By Scott Tibbs, December 5, 2017
I have expressed my opposition to vouchers for private schools many times, and it speaks volumes that in the comments for a letter to the editor I wrote opposing vouchers I am attacked by liars for supporting vouchers. But liars are going to lie no matter what. There is no arguing with them. Instead, liars should be exposed as liars so that others do not believe their lies.
Anyway, one of the comments in my letter argued that traditional government schools should "provide the options the various members of the community are seeking."
One problem with this argument, especially as it pertains to vouchers for religious schools, is that the state cannot legally provide an explicitly religious education. It simply is not possible for a school system to provide every option, and desires are as individual as each person... or each family.
Furthermore, meeting specific needs can be done without vouchers. Charter schools (which are fully public schools) exist to fill specific voids. For example, Seven Oaks Classical School provides a classical education. The Indiana Academy of Math and Science provides a much more rigorous curriculum that specifically helps students who are ahead of their class fill their full potential and prepares them for college. Magnet schools within a district provide programs that other schools do not have.
It is true that the current system does not serve the poor, as we see by the fact that schools in poor areas tend to be worse than schools that serve middle class or wealthy areas. Vouchers for private schools (and the threats to religious liberty they pose) are not the answer to that. Furthermore, there are larger cultural factors at play in schools that serve poorer areas that the schools cannot do anything about.
Am I paranoid to be worried about religious liberty issues? I think the fact that a Christian school in Bloomington, Indiana was singled out and demonized by Democrats in Congress for their policies on sexual morality demonstrates that the attack on religious liberty is not only coming, it is already here. Christian schools are playing with fire by taking vouchers, especially if they are using voucher money to hire new teachers, expand programs and so forth.
Those parents who want to provide an explicitly Christian education for their sons and daughters have options to do so. It may require sacrifice. But exposing Christian schools to meddling by government is not the way to expand access to a Christian education. The voucher program in Indiana was a mistake and should be phased out as soon as possible.