Education and choice

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One of the things as a country we generally approve is that competition breeds excellence. Competition between Firefox and Internet Explorer has made both better (well, okay, it has made IE better as the copy Firefox features and look and feel). Competition made Harley Davidson do better at making motor cycles; Japan finally got quality on the radar of American auto makers; telephone prices have come down, and telephone services have gone up (I remember $4 a minute for phone calls to California from Maryland before competition).

What about education? What choice do most people have for education? If you are rich, you can afford the taxes you already pay, and then the tens of thousands it costs for separate tuition. (Just one non-sectarian school charges upwards of $27,000/year Burke and there are others just as expensive.)

So what can be done? A lot of people say nothing -- what after all are the alternatives that would give people choice? What would happen if real educational choice existed? How could anyone possibly get it "right" (i.e., so no problems exist, and heaven forfend any student be given a lesser education because of a poor choice on the part of a parent! First, let us examine what is presently the situation.

One, those that are very wealthy (or are willing/able to sacrifice) do in fact find better education for their children. Schools like the one above exist and are servicing these families (and have serviced them) well for years. Those with money do have choice, and they get better education than the median household because of that money. I would posit this contradicts that education is a level playing field. I would also posit that it can never be a totally level playing field. The wealthy will always be able to opt out of, or supplement the education of their own children. As the Bible says, "... money is the answer to everything." (Eccl. 10:19) But that implies that a call for equality of education for every child is not going to be successful, and we need to instead look for the greatest possible good for all children.

Two, public schools are a reasonable education, but private schools tend to have better performing students (even when accounting appropriately for differences in student population). While there is some controversy in this (the NCES study and the analysis of flaws by the Hoover Institution) the general agreement is that private school students do have better objective metrics for educational performance.

Three, the poor cannot in addition to taxes pay for private tuition. I can speak to this one personally. As a public school teacher with 4 children in Loudoun county, I am classified as "very low income" by the county (the Loudoun County Home Improvement Program has a .pdf which lists the income paid a 6th year teacher with wife and four children -- I have 5, but one just got married -- as being very low income). It's official, teachers are very low income! I do very well in that I am nearly debt free (I still have a mortgage, but otherwise I owe no man anything but the gospel). At this time, I could not afford tuition for private school for my children (other than the grace of God, I am not sure how I afford to feed myself after feeding the children.)

How can someone have choice in education? The "evil V word": vouchers. If all parents where given an educational voucher they can redeem either at a public school, or at a private school of their choice, the system would benefit greatly. Competition would thrive, and people would have a real choice (instead of paying for their children's education twice, if they can afford it). This could even have an impact on costs for illegal immigration; without a voucher, you do not get into public schools, and you have to prove legal residency in order to be issued a voucher.

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27 Comments

Jack said:

Brian -- I'll address you last point first. The Supremes ruled that even illegal immigrants must be given an education (Plyer v. Doe, http://www.tourolaw.edu/patch/Plyler/ ).

The issue of vouchers is a complex one, and while I do support the idea, I do not think it will have the effect you think it will. Although a full technical analysis is not possible here, I think we can look at a simple voucher idea and "follow the money."

First, there is NO proposal that would simply give parents the per student cost of education for their use in home schooling or as a voucher for another school. The proposals are all for vouchers to be some fraction, about half, of the per-pupil costs. This is reasonable, as the large beaurocracies of the public school systems actually constitute a "dis-economy" of scale. Furthermore, the quoted per-pupil cost is misleading, because special-needs students pull that average up considerably beyond the mean. In Fairfax County, for instance, the average for general education is $10,942 per pupil for FY'07, but for special education students that number is $19,414, pulling the average up to $12,917.

So let us say that Fairfax creates vouchers worth $5000 each. Private schools now go for twice that and more, as you stated in you article. Would the vouchers help the poor afford private school? No.

However, vouchers would help the middle class and above afford private school. So more money goes into the private schools. In the short term, this would drive up tuitions, as more people and money compete for a limited number of slots. Within a few years, schools would increase capacity, and new schools would be created.

Back to the poor children. They are still stuck in the public schools. However, if, and only if, the vouchers can be used for ANY public school in the system, the competition between public schools would increase the education levels at some schools. Those that did not keep up would lose students, and eventually be closed. (The closed schools would likely be bought by those creating new private schools, or those by those private schools desiring larger campuses.)

As the NEA rightly points out, vouchers will result in a greater stratification of education than currently exists. Whereas now the rich send their children to public school, with vouchers the rich AND middle class will do so, with the rich students' STILL going to better schools than the middle class, and the middle class students' going to the lower quality (and lower price) private schools, which will still be better than the public schools. http://www.nea.org/vouchers/index.html

What the NEA does NOT consider is that competition between the public schools will drive up the quality of that lowest level of education. So while now 10% of the students attend private schools, vouchers might make that 50% of the students. However, the 50% left in the public schools will STILL get a better education than they are currently getting.

It is a fairly typical economic result: when the government tries to make everyone equal, the result is to make everyone poor. So it has been with public education.

Jack,

I'm familiar with the decision, and the reason I believe the way I've stated things could get around the issue is that what I said is that all persons must present documentation of legal status in order to obtain the voucher. The Texas law in question stated that a person that is an illegal alien will not receive benefit of state funded public education. The rational for that was equal protection -- that there was a distinct difference between one class of people and another. In what I proposed, the voucher would only be given to anyone that shows legal status. If a citizen chose not to show legal status, they would not receive a voucher. The treatment is equal before the law. The voucher is presented to any and all who prove legal status, and to none who do not. Illegal aliens would then have the exact same standing as anyone else -- they could acquire legal standing (through appropriate immigration) and receive a voucher, or chose not to do so and not receive a voucher. Given the group of justices that sat on the court at the time of that decision, and the group that are there now, I think the distinction would not be mote. The initial decision was patently wrong -- even if children are not involved in the decision of breaking the law, they are in fact breaking the law by being here illegally. If we are to have the rule of law rather than tyranny, the we have to be willing to include the children as law breakers. The only way to deport them would be to say they are here illegally; they are breaking the immigration laws by being in this country.

As for the rest, I agree, money is the answer to everything. But if you give parents more of a choice, most will choose the best they can for their children. Those that can do better will. Those that cannot, will do what they can.

While I know that most voucher system have a hold back for public schools. (I blame the NEA for that more than anyone else -- they have a vested interest in keeping a monopoly in public schools where "union" voices are strongest.) That does not mean it has to be that way. Not only that, but many private schools have tuition that is below 50% of the amount paid, per capita, for students in public schools.

I doubt if this would ever happen though. I fully believe those in power (mostly those that *can* afford private schools for their kids) don't *want* an equal playing field. They want the mass of people not able to compete with their own children.

Dave said:

One of the major objections to vouchers is that they would likely lead to a much higher percentage of conservative Christian education, using government subsidies.

While in the past much religious education tended to be the same as public but with extra classes for bible study, etc. The fear here is that now a lot of our standard education would be replaced with biblical alternatives.

While I have no problem with any religion's church school teaching whatever they want (free expression...) I have a real problem with subsidizing anything that's non-secular.

Jack said:

Yes, well I have a problem with the government schools, which most children are FORCED to attend, teaching "values."

Dave said:

In my experience, there's not much "values" teaching in public schools

Jack said:

And what there is promotes pre-marital sex and says that homosexuality is "normal."

Dave said:

I'm certain they're not "promoting" pre-marital sex, merely providing information on diseases and disease prevention.

Homosexuality is:
(a) As normal as left-handedness, red hair, or a host of other characteristics;
(b) Something that kids will encounter the older they get so they should be prepared.

So it's entirely appropriate that schools teach that. They certainly can't teach that homosexuality is a "sin" as that is a religious concept, and they can't teach that it's a disease or curable or unhealthy as there is no scientific evidence that supports any of that. And they can't teach that's it's against the law since it isn't.

Feel free to teach your kids whatever values you'd like in your church or home to supplement the data that they learn in school.

Jack said:

I.(a) Homosexuality is NOT as normal as left-handedness. 10% of the population is left-handed, less that 3% is homosexual. (Even in San Fran Sicko, less than 3% of the couples are same-sex couples.) It might on par with red hair, but I was unaware that one's hair color affected one's behavior.

I.(b) Kids will encounter many more important things than homosexuals. How about teaching kids about money, interest, and credit?

II. The usual homosexual ACTS are certainly less healthy than the usual heterosexual acts. Some homosexuals have been cured, and homosexuality WAS listed as a mental disorder until the homosexuals put pressure on the psychiatric community to remove it. Homosexuals also have higher rates of STDs. Its removal from the list was political, not scientific. Finally, your living arrangements DO violate VA Code ยง 18.2-345.

Feel free to teach YOUR kids that homosexuality is normal and OK, but don't do it with my tax money on my kids.

Tom said:

As far as values go in the public schools-in Loudoun elementary schools values education consists of teaching about a different character trait each month such as honesty, loyalty, patience, etc...This is supplemented with guidance lessons by the guidance counselor promoting these character traits along with lessons in organization, cooperation, and conflict mediation. The values curriculum does NOT include anything remotely sexual. I think you're confusing values with sex ed, but at least at the elementary level (having sat through all the 5th grade sex ed classes aka Family Life Ed) they don't even explain to kids how the sperm is ever in position to reach an egg. Everything is taught with such abstraction that it is meaningless. Never did I hear any mention of homosexuality at all, except if a kid asked a question about it.
I can understand your wariness about schools teaching values. I think they can't really be taught so much as they are modeled, but today kids of all stripes and economic status are coming to school lacking respect for people, property, or adult authority. Before teaching in Loudoun, I spent three years in a very tough school in NE Washington, and actually found that respect for adults (teachers, principals,etc..) was greater in the ghetto than in the 4,000 sq foot home dreamworld of the Dulles South area. The guidance counselors are making a spirited, although probably vain, effort to inculcate some standard of decency in kids who have been given everything they ever wanted and didn't need on a platter.

Dave said:

3%, 10% bid deal, matter of degree, not of kind.

I am all for teaching kids about money, interest, and credit.

No homosexual has been cured. They can certainly be taught to change their sexual behavior, but not one has been cured.

I agree that homosexuality is less healthy. So is left-handedness, but the way. Their twice as likely to have serious accidents, etc.

While VA Code 18.2-345 has been on the books since 1950, it is unenforceable.

Homosexuality IS normal. By teaching about homosexuality, there is no chance that someone is going to beCOME homosexual. The major effect of not talking about homosexuality is that myths, like the ones you believe, will be perpetuated, people will fail to understand one another, and/or children that are homosexual will be scared out of doing things normal to them and, basically, be all messed up for the rest of their lives.

Repressed sexuality, both hetero and homo, is a cause of all kinds of crimes and "weirdity". Much better to have homosexuals be, what to them is, normal so that they will be better balanced in the rest of their lives.

Anonymous said:

the implication to the idea that gays can "recruit" and therapy can "cure" homosexuality is that there is no "normal," it's all just determined by experience. Arguing that gays can be cured lends no support at all to the idea that homosexuality is Wrong in some objective sense. On the contrary, it suggests that sexual orientation can only be understood as a subjective thing.

Couple of things:

1) This is about education. As such, only those things related to education need be discussed.

2) The idea that any subject is inherently non-religious is fallacious in that religion is the set of axioms by which one forms a world view. The set of axioms by which one starts is one's religion. (That set can even include that "god" is irrelevant or non-existent, or some equivalent set of axioms which arrives at at that same conclusion.) Therefore, because all world views are inherently religious, it is presumptuous in the extreme to teach anything which conflicts with the world views of a particular religion that is represented in the students population. I do not teach a Christian world view in school, and the world view I use is as much non-sectarian (common to all world views) as possible.

3) The problem with public schools is that it forces least common denominator world views. Heaven help us if we get a Thug in school and have to give up teaching the murder is not normal. (By the way, if what you state by presupposition is that any behavior that is influenced by of genetic marker is "normal", then violent criminal activity is just as "normal" as homosexual activity, in that both are influenced by genetic predisposition. If a sadist has such a marker, then you cannot blame them for carrying out sadism either.)

4) Vouchers given to all students to use as they see fit is not the government supporting any particular sectarian school. A student (or his parents) can use a voucher to obtain education in any school they choose. Whatever school they choose will have some kind of world view (even a minimalistic one such as the present system of public schools; I imagine would have support from a lot of parents). The courts have already stated that having the aid go to a student that then chooses is not the government supporting a "church" school, but that a state cannot deny a student the right to choose a religious institute for education if they are being given aid for tuition:
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=CASE&court=US&vol=536&page=639#section1
The SCOTUS rightly found that the result is not what determines establishment, but the method. The ends does not justify the means, nor does it disqualify the means. If what is done is "blind" to religion, it is not the government supporting religion. Vouchers, if given to all parents to use as they see fit for tuition, do not violate the constitution.

Jack said:

Dave -- I'd love to discuss this further, but I am at my mom's place in Nova Scotia, on a very slow and expensive dial-up.

I'll be back late next week.

stay puft said:

anon. was me.

"The courts have already stated that having the aid go to a student that then chooses is not the government supporting a "church" school, but that a state cannot deny a student the right to choose a religious institute for education if they are being given aid for tuition"

Parents could forgo the state money if they insisted on sending their child to a religious school. That's basically what happens now; if you want to send your kid to a religious school you have to opt out of the state-funded system. Although religious schools are typically subsidized through tax breaks anyway, and that should effect the price of tuition.

"By the way, if what you state by presupposition is that any behavior that is influenced by of genetic marker is "normal"

Oh you got me there, if we accept gays, we must also accept murders. There's no way to make a distinction!
...Whatever

My point is that what is "normal" is a socio-cultural issue, not a scientific one. IF a person can be changed through therapy (read: brainwashing), it says NOTHING about whether their behavior was Wrong to begin with. It only shows that people are mailable. Go back and reread the last couple chapters of

stay puft said:

Jack,

How convenient! ;)

Dave said:

I think your assumption that all worldviews are religious is absurd, unless you're defining "religious" as "having a worldview". There are many worldviews that are both not religious and not theistic. However, that's not what this thread is about.

Neither is this thread about the legality of vouchers. My point was that vouchers are resisted by many people, not because they are an alternative to public schools, but because they would, in fact, be used to subsidize "Christian" education, which I oppose. (It's the subsidy I oppose, not the Christian education.)

If a voucher proposal were put forward that specifically exempted religious schools, I would be much more likely to be in favor of them.

In order for schools to be most effective in the real world, they HAVE to teach generic, non-sectarian worldviews, with, I assume a very high degree of overlap with most religious worldviews. Teaching a specific Christian worldview (Which one would we pick, anyway?) in our schools would not be the most effective way to help our children survive in today's world. It may have been ok back when most kids just farmed their whole life, but simply doesn't promote the understanding of the world that's needed. (This could be a whole new thread, so I'll stop here.)

We have religious education on Sundays (or, sometimes, other days) and in homes for anyone that wants to teach a personal, religious worldview.

I would have no problem with schools teaching that some people are born predisposed to criminal activity, if that's true. And it's even ok to say that acting on this predisposition is "bad" because the activity is criminal. In fact, if this is common (though I'm sure it would be far, far less than even 1%), we SHOULD be teaching that it exists.

To simply deny that homosexuality exists, or teach that it's a sin is not the function of public education (and by "public", I mean state-sanctioned general K-12 education whether at a public or private school). Leave those value judgements to church or home. I'm always of the view that a higher level of education leads to better decisions. That should be the main goal of our schools.

ACTivist said:

I'd love to have vouchers so that I could get some money back for my childs education. Do I feel that she learns more and progresses better in a private "church" school? Yes, I do. Smaller classes, more focused teaching and less distractions. Also, it is a privledge to be there which means if you don't adhere to the rules you can be kicked out.

What she gets is an EDUCATION! Reading, writing, math, science; all the normal stuff. They don't teach Darwin and Science is related to how God does things. Just not that much different. It is State sanctioned and has to be accredited-no tax relief because it is a SCHOOL, not a CHURCH!

We tried the "competitive" thing with schools and that is usually on the county level. Montgomery to Fairfax, Fairfax to Loudoun, etc. Just like the sports programs everyone wants to send their kids to the best "public" school. Well, those public schools cost the tax-payer thru assessments. When you go for the best in anything, you pay the highest price-you get what you pay for.

I feel sorry for the people that subsidize our public schools who have no kids. Just as I dispise the single family home that has 3 families living in it whith 7 school-aged children but we only collect (owned or rented) one assessment.

The option to voucher would be nice. The illegals will always find a way around it. The public school will always have thugs and immorality which does fester thru "peer" pressure. Do you really think cons are rehabilitated in prison? Do you have to act like the nastiest con in the joint just to hope to survive (if you don't, you will probably end-up someones bitch but that won't mean your homosexual. After all, you have to be wired wrong to like it, it isn't a learned experience from what I have been hearing)?

I think that stricter guidelines (going retro here) would benefit more than anything. I don't think that public school education is a requirement. It should be a priviledge that carries consequences when the rules are broken. This would make teaching much easier. As well as books that stay away from the politically correct and controversial points of our time.

Dave said:

Any "school" that teaches that science is related to how God does things is a church. Damn the facts! Let's interpret a 5000 year old book of the Jews and say that that trumps our modern knowledge. That's EXACTLY why we can't have vouchers.

BTW: The earth actually revolves around the sun, not the other way around.

stay puft said:

It's ok, we can by stodgy and old fashioned, but we shouldn't complain when the important scientific advances start coming out of europe and asia instead of here

Dave said:

They already are. We're lagging behind in significant areas: genetics, computer software, infrastructure design, microelectronics, and we're in danger of getting whupped in space exploration. The majority of significant advances in the last 10 years or so have been elsewhere. We're still leading in weapons design though!

stay puft said:

hmm, I don't know. Seems like IEDs are the way of the future. There's only one thing to do, pray!

jacob said:

Dave,
Actually the earth and sun revolve around each other. It's all relative. You should be comfortable with that.

As for vouchers, you are overwrought to say the least. Schools in NYC (a back water on the Hudson river, you may have heard of it.) such as Arch Bishop Malloy(sp?) and others of kind produce more attendees to Cooper Union, Princeton etc on a per capita basis than any of the vaunted public schools you are protecting by not allowing vouchers.

Stay Puft: (Dave below...)

The point I was making is that the parents don't have to make that choice if the government provides the money for tuition and allows choice of where to go. There are many such cases, and the support of Education is what the government provides, what that education looks like is up to the parents. SCOTUS already has decided this several times. I can provide links if you wish.

Ah, so what you are saying is that what is right/wrong is not based on science, but societal and cultural values. In other words, if someone's culture teaches that homosexuality is wrong, then there really isn't any point in saying that it is "normal", at least not for the purposes of discussion -- there is no objective measure of normal, and so you are just giving your opinion. Your statement that it is normal is of no more value than Jack's statement that it is abnormal.

Dave:
While I can understand that you might not understand that all world views are essentially religious, that is, based on assumptions that are not provable, but taken as true. Having assumptions which are taken as true without proof is the basis for all logic -- and taking something as true without proof is basically a religion. Even if assumptions do not directly reference anything about "god" a full world view generally includes presumptions that either negate or support a "god".

Now as to vouchers explicitly excluding *any* world view, that is patently unconstitutional. If government is involved in education, which has long been seen as a parental prerogative within the realm of the first amendment, then excluding blind support (i.e., no restriction on what is done) is a violation of free exercise. Taking taxes from people for support of education, then denying the parents the choice of what education that would be is a violation of the free exercise. Taking their money so they cannot choose other than what is provided, and only providing an education that denies their religion is violates "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Either government has to get out of the business of education completely, or it must allow individuals choice in what that education should be. From my own point of view, education cannot be totally neutral. It either supports a set of axiomatic statements or denies them.

Next, I'd like to quote what you wrote: "We have religious education on Sundays (or, sometimes, other days) and in
homes for anyone that wants to teach a personal, religious worldview."

That you relegate religious instruction to its own separate study shows a worldview in which religion is not central to all learning. You would establish that religious view (that is, religion is not necessarily central and can be cordoned off) -- which violates the non-establishment clause. There are those that believe that all learning should be geared toward "thinking God's thoughts after him" (which many attribute to Kepler, who supposedly had as its scope just science.)

This is not just a few, but many. Those people, who are being taxed to pay for tuition, then denied the ability to choose what education ought to be (violating free exercise) and then told they have to educate their children in public schools if they cannot afford private schools (violating non-establishment) are being denied basic human rights, let alone constitutional rights.

The predisposition is toward violent behavior. Well documented, and easy to research (I'll leave it as a task for the student). Of course one should not teach that homosexuality does not exist -- just as one should not teach that violent behavior does not exist. Knowing that both are influenced by genetics is also information that should be taught. What should not be taught in public schools is that homosexual activity is "ok". Neither should violent behavior be taught as being "ok". The decision as to the morality of either behavior is not specifically the duty of the school -- while the legality of either behavior is factual knowledge that can be taught. If unprovoked bludgeoning is illegal, that should be taught. If sodomy is illegal that should be taught. If having a yellow shirt on with blue pin striped pants and purple socks is illegal that should also be taught (DEATH FOR BAD TASTE IN CLOTHING!) I might get a tad upset if one set of laws is taught and not all of the same class -- given that I might find the choosing biased in one direction or another.

Of course the above is only in the case where the school is a public school. Bias in education is the prerogative of parents alone, not the state. I think vouchers would solve a lot of these errors in the way we do things now.

ACTivist:

You may not have realized that when I referred to "Thugs" (capitalization is correct) I was referring to a religious cult of India that practiced ritual killing. I don't believe we have any Thugs in the local schools, even if we have thugs (the word "thug" was derived from the religion).

stay puft said:

"then denied the ability to choose what education ought to be"

oh boo-freaking-hoo

what about denying people the ability to choose who they marry?

"there is no objective measure of normal, and so you are just giving your opinion. Your statement that it is normal is of no more value than Jack's statement that it is abnormal."

I can live with that.

"Even if assumptions do not directly reference anything about "god" a full world view generally includes presumptions that either negate or support a "god"."

fair enough. And it isn't the role of publically funded schools to install a "full world view" Families, religions, ethnic identity, all have to do their part, but not on the publics dollar.

You can teach that hydrogen bonds with oxygen without constantly referring to god or allah or bramah. You can discuss the Great Gatsby without talking about Jesus. If in the course of a discussion a student brings up an interpretation that's based on a religious view, the class can discuss those ideas, and it's an opportunity to learn about different world views. But it doesn't need to be taught that one interpretation is the True one, and it seems healthier for the community to have students of different backgrounds learning and growing up together than to effectively segregate school students along religious lines.

Maybe you believe schools shouldn't teach that homosexuality is ok, but I'm sure you understand that publicly funded institutions have an obligation to be accommodating to multiple world views, and so must err on the side of acceptance

ACTivist said:

Brian

I understood your use of the word "Thug" and my term was coincidental to what I have seen and heard tolerated in a public school setting compared to a private one.

Puft,

I know that you have an understanding that societies are based on laws and that most laws come from some sort of religious understanding. We are mostly descendents from european culture which has its religious roots in Chritianity. The laws and books associated with this religious belief have basically dictated what is considered "normal" in our society. Non-religious beliefs or different religions are the basis of contrary viewpoints. Do you not agree?

I stated that Science in my childs school is also associated with God. It still uses the same scientific principles (and theroies) as the whole scientific community uses. It doesn't have to be associated with God in public school because this would offend those of different religious views and ideals. That said, if their wasn't room for different cultures (worldview, religious viewpoint, anything you want to call it) then we would be discriminating againest cultures using public education. Just as you can't discriminate againest the bedrock religion of the U.S.-Cristianity. It was put into our culture on purpose and was not meant to be eliminated from our way of life (seperation between church and state). The meaning of that seperation was that our Founding Fathers did not want the church, or its ruling head, to run the government of the people. But that doesn't mean that the church and its beliefs should not be part of the process.

There are many things discussed here that should be available to the children of public schools but maybe only in a subject (humanities) and at an age where different beliefs can be understood, reasoned and discussed with a broad understanding. That is how we get things accomplished; but every subject has to have the same weight, worth and time given so that the individual mind can come to a conclusion of their own beliefs and values.

Stay Puft,

"boo-hoo"? I'm just going by what the constitution states (and has general support of the rulings of the SCOTUS). It isn't just a matter of "boo-hoo" -- I'm not the one crying, as the idea has already been approved by the SCOTUS. If anyone is going "boo-hoo" it would be those that believe that vouchers shouldn't be used to fund tuition at private sectarian schools (which happens in Ohio with SCOTUS approval). Sure, there are some muddy thinkers that believe the SCOTUS was wrong headed in making that decision. Even some evangelicals believe it is a mistake. What would be optimal is get government out of the business of education completely -- like that would ever happen. Essentially, there is no establishment if the subsidy is to the consumer, regardless of the choices they make. One other area already supported is the area of food stamps: the recipient of food stamps cannot be told not to buy kosher foods, even though that supports the Jewish religion.

I think I posted that your world view (not sure if it was your world view) allows for separation of chemistry from religion -- there are a lot of people whose world view does not allow that separation. I would think that would push toward eliminating public education -- there is no good answer to arrival at all these points.

While I can see you value acceptance greatly ("and so must err on the side of
acceptance") but that does not allow for acceptance of the person that would find homosexual activity as being gross and wrong. Acceptance has always had limits. The problem is in where those limits are placed. Do we accept violent behavior? Do we accept cultural values that honor copying (there are cultures that do not believe that one student copying another student is bad, but good). Do we accept polygamy? Where do we draw the line, and how do we draw it ... these are the questions that make our constitution a government fit only for a religious and moral people. Drawing those lines capriciously is unconstitutional. Our government is always to find (or at least attempt) the "mala in se" for the basis of laws rather than malum prohibitum as the basis for law. If law is not based on what is inherently wrong, it is tyranny (even if by the majority).

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