Monday, March 16, 2009

Heard on the Web

Aquinas Heard argues in a recently published LTE that whether vouchers are good or bad for public schools is beside the point; the proper question to ask, according to him, is what their exact relationship is to the choice a parent has with regards to their child's education.

The question should be: Will vouchers expand parent’s educational freedom? There can be no expansion of freedom when the funding of vouchers still rest on the forcible appropriation of a citizens’ earnings through taxation.


Until vouchers are funded by completely voluntary means, Georgians who are supporters of individual rights must state unequivocally: Vouchers equal wrong choice.
I think the LTE raises a crucial point, that the funding of vouchers via taxation makes them just as opposed to freedom (and property rights) on a fundamental level as the funding of public schools.

However, from the standpoint of a parent, they do provide a choice between one school and another--a choice that can potentially mean a world of difference in the education of their child. This (superficial) meaning of freedom or choice is what most parents refer to and struggle to attain.

It's sad that even this superficial choice is impossible to many, let alone the choice of what to do with their own money (with regards to funding their own child's education or choosing not to fund the education of other's children).

If freedom is the standard, and it should be, coercion needs to be removed from education completely. Not just in its funding, but in its enrollment too. The way to get more choice in the meantime is not with vouchers but with tax credits for education.

(Hat tip: The Sidereal Messenger)


  1. Tax credits would indeed expand freedom of choice -- for those victims of taxation who are educating children. For others, there would be no benefit. And the taxation would continue.

    Advocating for tax credits might be suitable as a short-term tactic, but, of course, the long-range solution is abolition of both the taxation for schools and the "public" school system itself.

  2. Agreed. But you have to start somewhere, and I see no better place to start than a system of tax credits.

    The reason is that they can easily be sold on the basis that the parents earned that money and have the right to spend it as they wish.

    Those who also earn money but do not get a tax credit (because they have no kids) will likely notice the inconsistency here, and the injustice. "I earned money too," they might say, asking, "Why don't I have the right to spend it as *I* wish?"

    That brings the issue to one of property rights. All those who have kids, or who committed to tax credits on the above basis, will be much more likely to support the property rights of others. In other words, to answer "You should have that right."

    An almost sure result of tax credits for education, would be the gowth of new schools and the expansion of presently successful private ones. These would make the practical implementation of ending public schools much more manageable.

  3. Daniel,

    Thank you for bringing attention to my LTE.

    I am opposed to vouchers on principle. The poor parent that is currently in a really bad public school should ask for charity (for private school) or homeschool or demand to be transferred to another public school.

    Private schools should deny vouchers; doing so will respect individual rights and protect their independence

    I was initially more supportive of tax credits as a bridge to getting to a complete separation of school and state. After reading Jenn Casey's opinion on the matter I changed my mind. She said that tax credits would bring more government attention to homeschooling and worried what that might do. I tend to agree the likely result of that increased attention would probably be negative. To be more certain of this, I would have to research the effects on other activitiies that are given a tax credit status.

    So my stand on the issue is that I am sympathetic to tax credits but not an advocate of them.

    Aquinas Heard

  4. Thanks for the comments Aquinas--and the LTE. I was happy to blog about that!

    For those reading along, the post by Jenn Casey that (I think) is being referenced above can be read here.

    Here is an excerpt:

    "If we advocate for tax credits--beneficial as that money would be, as much of a right to that money as we have--we will essentially be inviting the federal government to notice us. To define us. To monitor us. To calculate us. To nickel and dime us. To determine us. This is an invitation that we cannot rescind. It's a way into our lives--a door, if you will. And once it is opened, it will never be closed--not by us and certainly not by them. It will only open wider and wider and our freedom will shrink ever smaller. And we will have invited this.

    "Yes, I want my money, but not at that price. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, we homeschooling parents have freedom from the federal government--if we can keep it."