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How Trump can Radically Transform American Education

Written by:

Published on: November 28, 2016

Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education is Betsy DeVos, a committed proponent of choice in education. She has, for instance, been an ardent advocate for education vouchers, which has been a boost to the development of charter and private schools. This is potentially very, very good news for America’s families.

(It must be noted there are some caution flags with Ms. DeVos as well. She claims to be against Common Core, but apparently believes in “national standards,” which, if enforced by anybody, is just another name for Common Core. Big-government, Common Core proponent Jeb Bush extolled her virtues Friday, which is another reason to proceed with caution.)

It should be noted in passing that we should not even have a federal department of education at all. Article I, Section 8 of the Founders’ Constitution lists every single one of the powers of action we the people have granted to the central government. Managing education is not among them. In other words, the very existence of the Department of Education is an affront to constitutional governance and flatly unconstitutional on its face.

But alas, until the Founders’ Constitution once again becomes the supreme law of the land, we’re stuck with a federal educational bureaucracy so we’ll just have to make the best of it until we can put the federal government out of our nation’s educational misery. In the Founders’ view, education is a local enterprise and the federal government has no authorized role.

The single quickest way to improve education in America is to allow America’s parents to enroll their children in the school of their choice. Parents love their children more than anyone else on planet Earth, including education bureaucrats. They know better than anyone the educational environment in which their children will best learn and thrive.

If we are going to coercively collect dollars from parents for educational purposes, the least we can do is let them choose where to spend it. After all, it’s their money. Pulling money out of their wallets by force and then telling them that money cannot be spent on their own child’s education is a form of tyranny and unworthy of a democratic republic. No educational taxation without educational choice.

America’s educational philosophy with regard to expending education tax dollars should be simple, uncomplicated and direct: education dollars should follow the child to the school of their parent’s choice. Period.With no federal strings attached. Parents should be free to enroll their children in a government school, a charter school, a private school, a church school, a parochial school, or a home school.

This, of course, will give liberals a case of the vapors. But they’re the ones who are always telling us how pro-choice they are, aren’t they? They should be as pro-choice on education as they are on abortion; otherwise they are simply flaming hypocrites.

Where is the accountability in such a system, you will ask? That’s easy. Parents will enroll their children in schools that are getting the job done. Schools that are educating children will flourish, schools that aren’t, will wither. Accountability, thy name is parenthood.

Part of the fear on the part of liberal educators, and the reason they want to use government coercion to make government schools the only game in town, is they know families may flee government schools like rats from the proverbial sinking ship if they have the option.

One of the things genuine choice in education will create is multiple-use for church buildings. In most cases, churches use their auditorium and classroom facilities on Sundays and maybe Wednesday nights. Their facilities remain unoccupied and unused during the day from Monday through Friday, right when schools are in session. What better use of those facilities than to use them to educate the next generation of America’s citizens?

Surely someone will screech about separation of church and state. But they would be wrong. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 stated clearly (emphasis mine) that “Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” (Note: the federal government is to “encourage” education, not run it, fund it, control it, or micromanage it.)

Further, the First Amendment of the Founders’ Constitution flatly bars the federal government and any of its branches from “prohibiting the free exercise of religion.” But this is exactly what the federal government does when its judicial branch forbids Bible reading, prayer, and the posting of the Ten Commandments in classrooms. Whatever else that is, it is the prohibition of the free exercise of religion, the very thing the Founders wrote the First Amendment to prevent. In other words, it’s the Supreme Court that’s violating the Constitution, not a school that offers prayer at graduation.

Such matters should be reserved for local control, and are none of the federal government’s business. Parents should be free to choose a school which offers prayer, Bible reading, and moral education in the classroom, as well as Christmas songs at Christmas concerts. And other parents should have the freedom, if they wish, to choose an atheist school where they and the other six families in their town who don’t believe in God can send their children.

Trump may not be able to do everything necessary to reform America’s education system, but surely the place to begin is to put parents back in charge of their children’s education through school choice. Go get ‘em, Betsy.

(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)

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