Let us fill their little heads with nonsense (www.washingtonpost.com).
by Steve Timmer
Mar 2, 2023, 8:30 AM

Ronnie and Wally’s Febrile Dream

[You will have to read to the end to see what the dream is and who the dreamers are.]

From a recent Washington Post Answer Sheet story:

[A] group of state legislators and governors have been hard at work changing their state laws to divert taxpayer dollars — with no strings attached and no meaningful regulations — toward voucher programs that include these [Nazi, as described in the story] home-schoolers.

Those pushing these policies use slogans like “fund children, not schools,” as a justification for moving public money from public schools and toward whichever education-related expenses parents choose. This, they claim, will improve education.

The all-embracing voucher laws generally give parents debit cards linked to bank accounts funded by the taxpayer dollars. In Utah, these are called “scholarship accounts.” Iowa’s new law calls them “education savings accounts.” Arizona’s law calls them, “Empowerment Scholarship Accounts.” West Virginia opted for the name, “Hope Scholarships.”

So you’re a parent and you get a taxpayer-funded debit card to spend, essentially without supervision, for the “education” of your children, including home school them.

Gee, what could go wrong? I submit a lot could — will — go wrong. Fundamentalist sectarian schools, including Christian nationalist schools, Nazi home schools, racist schools, anti-LGBTQ schools, highly-segregated schools, all come to mind. More from the article:

[W]hile we should assume that parents who are Nazis or even Nazi-curious make up a relatively small slice of America, we also must recognize that racial segregation remains pervasive and continues to divide our society. Research on school choice and how parents make choices suggests that increased segregation is a feature, not a bug. Parents often look to school demographics and opt for schools with more of their “own group.” [emphasis added]

Freedom to choose segregation is the explicit argument of the highly-segregated charter school parties in the Cruz-Guzman case, of which I have written many times, e.g., here. A feature, not a bug, indeed.

Not only that:

Recent highquality studies have consistently shown private-school vouchers to be devastatingly harmful for students’ academic progress. [Highly-segregated charter schools aren’t great academic performers, either.]

Kids being groomed (I use the word intentionally to throw it back in conservatives faces) by their bug-eyed control freak parents, and the public money goes into a rat hole. I don’t know about you, but I would rather not hand out taxpayer-funded Visa® cards for this.

– o O o –

Well, you say, we don’t have vouchers in Minnesota. We do have highly-segregated charter schools, maintained at public expense and for apparent private profit, at least in some cases. And, my friends, there are some people who look forward to the day when the sun shines on vouchers in the North Star State.

Perhaps Exhibit A for that proposition is HF682, filed in the Minnesota House in the current legislative session. Among its authors are Ron Kresha, the sole author of the near-orphaned Page Amendment this session, and the new Cicero from Discount Shopping, Walter Hudson. It proposes a constitutional amendment to be placed in Article I of the Constitution, so it’s the first thing you read. The bill would amend the Constitution to include:

The liberty of a parent to direct the education of their child is fundamental and includes the right to choose, as an alternative to public education, a private, religious, or home school, and the right to make reasonable choices within a public school for their child. The state must not infringe these rights.

Has any serious person or public official ever said parents couldn’t send children to a private or religious school or home school them? So what’s this really about?

If you make a private, religious, or home school a “fundamental” liberty on a plane with public schools, it is a simple hop, skip and a jump to say they need to be paid for just like public schools.

Never doubt that’s what’s afoot, nor doubt that the litigation to require it would commence the moment this clunker became effective.

Perhaps Ronnie and Wally thought we wouldn’t notice. It’s bug-eyed control freak febrile and aspirational now, but just wait.

The US Supreme Court ruled recently that if you do have vouchers, you must include vouchers for sectarian schools.

This brings us back, in a very real way, to the Page Amendment, which seeks to gut the public systems language in the Education Clause, and which I have written about often. The Education Clause is an expression of Horace Mann’s common school idea — public institutions — universal and free to educate children to become citizens. That’s what education revenue should go for, not private, religious or home schools.

The Page Amendment and Ronnie and Wally’s Febrile Dream are all of a piece.

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