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
  • LION AND THE LAMB: Four ways to demonstrate opposition

    Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. 

    April 15, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

    The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

    April 15, 2014

  • TIDBITS: I found it at the library

    I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.

    April 14, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

    If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.

    April 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?

    The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?

    April 8, 2014

  • We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

    A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.

    April 8, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Just another government lie?

    There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.

    April 7, 2014

  • GARY'S WORLD: The chance to speak your mind

    Are you tired of hearing people complain about the way things are run in Cumberland County? Or, do you like the way the county government is run and operated in our beautiful county?
    Are you happy with the way things are, or would you like some change?

    April 3, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Digging beneath the headlines

    Our media have been focusing on two important events that have taken place overseas during the last several weeks.

    April 1, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: SNAP, health and work

    A recent letter from Representative Diane Black to me states that she voted for the farm bill (with $8 million in Food Stamp (SNAP) benefit cuts) because she, like me, is a supporter of food stamp benefits for Tennessee families who qualify. That’s a lot of families, as most recipients are families with children and the elderly. Now, recall that there was already a major cut to the food stamp program back in the fall. But for some Republicans, that was not enough.

    April 1, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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