School Choice for Everyone

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Although I think that even voucher plans and scholarships are examples of improper government involvement in education, I might be able to support such measures as part of a transition from our current government-run educational system to a free market in education. That said, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal still raises some interesting points in his letter to President Obama asking him to drop a lawsuit against his state's program of helping low-income children in (particularly) bad public school districts pay for alternative schooling.

For generations, the government has forced these families to hope for the best from failing schools. Shame on all of us for standing by and watching generations of children stay in failing schools that may have led them to lives of poverty.
Unfortunately -- and setting aside for a moment the propriety of the government redistributing income -- neither this program nor Jindal go far enough:
Low-income families with children in schools graded C, D or F by the state are eligible to apply for a scholarship and send their children to schools of their choice.
Why should only poor children -- and those in government school districts deemed particularly bad by the very entity that runs them -- be the only ones with a wider range of educational choices? More to the point, why not (as a start) end the compulsory schooling laws that lock criminals up with actual students all day, and phase out subsidies to the "free" competition to private schools represented by "public" (i.e., government) schools?

If the free market is indeed better at educating, why only half-apologetically advocate it in the name of helping only the poor? Why not proudly and consistently uphold it so that everyone can benefit from it? Jindal's heart seems to be in the right place, but the causes of freedom and education are too noble to go begging for scraps.

-- CAV

P.S. I have not followed this story nor do I have time to dig deeper now. Perhaps the suit is partially founded on the objection that this program is funnelling money into religious schools. The government shouldn't be doing this. However, parents who really believe that their children should have religious educations should be free to send their children to religious schools at their own expense (or at that of willing donors).

If, as I think it possible with the religious Jindal, that having tax money flow into the coffers of religious schools is part of the motivation behind this program, it exposes him and other such supporters as the enemies of freedom that they are. It is wrong to steal money for any purpose, including education, regardless of whether it is good or bad, or secular or religious. It is also wrong to abridge religious freedom by having the government serve as a conduit for educational funding. Doing so at some point abridges someone's freedom of conscience by coercing him to fund the dissemination of ideas to which he is opposed.

-- CAV


Realist Theorist said...

I just read the Federal government's petition to the court. It's focus is on 34 schools with very high proportions of black students, and where the Federal government has some legal authority to monitor that they continue to "desegregate".

In these schools, the award of vouchers has resulted in a higher ratio of black students. Therefore, the Feds say, it hurts desegregation.

Jindal says that 90% of vouchers went to minorities, across the entire program. So, I'm guessing the situation in these 34 schools might be something along these lines:

Fictional example: In a school with 80% black, 20 scholarships are awarded: 15 to black kids and 5 to white kids. Since less than 80% went to blacks, the schools black percentage went up, after those students moved to better schools. This, says the Federal government, is unfair. In fact they say that it does "irreparable damage"!

Gus Van Horn said...

Thank you for taking the time to look at this and then post your comment here.

I guess it is impossible to give Barack Obama too little credit for common sense or even a halfway benevolent political agenda: The rationale behind this suit appears to be farcical and beyond even what I imagined possible of this "community organizer".