What about the poor and irresponsible parents?
What About the Poor?
Before we venture into this very important question, consider this: government schools already fail the poor in some of the most spectacular ways─illiteracy, dangerous schools, the worst teachers, low expectations, and the list could go on.
Ask yourself if the disadvantaged could be any more poorly served.
A free market in schooling would open incredible opportunity to the poor as philanthropists, churches, civic groups and all the people who already give of their hard-earned money worked to provide true opportunity. It is already happening in many areas, but parents and the people who wish to help find themselves between a rock and hard place â€” with the kids still trapped in public schools, there is only so much they can do. With tax money freed up and more private schools opening, opportunity will flourish.
Chris Cardiff of the National Center for Independent Education points out that if all 16 million poor and lower-middle-class children were provided with a $1500 scholarship (to private schools), the cost would come to $24 billion─25% less than the state of California spends on public education and 92% less than is spent nationwide on public schooling.
Ironically, even when people come to see that this is true, some can’t escape the government mantra that it is not acceptable for even one child to fall through the cracks, even though most poor, inner city kids are doing exactly that─better to have the equality of universal failure at the hands of the government than risk mostly success and a few failures at the hand of the uncontrolled free market.
It is hard to over-emphasize how deeply ingrained this attitude is. People literally believe that horrible public schools are better than not quite perfect private options, as long as everyone is suffering. This is, of course, an idea they’ve learned from their public schools. They’ve been taught, and believe, that these schools serve ALL children, so regardless of their shortcomings, no matter how truly awful they are, even if they’re producing illiterates and societal misfits who will end up in prison, it is okay, because they serve everyone. It’s fair, you see.
One of the greatest lessons of public school is how to stare reality in the face and deny it.
Douglas Dewey sums up the situation of the poor and public schools brilliantly:
“When all else fails, government school apologists point to the inability and unwillingness of ‘poor people,’ especially those in the ‘inner cities,’ to see to their children’s education. It is an appalling hypocrisy for governmentalists who have used every available means to rip and burn the social fabric of black, urban, and low-income Americans to point to their own handiwork as proof of their indispensability. It is true that family and civic life in cities and among the poor is in tatters. The main cause is the stripping away of family responsibilities from families by government─education chief among them. Restore that one thing and the rebuilding can begin.”
The rebuilding can begin. There are people who care, people who are ready to help far more than they now can, people in the private sector longing to enable and empower the poor and exploited to repair the damage done to their children and their communities by government schooling. There are poor parents who long to salvage their children but who are trapped in a system bent on their destruction.
It won’t happen overnight, but as it stands now, with the government controlling the situation, it won’t happen at all; it will only get worse. If we are willing to settle for what we have now just so one child doesn’t get a better opportunity than another, we deserve what we get. The kids won’t deserve it, the communities that have been damaged by government meddling won’t deserve it, but those of us who have a powerful enough voice and the means to make a difference will deserve it. Keep reading.
What About Irresponsible Parents?
Okay, maybe the poor will receive help and maybe they’ll accept it and rise to the occasion, but what about parents who just don’t care, parents on drugs, parents too uneducated (and how did they get that way?) to think school is important?
We could have lumped these parents in the poor category. Most of them would qualify. But that would be unfair to the many poor who do care and feel powerless. Yet, the answer is the basically the same.
The children of these parents are already ill-served and failing. The situation could not be much worse. Some of them will still fall through the cracks, but many more will be rescued by people who care that they succeed, who are willing to take risks to that end.
That does not describe the public schools that now house these children. There may be good, caring teachers within these schools, but their hands are tied by the states and cities that employ them. They are not at liberty to innovate, to act freely, to offer real alternatives and a way out.
There are already philanthropists and foundations that pay private school tuition for the poor. This would increase many-fold, in the form of scholarships and direct aid to schools so they could offer free tuition to needy students. There are also churches and charitable foundations that reach out to the poor and will branch out into the field of education with the extra money that will be available because government at all levels is no longer confiscating it for their own endeavors in the school field.
Entrepreneurs will also certainly venture into poorer areas, funded by philanthropists who wish to see urban improvement and who view schools as a good means to that end.
This is not a wishful scenario. There are already many people in the private sector working to help the children of irresponsible and of poor parents, but they’re up against the stranglehold the public schools have on the children. They are trying to undo damage as it continues to be done. Freeing the children would open endless windows of opportunity.
There is a tremendous amount of damage to be fixed, but as Douglas Dewey points out, much of that damage has been done by the schools themselves, as well as by the welfare system. Both have robbed parents of the responsibility to work and take care of their children. The results now stare us in the face and challenge us to begin the rebuilding.
It is significant to note here that this may scare politicians and school authorities more than any other aspect of the potential demise of government control of education. Empowered citizens is frightening enough to a government; empowered poor people is terrifying. In the eyes of authorities, this is tantamount to letting the most dangerous inmates out of the prison, and they’ve convinced the rest of us that it’s too scary to even entertain.
The end of government control of education is the only chance disadvantaged children have.
Education: What About the Poor?
by Chris Cardiff
Excerpt: In various forms, the question “what do we do about the poor?” outstrips all others as the most frequently asked question about separating school and state.