The Happy Slave

This is my surrender to the Powers that Be, who wish we all were just happy little slaves, tooling along without a care in the world, doing what our better-educated masters tell us to do, not daring to step out of line. I'm so bad at surrender...

Location: Indianapolis, United States

I'm an old-fashioned Get-out-of-my-face-atarian. So long as the gubmint left me alone, I had no problems with it. Gubmint wants to run my life, so I'm doing something about it. (Not just blogging, either.)

Monday, March 06, 2006

The thing about school vouchers.

On the face of it school vouchers sound like a good idea. They simultaneously manage to do everything. They redistribute wealth (makes liberals happy) and give "school choice" to families (makes conservatives happy). But here's the little fly in this ointment. It's still money that gets filtered through taxation, which means that it magically gets transformed into "government funding". Why does this little legal fiction matter? If a school accepts any form of "government funding" it has implicitly agreed to government control.

It's true that this particular case outcome would please conservatives, but if we can step away from the mere accidents of the case and examine the fundamental underlying issue. So long as some sort of "Constitutional" rationalization can be found, there is no legal recourse for a school to refuse to comply with any government order that is tied to continuing to accept government funding.

I'm not in the least bit outraged about this as such. After all, it is a fair trade, if you want to get a ladle-full from the Gravy Train, you have to let the conductor seat you as he wishes. It is a crude sort of justice. Likewise, if you want to be free from government interference, you have to forego handouts from said goverment. What this means, and it's very well established in the courts at both state and federal levels, is that any sort of government "funding" can be legally used as an inducement to force schools to implement or refuse to implement certain policies, programs, or curriculum measures.

I'm sure you can follow where this can lead. The progression would go like this. First, a voucher program is implemented. Once it becomes sufficiently popular that "private" schools are completely dependent upon vouchers to survive, the government will start imposing "standards". "Private" schools run by a church could face prohibition on teaching religion and a requirement to teach Darwinism. If they refused, the government could say "Okay, you are a private school, but we just won't let you use our vouchers." Now, the school is in a quandry: They have allowed themselves to become addicted to the vouchers. They can either now obey their new masters or quit, cold turkey. We know which is going to be more likely.

While vouchers might be a useful short-term measure, we cannot look at them as a true solution to our educational problems. They make it too easy to simply export all the problems we have in our public schools to the "private" educational sector, with the added flaw that the "private" sector would still have the illusion of not being under government control. Instead, they would be state schools by proxy. Vouchers really should be considered to be equivalent to a crash kit. They might be useful to get the patient stable, but they won't fix the underlying problem. We have a rot at the root of our society, and I don't think that it's been properly diagnosed.