President Bush’s latest, we’ve been given the recipe for destroying private schools:
White House counselor Ed Gillespie, describing Bush’s plans for a new school initiative, said it would be called “Pell Grants for Kids.” If approved by Congress, it would provide money for poor kids in struggling schools so they could shift to private schools or a better public school outside their district.
Federal assistance for private schooling will do (for private schools) exactly what federal assistance did to higher education. As more students strive for a limited number of seats, costs will increase. And as long as the federal government continues to subsidize the expense, the costs will increase without bounds. Rising costs will crowd out some of the non-poor who were previously able to afford private education without assistance, adding them to the queue of poor-folk no longer able to afford a way out of the shitty public schools they had previously worked so hard to avoid — even going so far as to continue paying for them in addition to the private school tuition. Their children will then be forced to compete for “need-based” assistance…
The thin end of the wedge argument is that federal funds tend to come with strings attached (e.g., military recruiters on college campuses which accept public financing, the creation v. evolution curricula debate, etc.) Is there any valid reason to suppose public financing of private schools won’t suffer the same politicization?
In any event, the problem is poverty. And any policy needs to be directed towards the eradication of the problem, not it’s symptoms. End the war on drugs, which disproportionately destroys the family structure of the urban poor and minorities (who are, disproportionately, the urban poor). End the Social Security/OASDI fraud which reduces by 1/8 the incomes of all people, a tax-scheme that disproportionately affects the poor who by definition are under the contribution cap.
The more radical solution is to eradicate the entire, rotten infrastructure of public schooling, severing the ties between local governments, property taxes, and education — freeing up more money to be used for educational purposes, and setting the poor free from the arbitrary and oppressive school district boundaries that are part-and-parcel to the government system. When the entire system is broken, and even the proposed solution mirrors another system which is also demonstrably broken, the proper course of action is to allow a new system (or systems) to take its place.
A free-market is the superior means of providing all goods and services, at the lowest cost and highest quality, to all — wealthy and poor, alike.