School choice for everyone who can afford it

Jan 31, 2018 by

By William Haupt III –

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”

– Lucius Plutarch AD 46 – AD 120

In response to a misconstrued account of the American Revolution published in London, Thomas Paine wrote, “The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.” Paine defended America from the misconstrued impressions our Revolution was a political revolt by malcontents against the English. He explained the price we paid for liberty was cheap compared to remaining an ignorant, ill-informed subversive nation. Our lifestyle opened the door of enlightened thinking which eclipsed what we’d known before and we revolted to protect this knowledge.

“We see with other eyes; we hear with other ears; and think with other thoughts, than those we formerly used.”

– Thomas Paine

When Paine told us, “We have the power to make the world over again,” he said education is the most influential weapon we have to change society as it evolves. And we must continually evoke it. Our history books are filled with accounts of the engines of change driven by cultural locomotion. A nation can’t hide a truth from their subjects forever. This was socialism’s biggest blunder in Russia. New technology transfixed the bully pulpit of propaganda that enabled socialism to survive. In only a few years of exposure to capitalism, Soviet citizens learned the benefits of living in a democracy.

“I’d rather live a short life as an educated man, than a long life as a moronic fool.”

– Foster Grant

The right kind of education has been essential for mankind to adjust and change to adapt with evolution since the first formal society. From the school of “hard knocks” to pedigree colleges, it is what you learn that enables you to meet the challenges ahead. That’s why every January we have an annual National School Choice Week (NSCW) to promote the concept of school choice for students and parents. This includes public, magnet, charter, private schools and even home schooling. The purpose is to bring awareness to the need for parents to choose the best schools for their children.

“All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.”

– Walter Scott

Started in 2011, NSCW is now the world’s largest annual celebration of opportunity in education. Over the past seven years, there have been more than 65,000 NSCW events across the country. Every event, meeting, or activity during NSCW focuses on the different aspects of school choice. NSCW is a nonpartisan, nonpolitical, independent public awareness effort and has accomplished many great educational innovations.

“He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”

– Victor Hugo

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “To educate a person in the mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” Although NSCW has ended, National Catholic Schools Week took over the education stage on Jan. 28. In reaction to many bad SCOTUS rulings concerning religion in schools, in 1997 The National Board of Parochial Education established NCSW. This was not in defiance of bad court decisions, but to remind Americans they always had a choice available if they wanted to provide their children a religious and academic education within civic union.

“Education is useless without the Bible. The Bible was America’s basic text book in all fields.”

– Noah Webster

Parochial schools predicate religious education as essential for every student’s development. They believe schools are communities; families, members of the larger community of home, church, city and nation. Faith, knowledge and service are the creeds by which all religious school should be judged and compared to public schools. Their goal is to provide an equal or even better academic education coupled with spiritual guidance to develop moral character for their students to use in the secular world for social enrichment.

“By helping to raise man above the level of bestial vegetation, faith contributes in reality to the securing and safeguarding of his existence.”

– Adolf Hitler

School choice is not a new concept; only a formal annual endorsement for all parents to focus on education for our nation’s youth. We have always had school choice “if we could afford it.” Since our founding we have had private, religious, Ivy League, boarding and vocational schools as well as military academies. The one ingredient these schools have in common is parents finance them, not tax dollars; yet they still must pay for public education? Traditionally they produce students with higher achievement scores who graduate from college at a much greater percentage than public school students.

“One cannot rid themselves of a good education, nor a bad one.”

– Dan Diaz

At a recent rally, Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s education secretary, expressed the success of charter schools and vouchers. There was a rallying call by other legislators about the failing public schools and how to help kids get out of them. But this talk of improving public schools and funding systems for school choice was as popular with the teachers as getting a “wisdom” tooth extracted. Money talks the talk and teachers walk the walk in public=financed schools. Any threat to defuse it in any way other than a monthly check cut to the local school boards is like telling a kid there is no Santa.

“I struggled through private school all the way through medical school.”

– Dr. Armen Armin

A major obstacle we face with school choice is the SCOTUS decisions in 1971, 1984, and 1997 that forbade government financing or teaching religious education. Many critics of school choice are teachers and their unions that fear the loss of revenue and use the “religious clause” as an excuse to curtail talk of giving tax dollars to parents to use outside the failed public school system.

“One must wonder why teacher unions have twice the lobbyists of the AFL-CIO.”

– Susan Collins

JFK, realizing the value of his parochial education, in 1961 proposed legislation to allow those who sent children to private schools, religious or non-religious, to deduct the costs from their taxes. His reasoning was simple and logical. He lobbied Congress, not only were these children getting a far better education since their parents were footing the bill, why should they also have to pay twice for education they chose not to take advantage of. JFK ignited the fuse of a movement nobody has been able to stomp out since. The UFT, United Federation of Teachers, fought back with acerbity led by charismatic Albert Shanker, a linchpin in the American labor movement. Further talk about tax deductions for private schools was squashed like a cockroach at the dinner table.

“This coming year we must build our capacity to strike, by creating a state crisis.”

– Alex Caputo-Pearl, UTA, LA

Union leader Michael Mulgrew said, “We have the biggest voice in how schools are run.” And that has been the case since the first teacher’s union was formed; and the results are dismal. It is time to resurrect JFK’s proposal to allow all parents who choose to send their kids to a private school of choice, whether it be religious or secular, to deduct the tuition they pay from their state and federal taxes. Public schools have been double-dipping from the taxpayer’s well too long while our private schools are the schools of choice for so many parents – if they can afford them.

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

“Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

– Martin Luther King

“Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night it produces. If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”

– Victor Hugo

Source: Op-Ed: School choice for everyone who can afford it | National |

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