Monday, January 28, 2008

Letter to the editor

I found this letter to the editor in my local newspaper.

Stop all funding of public schools

The final solution to the massive problem of public schools destroying our children is to make private schools and home schooling affordable for parents in general. This must be done if we are to save our children from the criminally perverted shattered lives produced by the government gulags euphemistically referred to as "public education" in our country. The essential solution is to eliminate all government funding and controls over private education so the educational standards can be what the parents want, not what the government wants. Government standards in public schools are so low, depraved and outright criminal that back in my day (1950s) these standards would have warranted massive police raids by Eliot Ness. We cannot allow this to continue and expect our country to survive. We must encourage private schools and home schooling by every private means and further enact legislation to exempt the parents of children in private schools or in home schools from all taxes going to support public education, which is only fair.

Sed Nemechek

I'm all for letting everyone, not just parents with children in private school or homeschool, opt out of fund government schools. It seems unfair to expect all your neighbors to pay for the education of your children. It is like deciding to have a baby and then going door to door and extorting money from your neighbors.

A few years ago, a friend of mine had a sign in her yard supporting a local bond measure for schools. I almost couldn't bring myself to speak to her. She was helping steal money from my family. I was greatly relieved when she took the sign down.

I would happily donate the funds I now pay in taxes for school to a scholarship fund for private/homeschool.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, public school, public education, education


Alyssa said...

I am very sympathetic to your point of view, but using the words "extortion" and "stealing" seem a little harsh. I believe that paying taxes is a social duty and that those of us who have been blessed with wealth have a moral responsibility to help pay for our society. (Paying taxes and buying bonds are different issues, of course.)

While our public school system is deeply flawed---as you have clearly and eloquently demonstrated many times on your blog---homeschooling and private schooling is not an option for every family, particularly for the underprivileged. I do believe that education should be provided as a public service for those who have no other options.

Part of the reason the standards of education have dropped in our country is because we are making a greater effort to educated people with lower socio-economic backgrounds, which has affected average test scores and crime in schools. Even if we fail, we need to at least try to educate everyone. I don't believe we should only be concerned for just "me and mine." We have a social responsibility to help our neighbors and our larger communities too.

Janine Cate said...

>but using the words "extortion" and "stealing" seem a little harsh.

No, it's not. The definition of "extortion" is "act of demanding or levying by force or authority." We are threaten with the loss of our property if we do not pay and it is insinuated that we will be a victim of a violent crime if we don't have universal preschool. That sounds like extortion to me.

This is not about caring for the poor. I'm paying for the education of families who have the means to education their own children but have simply chosen not to.

Alyssa said...

Hi, Janine. As a fellow ward member of yours, I really don't want to have a heated argument. My intention is not to make you upset or to say that I disagree with you, but merely to express the other side of the issue. For the most part, I agree with everything you say on your blog (or else I wouldn't be reading it every day like I do).

That being said, I think it is a little bit of an over-simplification to say that it is a simple matter of choice whether to send your children to public school or not. For many families that is true, but for single parent families or families with low incomes/in poverty, there really isn't a choice---these choices were taken away from them because of social forces and personal circumstances that are largely beyond their control. For these families, public education is their only viable option.

Secondly, I worry that by the definition you have provided, any taxes would be a form of extortion. I don't feel that this is true. I think taxes are crucial to the operation of our country. I may not ever drive on a federal highway in, say, North Dakota, but I feel that it is my responsibility to pay the taxes that will go toward building and maintaining all federal highways.

The same is true for schools. I may opt out of public school for my children, but I still believe in paying for public education because I think it ultimately makes my society better to try to educate everyone. I am benefited indirectly by public education.

As a side note, I've always strongly disagreed that schools should be funded by property taxes. I would much prefer that it came from income taxes or from somewhere else, but that's a different matter entirely.

Janine Cate said...

Ahh... That wasn't meant to be "heated." It was "I have a fussy kid who won't give me a minute to myself and I have to answer fast" response. This is a very complex topic that I could not adequately address even if I wrote a book.

I think you are over estimating the positive influence of public education and underestimating the capabilities of parents. If there were no government school, all but the truly destitute would find some way to educate their children. Charities and churches would take care of the rest. Individuals could donate towards scholarship funds and charity schools could teach a higher standard of literacy than we have now in only a few years of instruction.

In the United States, the government spends tax dollars in the amount of $600,000,000,000 per year for K - 12 education. Even if government schools worked well, I don't think you can justify the price tag.

I don't think the parents that send their children to public school are bad, but I do think they have been bamboozled.

One of the reasons that educational standards have slipped so much in recent years is because society believes education is a "right" not a privilege. The rising generation does not value an education because nobody values something they can get for nothing.

Students and their parents have the belief that they are "entitled" to a government funded education and that students can behave badly, vandalize property, and put in little or no effort. Because of the current tax laws, people believe that if they want a better school, the way to get it is by taking money from their neighbors.

Their are a lot of other complex issues with funding, unions, federal government control, mandatory attendance laws that muddy the waters.

Because I am short on time (and have a fussy toddler at my feet again), I will use the words on the incomparable B. Young:

"I am opposed to free education as much as I am opposed to taking property from one man and giving it to another who knows not how to take care of it... I do not believe in allowing my charities to go through the hands of robbers who pocket nine-tenths themselves and give one tenth to the poor... Would I encourage free schools by taxation? No!"