Be sure to read Julie Negri’s recent op-ed in the Providence Journal. I suspect it’s one of those topics on which the majority of people giving it a cursory read might side against her, but then reconsider were they to give it more thought:
… Under a program called Prepare RI, high school students are now able to take college credit courses at the state colleges and university with the state picking up the tab for tuition, fees and books. They are able to earn college credits, while at the same time fulfilling high school requirements. …
The initiative “would enable high-performing high school students to take college classes at no cost to them.” Unless you’re home-schooled or privately schooled. Then you’re on your own, kid — good luck with that. Your parents still get to pay the same taxes, though.
Unfortunately, we’ve developed a a mentality that the purpose of public spending on education is not, first and foremost, the education of all of the children who will one day constitute our electorate. Rather, the purpose of public spending on education is to use government to provide educational services. So, things like taking college courses at a completely separate institution is just a perk that the public schools provide. (Attempts to charge charter and private school students for sports falls in a similar line of thinking.)
Such a view serves the government much more than it serves the people. Using money confiscated from the people, the government provides services with which the private sector cannot compete — at least at a price that most people would be able to pay, while still paying taxes. A large majority of children are therefore educated in a government-approved setting, now with subject-matter standards making their way down from the federal government. (This extreme lopsidedness of the education marketplace, by the way, also makes it impossible for competitors to arise in other areas that influence content, notably the College Board and its advanced placement offerings.)