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Attempts to divert school money continues

As soon as those who want to divert public school money heard that there would be a special session of the legislature they ran for the lobby of the State Capitol.

They call themselves the “choice” group because “choice” carries a lot of propaganda value in a society that treasures freedom to choose.

If the group is advocating only one strategy, it will not be “choice” but it will become a choice of “take it or leave it.” In the “choice” programs in some states, choosers are given options. But would there be a real “choice” in North Dakota?

Whether it would be money for charter schools or a coupon that could be cashed for a parochial school, the end result is going to drain sadly needed public school money from the education pool appropriated by the state.

Public money for private use

Because education money is limited, taking public school money for private benefit will result in less money for local public schools and more for a scattering of parochial schools around the state.

The ultimate effect of “choice” programs is that they are discriminatory for those who financially or geographically cannot participate in the robbery.

It seems that North Dakota has a few Lutheran parochial schools, a few Evangelical schools and a lot of Catholic schools. Most of these schools are only in communities with a sufficient number of qualified parochial students.

Lutheran students, the Evangelical students and the Catholic students will be left out of the program because their communities do not have the minimum enrollment for an institution and they are too distant to commute.

Parochial kids will suffer

Consequently, any “choice” program will leave Lutheran, Evangelical and Catholic students to attend the public schools – schools that will have fewer resources when bled by “choice” programs.

They will suffer the underfunding of public education along with the non-parochial kids.

For the “choice” people there is an answer. With funding from the state, it will be possible to create more “choice” schools and bleed even more money from the state budget.

That would be seen as “good” for the parochial institutions but “bad” for the public school children, which includes thousands of Lutheran, Evangelical and Catholic kids.

It has taken a free public school system to undergird the evolution of America from frontier to space. Without it, millions of Americans would have spent their lives on the lower rungs of life. Most of the people in North Dakota have relied on free public education to get their feet on the first step.

Supporting inequality

The idea of a free public education is that it should be equally available to every kid in America. “Choice” supports an education system that promotes inequality.

As citizens have become more educated, they have been more able to make a democracy function more effectively and overcome the challenges encountered over the past 250 years. A little more wisdom would have helped here and there but we bungled through.

As diversity and complexity increase, an even more educated citizenry will be required for the country to survive.

As an example, saving the earth from destruction will be the greatest challenge that ever faced the world because the consensus to save the country will depend on a citizenry that is more informed than it is today. Most people still roll their eyes when global warming is discussed. Many of them are now reading this column.

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