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Op-Ed: Think School Choice Means Education Freedom? Think Again

I was an exhibitor and speaker at a home school convention several weeks ago in Round Rock, Texas. I estimate that over 90 percent of the parents with whom I spoke are against what is commonly referred to as “school choice” (meaning vouchers, education savings accounts and tax credits). Home school parents are wise. For the most part, they survive on one paycheck, realize their child should not be “educated” by the civil authorities, and proactively seek and then grow in discipleship with their child. Home school parents, being wise, stand against school choice advocates, who confuse school choice tax-and-spend Marxism with education freedom. Consider these inquiries. If a legislature has the present ability to pass “school choice” legislation, why does it not instead pass legislation that lowers taxes? In conjunction, if a legislature has the present ability to pass school choice legislation, and it being the case that many children have escaped the civil government school system, why does it not instead decrease spending on civil government education? And how would passing more school choice laws produce more financial freedom for people or more thought freedom for children? Here are some more impeaching questions for school choice advocates. If a legislature passed school choice legislation, how many fewer tax bureaucrats (or mini-tyrants) would there be? And are you so naïve that you think it is a good thing to bring thriving private education (mainly homeschooling) into the fold with civil government schooling? (Keeping education and discipleship decentralized is God’s will, because it prevents someone from stepping in and taking control of private education.) Oh, and by the way, these school choice legislatures were asleep at the wheel pre-COVID — when just as much toxicity was being injected into the hearts and minds of children in civil government school. These legislatures were either negligent or actively part of the problem. And now these legislatures think we should follow them into the quicksand of school choice? The school choice legislatures — primarily the Republicans — are expressly responsible for the liberalism that is taught in civil government schools. They own it. If Republicans pass school choice legislation, it would be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory; it would be liberalism, not conservatism. It would be wasting an opportunity. You see, school choice is not conservatism. Lowering taxes is conservatism. Decreasing spending on civil government indoctrination is conservatism. Decreasing a state administration’s size is conservatism. School choice is not conservatism; rather, it is putting a lid on a boiling pot of water. It is post-tax “freedom,” which is not freedom at all. True education freedom means the civil government never takes your money and so you do not have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to get it back. Let’s work for education freedom, and then let the best worldview win. We must force liberals to fund their own failing worldview. What is education freedom? It means no taxation for civil government education. It means no compulsory attendance laws. It means no federal, state, regional or local civil government involvement in determining a child’s exposure to ideas. Education freedom means poor people will actually get lifted from poverty. It means that you can have your private, liberal school — but you are going to pay for it. It means that people who have no children will not be taxed for someone else’s discipleship duty. It means single mothers who have no school-aged children will not be disproportionately injured by burdensome taxes that generationally perpetuate the modern-day American Marxism, the Tax and Spend Clause, controlling people indirectly through private enterprise. The two guiding principles that will facilitate achieving education freedom — which is really just thought freedom — are lower taxation and less regulation; eventually, through real incrementalism, there would be no taxation for education and no regulation relative to thought. School choice is not in accord with those two principles, so it is by nature not solving any educational problems. More importantly, it is not incrementalism because it does nothing to get us further toward returning the discipleship duty absolutely to parents, where it belongs. Conversely, it makes things worse. It serves private (Christian) education on a silver platter to leftists, who will exploit that consolidation via economic blackmail. School choice entrenches the bureaucratic system and does not move us toward the ideal of education freedom and abolishing the civil government school system. Discipling is too important to be done by the civil government. In the movie “Good Will Hunting,” the blue-collar Will has an argument with a Harvardian, at the end of which Will states, “You dropped 150 grand on an education you could have gotten for $1.50 in late charges at the public library.” Republicans must not go for the leftist bait, but instead must conform to conservative principles. Bare-minimum conservatives should reduce spending on civil government education and decrease taxes. This will incrementally return education sovereignty to parents. Further, conservatives should eliminate funds and involvement in regional educational compacts. That is low-hanging fruit; liberal education groups sit around and contemplate “solutions” to the problems their own liberalism creates — poverty being one blaring example. Still further, why not eliminate the requirement that real estate developers must allocate land for a civil government school? Why not privatize civil government libraries (“public libraries”)? Why not reject federal education dollars? Why not lower the compulsory attendance window, so that young people can sooner develop their lives the way they see fit? Shackles follow shekels, so we must reject school choice in favor of education freedom. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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