Universal school vouchers good for kids and country
To the editor:
Last fall, for the first time in my life, I received a phone call from a person elected in my district. Spencer Roach and I talked for several minutes. Our conversation centered around our shared alarm and dismay regarding our fellow citizens’ almost complete ignorance of economics, politics and philosophy. Rand Paul summed it up best after his tour of American colleges, “I have bad news and good news” he quipped. “The bad news is, 60% of college students support socialism, the good news is, 90% of them don’t know the definition of socialism.” Fifteen years of American schooling has failed to teach them that free markets are the mainspring of human progress.
For 180 years 90% of our children have been forced into our government-run, Horace Mann designed, K-12 schooling system inspired by his visit to Prussia. Frederick the Great and his descendants realized that the most effective method for producing loyal, obedient soldiers and punctual, productive workers was compulsory government schooling. Over time, our government schools, euphemistically labeled as “Public Schools” have shifted to producing submissive, compliant taxpayers who embrace and support the massive and intrusive bureaucracy that increasingly dominates our lives.
The pandemic has helped reveal the three primary practical functions of our current system. First, it is a taxpayer funded day-care service. Second, it performs the necessary government indoctrination required to maintain its dominance. Third, it teaches rudimentary language and math, just enough to function, not enough to encourage critical thought, or resistance to the status quo.
Our Lee County School District is a perfect example of everything wrong with our system. Our local district has been commandeered by unions, vendors and contractors, with the cooperation of local law enforcement and local media, all choreographed by our elected board and the administration they represent. Parents, students and taxpayers are hapless, powerless spectators. This not a theory — local activist Jacqueline Perez has enough solid, irrefutable evidence to implicate dozens of individuals if anyone has the courage to take them down.
Newt Gingrich, in the 2012 primary debate, hit he nail on the head. “The Public School System cannot be fixed and should be abolished,” he declared. To replace our current system we must introduce competition. Milton Friedman, recognizing the problem in 1955, offered the only practical answer. He saw the consistently positive results of our G.I. Bill and suggested the same program for K-12: A universal voucher, offered to the parents and redeemable at any school, public or private. Milton and Rose Friedman supported and promoted this mission for the rest of their lives, with little success. Introduced in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1992, the voucher plan immediately provoked a vicious assault from the Educational Industrial Complex, which realized the existential threat to its dominance.
There has never been a better time to move forward with a universal voucher. Although the educational establishment continues its assault, three things have changed. Our national debt just rolled over $28 trillion which means we can no longer afford spending $20,000 per student. Every current voucher offered nationwide is less than half the cost of the local public school. The pandemic has forced Americans to realize that we have lost control of our schooling system. Most importantly, thanks to the fearless and determined folks at the Institute for Justice, the pernicious “Blaine Amendments” were struck down last June in Espinoza v. Montana. The Institute for Justice has won all three US Supreme Court challenges to vouchers, clearing the way to a new future for the next generation.
Government schools may never disappear completely, although they will, thankfully, fade into irrelevance. Our secondary educational system is evenly divided by state-sponsored and privately-run colleges and K-12 may fall into that pattern but imagine the possibilities offered by a vibrant and innovative industry inspired by real choice. Even government schools will respond to competition from vouchers as they did in Milwaukee and everywhere they have been allowed.
The wealthiest 10% of Americans are the only ones able to pay both the school tax and the tuition at private schools. The time has come to expand school choice to all Americans. I realize this is a difficult political move. Teachers, parents, students and taxpayers all win but unions, administrators, crony vendors and contractors, including political contributors, will lose. It is time to make the hard choice between the desires of the established status quo, and quite literally, the future of America.
P. S. In case you are wondering… I ran, screaming, from my tenth-grade government school class and never looked back.
It was the best decision I ever made.
North Fort Myers