When it Comes to Options that are Actually Good for Children, Progressives Pick Mandates over Choice EVERY Time
It’s a puzzle, an irony, a conundrum. Progressives, the party of “you do you” and “my body, my choice,” have once again proven that they hate choice when it comes to programs and actions that are actually GOOD for children.
Want to abort your child seven days after it’s born? Your choice. Want to allow your minor child to have body parts removed and be put on hormone blockers/therapy? Your choice. Want to take your child to a drag queen show in an adult bar and expose them to overly sexualized and inappropriate entertainment? Your choice.
Want to get your child out of a failing school and take him/her to a good school where he/she can succeed? Whoa, wait a minute. Progressives can’t have that. They think that is dangerous.
It makes me wonder why.
When I was teaching, the argument was always the same. “If we take kids out of some public schools and allow them to go to better public or private schools, it will leave the public schools decimated.“
And the people who said this always followed it up with, ” School choice is racist and elitist.”
Here’s a sample of that opposition from the Baltimore Sun Op-Ed section: Md. BOOST program helps private schools at the expense of public ones – Baltimore Sun
The “best” argument of all was “public schools can’t succeed if we take the best kids out.” Wow. And they called those who believe in school choice racist and elitist? It’s kind of like when Joe Biden said, “Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as White kids.” Biden says ‘poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids’ (nbcnews.com)
But he’s not racist. No. Never. But you people who support school choice, shame on you.
I was a teacher, and my husband and I took our kids out of public school. We did it because I saw the decline in our local system, the overcrowding in classrooms, and the general lack of motivation to allow all children to achieve to the best of their ability. We took them out in elementary school and left them in private school until they were ready to go to high school, where they could have some flexibility in their classes. I never regretted it. Neither did my children. They actually learned how to meet academic standards that mattered.
I caught a lot of grief from my public school bosses and some of my colleagues. One even threatened to get me fired.
There were also many colleagues who completely understood my reasons.
It was a financial struggle. It probably cost us some retirement funds and a high credit score. If I could go back, I would do it all over again.
Not all parents have the financial resources to do that. And that is what school choice is about, allowing ALL parents to make a choice for their children who are trapped in failing public schools. That’s why it puzzles me when Progressives are dead set against school choice.
Most people understand that local communities support public schools through a combination of property tax, local income tax, and state income tax. In our area, the citizens voted to put a cap on local property tax but followed that up with an additional “school tax.” So, even people who have no children in schools are paying taxes to support those schools.
Honestly, as an older, retired person, I don’t mind my taxes going to support schools, especially if I know they are doing a good job and are spending those dollars efficiently and effectively on CLASSROOMS, not middle management and excess administrative salaries and wasteful social manipulation programs.
It’s a harder pill to swallow for those who feel they need to pull their children out of public schools because the public schools are failing. Not only do those families pay the taxes to support the public schools, but they pay tuition to private schools or pay for homeschool materials because their children are not learning in public schools. It’s a double burden on family budgets, especially those in the middle class.
The hardest hit is those families in cities and those on the low end of the economic spectrum. Their children are more likely to go to urban public schools, and if those schools are failing their children, they have nowhere to go. In this story from Fox News, a mother talks about the devastating effect of a failing school on her child:
Fortunately for her and her husband, they were able to send their youngest son to a private school. They weren’t able to do that with her older son, who graduated from a city school without the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful.
Maryland had a program to address this problem.
But, both the previous and current Governors decided to cut money from that program. Hogan said it was because no one was using it. Governor Moore, the champion of “Leave no one behind,” said: “As we are thinking about what needs to happen with public dollars, public dollars do not need to be going to private schools. Public dollars are going to ensure that we are building a world-class, public school system for all Maryland students.”
Restrain your derisive laughter, please. Recent test scores show that Maryland is doing just the opposite. Did he miss the part about NO STUDENTS scoring proficient in math in Baltimore City? Did he see where the TOP county in the state scored at 32% proficiency in math? Reading wasn’t much better. Did he mean to say we are building a “THIRD World-class public-school system”?
Even if we give him the grace to wait for things to improve, how will this help the millions of children who have been severely damaged by the past three years in our public schools? Whether it was due to Covid or not doesn’t matter in the argument. There is no sense of urgency to improve things NOW. It’s just about creating more feckless feel-good, time and money-wasting programs that will never help these kids gain back lost academic ground. While they are worried about forcing gender change therapy and surgery on our five-year-olds and dividing us by racial stereotypes, our children are not progressing academically.
We should be providing MORE academics and more content instruction. We aren’t.
Our children deserve other options. The lack of competition for the public schools has allowed them to shrug their shoulders and treat our kids like they are standing in a long line at the MVA. “Don’t like it,” they say, “Tough. Shut up and deal with it.”
As stated in the article above, Republican lawmakers in Maryland are trying to keep the school choice scholarships for low-income families alive. They have sponsored HB 737:
This bill is a good start, but it still doesn’t address the problem of middle-class families whose children are trapped in failing schools. They may be able to afford private schools with substantial sacrifices, but they will still have to pay taxes that support schools their children don’t attend.
The rich elite doesn’t have to worry about that problem. Poor families could get scholarships. The middle-class family is still stuck. They don’t qualify for the BOOST program, and they can’t afford private school tuition or lose one wage earner to provide homeschooling. They watch their children lose academic ground and be taught they are in the wrong physical body, be exposed to overly sexualized content, or that they are bad because of their skin color.
The financial burden will only get worse. As counties take on the Blueprint for Maryland’s future, an initiative that will raise taxes by approximately 34% in the next five years, these families will have less money to spend on private education or homeschooling.
What is the solution? Bills like HB 737 are a great start. But the real answer is allowing ALL parents a tax break for private school or homeschooling expenses in much the same way they allow tax breaks for other items. Allow the “money to follow the child” by giving parents a tax break equal to what their home county or district spends per public school child. This may not cover private tuition or homeschooling expenses completely, but it would help.
The danger in this, however, is that the state will want to attach “strings” to this money. They will force private schools to implement the same programs as public schools. They’ll insist on government “visits” to homeschool families to monitor what is going on and then insist on certain curricula. In much the same way as the changing of the goal lines in the Covid restrictions, I can envision the state making requirements harder and harder.
Those who write these bills will have to make sure they write them so that can’t happen. Even so, it’s always a gamble with the government. That is why elections are so important.
For the time being, HB 737 is what we have. Even if it passes, it seems the new Governor is likely to veto it. He will do so to flex his political ego and prove to everyone that he is a true Progressive. And, as we know, Progressives hate choice when it actually benefits families and their children.
Jan is a retired teacher and a current Chapter Chair for Moms for Liberty, Talbot.
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