Thursday, February 23, 2006

SCHOOL VOUCHERS AND THE FAIRNESS TRAP brings us the comments of the junior Senator from New York on the subject of school vouchers:

“Clinton raps vouchers”,0,1447657.story

A more complete transcript of the lady’s comments can be read at

The senator expressed misgivings of a slippery slope she sees in allowing public monies to be spent on private school tuitions. From Malkin, Mrs. Clinton opines:

“Suppose that you were meeting today to decide who got the vouchers. First parent comes and says 'I want to send my daughter to St. Peter's Roman Catholic School' and you say 'Great, wonderful school, here's your voucher. Next parent who comes says, 'I want to send, you know, my child to the Jewish Day School. Great here's your voucher! Next parent who comes says, "I want to send my child to the private school that I've already dreamed of sending my child to.' Fine. Here's your voucher.
Next parent who comes says, 'I want to send my child to the school of the Church of the White Supremacist.' You say, 'Wait a minute. You can't send...we're not giving a voucher for that.' And the parent says, 'Well, the way that I read Genesis, Cain was marked, therefore I believe in white supremacy. And therefore, you gave it to a Catholic parent, you gave it to a Jewish parent, gave it to a secular private parent. Under the Constitution, you can't discriminate against me.'

Suppose the next parent comes and says 'I want to send my child to the School of...the Jihad.' Wait a minute! We're not going to send a child with taxpayers dollars to the School of Jihad. 'Well, you gave it to the Catholics, gave it to the Jews, gave it to the private secular people. You're gonna tell me I can't? I'm a taxpayer. Under the Constitution.'

Now, tell me how we're going to make those choices.”

Blood pressure time… I think she’s making a damn good point.

Why do we have public schools? Where and when did the idea originate?

In the 1840’s in New England, more specifically the Boston area. And the public school movement wasn’t launched for “the children.” It was a response to one of America’s first great waves of immigration. The mostly Protestant Boston establishment viewed the Irish Catholic immigrants of the day with a profound xenophobia. They were “different.” Different language, different religion. A religion quite willing to set up its own schools…

A long time ago but still a valid point. The public school system has since its inception played a key role in the assimilation of immigrants, among other things. A more or less common standard, even a loose one like evolved in the US, does a great deal to unite the Nation, teaching the common language and at least some of the history and civic principles Americans share.

I like vouchers, at least in principle. I think a legally defensible way to avoid the kinds of problems the senator foresees can be devised. But I cannot simply dismiss these concerns in today’s political climate. Answer truthfully, Court watchers:

Do you believe many of our Courts wouldn’t uphold the “right” of a parent to send their child, at public expense, to the Church of the White Supremacist? Such an expansive view of “freedom from discrimination” is right up the 9th Circuit’s alley… And if not them, there are many others. Courts have many times held with fringe groups seeking various protections.

Consider it. Through sheer frustration liberally greased by the lobbying of non-public education providers, the Nation, without due consideration of the downside arguments, opens the purse to all comers.

The next day La Raza breaks ground on their own schools with a “Hispanically oriented” curriculum…

Balkanization, here we come…

Could happen, especially the La Raza one - good point. But I think you'd have to live with this effect. If you are going to introduce free market ideas to the moribund public school system, you have to let it go. You over regulate the thing and we'll be back to square one - no competition and crappy schools.
And if you look at the scools today, you see that very balkanization there. English as a SECOND language, teaching kids in their native language instead of mainstreaming, etc.

The WEA/NEA Union Thugs have already created "diversity" in the public education arena.
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