The View From 1776
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Secular Education Equals State Support for Sectarian Religion
Florida’s appeals court has just ruled unconstitutional a Florida law giving educational vouchers to students in failing schools, because many students use vouchers to go to church-supported schools. The real elephant in the room is the simple fact that liberals’ beloved secularity in education is itself religious education.
The New York Times on August 17, 2004 happily ran an article that began:
“Florida Court Rules Against Religious School Vouchers
By GREG WINTER
Florida appeals court ruled yesterday that a voucher program for students in failing schools violated the state’s Constitution because it sent public money to religious institutions.”
Two points are worth making:
One, the secularity in education demanded by liberal-socialists is the religion of secular, materialistic, and atheistic socialism. Spending tax money on secular education is therefore an unconstitutional use of public funds to promote a specific religion.
Two, use of taxpayers money ought to support better education, not increased membership in socialist teachers’ unions. Spending money on public schools is, in too many cities, throwing money down a rat hole. Student performance today, compared to 1960, is abysmally worse.
In contrast, charter schools and church-supported schools educate students far more effectively. And they do not require students to take religious instruction.
To understand why this is so, we have only to note the resounding defeat every year in teachers’ union conventions of any move to grade teachers on individual knowledge and teaching competence. The unions have a sure-fire modus operandi: they enlist teachers who can’t pass exams themselves in the subjects they “teach” and who therefore know that without union support they could never hold teaching jobs on their own merits.
Years of experience in New York City and elsewhere prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that church-sponsored schools, particularly Catholic parochial schools, consistently out-perform public schools. And the parochial schools do it while spending only a fraction of the amount per pupil expended in the public schools. This remains true, even when adjusting for claims by the teachers’ unions that parochial schools cherry-pick the better students. No studies bear this out. Parochial schools, in fact, tend to take the poorer-performing inner-city pupils, whose rate of improvement in educational performance nonetheless outstrips the results in public schools.
Moreover, even the recent teachers’ unions study, again trumpeted by the New York Times (motto: We don’t question socialist propaganda; we just print it), declaring that charter schools do worse than public schools is belied by statistics presented in the very charts that the Times includes in its article. Either Times reporters don’t understand numbers, or they, like Bill Clinton, aren’t sure of the meaning of “is.” The teachers’ unions own statistics show that voucher schools get a disproportionate number of the poorest students. Yet those students’ performance improvement outdistances that of the public school students.
For details, see Mickey Kaus’s (http://slate.msn.com/id/2105245/) comments and links to analytical articles under date of August 18, 2004.