School Vouchers

School vouchers are a hot topic these days. Most conversations begin with the assumptions that the state has money and the state has kids.

The beginning comes way sooner than that. A man and a woman discover each other and are happiest when together. They get married. Biology continues to dominate and out pops a baby. The father feels responsible for the wife and baby so he provides for the mother’s needs so that she can do the same for the baby. As the baby grows it eats more than mother’s milk and becomes more independent from the mother and so shares time with the father as well. From his beginning he sees the examples of a father and mother. It’s natural.

Whether you believe God created the heavens and the earth or you think they just mysteriously materialized, it’s obviously the system that works best. Children with loving parents overwhelmingly grow up to contribute the most to a peaceful society.

People who like to be informed are fortunate to have this newspaper. Our statehouse representative and state senator generously chime in on state issues each week. Representative Shannan Latham brought up transparency in education. A school in Arizona has cameras in each classroom so parents can look in on the action, being much more involved with the raising of their children.

Senator Amanda Ragan says, “Iowa’s schools have traditionally made our state a place where people want to live, work and raise a family.”

But as was found out in Loudoun County, Virginia, the state has assumed a larger and larger role in raising a family. Remote learning forced parents to pay attention to classroom materials that didn’t line up with their beliefs. I would suggest they send their kids somewhere else. That’s where the voucher idea comes in.

In his later years, economist Milton Friedman was an enthusiastic advocate for school vouchers. But I always questioned that on the same grounds that Democrats are now. But in a different way. He was looking at it as a practical matter, trying to find a way for competition to improve education without leaving poor kids or the ones with lousy parents in the lurch.

I would go a step beyond Milton Friedman and say parents have the responsibility to educate their kids. To filter that education through coercive funding (taxes) takes it further away from the parents. Like Milton Friedman, Amanda Ragan is looking at education from a practical standpoint: Do what it takes to give all the kids a foundation for their start in life. But that foundation is undeniably built on theft. Do the ends justify the means?

Vouchers are needed because schools run by unions and politicians are epitomized by Ms. Ragan’s goals of reducing class size and widely available preschool. Do you remember your exceptional teachers or do you remember the size of your classes? As we hire more teachers in the quest of small class size, we delve further down the pool of teacher applicants. We have to hire less qualified teachers. Remember, unions are for teachers, not families. And politicians’ primary skill is getting elected, not preparing children for the future. That’s the parents’ job.

What is the purpose of more preschool anyway? Is it because parents are sub-par caregivers of their children? If it’s because two incomes are necessary for families these days, maybe we should question spending priorities instead of burdening taxpayers who chose not to have children.

As with the parents mentioned above, setting an example as a child grows, students see their education is paid for by someone else so its value is diminished. They become a part of a culture with a blurred sense of right and wrong.

Those parents who do not want their kids in public schools should not pay a dime into a school to educate other peoples’ kids while they have to pay for their own as well. It sets a bad example for the kids.

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