Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Prof. Melissa Moschella has this essay up over at Public Discourse. Definitely worth a read, and definitely a helpful reminder that the case for school choice is as much about social justice, religious freedom, and fairness as it is about efficiency and competition. A taste:
There is no such thing as a completely value-neutral education. In the absence of vouchers, low-income parents are effectively forced to send their children to a public school, even if they object to the values directly or indirectly promoted in that school. And given that public schools are constitutionally required to be non-religious, the fact that only public schools can receive public educational funding effectively means that the government is favoring non-religion over religion. This places a substantial burden on religious parents, many of whom believe that they have a serious religious responsibility for the religious education of their children, by making it financially difficult or even impossible to send their children to a religious school.
Therefore, turning [Justice] Stevens’s argument on its head, we could say that the public schools’ monopoly on public educational funds is actually in tension with bothof the First Amendment’s religion clauses. The absence of some sort of voucher program (at least for low-income students) is in tension with the Establishment Clause because it promotes secularism in children’s formal education. It is also in tension with the Free Exercise Clause because it places a substantial burden on the ability of parents to fulfill one of their most serious religious duties.