Rocky Mountain High Schools

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Denver's new voucher program has drawn 82 applicant private schools of all shapes and sizes. Some of them will be seized on by voucher opponents for their unsavory characteristics—one, for instance, considers homosexuality grounds for expulsion. They should probably just be glad those schools will be siphoning off the parents and students who'd be most likely to throw a hissy fit in the monopoly public school system when someone wanted to start a Gay-Straight alliance or an LGBT club. Every onerous practice of a voucher school is a political battle avoided in the public one. There are some strange double standards in the approval process, though: Applicant schools may not discriminate on grounds of race or religion, but sexual orientation discrimination is apparently jim-dandy. I figure if you're going to subsidize bigots, you may as well do it evenhandedly.

Addendum: A writer at the Rocky Mountain news writes to note that almost half of those 82 schools were denied participation in the program, including the school that threatened to expel gay students. Repulsive as I personally find that particular policy, this does raise the sort of concerns many in the comments had about public control of private school poilcy. The Supreme Court ruled in Zelman v Simmons-Harris that voucher programs are immunized from Establishment Clause scrutiny on the grounds that they enable "true private choice" rather than state favoritism. In other words, the constitutionality depends on parents, rather than government, making the central choices. That reasoning seems prima facie incompatible with this kind of aggressive state vetting.

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  1. The largest market distortions of all are the compulsory schooling laws and the “what must be taught” strings that are attached.

  2. “Anyway, I sincerely doubt there’s any evidence that Colorado is any more bigoted towards gays than any other US state, or at least any other state in its region.”

    Perhaps true in Denver, but the home of Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, has a very vocal anti-gay movement, of course, they just happen to also be Bible-thumpers who support vouchers for very non-Libertarian reasons… re-education of children who have been horribly maimed by the teachings of those dreaded scientists.

  3. fyodor,

    Hmm, that’s an odd reaction; I didn’t mean to argue that Colorado was any worse than the rest of the US on the issue. Just that Colorado has confronted an issue with some similarities before.

    See Steve in Co’s comments.

  4. Too bad [the founders] didn’t anticipate the spread of government-run schools; if they had, perhaps they would have included a special amendment to avoid THAT conflict of interest, too.

    Not to burst your bubble, but the founders expressly chose to spread government-run schools. The Land Ordinance Act of 1785 was passed at Jefferson’s initiative, predates the Constitution, and expressly set aside 1/36th of the Northwest Territory land “for the maintenance of public schools.” Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, and it is one of the three achievements listed in the epitaph he wrote for himself (the others are authorship of the Declaration of Independence and Virginia’s religious toleration law). Franklin promulgated a plan for public schools in Pennsylvania in 1749.

  5. My kids go to catholic school, cause I live in the bronx and the public schools suck.

    However, not only do the public schools suck, they do not talk about pilgrims on Thanksgiving, or Santa on christmas. It’s worth the 3,000 each a year to have a conversation with my boys and when I make a reference to plymouth rock or squanto, they know what dad is talking about.

    Are shared values with your children thought inportant? Can i get back my tax money that is pissed away on teaching why heather has two mommys (while that might apply to perhaps.001% or the population) and things that pertain to 90% of the population are ignored? Can NYC teach kids to read in kindergarten for 3,000 per student, do they really mneed the 8,000 that currently spent on each kid uin the system? Can they assign one 72 year old woman to be in charge of 28 5 year olds and teach them all to read (no aides or assistants needed)? Will the parents of the kids in public school make darn sure that THEIR kid isn’t giving that old lady grief while she’s teaching the others to read?

    The answers to those question are NO.

  6. Steve in CO:

    Yes, Focus on the Family, and biblical literalists in general, do support vouchers for either reasons that are non-libertarian, or they mouth libertarian platitudes they surely do not believe in underlying principle. Many on the right, and left, talk libertarian talk when doing so suits their particular agenda.

    But just because various sectors may advocate an idea for a wrong reason, does not thereby render the idea mistaken. Fundamentalists gain some liberty to raise their children as they see fit in a voucher scheme, but so do *non-fundamentalists. This liberty is important regardless of who benefits, and even if it means there will be more schools teaching that some deity created the universe 10,000 years ago and that evolution is a Satanic plot.

    It took me some some years to deprogram from the bizarre notion that death and entropy were the by-product of Adam and Eve eating a piece of fruit, which the good nuns and my folks insistd was the case. Alas, as adults we often must throw off some of what was ardently believed by our folks. But I wanted the right to rear my own children according to what I believed was true, and so I am glad my parents were also able to do so.

    At any rate, it can be interesting to turn the fine rhetoric some of these religionists spout in support of vouchers and apply it to issues in which they adopt a decidedly non-libertarian position. People who want liberty for themselves do well to extend it to others with whom they may strong disagree, and/or whose actions taken in liberty may assault the fundamentalists’ religious sensibilities. Goose, gander & etc.

  7. Great post Mona… I hadn’t really thought of that aspect of ‘dabate,’ with fundies… they want liberty for their pet projects, so ipso facto, they should support liberty for others.

    PS I wasn’t arguing against vouchers, I just wanted to point out to fydor that Colorado Springs, 60 miles due south of Denver, is populated with some rather nasty folk that espouse some of the most hateful rhetoric this side of Afghanistan. Of course these people are not the norm, but given that they seem to eat, drink, and breathe their anti-gay crusade, they garner an inordinate amount of attention. I tend to think that they are just a little too interested in adult private behavior for their own good. Hmmm.

    Regards,

    Steve

  8. The voucher system is going to go the way of the HMO’s. The consumer thinks they have choices with their money, but its the schools who will ultimately approve/disapprove of that course of action. When the consumer than decides that the school is not the best for their child, they will find the same system with another private school company. In the mean time, one or 2 private schools will absorb and consolidate all other private school companies and then lobby state and federal legislators to maintain their control on the private school system. Then the moral and ideological “education” becomes the norm and you are only left with the choice of homeschooling or outright dropping out, assuming that will still be legal.

    Obviously, I am just drawing parallels to todays health care crisis. Anyone happen to see the results of the ABC poll on health care this weekend? Unbelievable! As we champion the idea of private schools and vouchers, the majority of Americans (62%) now favor socialized medicine. They want to move away from employer based health care and into gov’t based care and price controls.

  9. Hey folks, I may have jumped the gun on the interpretation of the ABC poll on health care.

    Here is the link if anyone cares to check:

    http://abcnews.go.com/sections/living/US/healthcare031020_poll.html

  10. Make all fringe benefits taxable and the health care mess will straighten itself out.
    For about 40 years, I carried high deductable disaster only medical insurance while my unionized buddies bragged about no co-pay treatment.
    Now, medical is, like education, broke so bad no one can fix it.

  11. Ideally, JSM, in regards to health care we should be moving away from “employer-based health care” and toward “taking care of your own health needs and paying the goddamn bill yourself.” I say this as the husband of a doctor and beneficiary of insurance and Medicaid largesse.

    One of the reasons that the health care system in this country is overloaded is that someone else largely pays for your doctor’s visit/hospital stay. You would certainly be more motivated to take better care of yourself and not clog up you doctor’s schedule with every bump and bruise if you had to pay the bill yourself.

    And just maybe, if you had to directly pay for your kid’s education with a check written out every month (face it, who really misses property taxes that are buried in mortgage payments?) you might take a little more interest in little Johnny’s ability to read.

  12. Steve in CO,

    Oh, I’m well aware of Focus on the Family!! One of my favorite road trip moments was just getting into the Springs on I-25 and immediately seeing a bumper sticker that said, “Go focus on your OWN damn family!” Right on!!

    But as you allude to yourself, while they make a lot of noise, there’s hardly enough of them to indicate anything about Colorado in general.

    As for Jean Bart, oh so you just wanted to point out that Colorado has confronted a similar issue before? That’s why having a school in Denver that discriminates against gays is not surprising? I have five syllables for you: disengenuous. Well, either that or you were trying to be cute, which is almost as bad! 🙂

  13. For anyone who is interested, Tyler Cowen has been in a debate with Alex Tabarrok on the voucher issue over at http://www.marginalrevolution.com. Both are libertarian arguments.

    There may be reasons to oppose vouchers, but for a committed liberal to argue that a credit to spend at the school of your choice is unconstitutional because such a credit may be used at a religious institution is absurd. I don’t hear anyone saying that social security payments can’t go in the collection plate.

    Choice is what matters here. I don’t really believe that costs will plummet the way some due, because I have no illusions about the nature of the ‘market’ that is being created. I do believe that the variety and focus of schooling options will increase, and I think it is enormously important in the long term to clarify that the educational entitlement in this country is for AN education, not for The Government Brand education. We have got to allow somehow for curriculum competition, competition in teaching methods, and competition in administration to have any hope of improving our system.

  14. JB:

    “Given that this is “Amendment 2″ land, how is this surprising? Though the aforementioned constitutional amendment is no longer good law, Denver’s practice probably doesn’t fall under the rubric of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the amendment.”

    Glad you clarified that for us. The right of effective self defense is no longer good law. Got it.

  15. fyodor,

    Definitely, no strings attached. And by non-refundable, you’re right, I mean only a cut in the property taxes of those who are paying them. Unlike vouchers, which are indeed government funding of private schools, we would be simply absolving people who are not using government schools from paying for them–letting them keep their own money.

    Ira Weatherall,

    The fact that you’re paying $3,000 for a quality education, as opposed to the $6-7,000 that “public” schools typically spend, says it all.

  16. I went to a Catholic grade school. Certainly there were some things lacking in facilities. But when I transferred to a public high school I found myself much better prepared than my peers. Even the people who graduated at the bottom of my small class did pretty well in public high schools. And the school did it for half the price of a public school.

    Actually, not quite half the price, since the school was subsidized by the parish. And while my school had fewer resources than the local public schools the teachers did an amazing job, and there was no downtown bureaucracy to eat up money (the Archdiocese had very little to say about the school, since most decisions were made by the principal, the pastor, the PTA, and/or the Parish Council).

    Hmm, excellent education without bureaucrats and without expensive athletic facilities, free lunches, or lots of specialty teachers. Surely there must be a lesson here…

  17. KC,

    Interesting idea. Not that I’m saying we shouldn’t talk about it because of this, but I doubt it would ever have a chance as it would be open to class warfare charges since the only beneficiaries would be homeowners.

    Since you state that vouchers constitute government money, how do you respond to James Ligon’s analogy to spending Social Security receipts?

  18. Instead of Social Security “receipts” I should have said “benefits.”

  19. But Thoreau, what about the invisible ghost stuff, didn’t that have an impact on your ability to reason?

    🙂 Just being a smart-ass, not trying to be mean.

    Seriously though, private schools rock, but I am not sending my son to a school that tells him he will be dropped in a pit of fire like so much gristle for doubting the existence of the great sky father.

  20. thoreau, don’t worry about vouchers turning private schools into public schools.

    See, as a student in university, on my way to becoming a secondary education teacher (English Language Arts and Social Sciences), I am quite familiar with this subject.

    In reality, Public schools are required by law, to do, include, and teach 69 billion different things, and get 99 millions different certifications and trainings. According to todays interpitation of the NCLBA (tomarrows interpitation could be different…), to teach a subject in Public school, I need over 30 semester hours in a subject, with over half of that in 300+ courses – completely ignoreing the fact that nowhere k-12 (even in AP courses) will I ever teach anything even remotely near a 200+ level course.

    In addition, I will be required to devote tons of my class time to EVERY SINGLE ethnic group in the entire universe, no matter how insignificant they are or how relavent they are to the course, because, someone petitioned the government to make it so, in the name of equality. You know, the kind of shit like placing “Betty the Yetti” alongside of “Othello.” “Today in class, we will discuss the very important contribution of the albino japanese to 18th centure Irish culture…”

    To make matters even more interesting, if I have too many students who do badly in tests, then I loose money, making it even harder to teach effectively. The list goes on and on…

    Private schools however, can choose to accept or reject you on whatever basis they like. They can teach subjects on whatever and however they like, including or excluding whatever and whoever they like. In addition, there is no law stating what a private school teacher must have. A private school can hire whoever they want to teach, no teaching certificate is required, no HQT needed. Also, even accepting the upward skew that not accepting poorly performing students would make on test scores, private schools aren’t held accountable to anyone if their students don’t perform on tests, or if they don’t even bother to take different tests…

    In the end, the public school system has been ruined the same way the medical industry has been – by letting the uninformed masses dictate our practices. Keep the politicians and citizens out of our professional practices if you want prefessional results. The only person who has any business teaching a History class is a History teacher, and the only person who has any room to make suggestions is a student, a teacher, or a historian.

    -Robert

  21. Robert,

    Good piece until you reached the last graph. Your ed-school arrogance peeked through. Are you saying that parents have no say in what or how you will teach their children (remember parents? They’re the ones who pay the taxes that will pay your salary).

  22. >>There may be reasons to oppose vouchers, but for a committed liberal to argue that a credit to spend at the school of your choice is unconstitutional because such a credit may be used at a religious institution is absurd.

  23. “what about the invisible ghost stuff”

    Like Iraq being a threat to national security?

  24. Tom and Robert-

    There’s no contradiction between accountability to parents and liberating teachers from regulation.

    I don’t think it’s parents as individuals who are the problem. The problem is the mechanism through which parents’ demands are transmitted to teachers. The political process rewards the shrillest, most self-righteous people. And although many of those same people show up at PTA meetings (even at private schools), they’re on a much more level playing field with the other parents, wheresa the political process gives them an advantage. And the political process allows people to exert pressure on schools that their children don’t even attend. The loudest mouths can do damage disproportionate to their numbers. And although that’s true in any arena, the political process gives them a much louder microphone than they’d find on other stages.

    My guess is that Robert wouldn’t mind scrutiny from individual parents concerning issues of immediate relevance (at least I hope he wouldn’t) but he gets annoyed by bureaucrats who decide to make all the rules up with no reference to actual situations.

  25. European schools as a rule prepare students much better for academic success than American public schools do; why is this the case?

    This of course my personal experience in comparing France to the US; but going to the lycee in France is much like being at a good US university than it is like a US highschool.

  26. Mona-

    I agree with your point about using federal student aid at religious universities. Despite the problems with federal student aid, they haven’t resulted in a complete federal takeover of religious colleges (those with no sense of proportion can say otherwise, but those who take a deep breath will get my point).

    I can’t help but think, however, that K-12 schools will attract much more micromanagement and scrutiny than religious colleges. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m not an optimist.

    As to whether Catholic school did any “damage” to me: First, I’m still a practicing Catholic, and quite happy with it. Those who deem the church uptight based on the statements of our most outspoken and conservative members need to take a look inside. And those who deem the church uptight based on the statements of the pope fail to realize just how remote the hierarchy really is from the average parish.

    Of course, some would assume that harm is done by any religious education, and I can’t really do much to change their minds. But for those who think there’s something uniquely oppressive about Catholic education relative to other religious schools, I can assure you that in the 1980’s and early 1990’s the Catholic grade school I attended was nothing like the stereotypical Catholic grade school of the 1950’s. (I actually went to the same Catholic grade school that my mother attended in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I wonder how true the stereotypes really were.)

    Finally, I learned more about evolution, non-western religions, and the first amendment in my Catholic grade school than most people learn in public grade school. Catholicism got over its hang-ups about evolution long before some Christian denominations. And a religious school firmly believes that the study of history is incomplete without understanding the role of religion in history, so in studying the Middle East and Asia we learned a lot about Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. Finally, Catholics don’t easily forget mistreatment by the rest of society (sometimes we can be downright whiney about it), so we have a vested interest in religious freedom. Hence we learned all about that Bill of Rights. That may be why some Catholics are quite skeptical of state funding for “faith-based organizations.” That donation in the collection plate may come with some strings attached.

    And please, no jokes about priests and children. Our pastor dated a married adult woman, until he was caught and sent elsewhere.

  27. Parents ARE part of the problem, though mostly because of the compulsion. When you discover how few children actually have parents who read to them, you know the lowest common denominator is a lot lower than you’d expect.

  28. Vouchers are making government education less onerous, but also could be retarding the movement for private education. Perhaps the best we can do, in the real world right now, is a government school system that is dominant but mostly voucher based. But, we should take the position that, there should be no additional regulations that apply to voucher schools that don’t apply to private schools. There is a real threat though, that vouchers could result in government control of private education via co-option.

    I voted for “Amendment 2” because I believe in freedom of association and so I oppose any laws which prohibit private discrimination. I also have, and will exercise, my right not to associate with those who choose engage in “the most primitive form of collectivism” (Rand’s condemnation was directed at other forms of bigotry but, I think, applies as well to anti-Gay bigotry.)

    Colorado’s approval of Amendment 2 can be understood as another example of the libertarian streak that voters tend to display here. For instance, Colorado voters voted for an amendment that is perhaps the most effective tax and spending limitation in the nation. Also, despite Colorado public opinion being overwhelmingly pro choice, our voters approved a prohibition against tax funded abortions.

  29. JB:

    Not qualified to answer, as I don’t know how the French system is organized. The part I find interesting is that it all washes out after college. Tyler Cowen makes the argument on margnialrevolution.com that he feels the US educational system is unfairly indicted in many cases, because our workforce productivity is near the top of all developed countries.

    What percent of the French workforce has university degrees? It could be a case where we coddle the teacher’s union (the single greatest impediment to educational excellence ever devised) until college, where they lose clout – THEN we get serious about education. For that theory to float, we would have to show that more of the US workforce has degrees. If true, it also demonstrates how economically destructive a crappy high school system is, as the implication would be that we have 4 extra years of doin’ nothin’ per laborer.

    On the flip side, if the French workforce holds degrees at approximately the same rate as the US workforce, it would seem that there is not much bang for the buck going on during that time.

    I know it to be the case, for example, that Japanese HS is MUCH more challenging than is US publich HS, but their universities are a joke. Literally, they are considered a time to relax between the misery of HS and the misery of work, even the really good ones.

  30. I think the real problem in the “educated” world is deeper than the great imponderables of just what constitutes religion (much of current environmentalism surely does), or where alternate moralities end and serious social pathologies begin. The real problem is that the dominant education model does an extremely poor job of developing the individual mind. The best refinement of the voucher concept is exactly what we’ll never see realized: widespread reward for those adults who truly encourage thoughtfulness, creativity, and intellectual integrity in the developing person. This certainly doesn’t happen enough in socialized schooling, but neither would I want to trust it entirely to parents’ market preferences.

  31. Kevin Carson wrote:
    …”education” is still following the old industrial model of transporting hundreds or thousands of “human resources” to a central location for processing. The fact that the people who are throwing money down such Stalinist ratholes aren’t wasting their own money probably has something to do with its staying power.

    This strong point, of a tax financed system enabling a situation to continue, that wouldn’t otherwise was worth repeating.

  32. JB:

    Oops, wrong amendment 2. Ahem …

  33. Thanks you, Thoreau, for a well-put post. I kinda think that’s what Robert had in mind, but as a conservative/libertarian/Zen-deist homeschooling parent I couldn’t resist a shot at the teaching establishment, even though it often is a fish-in-the-barrel situation.

    We use a state-approved homeschooling curriculum (yes, there are such beasts) and even my kids notice the PC multi-culti bullshit pervading everything from reading assignments to math word problems: “Jamaal the city bus driver drops off Consuela, Achmed and Hillel and their recycled shopping bags at Mr. Wong’s corner market to buy hummus and couscous to spread on their frybread. How long will their shopping trip take if they are limited to the speed of Hillel’s solar-powered wheelchair?”

  34. Tom from TX:

    That is a friggin’ riot.

  35. Thoreau,

    My own primary education was at the hands of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, bless them, for whom even in the sixties evolution was fact and Genesis was a way to explain the mystery of creation in a poetic fashion understandable to illiterate herdsmen.

    In sixth grade, we popped the question to a visiting priest about how the Church reconciles Genesis and Darwin, and he replied, “What is the greater miracle, a process by which life over billions of years evolves from little specks into you and me through a million microscopic changes, or God rolling Man out of clay like the Pillsbury Doughboy?”

  36. Jason Ligon,

    Well, holding a university degree in France is not very prestigious; what is prestigious is holding a degree (we really don’t think of it in those terms, but its the best way to translate – when we think our education it is the bac you garner from the lycee plus how many years you spent in school after this – so I am a bac plus seven) from the “grands ecoles.” These are post-secondary educational institutions, but they are not universities, as they specialize in specific fields – one of the most famous and most difficult to get into is “ENA” or the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, which trains France’s civil servants. As I recall there are around four hundred and fifty “grands ecole” and they are the places where French parents want to send their parents. So your data on the number of Frenchmen with post-secondary education may be misleading.

    By the way; gaining entry into the ENA is a nightmare – I at one time considered it, but I don’t wish to die of a young age from overwork studying for the written and oral exams.

  37. Kevin-

    I have one big problem with your idea of a property tax credit for people who don’t have kids in public schools: Renters. Does the landlord then have to keep track of where his tenants send their kids? Renters pay property tax just like everybody else, except they pay it indirectly.

    Without a mechanism to track this, renters who opt to home school or send their kids to private school would still have to pay for other people to send their kids to public schools, while homeowners would be off the hook for that bill.

    I can imagine that some libertarians would wax nostalgic for the days when property ownership was tied to voting privileges and whatnot, but the rest of us would probably see a problem with this.

  38. Ahh. Comparing apples and escargot, I suppose.

    Highly trained civil servants, eh? Something about that makes me feel dirty …

  39. Jason Ligon,

    BTW, as a historical note, the ecole system was created under Louis XV and continues to this day (new ones were incorporated every so often to deal with new specialities and fields of study). As I recall the first ecole was created for the field of mining, which shows you their practical nature. They were in fact created because French universities were filled with theology students and the like who did not study practical things. After the revolution French universities were closed as archaid institutions and only returned in the 1890s; to this day they are not nearly as prestigious as graduating from even the lower tier “grands ecole.”

  40. fyodor,

    A Social Security check, while it comes from the government, is not a “voucher” targeted for a particular form of spending. It’s just a check made out in generic dollars, intended as an income supplement. Once it goes in the recipient’s bank account, one dollar is the same as another. It’s no different from a federal payroll check. When the government issues its own non-transferrable scrip for specific categories of spending, however, it usually attaches all kinds of strings on where you’re allowed to redeem it (e.g., food stamps).

    And unlike the relation between property tax and government schooling, the SS payroll tax at least pretends to be an insurance premium; so SS recipients can at least make a plausible claim that they’re only getting “their own” money back. I don’t buy that argument, but at least there is some quantitative relationship between money taken out and money taken in, which does not exist in the case of property tax and school services.

    So even the most douchebag-ish of NPR liberals wouldn’t dare to claim that the SSA was “subsidizing” a senior’s church; the outrage of AARP members over the government’s attempts to “tell me what I can do with my own money” would bring any administration down in ruins.

  41. Thoreau: Altho I left the Church long ago, I stongly concur with you that contemporary Catholic grade schools are often of high quality. That is why I help my son send my grandson to one.

    By and large, Catholics are reasonably enlightened, at least in the U.S. (I do not mean to sound condescending here, and actually think of myself as culturally Catholic and as holding a license to say as I like about the Church.)However, one of my former ND profs did write an amicus brief supporting Texas in the Lawrence case re: an anti-sodomy statute directed only at gays. ND tends to be very conservative, at least at the law school. The theology dept is another matter. 🙂

  42. Given that this is “Amendment 2” land, how is this surprising? Though the aforementioned constitutional amendment is no longer good law, Denver’s practice probably doesn’t fall under the rubric of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the amendment.

    Of course if someone wants to challenge this odious practice, I am sure the Supreme Court would have willing ear.

  43. Just goes to underscore the real agenda behind voucher programs. It was never about educating children, it was all about giving money to schools with a moral agenda without looking like the state was funding religious schools.

    Just like giving churches handouts by teaching sex ed, or rather, abstain from sex ed.

    This administration has gone to great lengths to work around every principle the founding fathers wrote into the constitution. They said creater in the preamble, fuck the rest of was written, they said creator…

  44. This whole issue just goes to show the people at LRC are right: vouchers are a way for the State to take over private schools.

    As a step in the right direction, I’d support a non-refundable property tax credit, up to average per-pupil spending, for homeschoolers or parents with kids in private school.

    Decentralizing control of “public” schools by dismantling city-wide school boards and bringing each school under the direct, democratic control of its patrons would reduce bureaucratic overhead; and it would provide a much stronger incentive for efficiency, since parents would have a much more direct role in deciding how to spend their own money in a given school.

    It amazes me that, in a society where the movement of almost unlimited amount of information is cheaper than other, “education” is still following the old industrial model of transporting hundreds or thousands of “human resources” to a central location for processing. The fact that the people who are throwing money down such Stalinist ratholes aren’t wasting their own money probably has something to do with its staying power.

  45. Pirate: you’re confused. It’s not about “giving money to schools with a moral agenda without looking like the state was funding religious schools.” But about individuals giving their won money to schools with a moral agenda.

    If you don’t think the Anywhere Unified School District isn’t pushing it’s own moral agenda then you have bigger problems then being “oppressed” by voucher programs.

  46. The government has no interest in educating future voters, it doesnt serve thier reelection roadmap.

    Its the uneducated that buy into the ‘don’t shit on the rich, you might be rich someday, its the ‘merican way’ rhetoric.

    Keep the masses uneducated and never ever teach them to think for themselves. It can be the only logical reason for the striping of civics classes from almost every high school/jr high ciriculum.

  47. Jefferson and Madison were fairly adament in their opposition to the funding of sectarian schools; now many states did not honor this position (at least until the Blaine Amendments), but their notions should be honored.

  48. >>Its the uneducated that buy into the ‘don’t shit on the rich, you might be rich someday, its the ‘merican way’ rhetoric.

    Keep the masses uneducated and never ever teach them to think for themselves. It can be the only logical reason for the striping of civics classes from almost every high school/jr high ciriculum.

  49. I’d be all in favor of vouchers as a good step in the right direction if

    1) I thought the costs would be contained, rather than inflated by market distortions associated with subsidies, plus all the regulations that will (eventually) be attached to the vouchers.

    2) I thought we might have a snowball’s chance in hell of a situation where the state says “Teach the following things (e.g. reading, writing, history, math, science, etc.) within some very broad guidelines, and anything else you want to do is your business.” But that won’t happen. People of every ideology will get mad over something happening in one of those private schools, and soon the schools will be private only in name.

    In other words, I suspect that vouchers will turn private schools into public schools, so I reluctantly oppose them.

  50. Kevin Carson,

    This property tax credit would only go to people already paying property taxes, I assume? That would be a more streamlined and limited system, but it still begs the question raised in the original post of whether strings would be attached for qualifying private schools. Knowing you, I assume you’d want no strings attached, and despite a little queasiness, I would have to agree.

    Mona,

    Re: “My greatest concern is the strings that always come with govt $.” Well, thar’s the rub, eh? There seems to be a big disconnect over whether this is to be treated as individual’s money or government money. If the latter, it’s hard to see where it’s gotten us anywhere. If the former, schools that take in funded students should not be subjected to any regulations that private schools are already subjected to, despite the unsavoriness that will inevitably come to light that way.

    Jean Bart,

    Please spare me the “hate state” tripe, although hopefully you intended that implication with toungue in cheek. First, it’s true that Amdendment 2 passed Colorado, but I doubt very much it carried Denver, where the program is taking place. Also, since Amdendment 2 was aimed at laws protecting gays from discrimination based on their status as gays, many might have voted for it based on opposition to the very principle of all anti-discrimination laws (or to the extension of such laws) rather than merely bigotry towards gays. I voted against the amendment myself (would have loved to have seen an H&R type libertarian debate on it at the time!), but I won’t hesitate to criticize the hyperbole of my own side. Anyway, I sincerely doubt there’s any evidence that Colorado is any more bigoted towards gays than any other US state, or at least any other state in its region.

  51. Should be: “If the former, schools that take in funded students should not be subjected to any regulations that private schools are [NOT] already subjected to”

  52. Thoreau and Fyodor: I concur that the problem of market distortions, as well as the potential for turning the voucher system into a battleground for correct political views, would almost certainly be cause for concern in any significant voucher system. I support vouchers nevertheless, because they still have maximum potential for allowing parents — who are coerced into sending their children to school (for the most part, save for the home-schooling option)–to determine the moral and politica content of their kids’ education. And little could be more distorted than the public school quasi-monopoly we now have.

    Today, student loans and govt grants may be used at a wide array of universities, tho to be sure those like Bob Jones are not eligible, and some lke Hillsdale refuse all this lucre precisely to avoid the strings. Ideological diversity, however, remains pretty strong, notwithstanding the student aid.

  53. I’ve always felt that education is the mental means of citizen defense of self, community, and country, just as the “arms” mentioned in the 2nd Amendment are the physical means. The founders were wise to declare that the government would not infringe on the right to keep and bear arms (and the government should be ashamed of stepping over that carefully drawn line so often). This makes sense. If one key reason for keeping and bearing arms is to empower the people to protect themselves against tyrannical government, then what sense does it make for that potentially tyrannical government to, pardon the expression, “call the shots” when it comes to keeping and bearing arms? That’s clearly a conflict of interest, and the founders clearly tried to avoid such a conflict by putting the 2nd Amendment in our federal constitution. Too bad they didn’t anticipate the spread of government-run schools; if they had, perhaps they would have included a special amendment to avoid THAT conflict of interest, too.

    When the government is in charge of teaching young citizens not only how to think but what to think, how can that possibly foster a society of people who understand, value, and seek liberty? If the citizens need education in order to wisely control and keep ahead of a government, the tendency of which is to grow by gobbling liberty, then what sense is there in having government provide “education?” This is giving the chickens over to the fox, the sheep to the wolves.

    We really need to avoid conflict-of-interest situations such as the above. Although I am sure that a conflict-of-interest argument will sway nobody who supports government-controlled, tax-funded public schools, I am convinced that the long terms consequences of interest conflicts will, ultimately bring down the house of our society, rotting it, termite-like from the inside out. For the society, I think, better thousands of quirky, independent little schools out there, and the probelms inherent in that approach, than pervasive (and, increasingly, federalized) government control over the great bulk of the education system.

  54. it obviously varies from school to school. my father and his brother were beaten fairly regularly by the nuns at the catholic grammar and middle schools they attended, though they both remain catholic to this day, though my sister and i were both sent to public schools. my fiancee had a good english education but was otherwise mentally brutalized by the – to my secular eyes – insane fixation on sexual sin that seems to be somewhat common in girls high schools. i think it adversely affected her at great financial and emotional cost, for a very small payoff, if any.

    a lot of sadistic people seemed to teach at these schools. the same can probably be said for most high schools secular or not but…you have to have something special in you to be able to beat small children with rulers and make 14 year old girls cry every day of your life.

  55. thoreau,

    Sorry–I just noticed your question above, and the thread has moved on.

    The status of renters is definitely a problem for me. I’d just say that the exemption of homeschoolers is a step in the right direction, for now.

    As I may have pointed out before, as a individualist anarchist I have a pretty non-Lockean view of property ownership, based on occupancy and use. So ultimately, I’d say the solution to the problem is there won’t BE any renters.

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