Whenever something sounds too good to be true, the rule of any sane person should be to consider it a scam until proven otherwise. When you get that email from that Saudi Arabian Prince wanting to share his inheritance with you, I’m no financial advisor or Middle Eastern political dilettante, but I advise you to use your trash button vigorously.
So when a movement begins picking up steam calling for “school choice,” thoughtful Christians and conservatives should have all their hackles done up for a party and their rhetorical guns at the ready. Remember, we live in a land that celebrates “choice,” and that means murdering babies. We live in a land that celebrates “choice,” and grooms little kids into sexual confusion and madness, secretly castrates teenagers without parental knowledge or consent, and demands you take injections of unspecified content because… shut up, you bigot.
That’s the world we live in. So when people begin heralding a new found freedom of choice, freedom to choose whatever school you want your children to attend, dollars following kids, and so on, it would be good, healthy even, to get all of your defenses up, and maybe even pull out a few knives. This is the exact same scene of many crimes in our land. Your cursor should be hovering over that trash button.
Don’t get me wrong. I think we should exploit every opportunity to dismantle the government education monopoly. I think we should ride every bit of this wave to press for real educational freedom and parental sovereignty and responsibility, but conservative Christians have a bad habit of being manipulated through soundbites and ending up in worse positions than before.
So Let’s Review
Currently, as far as I know, the way government education works in the United States is that everyone who owns property pays into a state fund, that state fund is augmented by various federal programs and subsidies, which are taken of course from federal income taxes, and then those moneys are redistributed to counties and school districts based on various state guidelines, including number of children enrolled in school.
This means that parents who do not want to send their children to public schools, must pay into the government education programs via property taxes even though you don’t use the program, and don’t forget that if you pay rent, you are still paying into the program via your monthly rent. Your landlord is making sure that your rent covers all his property taxes. This is educational welfare, redistribution, and unjust taxation. Millions of Americans have defied this educational socialism and Marxism by bearing the costs of home schooling and private schooling on top of the taxes they are already paying for government schools they don’t use. This is why I tweeted recently:
One of the greatest modern rebellions has been the homeschool/private school movement: millions of Americans making the sacrifice to pay tuition/costs on top of their taxes, effectively paying tuition twice. The next step is getting our tax money back with no strings attached.
Which Brings Us To The So-Called “School Choice” Movement
I would love to be wrong about this. I would love to find out that some state really is letting parents completely opt out of government regulation, government coercion, and government redistribution for education. But as far as I know, the “school choice” programs being pushed are actually an expansion of government regulation and redistribution and no lessening of the foundational coercion involved in the unjust taxation.
The most common program being championed by “school choice” advocates right now are ESA’s – Education Savings Accounts. In these programs, the state agrees to deposit money in a savings account for qualified parents to use on qualified educational programs. The key words in that last sentence are “state” and “qualified” and “qualified.” This tells you most of what you need to know. In these schemes, the “state” is still claiming sovereignty over the educational venture, and this is proven by the fact that the state is determining which families are “qualified” to have some of their money back and which educational programs are “qualified” to receive those monies.
Now I’m happy to grant that there may be some short term wins for parents in these programs. A poor, single mom that wants to send her kids to a Classical Christian school suddenly has the tuition dollars and doesn’t feel trapped in the public school where her kids are being brainwashed all day long. I totally get it. But we are Christians, and we have to think further ahead than the next five minutes.
But first, while I have all kinds of compassion for that single mom, I want to insist that a community that has not already given her all kinds of resources to pull her kids out of government schools and enroll them in a Christian option of her choice is a community that is not ready for a gush of greenbacks from the government teat. The community that has not already declared war on the communism inherent in government schools and made the great sacrifices to evacuate their children from those occupied territories is not a community that has proven to have the wisdom, discernment, foresight, or compassion necessary to see through this minefield.
Second, consider the fallout of expanded government redistribution and regulation. We’ve already seen this in higher education. What happened over the last forty years with Pell grants and government loans? Our higher education system has gone to Hell. And I mean that literally. Even most of the so-called Christian colleges and universities are loaded up with Diversity Inclusion and Equity clowns. The current is so strong that even Grove City College, one of the only colleges in the nation that doesn’t take government money, is in the thick of controversy over diversity and woke policies. I know of a young woman personally who attended Grove City who was forced to leave during COVID because she refused to comply with their anti-science masking regime.
What will the result be of government funding through ESAs? Mass compromise. Why? Because money ill-gotten corrupts. That money being put in your ESA? That’s blood money. Property taxes are an evil and immoral stain on our land since they imply that if you don’t pay taxes on the land and home that you “own,” they may be seized to pay for your back taxes, which essentially means that you are in a long term lease agreement with the government for your so-called property. So much for private property.
The impact of these wicked laws is wide ranging, but landing on the elderly and others with fixed incomes the hardest. As communities grow and develop, home and property values tend to rise, and with values rising, taxes rise. An elderly widow whose husband faithfully provided for her will often find it difficult to continue paying rising property taxes and be forced to sell her family estate. This is nothing short of Ahab’s theft of Naboth’s Vineyard in slow motion. If Ahab offers to let you use some of Naboth’s vineyard for a personal garden, is it moral to take him up on that offer?
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not arguing that all taxation is theft. I’m simply arguing that taxation of property, with the implicit threat of seizing assets if you don’t pay, is highway robbery in a bureaucratic business suit, even if the measure passed by 99% of the vote. It’s never OK to demand someone pay you something they don’t want or use with the threat of stealing their stuff if they don’t pay you.
Finally, everything the government funds ends up costing more and driving quality down. If you don’t think that will happen with ESAs there’s a Saudi Arabian prince I’d like to introduce you to. When money is more easily gotten, the pressure to raise prices increases. But when the money easily gotten is not based on real goods and services (real values), those price increases are simply inflation. And when you start down a path of incrementally accepting more money without a corresponding demand for increasing quality or quantity, you are already accepting a downgrade of quality. Again, I refer you to the American college scene, where billions of dollars are not only being spent to brainwash future teachers, doctors, and lawyers into believing Darwinian and Marxist lies, but they are also doing so with waterslides, climbing walls, jacuzzis, and dormitory amenities that keep STD rates high and virginity rates low (not to mention skyrocketing tuition rates).
I’ve heard some proposing “school choice” in the form of tax credits. The plus side of tax credits would be relative lack of strings attached. The downside would still be the government pretending to have the authority to take our money in the first place. This would also likely continue to include some measure of redistribution since tax credits are often awarded based on income levels, granting larger credits to those with lower incomes. If tax credits were matched to actual taxation payments that would be even closer to giving people back the money stolen from them, but then why do we continue to allow our money to be taken in the first place? On what planet is it OK for the government to require you to pay for services that you object to, that you refuse, that you aren’t using? If Christians have gotten their heads around the need to defund Planned Parenthood because we object to our tax dollars funding the murder of little babies, why can’t we get our heads around the right of parents to decide how to spend their own money on the education of their own children? Why can’t we simply demand the right to opt out?
The goal of any real “school choice” must be complete parental sovereignty and freedom, and that means freedom from government coercion to pay into a system. While the government demands your money, all talk of “choice” is negotiating with thugs.
The cry and hue goes up that unless the state provides education, the poor will suffer, and the social and economic impact will be disastrous. But this really is ridiculous: government programs have the worst track records. They are bloated with regulations, red tape, and nuisance bureaucracy. The government insisting that if they don’t take care of education, the poor will suffer, is like an obese man insisting that if he doesn’t run the exercise and nutrition programs everyone will be sick and unhealthy. Just look at San Fransisco, Seattle, or Portland. Look at those Marxist utopian paradises. Our answer needs to simply be that we will take care of our own poor, thank you very much. You have done quite enough, Mr. Fat Ass Government. Get your greasy paws off our schools (and kids).
I suspect that there are backroom deals being made with these “school choice” programs. I suspect that Big Tech and Big Business are somewhere in those backrooms pulling strings. Education is a massive business (like health care), and if you don’t think there’s corruption involved have I told you that I’m a Saudi Arabian prince with a gold mine I need to unload? While there is some resistance on the Left that might make “school choice” seem like a real suckerpunch to their beloved Democrat training centers, er, I mean schools, Christians must understand that they do not have any real “school choice,” until they have full and complete choice over how to spend their own money for their own children.
If we’re going to make some kind of deal, the deal has to include the right of parents to opt out of the government education system. Since the god of Big Tech and Big Government is Mammon, I would suggest trying to broker a deal between some corporate fat cats and government fat cats. Could we convince the true believers in government education to let us leave this Egypt if they could give all their teachers a raise and every student a laptop and lifetime supply of condoms because Google is buying a few seats on the State Education board?
Short of a radical gospel Reformation in our land, we need to be thinking and praying strategically. Can we offer them a deal they can’t refuse so that we can get out? But convincing them to let us use some of the money they stole isn’t really a jailbreak; it’s more like building an addition on the jail and letting you invite your school to use the new “wing.”
Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash
I suggest you look at the Arizona ESA’s.