Friday, May 13, 2011

A Taxpayer Argument in FAVOR of Public Education and AGAINST "School Choice"

I was having lunch with a progressive colleague at work (they are few and far between!) and he enlightened me to an excellent approach to challenging the issue of "school choice."

One of things that gets lost in the question of individual or family choice in schools is that you are drawing on a communal pool of money.  This money is administered by a group of elected officials in the school district.  If my child is attending a public school in the district and the school is doing something I don't like, I can go to the school and talk to the teacher.  I can escalate to the principal as well.  If things are really concerning, I can raise it with the elected school board.  If even that doesn't work, I can run for the board myself in an effort to correct the issue.  I can practice democracy in an effort to manage the public funds used to educate the children.  Public Schools are a core part of American Democracy.  They always have been.

But if people are allowed to extract money from this communal pool of funds and hand it to a private entity, how do I practice democracy?  How can I, as a taxpayer ensure that my money is being used appropriately?  Sure, I can got to the school and complain, but I can't go to the school board.  The school board is not empowered to force changes.  They cannot make the school do anything.  If they're teaching that black people are monkeys, or white people should rule the earth, what can I do?  All I can do is withdraw my kid from school.  But money from the communal pool is still going there.  As a taxpayer, how do I stop it?

Meet Your New Principal!
Republican's love slippery slope arguments, try this one out.  Now suppose that someone wants to setup a religious school based on the teachings of Anton LeVey the Satanist?  Parents want to send their kids to a satanist school, now the taxpayers of the community must fund it.  Or, heaven forbid, someone wants to setup a madrassa and teach Islam to children in the community? Should public funds be used for this?  Can you say "unintended consequences?"

School "choice" is a fraud designed to destroy the educational system in this country.  Republicans have attempted to starve public education for years through manipulation of the local tax base, then act surprised when schools struggle and then suggest that the only solution is to privatize them.  Don't let Republicans destroy the foundations of our democracy.

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