fell swiftly in the decades after public education was made available in the United States, especially among blacks.
While taking stands against gay marriage and health care reform, Harmer does not mention the topic of education on the "Issues" page of his website.
Many tea party candidates espouse the notion of repealing amendments of the U.S. Constitution so that it better resembles the document written back in the 1700s. Likewise, Harmon and many of his conservative allies would gut government by abolishing departments they consider unnecessary. But Harmer's belief that public schools represent "socialism in education" is something of a unique position.