jmullaney: I have a problem with the idea that parents can’t decide how to use their share of the community funding earmarked for their children to educate their kids in a manner of their own choosing.
The question of whether parents can educate their kids in a manner of their own choosing (which they are free to do, as long as they meet equivalency standards) is not the same as the question of whether parents should get individual control over their own tax contributions to education. You can control (within limits) where your kids go to school; you don’t control where your school tax funds go, except by participating in the public school oversight process like any other citizen.
If you want this to be different, then you have to give me, a non-parent, the same right to exercise my own choice over where my school tax funds go too. If conservatives are so much in favor of individual choice, then why aren’t they making provisions in all their school voucher bills allowing people who don’t currently have children in school the right to direct the allocation of their share of the tax burden? I don’t have a problem with your choosing a different education for your children, but if you also get to choose the allocation of your tax funds, I’m entitled to make the same choice.
I think this case points to the basic problem with giving the state control not only over raising funding for education but ultimately, with the exception of certain wealthy families, sole power over what the children are taught.
In the first place, it’s kind of disingenuous to suggest that only “certain wealthy families” have options other than the public schools: there are many, many non-wealthy families who educate their children privately. In the second place, local, state, and federal governments all have input into what the public school curriculum should be, and the public has input into their decisions; there is not some kind of totalitarian institution being granted “sole power”. In the third place, we have all this constitutional oversight in place precisely so the public school curriculum won’t stray beyond what a general citizens’ consensus accepts as useful information for educated and competent citizens—that’s why we don’t permit religious indoctrination or other unconstitutional forms of interference with students’ civil liberties.
Remember, there is a huge practical motivation for retaining that general consensus on what you call “state-run mind control camps” and what most of us call “public education.” You may say that you as a parent should be the one to have control over what your kids are being taught, but if your idea of what kids should be taught is some kind of zealot agenda with very little content that’s useful from the point of view of the rest of society, why should the rest of society help pay for that teaching? And if the rest of society won’t help pay for it, how are you going to be able to afford it? That’s why most of us believe that the best answer is still a compromise: we all chip in money for general education which does its best to be pedagogically responsible while not trampling individual liberties, and we all put up with the inevitable imperfections that result without demanding our money back.
If the children in this school are being taught that Wiccans are evil (whether in the classroom or the hallway), Ms. Blackbear and kin should be able to freely choose to invest their share of community education funding in a school which does not hold a position that is contrary to her or their belief system.
Oooh, now that’s practical. If public education does sometimes neglect its mandate and trample individual liberties, we shouldn’t correct this illegal and unconstitutional situation, instead we should demand our money back and go find another school! :rolleyes: Have you been reading any of the recent school voucher threads here and in GQ? You will find lots of evidence there that the notion of creating a huge spectrum of choices in effective basic education just by privatizing it is pretty much a pipe dream. Good basic education is very cost- and labor-intensive, and is not a particularly profitable business. Even if it were, it still wouldn’t be right to respond to religious discrimination in public schools by saying “well, if you don’t like it, go somewhere else.”
[Note added in preview: yeah, what redtail said. Eve, babe, easy does it, they’re Native American names, they’re generally a little more, um, verbally concrete than more familiar Anglo appellations like Smith or White that hardly sound to us like common nouns at all any more. :)]