From my latest column at Time:
If we’re being honest, private and public schools at all levels teach all sorts of nonsense with tax dollars (Pell grants and guaranteed student loans are widely used at religious colleges and universities after all). Yet the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that such aid is constitutionally sound as long as the money goes to individual students and parents.
Whatever else you can say about school vouchers and other forms of school choice (such as charter schools), they expand opportunities for parents whose children are otherwise trapped in schools that rarely perform well. There is much research documenting that vouchers improve student outcomes and little that says vouchers diminish student outcomes. Stephanie Simon, the author of Politico‘s story about creationism and vouchers, quoted a Brookings scholar in a piece last year saying, “There’s no evidence that people are being harmed” via voucher programs. At the very least, it should count for something that parental rates of satisfaction are higher at schools of choice (including public charters and magnets) that at traditional public schools to which students are simply assigned.
Ideally, none of us would be forced to subsidize lesson plans or schools with which we disagree — and nobody would be forced to pay for schools unless their kids were attending or they felt like making a gift. Certainly it would be better to separate school and the state, if only because, as Marx might put it, the function of compulsory education is to reinforce the status quo and maintain the existing social order rather than to create critical thinkers who might challenge it.
Related: "Hey Politico, Apparently Public Schools Don't Teach Low-Income Minority Students Sciene at All!" and "Tax Dollars Are Used to Teach All Sorts of Stupid Shit, But It's News When School Vouchers are Involved."