This was posted to in response to what I posted yesterday on public school funding. I appreciate Tracy’s response…I’m always up for healthy debate! You’ll see my answer to her at the end.

Let me start off by saying that have utmost respect for Jama Oliver’s opinions and agree with most of them. I don’t want this to be taken as an attack, but rather an expression of a different point of view. I just thought it would be best to clarify this up front.

With that said, Jama Oliver’s latest blog post discusses the recent proposal of State Comptroller John Morgan for a new funding measure for education in Tennessee to help improve Tennessee’s low graduation rates. Oliver adamantly objects this measure, as I (in part agree with). Oliver presents two issues here, discussing them as if they were one. On one hand Oliver mentions that Morgan wants to hand more power over to the state, while on the the other Morgan also wishes to increase funding for the schools by increasing property taxes.

I stand by Oliver 100% against moving more control of our school systems to the state level. Taking the decision making process away from the local communities would create a slew of new problems. The education system may have some problems, but it is better left in the people of the local communities hands.

I do however disagree with Oliver’s stance on funding. Oliver writes:

Why should the Agape homeschooling group (there’s my plug for my most favorite homeschooling group in the area!) have to give up their sales and property tax dollars for something they are not using? Not to mention the thousands of students who attend private schools in our area (Tri-Cities Christian, Providence Academy, St. Mary’s…)

My problem with this is lower income familys do not have these options. They depend upon the support of our government to fund our schools. It is not the fault of these children that some chooose to not participate in the educational system that is provided. If all of the richer and middle class people yanked their children and tax money out of our educational system, then the lower income children would have no hope.

Our schools are in serious trouble. Teachers are weighted down with the burdens of no child left behind and relentless parents, while schools in our region do not have enough money to purchase enough books for all of the children. Our schools need more money but where do we get it.

I do agree with Oliver that this money should not come from property taxes. This would mean that poor communities would have underfunded schools while richer communities would be running a surplus.

It sounds like decisions will soon be made on this matter, so you should write your representative and let them know what you think.

And my response…

“They depend upon the support of our government to fund our schools.” Therein lies the problem…

Politicians (not all – I know a few who still have a soul) want for us to be dependent on them; they can keep the poor poor and, through the miracle of public schooling (a favorite of Karl Marx, by the way) can keep the uneducated uneducated – all the while giving the impression that they are “helping” and therefore keeping themselves in office. By doing this they ensure that the poor have to rely on the government for their welfare checks and are too uneducated to see that they’re really getting the short end of the stick from Uncle Sam.

Now, you mention that “If all of the richer and middle class people yanked their children and tax money out of our educational system, then the lower income children would have no hope.” This isn’t going to happen. My mother, for example, sent me to private school through the fourth grade and then sent me to public school for fear that I wouldn’t be adequately “socialized” in the private school – and would do it all over again. My sister, who is upper middle class, will be happily sending all three of her children to public schools (much to my dismay). There are still a lot of people with faith in the public school system and, while I still believe that any government institution is a sorry place to put your faith, they are making the schools better just by being there – and there, whether I like it or not, they will stay.

Now, my ultimate dream (and there goes my run for office…) is for there to be no public school system whatsoever. I would be more than happy to pay for a “community school”, with no government interference whatsoever. Bear in mind that before the days of John Dewey (I’ll post a paper on my site covering this issue today) there was no such thing as a public school system. Communities worked together to educate their children in local school houses; those who didn’t want to (or couldn’t) educate their children at home sent them to the local school – one that was funded by the people of that community, not by the government. The government does a sorry job of educating children (and I, of course, believe that this is the very goal of many of our illustrious leaders). It is only by the grace of God that any of us claw our way up to be something close to intelligent. We should be educating ourselves and our own children rather than leaving it up to the government to do it for us, if only for the fact that we could do a much better job – rich and poor alike.

I could go on about how public education is communist in nature (keep the people stupid, as stupid people are easier to rule) or that the very basis of socialism (communism’s ugly stepsister) is to be forced by the government to pay for things that don’t benefit you at all, but I think you see my point. The government has no business in education; it is up to the people to ensure that those less fortunate are given the same opportunities. Oh, and before someone says that the reason the government took over the school system is because the people were doing a sorry job, that is simply not true. Read John Dewey, Karl Marx, and a history of the public school system to see the true goals of public education.