Brad Harrington

School Vouchers As The Key To Educational Competition

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School Vouchers As The Key To Educational Competition

By Bradley Harrington

This editorial was originally published in the June 1, 2012 issue of Liberty's Torch.

"When you clamor for public ownership of the means of production, you are clamoring for public ownership of the mind." - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957 -

While most Americans are certainly not educated to think of our public school system as a manifestation of Marxist communism, that lack of awareness certainly doesn’t stop it from being so - and even cursory examinations of the “educational” institutions practiced by such collectivist regimes make it clear that the thrust is always indoctrination not education. It’s no accident that Karl Marx, in his 1848 work The Communist Manifesto, called for “Free education for all children in government schools” as his Tenth Plank - for, under such tyranny, the next target after the destruction of individual liberty is the obliteration of truth.

Consequently, we have always been advocates of privately-funded schools as the best way to ensure a free and properly-educated population. Coercive state monopolies, however, act to erode and subvert the competitive processes such a system would generate right at its roots.

Some find it hard to swallow the idea that government’s grip in this area is best characterized as a “monopoly” - for, after all, don’t private schools exist, and can’t they be patronized by parents and families if they so choose?

Yes, of course - but such people are still paying for the “public” system even in the absence of its use, and such taxes eliminate nearly all the competitive forces that would normally be at work. As an example, consider: If McDonald’s were suddenly granted the legislative power to make you pay $10 for your family’s meals, but said it was still OK for you to eat at Burger King should you so choose, would you call that a “free choice”? Sure, some people would act on that option - but only those who had an extra $10 to spend on food. All the rest would be coerced into eating at McDonald’s, or of starving - and that’s a burger that sure tastes like “monopoly” to us.

As a result, collectivist-minded claims that our public schools don’t represent a monopoly in the educational field are just so much smoke-and-mirrors. De facto, such schools rule the roost as the only affordable option for most of the families out there.

This is why school vouchers are of such critical importance - for, by returning to taxpayers the educational dollars that have been stolen from them, should they seek to place their children in privately-funded schools, that monopoly is snapped in its cradle. The hypothetical law demanding that a citizen pay $10 to McDonald’s, whether he eats there or not, loses all meaning in the absence of enforcement and the citizen remains free to spend that money as he chooses.

And, in the same way that free competition in the provision of restaurant services has brought us a multitude of food types, eating experiences, nutritional content, price ranges, and a host of other choices and factors, it follows that the exact same thing would occur regarding our schools as well. Do you want prayer in your school? Great; patronize one that offers it. If you don’t, patronize another establishment instead. Do you believe it’s the school’s job to teach morality or sex education? Great; send your child to one that does. If you don’t, spend your money somewhere else.

Thus, the true freedom of choice that vouchers represent would make itself manifest in all kinds of competitive ways - and not just in terms of educational content, but also in cheaper costs. That’s what free markets do; that’s how they operate; and that’s been the result in every other sector of economy in which its been tried, for example, airline de-regulation back in 1978.

To accrue such de-regulatory benefits in our schools, however, the vouchers are the key, for they are the action that introduces the freedom of choice that makes true competition possible. Absent that factor and what we will have? The same mediocrity and indoctrinational propaganda we’ve had for decades. It’s time for a serious change, and its only free-market forces that will make such change possible.

Bradley Harrington is the Publisher of Liberty's Torch; his email is publisher@libertystorch.us.

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School Vouchers As The Key To Educational Competition

By Bradley Harrington

This editorial was originally published in the June 1, 2012 issue of Liberty's Torch.

"When you clamor for public ownership of the means of production, you are clamoring for public ownership of the mind." - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957 -

While most Americans are certainly not educated to think of our public school system as a manifestation of Marxist communism, that lack of awareness certainly doesn’t stop it from being so - and even cursory examinations of the “educational” institutions practiced by such collectivist regimes make it clear that the thrust is always indoctrination not education. It’s no accident that Karl Marx, in his 1848 work The Communist Manifesto, called for “Free education for all children in government schools” as his Tenth Plank - for, under such tyranny, the next target after the destruction of individual liberty is the obliteration of truth.

Consequently, we have always been advocates of privately-funded schools as the best way to ensure a free and properly-educated population. Coercive state monopolies, however, act to erode and subvert the competitive processes such a system would generate right at its roots.

Some find it hard to swallow the idea that government’s grip in this area is best characterized as a “monopoly” - for, after all, don’t private schools exist, and can’t they be patronized by parents and families if they so choose?

Yes, of course - but such people are still paying for the “public” system even in the absence of its use, and such taxes eliminate nearly all the competitive forces that would normally be at work. As an example, consider: If McDonald’s were suddenly granted the legislative power to make you pay $10 for your family’s meals, but said it was still OK for you to eat at Burger King should you so choose, would you call that a “free choice”? Sure, some people would act on that option - but only those who had an extra $10 to spend on food. All the rest would be coerced into eating at McDonald’s, or of starving - and that’s a burger that sure tastes like “monopoly” to us.

As a result, collectivist-minded claims that our public schools don’t represent a monopoly in the educational field are just so much smoke-and-mirrors. De facto, such schools rule the roost as the only affordable option for most of the families out there.

This is why school vouchers are of such critical importance - for, by returning to taxpayers the educational dollars that have been stolen from them, should they seek to place their children in privately-funded schools, that monopoly is snapped in its cradle. The hypothetical law demanding that a citizen pay $10 to McDonald’s, whether he eats there or not, loses all meaning in the absence of enforcement and the citizen remains free to spend that money as he chooses.

And, in the same way that free competition in the provision of restaurant services has brought us a multitude of food types, eating experiences, nutritional content, price ranges, and a host of other choices and factors, it follows that the exact same thing would occur regarding our schools as well. Do you want prayer in your school? Great; patronize one that offers it. If you don’t, patronize another establishment instead. Do you believe it’s the school’s job to teach morality or sex education? Great; send your child to one that does. If you don’t, spend your money somewhere else.

Thus, the true freedom of choice that vouchers represent would make itself manifest in all kinds of competitive ways - and not just in terms of educational content, but also in cheaper costs. That’s what free markets do; that’s how they operate; and that’s been the result in every other sector of economy in which its been tried, for example, airline de-regulation back in 1978.

To accrue such de-regulatory benefits in our schools, however, the vouchers are the key, for they are the action that introduces the freedom of choice that makes true competition possible. Absent that factor and what we will have? The same mediocrity and indoctrinational propaganda we’ve had for decades. It’s time for a serious change, and its only free-market forces that will make such change possible.

Bradley Harrington is the Publisher of Liberty's Torch; his email is publisher@libertystorch.us.

How are the vouchers paid for? Answer: Out of that portion of the property tax allocated to maintain and operate the public schools. The government will graciously refund money that is extracted from us by force (minus a service charge) so we can buy schooling for our kids at a vendor of our choice. Does this sound good? Maybe, but it is not. The privately owned schools at which we can redeem our vouchers still have to conform to government rules.

The real goal is the separation of State and School. The voucher system does not accomplish this goal.

The State's business is enforcing laws which protect our lives and property. Taking our money and issuing scrip to be spent at a vendor which meets the State's approval does not fall under this rubric.

I have a radical proposal. Parents spend their own money in a manner of their choice to provide their youngsters or charges with an education.

ruveyn

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How are the vouchers paid for? Answer: Out of that portion of the property tax allocated to maintain and operate the public schools. The government will graciously refund money that is extracted from us by force (minus a service charge) so we can buy schooling for our kids at a vendor of our choice. Does this sound good? Maybe, but it is not. The privately owned schools at which we can redeem our vouchers still have to conform to government rules.

The real goal is the separation of State and School. The voucher system does not accomplish this goal.

The State's business is enforcing laws which protect our lives and property. Taking our money and issuing scrip to be spent at a vendor which meets the State's approval does not fall under this rubric.

I have a radical proposal. Parents spend their own money in a manner of their choice to provide their youngsters or charges with an education.

ruveyn

A few points, Ruveyn, if I may:

(1) I share your "radical" idea of a complete "separation of State and Education," as well as being convinced that the ULTIMATE answer lies in a complete privatization of the educational system. I have advocated such a system for as long as I've been thinking on such topics (about 35 years).

(2) I also share your understanding that gov't has no place in determining standards and curricula for the private schools, as this involvement is, in the final analysis, property aggression which leads to a destruction of individual freedom and freedom of choice.

(3) I *ALSO* understand, however, that the chances of establishing such a system right here, right now, or at any even remotely predictable point in the near future, are akin to a snowball's chance of surviving in Hell. Establishing school vouchers, however, *IS* achievable in the near future, as an actual political goal - and while it is true enough that this solution is not the final one to implement, it is enough of a solution to introduce a tremendously large share of freedom of choice that it will breed a correspondingly tremendously large amount of competition in the schools.

That process, should it begin to occur, will quickly sound the death rattle for the "public" system, as it will no longer have a monopoly hold on educational dollars. The competitiion bred by a voucher system, while admittedly not the true laissez-faire capitalist ideal, will generate such an enormous spurt in educational alternatives for parents and their children that such individuals will begin fleeing the tax-supported indoctrination camps in droves, taking advantage of the new options and alternatives they can suddenly afford.

As soon as THAT snowball starts rolling, Hell won't be a big enough place in which to melt it. Further acceleration of both the mass exodus from the "public" system, coupled with a flood of patrons to the private system, will quickly breed even more acceleration in both regards, as the benefits of close-to-true competition make themselves felt in all areas: costs, quality of education, the array of options available, etc. - until, for the "public" system, things rapidly destabilize to the point of collapse. Implement vouchers as a sound, practical and workable middle process and I'd give the "public" system anywhere from three to five years max.

So cut me some slack on the "pureness" of the proposal, friend. Even the longest journey begins with a single step. ;)

Brad

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Ayn Rand advocated tax credits (not vouchers) as an important first step in separating education and government because it breaks the monopoly and allows for choice. But in her article (in her LA Times series) she made it very clear what the ultimate goal is, why, and how and why tax credits are a means towards achieving it.

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I think tax credits for education is the better way to go. Vouchers still leave in the hands of the govt. the decision of which schools get vouchers, how much payment do they get, as well as problematic questions such as should a govt be involved in funding religious schools, are all in play. It is much better to just allow a parent to reduce his tax burden by an equal amount that is paid to any school for any student. Vouchers, while a worthwhile idea, still leave control of the money in the hands of the state. Vouchers may seem more realizable now, but perhaps if there were more people fighting for it, it would gain some momentum. And let's not forget those who have no kids yet pay taxes for schools, as well as those whose child has completed school but is still paying for other kids to go to schools. Neither vouchers nor tax credits give them any consideration.

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Tax credits as advocated by Ayn Rand allow the credit to anyone contributing to anyone's education, not just parents of current students. That is much broader in opening up providing education by private individuals and does not limit the choice of educational institutions to those currently available to local students. Everyone pays taxes, not just parents with children currently in school. This advantage to tax credits is in addition to cutting out the government middle man dispensing "vouchers".

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Tax credits as advocated by Ayn Rand allow the credit to anyone contributing to anyone's education, not just parents of current students. That is much broader in opening up providing education by private individuals and does not limit the choice of educational institutions to those currently available to local students. Everyone pays taxes, not just parents with children currently in school. This advantage to tax credits is in addition to cutting out the government middle man dispensing "vouchers".

I seriously doubt consideration would be given to giving tax credits to people who don't pay taxes that go to pay for education. Those taxes are usually appropriated through property taxes at the state level. There already are tax credits for charitable donations.

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Property taxes do pay for government schools. Whether or not property taxes are collected by the state or cities and towns, which depends on the state, does not change that.

Private profit-making schools are not charitable organizations and charitable deductions from taxable income are not tax credits.

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This advantage to tax credits is in addition to cutting out the government middle man dispensing "vouchers".

Isn't it just as easy for government to impose it's definition of an appropriate school under a tax credit system as it is under a voucher system?

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Property taxes do pay for government schools. Whether or not property taxes are collected by the state or cities and towns, which depends on the state, does not change that.

Private profit-making schools are not charitable organizations and charitable deductions from taxable income are not tax credits.

Profit making schools can set up organizations that accept charitable donations for educational purposes.

As for your first point, what is the point? Why would there be educational tax exemptions? It is to offset the taxes being paid by the person paying for the students education. At least that's the theory as I understand it. Otherwise, why not just give tax credits for anything and everything?

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Property taxes do pay for government schools. Whether or not property taxes are collected by the state or cities and towns, which depends on the state, does not change that.

Private profit-making schools are not charitable organizations and charitable deductions from taxable income are not tax credits

Profit making schools can set up organizations that accept charitable donations for educational purposes.

1. Profit-making businesses cannot arbitrarily set up "charitable donations" for their own activities. There is no deduction for tuition or donations to a private profit-making school.

2. Deductions from taxable income are not tax credits. A deduction does not cover the cost of the expense. A deduction would not offset the amount of taxes taken for government schools. The amount of tax reduction due to a deduction depends on the marginal income tax bracket and is not a tax credit.

As for your first point, what is the point? Why would there be educational tax exemptions? It is to offset the taxes being paid by the person paying for the students education. At least that's the theory as I understand it. Otherwise, why not just give tax credits for anything and everything?

You said, "I seriously doubt consideration would be given to giving tax credits to people who don't pay taxes that go to pay for education. Those taxes are usually appropriated through property taxes at the state level." Everyone's property taxes are used to pay for government schools whether they have children in the schools or not. In the northeast it is currently typically about 70%. Anyone should be able to give that money to another school or schools of his choice for any student(s) instead, which is what the education tax credit would do.

Aside from property taxes, with all the additional state and Federal "subsidies" to local government schools, everyone, whether he directly pays property taxes or not, is paying taxes for government schools. And with all the existing hodge podge of deductions and tax credits in the current tax system, even for people who don't pay income taxes at all, there is no reason not to grant tax credits to anyone who pays for someone's education until government schools are eliminated. The purpose is to break the government monopoly and then phase out the government schools, which is why the government school teachers unions and the left in general oppose any reform, no matter how limited, taking away their power to control education and to take and use other people's money to do it.

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This advantage to tax credits is in addition to cutting out the government middle man dispensing "vouchers".

Isn't it just as easy for government to impose it's definition of an appropriate school under a tax credit system as it is under a voucher system?

Not when they aren't writing the checks. They can attempt to compile lists of hundreds of thousands of 'approved' schools and try to enforce it by audits, but that gives them less control than dispensing vouchers for use only to institutions allowed to cash them in. Avoiding the 'overhead' and meddling of the government middleman is an additional benefit of direct tax credits. And they aren't about to give 'vouchers' to anyone who pays taxes; it has to be taken out of the bureaucrats hands. Do you not think that the current system of tax for deductions for business expenses isn't as bad as a system in which taxes are paid on gross receipts with the government controlling and distributing the money for the business expenses through 'vouchers'? See Ayn Rand's article in The Ayn Rand Column (reprints of the LA Times series) for the full discussion of education tax credits versus vouchers (as 'full' as it could be in a short column).

The government would still be making rules defining an education tax credit, but there is no way to avoid that. The goal is to make that a temporary situation until government schools are gone and the education tax credit isn't needed anymore to allow for free choice in education to break the government monopoly and get government schools and coercion out of education.

There would always be some rules for what 'education' is, if only in the child abuse laws to prevent some parents from in the name of education submitting their children to 8 hours a day of reciting the Koran or the equivalent. But that is another topic.

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Property taxes do pay for government schools. Whether or not property taxes are collected by the state or cities and towns, which depends on the state, does not change that.

Private profit-making schools are not charitable organizations and charitable deductions from taxable income are not tax credits

Profit making schools can set up organizations that accept charitable donations for educational purposes.

1. Profit-making businesses cannot arbitrarily set up "charitable donations" for their own activities. There is no deduction for tuition or donations to a private profit-making school.

2. Deductions from taxable income are not tax credits. A deduction does not cover the cost of the expense. A deduction would not offset the amount of taxes taken for government schools. The amount of tax reduction due to a deduction depends on the marginal income tax bracket and is not a tax credit.

As for your first point, what is the point? Why would there be educational tax exemptions? It is to offset the taxes being paid by the person paying for the students education. At least that's the theory as I understand it. Otherwise, why not just give tax credits for anything and everything?

You said, "I seriously doubt consideration would be given to giving tax credits to people who don't pay taxes that go to pay for education. Those taxes are usually appropriated through property taxes at the state level." Everyone's property taxes are used to pay for government schools whether they have children in the schools or not. In the northeast it is currently typically about 70%. Anyone should be able to give that money to another school or schools of his choice for any student(s) instead, which is what the education tax credit would do.

Aside from property taxes, with all the additional state and Federal "subsidies" to local government schools, everyone, whether he directly pays property taxes or not, is paying taxes for government schools. And with all the existing hodge podge of deductions and tax credits in the current tax system, even for people who don't pay income taxes at all, there is no reason not to grant tax credits to anyone who pays for someone's education until government schools are eliminated. The purpose is to break the government monopoly and then phase out the government schools, which is why the government school teachers unions and the left in general oppose any reform, no matter how limited, taking away their power to control education and to take and use other people's money to do it.

So, let me see if I understand this. Let's say my total state and federal taxes I pay are around $25,000. I have no idea what percentage goes to education, but let's say it $5,000. If I send my son to a school that charges $40,000 per year, you expect the government to give me a tax credit of $40,000?
The essentials of the idea (in my version) are as follows: an individual citizen would be given tax credits for the money he spends on education, whether his own education, his children's, or any person's he wants to put through a bona fide school of his own choice (including primary, secondary, and higher education).

The upper limits of what he may spend on any one person would be equal to what it costs the government to provide a student with a comparable education (if there is a computer big enough to calculate it, including all the costs involved, local, state, and federal, the government loans, scholarships, subsidies, etc.)

Tax Credits for Education

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So, let me see if I understand this. Let's say my total state and federal taxes I pay are around $25,000. I have no idea what percentage goes to education, but let's say it $5,000. If I send my son to a school that charges $40,000 per year, you expect the government to give me a tax credit of $40,000?

If a person bears the cost of schooling his kids out of his own pocket he should not have to pay taxes to support the public schools. He should be relieved of that part of the taxes he owes.

ruveyn

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Property taxes do pay for government schools. Whether or not property taxes are collected by the state or cities and towns, which depends on the state, does not change that.

Private profit-making schools are not charitable organizations and charitable deductions from taxable income are not tax credits

Profit making schools can set up organizations that accept charitable donations for educational purposes.

1. Profit-making businesses cannot arbitrarily set up "charitable donations" for their own activities. There is no deduction for tuition or donations to a private profit-making school.

2. Deductions from taxable income are not tax credits. A deduction does not cover the cost of the expense. A deduction would not offset the amount of taxes taken for government schools. The amount of tax reduction due to a deduction depends on the marginal income tax bracket and is not a tax credit.

As for your first point, what is the point? Why would there be educational tax exemptions? It is to offset the taxes being paid by the person paying for the students education. At least that's the theory as I understand it. Otherwise, why not just give tax credits for anything and everything?

You said, "I seriously doubt consideration would be given to giving tax credits to people who don't pay taxes that go to pay for education. Those taxes are usually appropriated through property taxes at the state level." Everyone's property taxes are used to pay for government schools whether they have children in the schools or not. In the northeast it is currently typically about 70%. Anyone should be able to give that money to another school or schools of his choice for any student(s) instead, which is what the education tax credit would do.

Aside from property taxes, with all the additional state and Federal "subsidies" to local government schools, everyone, whether he directly pays property taxes or not, is paying taxes for government schools. And with all the existing hodge podge of deductions and tax credits in the current tax system, even for people who don't pay income taxes at all, there is no reason not to grant tax credits to anyone who pays for someone's education until government schools are eliminated. The purpose is to break the government monopoly and then phase out the government schools, which is why the government school teachers unions and the left in general oppose any reform, no matter how limited, taking away their power to control education and to take and use other people's money to do it.

I don't see how this would work on a large scale. A state, say Maryland, would give me a tax credit to spend in Delaware where I want to send my son. But Delaware doesn't offer such a tax credit. What happens then? Am I not being subsidized by the residents of Delaware?

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And what about the monetary advantages one receives from state taxes. When my son was applying for colleges 6 years ago, NYU was $40,000 per year, Rutgers was $20,000, and in-state University of Maryland was $8,000. How does that figure into the equation? Whom do I have to pay to make up the difference?

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School Vouchers As The Key To Educational Competition

By Bradley Harrington

For anyone with nothing better to do for the next half-hour, you might find this of interest:

********************

On American Public Schools

By Brad Harrington

As I normally do, I send out articles I consider worthy of the attention of my family and friends as an email. I did so with the Torch’s last editorial, “School Vouchers As The Key To Educational Competition.”

In response, my journalism instructor from 28 years ago, who is on that email list, emailed me the following response:

********************

Brad,

The voucher option is viable. However, I think the McDonald's analogy is a little “out there” for me. Also, equating American schools and many of its dedicated teachers as nothing but agents of the Communist Manifesto is denigrating at best. You are the expert on our Founding Fathers and I believe they were the ones that realized that a large educated middle class would be essential to preserving a government of and for the people.

I have to agree that our educational system sometimes falls short when teaching student to think critically and to think for themselves. Thus the overwhelming success of the FOX “News” network. The private schools around here are the propaganda mills that you so fear.

You have a point about individuals having the right to send their kids to the private school of their choice. There are some damn good public schools around here not teaching the communist party line and parents are free in this area to move their students to a public school of their choice. Getting rid of a good public school system is the real path to tyranny. I like your style but a well-educated middle class is a little more important than ordering a Big Mac.

********************

Now, let me say at the outset that my journalism instructor was one of the best teachers I ever had. I consider him to be one of the “good” guys, even if we have our differences of opinion - which we sometimes do. I can state unequivocally that this man’s teaching abilities are second to none, and I can also state just as surely that never, in any of the instruction I received from him, was there ever even an inkling of some of the horrors of the school system I am about to document and relate. This man did nothing but teach me an incredible amount regarding journalism, and he always strove to impart that information in a way that promoted the “critical thinking” he speaks of. It was my understanding of the material Mike was after, not my blind obedience, and I am forever grateful to the knowledge I gained from him.

Having said that, however, I also need to say that Mike’s opinions are, in my opinion, what happens when the best we have out there in the educational establishment fail to understand the actual principles and motives upon which our institutes of learning are based - and that lack of knowledge serves to counteract and undercut the excellent instructional material such teachers have to offer their students.

As I have profound disagreements with much of what Mike wrote, I responded to his letter, and that response can be found below.

********************

Hi Mike:

You told me once, many moons ago, that I could “belch and fill two pages.” Fair warning: This ain't no “two-page sound-bite,” this qualifies as the biggest belch I've ever hurtled in your direction. I'll be blunt, and to the point, and I'll probably piss you off many times over before you're done reading this - if, indeed, you bother doing so. I hope you do, for I still consider you as one of the “good” guys if you'd just stop and think a bit.

You have answered our Torch editorial with some points of rebuttal of your own, defending the existence, nature and method of operation of the “public” school system - and, in that same vein, I believe the points you have raised merit further discussion, if I may; for, quite frankly, I find the raised points to be either:

(1) A misunderstanding or misstatement of the original argument;

(2) A non-sequitur that does not follow from the original argument; or,

(3) A statement that does not answer the original argument.

Let’s start with your belief that “the McDonald’s analogy is a little ‘out there’ for me.” Why so? Since an analogical argument is one whereby the argumentor attempts to provide a simpler example of a relevant conceptual link between one issue and another, in order to impart an understanding of the implications of that conceptual link into the argumentee’s mind (and is a valid form of argumentation that has been accepted in logic since the Ancient Greeks), you must have a complaint about my analogy qualifying as such on one, the other, or both of those grounds.

In the case of the issue of choice in education - and, in particular, the issue that even though private schools do exist, offering some choice, those choices are limited by the continued funding of the “public” system which must still be paid for through taxes - the argument sought to slam home the point through a similar but simpler, easier-to-grasp transaction in another sector of our economy: Restaurants. The point of the McDonald’s analogy, in other words, was to clearly demonstrate not just that people who pay for a privately-funded school are still having to pay for the “public” system as well - but that, further and more importantly, this fact has the implication of limiting that “choice” only to the people who can afford to pay for both, effectively abolishing true freedom of choice for all people who cannot.

Are you challenging the reality of this statement, Mike? The McDonald's analogy I used does, in my opinion, qualify as a simpler statement of that same principle, because just about anyone ‘out there’ can grasp it. The conceptual link is, additionally, completely identical, and therefore completely valid. Perhaps you just don’t like the idea of comparing the eating of a Big Mac to the consumption of so-called “educational” material in our public schools. Perhaps you feel that this analogy is trivializing or commercializing the educational process. Is that your complaint? Be that as it may, the analogy itself is correct.

In MY mind, however, the object I chose to use for the analogy - a $3.00 burger - is a PERFECT tool for comparison, because, as we shall see, the pap our society now regards as “educational” material is worth far less than the cost of a Big Mac. A Big Mac, at least, has the value of providing some nutritional content, whereas, on average, our “educational” process lost the capability of providing meaningful, useable and rational content many years ago. Indeed, to continue the restaurant analogy, I will demonstrate that what is now occurring is nothing less than the spiking of the Happy Meal with deadly poisons.

I will further argue that the extent to which this is not occurring - and I readily admit that it isn’t happening everywhere - is in spite of, not because of, the nature of the “public” system itself - islands of oases, so to speak, that remain present due to teacher dedication such as yours, and have nothing to do with the nature of the system as such.

OK, so let’s move on to your next complaint, “equating American schools and many of its dedicated teachers as nothing but agents of the Communist Manifesto,” which you consider to be “denigrating at best.”

Uh, EXCUSE ME, but I did no such thing; my editorial is completely absent of any attribution of motive. The fact remains, however, that The Communist Manifesto DID, indeed, call for “Free education for all children in government schools.” Read it for yourself right here (Plank Ten):

The Ten Planks of Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto

That Karl Marx considered a “public” educational system to be a fundamental requirement before communism could be established is irrefutable. Saying that, however, is not the same thing as saying that any establishment of such a system means that the establishors are attempting to bring about a communist regime - which is what you are claiming I said. Other motives could be involved. Again, my editorial contained no attribution of motive; it simply made the point that our “public” system of education adheres to communist criteria - and therefore qualifies, as I said, as a “manifestation of Marxist Communism.” And it does.

Nor is Marx’s direct statement that a communist regime requires such an institution all that is needed to come to that conclusion, although it certainly helps: For the very definition of communism, according to my copy of The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (1974), is:

“(1) Social organization in which goods are held in common; (2) A theory of social organization advocating common ownership of means of production and a distribution of products of industry based on need; (3) A political doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism that is the official ideology of the U.S.S.R. and some other countries.”

Socialism, in its turn, is defined by the same dictionary as:

“A theory of social organization based on government ownership, management or control of the means of production and the distribution and exchange of goods.”

Socialism, as these definitions make clear, is the wider term, involving any method of “common” or “public” ownership of the means of production; communism, as a socialist system with a particular Marxian ideology packaged with it as well, is one but one example of that wider term.

Our “public” school system, being collectively owned, certainly qualifies as socialism; and, furthermore, by virtue of Karl Marx’s actual demands for the establishment of such an educational institution, it qualifies as communism as well. If the shoe fits, I guess you’re just going to have to wear it!

It bears mentioning at this point, as well, that Commie Russia’s full name was the “Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics” - and it also bears mentioning that the full name of another socialist organization, the Nazi Party, was the “National SOCIALIST Worker’s Party.” Squirm about the classification as much as you like, Mike, there is simply no dodging the fact that our “public” schools, by virtue of their “collective,” “common” or “public” ownership, qualify as socialist/communist institutions in microcosm. Take the principle of “public” ownership of the educational establishment that we currently have and apply it to our entire society as a whole, and you will have established a socialist/communist state. PERIOD!!!

Yet, again, nowhere did I state that the establishment of such a communist/socialist educational system means that the people who established it are commies/socialists - simply that the nature of the institution, itself, qualifies as a manifestation of such a system/systems.

Since the actual motives behind the establishment of our modern system of “public” education are now up for discussion, however, by all means, let’s discuss them. Let us take a “walk down that path” and study, for a bit, the stated proclamations of our system’s founders in order to grasp the principles of education they sought to inculcate. This journey will lead us to quite a bit of interesting information - information that should send a chill down the spine of any red-blooded American with even just a shred of concern and respect for the principles of liberty and individualism the United States was based upon.

While “public” schools have existed in the United States since before the Revolutionary War, the original foundation of our educational system, in the modern sense of the term, is generally credited to the work of Horace Mann. Mr. Mann, an educational reformer out of Massachusetts in the early 19th century, argued that “universal public education was the best way to turn the nation's unruly children into disciplined, judicious republican citizens,” and (successfully) sought to transform the educational system of Massachusetts into such a model.

With that goal in mind, Mr. Mann, in 1843, toured all of Western Europe in his search for such a model, and came to the conclusion that the Prussian model of education was the one to establish here in the United States. He established such a system in Massachusetts shortly thereafter, and it didn’t take long for his system to spread throughout the entire country.

What, in turn, were the principles of the Prussian educational model? In addition to what we would now consider, today, as the “normal” ideas of “compulsory attendance, specific training for teachers, national testing for all students, national curriculums set for each grade and mandatory kindergarten,” some other ideas also served as the original motivating factors for the Prussians themselves - motivating factors that were also key to our adoption of the same system:

“The purpose of the system was to instill loyalty to the Crown and to train young men for the military and the bureaucracy. As the German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte, a key influence on the system, said, ‘If you want to influence [the student] at all, you must do more than merely talk to him; you must fashion him, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will.’” (Italics mine.)

The Prussian model of education, in other words, was developed to inculcate obedience and servitude, pure and simple.

Nor was Mr. Mann the only “educator” to have that kind of profound impact on the realities of our “modern” system. Consider, in later years, during the beginnings of the 20th century, the work, approach and viewpoints of another highly influential educator, John Dewey himself:

“School is primarily a social institution... I believe, therefore, that the true center of correlation of the school subjects is not science, nor literature, nor history, nor geography, but the child’s own social activities.” (John Dewey, My Pedagogic Creed, 1897.)

John Dewey, pragmatist and proponent of the “progressive” theory of education, is the intellectual father of our entire educational system as it exists today. He took Mr. Mann’s work, enlarged it, and fought to have his additional ideas established throughout the whole system - an endeavor in which he was successful.

It was with thanks to Mr. Dewey that our schools began the shift away from “abstract” knowledge to teaching “relevant” knowledge instead - and it was Mr. Dewey, here in America, in Mr. Mann’s wake, who relentlessly preached that the task of the schools was no longer merely to transmit information but to socially adjust students as well.

To “adjust” students to what? To their existence as part of a greater collective. And, by the middle part of the last century, Mr. Dewey’s ideas, then mainstream in their impact, began taking over the tax-supported schools from top to bottom. And that impact, coupled with government funding of such schools, is what transformed them from institutes of learning into radical indoctrination camps shortly thereafter. For what government has ever had a use for free-thinking, independent, self-reliant citizens? Throughout the 1960s’ and 1970s’, the theories of Mr. Dewey gave the State a perfect veneer of justification for the collectivization of the entire educational establishment.

Mr. Dewey, by the way, paid Soviet Russia a visit in 1928 - and, upon his return, had an article published in the Dec. 5th issue of “The New Republic,” later reprinted in his book Impressions of Soviet Russia and the Revolutionary World (1929), in which he spoke of:

“...The marvelous development of progressive educational ideas and practices under the fostering care of the Bolshevist government...”

Remember, again, that Mr. Dewey is the main intellectual father of our “public” educational system as it sits today. Remember, also, that the Bolsheviks were radical Marxist Communists.

Now, Mike, would you deny that this kind of ideological influence is now running rampant throughout our entire “educational” system? Yes, there are teachers, administrators, counselors and other staffers, such as yourself, that do not realize the extent to which our “public” system was originally set up upon collectivist lines, and who do not take part in such ideological indoctrinational practices. Such people, however, work in spite of the system as it currently stands, not because of it - and such teachers, additionally, are fast becoming the exception and not the rule.

And that a great part of the teachers in our “public” system actually do engage in all manners of collectivist, communist, socialist teachings, is also irrefutable, nor is it difficult to dig up instances of such socialist ideological indoctrination nearly everywhere you turn. Are such instances descriptive of EVERY school and EVERY teacher? No, of course not. Still, doesn't it bother you to know that this kind of stuff below is rapidly becoming the order of the day? And ALL of it paid for with taxpayer dollars:

(1) “Nathan Turner, an avowed Communist and teacher at a renowned New York prep school, took a boatload of his kids to Cuba to see El Jefe Supremo ‘one more time before he died.’ So says the New York City School District, which released a report today saying that Turner knowingly defied the U.S. ban on travel to Cuba to take dozens of students there in 2007 after telling his principal, ‘you know Ms. Lacey, I'm a Communist.’” (“Communist High School Teacher in New York Illegally Took His Students to Cuba,” www.miaminewtimes.com, July 20, 2010.)

(2) “Jeff Travis owns a small business in Des Moines and he is absolutely furious at a classroom flier that his son received from his high school social studies teacher. The flier, given to students at Roosevelt High School, features a cartoon and slogans that seem to promote communism over capitalism. ‘Communism stands for equal sharing of the work according to the benefits and the ability, but in capitalism an individual is responsible for his works and if he wants to raise the ladder,’ the flier stated. ‘While the profit of any enterprise is equally shared by all in Communism, the profit in the capitalist structure belongs to the owner only.’ The cartoon represented capitalism by featuring an overweight businessman smoking a cigar while his workers were shackled. On the communism side, the cartoon showed happy workers earning loads of cash.” (“Did School Promote Communism Over Capitalism?”, http://www.foxnews.com/, Feb. 3.)

communism.jpg

(3) “A new plan by a California lawmaker would allow schools to be used to promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, and let teachers in public district classrooms “inculcate in the mind of any pupil a preference for communism,” according to a traditional values advocacy organization... ‘This bill would actually allow the promotion of communism in public schools,’ CRI said. That’s because the state’s Civic Center Act already requires a school district to grant the use of school property, when an alternative isn’t available, to nonprofit groups, clubs or associations set up for youth and school activities. ‘But the law also states that the property may not be used by anyone intent on overthrowing the government,’ CRI said. Now, the group said, ‘SB 1322 would delete the requirement that an individual or organization wanting to use the school property is not a Communist action organization or Communist front organization. This bill would also strike the law that a public school or community college employee may be fired if he or she is a member of the Communist Party,’ the group said.” (“Next on School Agenda: Teaching Communism,” www.wnd.com, March 4, 2008.)

(4) “The National Education Association is suggesting its teachers and NEA-connected schools celebrate China on the anniversary of the repressive communist regime’s violent founding. The NEA’s website has a page called ‘Diversity Events’ and lists Oct. 1 as the day to celebrate Chairman Mao’s successful revolution. Editor’s note: After this report appeared, the reference to the founding of Chairman Mao’s “People’s Republic” was removed from the NEA website.” (NEA: Let's Celebrate Communism!,” www.wnd.com, July 29, 2010.)

(5) “If any of you have high-schoolers, I would urge you to ask them daily what they are taught in English, Social, and any class for that matter. My senior's English teacher is having them read I think it's called the Kite Runner, and it is fiction, and the teacher is saying how good communism is in the class discussions. She said... ‘When I was growing up communism was the F-word.’ She also said, ‘Take away Stalin and communism is good... It is equal pay for all.’ (“Public School Teacher Loves Communism,” “Rapture Ready Forum” at www.rr-bb.com, Oct. 11, 2011.)

Which is not to say that I agree with any or all of the above articles’ own ideological viewpoints; I am merely demonstrating the manner in which such practices are becoming more and more commonplace throughout our socialist “educational” system as time rolls on. And all of the above after a simple five-minute search on Google. Care to consider what a few hours of searching would reveal, Mike???

And if that isn't enough to scare the pants off anyone who knows that socialist/communist practices have slaughtered 100 million people in the last hundred years, we always have THIS loser to consider as well:

Bill Ayers, avowed terrorist, communist-sympathizer and hater of capitalism, the man who has the Soviet Red Star displayed prominently on his blog site, not to mention bloodthirsty Cuban Communist Che Guevera, personally responsible for the murder of thousands.

Terrorist Bill Ayers, far from being considered as criminal and treasonous in his character, is now regarded by our educational establishment to be an “American elementary education theorist” who, while still a Professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, not only displayed said picture of Che Guevera on his office door, but chose to include convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal along with the mix. Don’t you just love it?

With thanks to such ideological influences for the last century or more in our “educational system,” is it any wonder that, even back in the early 1980s’, a federal commission was declaring what everybody else had come to realize years earlier?: “Our nation is at risk. The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity.” (“A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform,” National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983.)

And what have we done about that problem since then? Here in Wyoming, or there with you in California, or anywhere else in the country, Mike? You’d think such results would challenge the prevailing “progressive” ideas from which they were spawned - but you’d be wrong. It did no such thing. The Commission called for “higher achievement standards” and “more time devoted to learning basics” instead. Which is all fine, but only in the context of first scrapping the underlying “progressive” approach lying at the root of the rot. Shy of that, we have simply “progressed” further down the road to intellectual destruction - until, today, the “rising tide” has evolved into a full-blown tsunami of anti-conceptual irrationality.

And we wonder, Mike, why our kids drop out, suicide, or turn to dope, guns and herds of gangs? With what intellectual equipment, with what traits of individualistic character they’ve had drummed out of them, did we expect them to be able to resist? We’ve turned individual human beings into a collective beehive - and what we’ve gotten is drones.

Education - i.e., the process of learning how to think, to form concepts and to acquire knowledge - is, at root, individual in its nature, and only fit for individual minds to grasp. But observe that our herd mentality of instruction has been in place for so long that it now serves as a cause of the problem as well as an effect. A self-perpetuating cycle of catastrophe run amok.

It’s “progressive” educational ideas that destroyed out school system, and it is only with an eradication of those ideas that our educational renaissance can possibly begin. Philosophy, as the science of ideas, has the last word after all, as it always does. So much for the “pragmatic” theories of the “progressive” educrats.

And now? Things have “progressed” so far that the question bears asking: Do we still have any independent thinkers left? Any educational heroes who aren’t afraid to advocate real educational ideas? Who have the guts to resist the onslaught of the mob and to assert the supremacy of individual thought? Or have we bred such traits out of existence?

Now WHAT, Mike, can anyone who still has an inkling of brains left after having their consciousness addled by such a system, expect the results of such influences to be on our youth? The very youth that all the socialists/communists/collectivists claim to be so “concerned” about???

Last fall, during the so-called "Occupy" movements, I saw, read and heard things splattered all over our news media that I would have previously thought to be nothing but the mental machinations of mad minds:

(1) In Oakland, Calif.

(2) In Washington, D.C.

(3) In New York City

(4) And, in Chicago, the Occupy thugs weren't merely content to wave posters and banners announcing their support of communist thuggery, they actually chose to MARCH with the REAL commies as well, and respectfully listened to actual members of the Communist Party lecture them on how to proceed with their “Occupy” nonsense in a fashion best suited to undermining our “evil” capitalist system.

And, this, again, after a mere five-minute Google search.

So, Mike, I ask you: WHERE DO YOU THINK OUR YOUTH OBTAINED THESE IDEAS? Do you REALLY believe they've all read Das Kapital or The Communist Manifesto??? I hardly think so. Or do you think they got those ideas from their parents? Unfortunately enough, our so-called “educational” system is hardly capable of producing literate citizens any longer, and I certainly doubt that the majority of the parents in the United States are instilling these principles of government gangsterism into their children's minds. No, our modern-day socialist/communist/collectivist sympathizers and “useful idiots” gained their immense levels of ignorance from the schools they've been attending all their lives.

Again, I stress that stating that “public” schools are a manifestation of communism does NOT equate the TEACHINGS of those schools with communism, but merely points out that the principles of such a system are based in communist doctrine. Were I to actively claim, however, that the TEACHINGS THEMSELVES conformed to such doctrine - do you STILL think I'd be completely “out there”???????? As a teacher, Mike, you should be viewing these pictures and words with horror, as you contemplate what your industry has loosed upon our country.

Nor do I need delve into cyberspace to find such instances and proof of commie/socialist indoctrination in our schools; I need merely look back a few decades in my own mind. I clearly remember, in my American History class in high school, my teacher - Mrs. Shaw - covering the “trust-busting” era of U.S. industrial history. She taught us that “trust-busting” legislation, such as that established against Standard Oil and - later - like that established by Teddy Roosevelt, were essential to correct the poor functioning of the capitalism system which bred monopolies. Do you care to research the facts on who first presented the economic thesis that capitalism breeds monopoly? You need look no further than Karl Marx himself.

Mrs. Shaw also put forth the idea, earlier on in our studies of the American Revolution, that the primary concern of that Revolution was the propertied interests of the aristocracy - NOT the desire for liberty. More Marxist propaganda.

I could go on with such examples from my own personal educational history, but I think I'm pretty much beating a dead horse, and enough of polluting cyberspace with even more images and stories of commie/collectivist rot in our “public” schools. Instead, let’s move on to your statement that: “You are the expert on our Founding Fathers and I believe they were the ones that realized that a large educated middle class would be essential to preserving a government of and for the people.”

Yes, it is true that our Founding Fathers held such beliefs, and it is also true that many of those same Founding Fathers worked diligently towards the establishment of such institutions. Thomas Jefferson, for instance, was directly responsible for the founding of the University of Virginia in 1819, and Jefferson was so proud of that achievement that he insisted that his tombstone’s epitaph contain reference to that action, right up there with his authorship of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statutes for Religious Freedom.

The Founding Fathers, however, could have no real conception of the manner in which the workings of a completely privately-funded educational system could operate, inasmuch as such knowledge did not arrive onto the political and social historical scene until after the Industrial Revolution, and the advent of the incredible array of free choices offered by the capitalist system of production, that their revolutionary work helped spawn. Expecting the Founding Fathers to be aware of such options would be akin to expecting someone to be born before the birth of one’s parents.

To the Founding Fathers, therefore, the “public” system was the ONLY option available - and, properly recognizing the fact that a well-educated populace WAS needed for government “of the people, by the people, for the people” to occur, that was what they advocated and established.

Still, even so, do you really think, Mike, that even ONE of the Founding Fathers would not look at what passes for such a system today and be horrified at what they saw? Which Founding Father, in your opinion, were he to walk into one of our history, political science or sociology classrooms today, would support the principles, teachings and ideas he would find therein? Thomas Jefferson himself, perhaps? Or James Madison? How about George Washington? Or James Monroe? Or Patrick Henry? Or George Mason? Rather, I suspect, and strongly so, that were any of these men to observe our “educational” establishment as it exists today, they would be absolutely aghast.

After that, you go on to say: “I have to agree that our educational system sometimes falls short when teaching students to think critically and to think for themselves.”

Sometimes falls short”? Well, YEAH, that would be the LIGHT way of putting the point.

In a commentary I wrote for the Wyoming Tribune Eagle two years ago, in which my thesis was that most of what passes for “education” in our public schools today is pure and unadulterated garbage, I had the following to say about my grandfather Pete Harrington's report card:

********************

Want proof? I have, in my files, a 6th-grade report card issued to my grandfather Pete Harrington, dated May of 1921, recording his grades for the following subjects: Agriculture, Arithmetic, Civil Government, Geography, History, Language, Physiology, Reading, Spelling and Writing. (The old boy did pretty good, too, averaging between A’s and B’s.) One of those subjects, Spelling, you’ll be hard put to find in any “public” day-care camp in the country today, and most of the rest you won’t find until junior or senior high. Yet, somehow, 89 years ago, our educators saw fit to rear 11-year-olds on those subjects in grammar school.

Nor was it just the topics, but the content as well: Phonics, for instance, not the “Look-Say” hooey we currently rot our kids’ brains with instead. And we seriously wonder why many children can’t read? Or why 40 percent of the best and brightest Wyoming students moving on to college have to take “remedial” classes before they can learn anything new?

Educrats love to argue that our standards haven’t dropped, that what we teach today is as “relevant” as it’s always been. Sorry. They’re wrong - and tragically so.

********************

Two years later, it's the same - only MORE so.

Care to examine, Mike, just a FEW of the examples in which our “educational” system is geared towards the EXACT OPPOSITE of helping students achieve “critical thinking and of thinking for themselves”?

(1) “Only one in four Oklahoma public high school students can name the first President of the United States, according to a survey released today.” (“75 percent of Oklahoma high school students can’t name the first president of the U.S.”, news9.com, Sep. 16, 2009.) The study, performed by Strategic Vision, also found that only 3 percent of the 1,000 polled students could have passed the standard U.S. citizenship test, which 92 percent of immigrants pass on a regular basis.”

(2) And, in a study conducted by the Knight Foundation relating to high school student views of the First Amendment to the Constitution, it was discovered that “When told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes ‘too far’ in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.” (“First Amendment no big deal, students say,” Associated Press, Jan. 31st, 2005.)

(3) And, in a study conducted by Common Core of 1,200 17-year olds, the following facts were revealed: “Nearly a quarter cannot identify Adolph Hitler, with 10 percent thinking Hitler was a munitions manufacturer; more than a quarter think Christopher Columbus sailed after 1750; fewer than half can place the Civil War in the correct half-century; and a third do not know that the Bill of Rights guarantees the freedom of speech and religion.” (“New report shows a nation at risk,” commoncore.org, Feb. 26th, 2008.)

To state that our current system simply “falls a bit short” in its avowed task of educating our youth is like saying that Apollo 11 would have “fallen a bit short” on its mission of landing on the moon if it had blown up on its own launch pad at liftoff. And I sure as Hell have a hard time thinking the Founding Fathers would have been amused to read the student survey on the First Amendment in particular.

The blunt fact of the matter is that our “educational” system is nothing short of a national disaster, with pieces of our young people's brains being blown apart in every direction. If you have anything at all beyond a passing, sound-bite-based interest in just exactly how - conceptually, philosophically and intellectually - it got that way, Mike, I would suggest reading Ayn Rand's “The Comprachicos,” an essay Rand wrote back in 1970. Things have only gotten horribly and destructively worse in the 41 years in between.

Yet, apparently, it is to that supposedly tiny little bit of “falling short” that you do recognize as a problem, for which you blame the popularity of Fox News: “Thus the overwhelming success of the FOX ‘News’ network.”

While not a defender of Fox News, I doubt that its success lies in the area of the system’s “sometimes falling short” in the educational arena. Or are you claiming that the dumber people get, the more right-wing they become? The facts would decidedly point in the opposite direction, as mindless herds are always on the search for a herder.

Rather, it is my conviction that people are attracted to that particular news media organization because not EVERYBODY has been successfully brainwashed by the pap the radical-left-wingers propagate both in our news and in our schools. Fox News, in some limited respects, is as guilty of being a “propaganda machine” as are garbage-networks such as ABC, CBS and MSNBC - which is why I am not a defender of the Fox News organization - but the propaganda overreach isn't nearly as far as what you'll find everywhere else. What we truly need in the United States today, are objective news organizations that present the news in a dispassionate format and save the editorializing for the editorial pages. That, by the way, is exactly why Barbie and I founded Liberty's Torch, and exactly what, in less than a year of existence so far, it is already starting to accomplish here in Cheyenne. Funny thought... YOU were the guy I first learned that from. So much for the left-wing newspapers’ claims that their demises are centered around “Internet journalism.” No, their demises are centered around the poor content that your average readers are completely fed up with.

If all of that wasn’t enough to jar me right down to my ankles, my eyeballs just about popped out of my head when I read your statement that “The private schools around here are the propaganda mills you fear.”

Really, Mike? Do you care to elaborate on just what “propaganda” you are speaking of? And what propaganda, I ask, could possibly be any more destructive to real, live, individual human beings than the propaganda of “collective ownership of the means of production,” “revolutionary war against the evils of capitalism,” and the disembowelment of one’s mind through the “fashioning” our leaders desire before that mind has even had a chance to grow and develop? And do you seriously believe that you can turn that kind of propaganda loose on the youth of our culture, and not suffer devastating consequences?

Now think about your next statement, Mike: “You have a point about individuals having the right to send their kids to the private school of their choice.” You didn't explicitly state why that's a good point, but what else could the reason be, except for our individual rights to spend our own money as we see fit in the education of our own children, despite what others may have to say about it? This is, indeed, the core and essence of what freedom and liberty are all about: Peaceful goals obtained through peaceful means.

Despite recognizing the validity of such rights, freedoms and choices, however, you still want to insist that I ought to be forced, at the point of a gun, by “leaders” and politicians I do not admire, respect or care for - and certainly don’t want running my life - to pay for the “public” system anyway. YOUR “solution” is to tell me, and other parents like me, that if we don’t have any use for that setup, we should just “move our students to a public school of our choice.”

So, if I don’t like the thuggery being committed against me on one street corner, my “freedom of choice” now consists of ME moving to another corner to experience the thuggery at that location instead??? You have GOT to be kidding me.

Next: “Getting rid of a good public schools system is the real path to tyranny.”

Really? Here we have another definition turned completely upside-down on its own head, thereby obliterating the meaning attached to it in the process. My dictionary, from which I’ve already quoted from, defines “tyranny” as follows:

“(1) The rule or authority of a tyrant; government in which absolute power is vested in a single ruler; (2) Despotic use of power; (3) a tyrannical act.”

“Tyranny,” in other words, is the forced participation in a system of any kind, whether it be educational, social, economical or political, in which freedom of choice is absent. The “public” schools qualify as such an institution by its very definition. Your statement is so exactly backwards, so horribly and tragically the opposite of what the truth of the matter is, that I can’t help but be reminded of George Orwell’s 1984: “Truth is Propaganda. War is Peace.”

Contrary to your statement, Mike, it is the educational establishment of the United States that is ultimately responsible for taking this nation closer to the cliff of tyranny than it has ever stood before in all of its history. For the only way to stop tyranny is to educate the population. THAT is why the Founding Fathers wanted an educated populace. Where do you see that happening in the “public” system today? No, there’s only ONE way to fix it: Absolute abolition of the system right down to its core.

Finally, as a perfect cherry for the top of this collectivist sundae, you sum up with: “I like your style but a well educated middle class is a little more important that ordering a Big Mac.”

Yep, I agree completely. As the institution that trains the brains of our youth, upon which the literal future of the United States depends, our educations are so highly important that they cannot be left to the whims of the bumbling, collectivistic bureaucrats, for therein, as we witnessing today, lies the road to conceptual, intellectual, philosophical, and - soon - social, economic, political and physical disaster as well.

Take Care, Mike... And I hope you read this in the spirit in which it was intended.

Bradley Harrington is the Publisher of Liberty’s Torch; his email is publisher@libertystorch.us.

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I don't see how this would work on a large scale. A state, say Maryland, would give me a tax credit to spend in Delaware where I want to send my son. But Delaware doesn't offer such a tax credit. What happens then? Am I not being subsidized by the residents of Delaware?

If Maryland would otherwise pay for the son's (or anyone else's) education it doesn't matter where he goes. The whole point of it is to stop the state from dictating that. If Maryland is not paying for the education then it would not pay a tax credit for it.

That still leaves Maryland taxpayers paying school taxes (or for someone's education) until the government entitlement for education is eliminated. The tax credits don't eliminate that, they provide for choice as a temporary measure on the way to abolishing government involvement in education.

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And what about the monetary advantages one receives from state taxes. When my son was applying for colleges 6 years ago, NYU was $40,000 per year, Rutgers was $20,000, and in-state University of Maryland was $8,000. How does that figure into the equation? Whom do I have to pay to make up the difference?

The tax credit is for the amount you pay, up to the cost of the education to government. The tuition for in-state tuition deals does not cover the cost to government, which is subsidized by taxes.

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And what about the monetary advantages one receives from state taxes. When my son was applying for colleges 6 years ago, NYU was $40,000 per year, Rutgers was $20,000, and in-state University of Maryland was $8,000. How does that figure into the equation? Whom do I have to pay to make up the difference?

The tax credit is for the amount you pay, up to the cost of the education to government. The tuition for in-state tuition deals does not cover the cost to government, which is subsidized by taxes.

The amount that I pay for my child is probably significantly less than my total taxes that go for education. My taxes go to pay for everyone, for the bulk cost of student, not just the cost of my child. Whether I have one or ten children, my property taxes do not change and the percentage that goes to schools does not change.

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I understand the thought process behind using vouchers as a wedge to pry the school system away from the state, but after reading an article in The Objective Standard on this subject I am reconsidering. According to that article in the state of Louisiana, the state has to approve of the private school curriculum and other provisions. It also makes a good case that once you accept state money you are at the states beck and call. This sounds like the tactics used by drug pushers, get them hooked on state money and then make them dance to the states tune.

http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/blog/index.php/2012/06/louisianas-voucher-plan-to-de-privatize-private-schools/

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Here's the full case for choosing not to advocate voucher programs, but tax credits, as a step toward the full solution (not as some perfect end-in-itself). The article is by Michael A. Ferrara, who also wrote the article linked to above by toyohabu. It's very well-researched and presented, IMO:

http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2011-spring/school-vouchers-tax-credits.asp

I alerted Brad Harrington to this on FB after he posted that terrific rebuttal to his old teacher, and he agreed to read it, for which I am grateful, since he is a persuasive writer. IMO, all who care about this issue should read it too.

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Here's the full case for choosing not to advocate voucher programs, but tax credits, as a step toward the full solution (not as some perfect end-in-itself). The article is by Michael A. Ferrara, who also wrote the article linked to above by toyohabu. It's very well-researched and presented, IMO:

http://www.theobject...tax-credits.asp

I alerted Brad Harrington to this on FB after he posted that terrific rebuttal to his old teacher, and he agreed to read it, for which I am grateful, since he is a persuasive writer. IMO, all who care about this issue should read it too.

Then you must be Lori! :P

Brad

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My two cents:

-- No one here is advocating for a permanent voucher system. Like tax credits, vouchers are viewed by Objectivists as an in between step.

-- I understand how tax credits can be harder to control than vouchers, but that difference strikes me as one that's easy to overcome -- especially in an age both as computerized and as by-whatever-means as ours.

-- Vouchers still sound like an easier sell to me, which may be all that's necessary to get parents to start considering alternative pedagogical methods.

An adjunct option I'd like to see implemented would be to give parents that home school a significant percentage of what their municipality spends per pupil,in the hope that the number of parents that go that way increases. The worst the state is likely to do is hold home schooled kids to the same regents and performance testing as PS students. While that's still a massive violation of parental rights, it does allow X% of kids to actually learn something, often in a far safer environment.

(Good to see you here again, Rose! Has a decent supermarket opened by you yet? LoL!)

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JohnRgt says, "Like tax credits vouchers are viewed by Objectivists as an in-between step."

No, Objectivists understand that a voucher system (such as that advocated by the late Milton Friedman) is a step in the WRONG DIRECTION --a step toward extending the government's reach in education; a step towards the destruction of truly AUTONOMOUS private schooling in this country.

There is a huge difference between receiving money from individual taxpayers (who then claim a credit or deduction at tax time) and having to redeem vouchers at a government agency. In the latter case the school operator is receiving money directly from a government agency --an agency that is operating schools of its own in competition with that private school; an agency filled with people who have definite ideas of their own on how a school should be run. With a tax credit scheme there isn't any direct connection (financial or otherwise) between the private school and the government bureaucracy. Yes, the government could still interfere with a private school that is receiving private funds from people who claim a tax credit on their donations, but such a school is not directly and automatically tied in to an agency which is certainly charged with oversight responsibility in how its own funds are being spent by this school operator.

JohnRgt, you have heard of Lisa VanDamme, right? You are aware of the school which she operates in southern California? How would you feel if you managed to persuade California to adopt a voucher system, which would force Lisa vanDamme into a situation in which she had to compete against voucher-receiving private schools or submit to government oversight of her school operation? I think everyone here knows that she would simply shut down or maybe move it out of state.

The main point is that government educational BUREAUCRACIES are the real problem. (...Okay, the pedagogical theories in our university education schools are the real problem; but those theories cannot be foisted on the public except throught government force...) Conservatives like to go on about how it is the "teacher's unions" that are the big problem with our schools. We need to change their minds on that and argue that it is the government bureaucracies that are responsible for the sorry state of our schools (in terms of academics as well as school discipline --including the insane 'zero-tolerance' rules which lead to the arrest of little girls who bring butter knives to school for their lunches, etc.). We need to point out to conservatives that more than a half-century of efforts at school reform (from the backlash against progressive education in the aftermath of Sputnik, onward) have failed because of the increasingly bureaucratic control of our schools.

The point is: we need to push a state-by-state campaign to ABOLISH government EDUCATIONAL BUREAUCRACIES (departments of education, offices of Superintendent of Public Instruction, all local school boards [which get their taxing authority from state legislatures]); ...not extend their reach into private education, but to be rid of them!

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