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    Why We Don’t Charter School {Part V}

    October 25, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    I wrote yesterday that there were two primary reasons that we homeschool, and the first and foremost was a matter of faith. The second is a matter of politics. Or perhaps I should call it economics. If I feel brave at the end, I will call it morality.

    You see, we don’t believe in public schools in the sense that we don’t agree that this is a valid use of tax dollars, or that the government {especially the federal government} has the right or responsibility to be involved in the education of the family’s children.

    Okay. Now everyone stop and take a deep breath and I will try to explain. Not convince. Just explain.

    The Constutional Part of the Picture
    The 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America says this:

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

    There is no portion of the Constitution that grants the federal government any say in how the nation’s children are to be educated. This means that the No Child Left Behind law is patently unconstitutional.

    Our government is breaking its own laws while quoting one of the framers in their defense.

    Now, let’s review the 10th amendment again. If a power is not specifically delegated to the federal government, it therefore belongs to the states or to the people. Obviously, I would prefer it belong to the people since governments never run things well, but I would have to admit that the law leaves open for the states to run the show.

    I suppose one would have to read each individual state’s constitution to give a thorough analysis of the situation, which is something I’m not willing to do. All I want to do is point out that all of the burdens placed upon public schools {including public charter schools} by the federal government are illegal.

    A Definition of Socialism
    The most basic definition of socialism would have to be that socialism is a political and ecnomic theory that advocates state ownership and control of just about everything, usually starting with a little here and a little there while working its way to the everything part of the equation.

    Of course, Karl Marx thought it was the midway point between capitalism and communism. But I digress.

    If we were to view education as an industry, I think we are hard pressed to call public schooling anything other than completely socialized. Starting at the age of five {though Obama would like to see it start even younger!} the government takes our children and creates in them its own image. The government decides what the child should and should not be taught, how he should spend the bulk of his time throughout the day, and who his teachers are. We are to be consoled because it is “free.”

    What a good deal! we are told. If you live in California, this is usually followed by a sob story of how our education is so great that illegal aliens risk their lives to come here and get such a wonderful free education, which is akin to the old story about the people starving in China so you better eat your vegetables.

    But I digress again.

    Socialism and Morality
    This is the part where I lose some of my subscribers.

    My problem with socialism is not solely rooted in the fact that it is unconstitutional. The constitution was based upon a certain understanding of morality. This is why government rights were limited.

    In a recent issue of Imprimis {a free publication by Hillsdale College, so subscribe today!} was an article called The Legacy of the 1936 Election, which was adapted from a lecture given at Hillsdale by author/economist Amity Shlaes. In this article, she explains the concept of the Forgotten Man:

    A and B want to help X…This is the charitable impulse. The problem arises when A and B band together and pass a law that coerces C into co-funding their project for X. Sumner identified C as the forgotten man. He is the man who works, the man who prays, the man who pays his own bills, the man who is “never thought of.”

    Publicly funded education is an example of such a “co-funded project for X.” We are so far away from 1936 that we forget there was a time when something like this had a simpler name than socialism.

    We called it stealing.

    Getting Back What We Put In
    I have heard folks say that they “deserve” these freebies from the government in the form of public schools or libraries, etc., based on the fact that they pay taxes. They are getting back what they “put in.” And since they can’t choose not to pay taxes, they figure they should just take what they can get.

    My problem is that most of us aren’t actually paying that much in taxes.

    If the school is getting between $4,000 and $5,000 per child per year, I can tell you we didn’t pay that in taxes, especially not to the public schools {only a small fraction of various taxes–local, state, property, sales, etc.–is allocated to the schools}. In 2000, before a lot of new federal laws began to multiply educational expenditures even more, it was estimated that if you had two school-age children in California, you needed to {1} own a $1.5 million house, and {2} spend $68,500 per year on items that were taxable {sales tax}, and {3} have a taxable income of $91,300 or more. All three of these criteria had to be met in 2000 in order to be able to say that I was “getting back what I put in.” I wonder what the figures are today?

    I don’t know what my readers pay. Maybe you do pay enough that the schools are benefited in the thousands. We certainly don’t. If our children went to public school it would be “free” because the government takes money from our neighbors on each side who have no children of school age.

    In my book, this is legalized stealing. You might not agree. But if stealing is taking something from someone that doesn’t belong to you, something they really don’t want to give, passing a law to make it “legal” doesn’t ease my conscience. Stealing is, after all, forbidden by a law far more ancient than the Constitution.

    In the Words of Davey Crockett
    In the book The Life Of Colonel David Crockett, by Edward Sylvester Ellis there is a chapter entitled Not Yours to Give. In it, Congressman Davey Crockett explains an encounter he had with a man who refused to vote for him again because he had voted to allocate $20,000 in tax money to help rebuild Georgetown after a fire. The man said to Crockett:

    But an understanding of the Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook, because the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the more honest he is.

    [snip]

    It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be intrusted to man…

    [snip]

    If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity.

    I am glad to tell you that Col. Crockett repented of his grave misdeeds. In fact, when a future bill arose to pay some sort of benefit to the widow of a military officer {one who had lived long after his fighting}, Davey Crockett said this:

    We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money.

    [snip]

    Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.

    Wrapping Up for Today
    Economics. Politics. Morality? Taking what I deserve. Getting back what I paid in. Robbing my neighbor. A federal government ignoring the rule of law, and a public supporting it.

    There are a lot of issues wrapped up in public schooling, and because charter schooling is public schooling, these issues must be grappled with. We have our doubts about the ethics and morality of the system, therefore we abstain from it entirely.

    For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
    {Hebrews 14:23b}

    Introduction
    Part I
    Part II
    Part III
    Part IV
    You’re reading Part V
    Ending Note

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    6 Comments

  • Reply Rahime October 28, 2007 at 1:27 am

    I agree.

  • Reply Brandy October 26, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    I sometimes think that the public schools are helping us move toward socialism. This is not because all teachers are socialist (though the teacher’s union is pretty much ran by socialists), but because the system is socialistic. The school provides the student’s education. It provides lunch, and sometimes breakfast, for the poorer students. Even the students who aren’t receiving the “free” meal are taught to find it acceptable that the school, rather than the parents or the church, is responsible for feeding the poor students. The school, in the poorest neighborhoods, might even provide the school supplies, a backpack and crayons or something. And, again, even the students who aren’t receiving these benefits are being taught that it is acceptable for the government to provide these things for students who need them.

    It automatically follows that these same students will grow up and expect the government to provide their health care, prenatal care, food when they are hungry (think WIC and/or food stamps), welfare when they are out of work, and Social Security when they are old. The public schools, especially the brick-and-mortar public schools, breed socialism by their very nature. They create a people predisposed to depend on the government, and this increases exponentially with each generation.

  • Reply Rahime October 26, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    I had never heard of this particular type of charter school: one that takes place in individual homes. I was always under the impression that charter schools were basically public schools with relative autonomy from the school district–more like magnet schools. Many of them in the area where I grew up had a emphasis on one particular academic subject–science, the arts, etc. or one type of student–musicians, or athletes, so the type referred to in this series was new to me.

    I think the points in this post are generally excellent arguments against the public school system (as it exists today). This is one more example of how our country is rapidly moving from being a republic to embracing socialism.

    I’m reading a book right now (not a particularly good one) about elite public schools. One point the author made is that in states (unlike CA) where property tax increases are not regulated many elderly people are pushed out of their homes as housing prices (and subsequently property taxes) soar after the local school district becomes reputable.

    Currently about $1200 (almost 20%) of our property taxes go to our “excellent” public school district which I don’t think we will ever use. I suspect its much higher for those of my neighbors who have purchased their homes in the past 5 years because our house is valued fairly low according to the property tax calculation. I don’t know what the breakdown is for other taxes.

    But then again, a portion of the taxes also goes to maintain local trails and parks, community centers, etc. which we are equally unlikely to utilize. To some extent that’s the consequence of living in a society which people vote without thinking.

    BTW: I like the Davy Crockett story.

  • Reply Brandy October 26, 2007 at 3:14 am

    Ellen,

    Hi! I didn’t know Friedman ever said that (of course, one of the only things I ever read by him was an introduction to one of Hayek’s books). This reminds me of John Taylor Gatto’s essay Against School where he explains that the American public educational system is modeled not after Britain, but after Prussia.

    Someday I think I will research the one-room schoolhouse and do a compare and contrast between it and modern public schooling. It would be interesting to learn whether they flowed into each other, or whether they were completely separate ideas.

  • Reply Ellen October 25, 2007 at 11:53 pm

    Excellent post. We don’t have this particular animal of charter school in N.C., but if we did, I wouldn’t be partaking for exactly these reasons. Sounds a lot like a pamphlet I read by Milton Friedman on the coercive nature of public education, where he mentioned that the U.S was trying to model it’s schools after the German model that produced a notable dictator. =)Keep up the good work!

  • Reply Bfield parent October 25, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Even though I’ve already told you this in person, I have to reiterate it on your blog: This was a masterful analysis of charter schools. And a compelling case for faith and politics/morality as reasons to homeschool. Well done, Brandy.

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