In Education, Government Wants to Promote Government Services


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.)

  • Ned

    Worse yet is the government using money confiscated from me to pay for Catholic school books for students whose parents have opted them out of government schools. I have absolutely no say in how those tax dollars are spent and it’s not even for a legal purpose!

    • Conservative Marine

      And the parents of those students don’t pay taxes, too?

      • Ned

        Everybody pays taxes. The problem become when people expect the government to use those confiscated funds to subsidize their personal decisions and lifestyles. Where does it end?

        • Mike678

          Are not children these days a choice and a lifestyle? Why do taxpayers w/o children have to pay for other peoples choices?

          The usual argument is the common good–which also negates your “confiscation” comment.

          • OceanStateCurrent

            The good use of funds doesn’t change the fact that they’ve been confiscated.

            More importantly, though, your view of children accepts too many progressive premises, wherein people are burdens to be managed. Our society must have children… broadly, by definition, more narrowly to maintain the economy, and even more narrowly to maintain our Ponzi scheme entitlements.

            You can characterize them as a lifestyle choice, if you like, but it’s kind of the default, given our biology. I’d argue that it’s much more of a deliberate choice not to have children. Why should my kids have to pay more for the Social Security benefits of people who chose not to have any?