Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

January 30, 2013

We the People: Don't use my taxes for private schools

CROSSVILLE — Every January when our state legislators return to Nashville it is, as Forrest Gump’s mama said, like a box of chocolates: we don’t know what we are going to get. It can range from the laughable to the alarming. Other than wasting time, frivolous bills probably don’t do a lot of damage, and they are a great source of amusement for the rest of the country. But we can’t trust our lawmakers to just provide comic relief. A bill now in the works should be setting off alarms all over the state. If enacted it could drive a stake in the heart of public education. The governor and the Republican-controlled legislature are pushing “opportunity scholarships,” a warm and fuzzy euphemism for school vouchers. But a skunk by any other name still stinks.

Some conservatives, alarmed that their kids might learn to think for themselves, demand “school choice.” The “choice” is less about overall quality of education than about ideas that conflict with parents’ religious beliefs. And heavens forbid that teachers should encourage “critical thinking.” (I’m afraid standardized testing has pretty much taken care of that already.) So here is the bottom line, they want taxpayers to foot the bill to send their kids to private schools.

Instead of fixing schools so all of our students get a better education, our learned lawmakers are promoting vouchers for a few. They are not trying to improve public education; they are trying to kill it. They are proposing to take taxpayer money away from public schools that educate the vast majority of our kids and funnel it into corporate and religious schools that are only interested in turning a profit or indoctrinating students with religious ideology. Then they can just sit back and watch the public schools die.

There are many reasons that a voucher-driven raid on scarce school funds would be bad for Tennessee. But there is an issue that trumps all those reasons. Voucher plans that include religious schools violate the First Amendment. It constitutes a direct government subsidy of religion. No citizen should be compelled by the government to furnish funds in support of any religion. I feel a profound obligation to pay taxes to finance the best public school system possible for all the children in Tennessee. If anyone wants to send their kids to private schools, that is fine and dandy with me. But I have no obligation whatsoever to finance it. I believe the majority of Tennesseans feel the same, and now is the time to let it be known.

Public education is the cornerstone of American democracy. Instead of this insane push for a voucher system, our lawmakers should be concentrating on making every school academically sound and adequately equipped, a place where all young people feel safe and valued for who they are. It should be a place where no one cares what religion or race you are or what language you speak; where no one cares what your gender or sexual orientation is; where no one cares how many disabilities you have or how much money your parents make. School should be a place that says welcome, come learn with us. That is an American value.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

  • Tidbits: Make the best of your road trip

    I didn’t care for road trips when I was young. It was so confining to have to sit in the back seat, staring out the window for hour after hour, hayfield after hayfield. And when you’re a kid, time doesn’t pass like it does when you get a little older. Just the trip from Jamestown, TN, to Crossville, roughly 30 miles, felt like an eternity!

    July 14, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Biased climate agenda will cost trillions

    For anyone who has been educated in the history of science and scientific method, this whole issue of “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” is an embarrassing and painful exercise.

    July 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Time for an oil change

    The land of Iraq, earlier known as Mesopotamia, has a long history going back to Neanderthal times some 60,000 years ago. Later, around 10,000 years ago, it became the site for some of the most important developments in human history: the invention of the wheel, planting of cereal crops, the development of cursive script, mathematics, astronomy and agriculture. Today it is recognized as one of the cradles of civilization.

    July 8, 2014

  • We the People: American women, be informed and vote

    Voting for today’s Republican Party and its Tea Party members, means you are voting against more than most realize.  This is especially true for women.

    July 8, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014