Government paperwork, red tape, takes its toll on education

TRACKSIDE © by John D’Aloia Jr.

April 29, 2003

From Alaska to Florida, from Maine to Hawaii, states are wrestling with the issue of how to fund education. U.S. Senator George Voinovich, ex-Ohio governor, estimated that Ohio school administrators spent 50% of their time filling out federal forms for federal funding which covered but six percent of the schools’ funding. The federal government itself has estimated that its paperwork requirements impose an annual burden of 48.6 million hours of work on school districts, the equivalent of 25,000 employees working full time to satisfy the Educrate Clerks in DC. Pick a number for the annual loaded cost of each employee to taxpayers, say $40,000.00. The federal paperwork burden imposed to get a federal handout is costing tax payers $1 billion a year. Is it worth it? I think not. (Another way to look at it - $1 billion will educate on the order of 200,000 children a year at many a private school without taking one dime of tax dollars.)

The federal government is not alone in forcing the expenditure of "education" dollars for highly questionable uses. Is the University of Kansas just another "adult" entertainment center? In March, Kansas State Senator Susan Wagle brought to the attention of her colleagues what was transpiring in a course entitled "Human Sexuality in Everyday Life" conducted by professor Dennis Dailey in the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas. Senator Wagle called the material used obscene and pornographic. Her charges and concerns were reported in the Lawrence Journal World. The university waved the academic freedom banner in defending Dailey's action and students rose up to support him as reported this month in the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Academic freedom is not the freedom to turn a university into a refuge for perverted behavior, a sanctuary from societal norms, or a breeding ground for sedition. Academic freedom is not a license for prurience. Academic freedom is the freedom to search for and impart truth. Anything else corrupts and degrades the institution.

G. K. Chesterton said: "Education is only truth in a state of transmission." Chesterton's truth is not a relative truth or a perceived truth, but the absolute truth as established by God and proclaimed by His Church. No truth, no education. Those who consider Dailey's course offerings to be truth would do well to meditate on the Seven Capital Sins before they attempt to hold that education is the purpose of the course - and as one wag noted, they could get their "truth" at an adult book store at a lot less cost than attending the University of Kansas.

At a mundane level, no matter what is taught, academic freedom does not provide academia with an absolute right to be supported by the resources of other people. That our tax dollars should be used for the purposes to which Dailey and the university puts them is outrageous, out of synch with the Founders and our founding principles. "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." So held Thomas Jefferson, yet with all the power the State of Kansas can muster to extract taxes from us, we are forced to support pornography and degenerate pleasures.

For offering such courses the Regents have their hands out for tax dollars. For such a course, taxpayers are supposed to accede to a tax increase. Better that the dollars be burned at a home-coming bonfire than used for abhorrent purposes. At least as they burn they would produce light, not the darkness they are now producing in the classroom.

Senator Wagle proposed an amendment to the senate’s budget bill for next year that would cut the $3 million dollars that was earmarked for the School of Social Welfare as long as the school obtained similar material for use in Dailey’s course. The amendment was accepted both in the Senate and the House; the Governor line-item vetoed it. In spite of her words glorifying academic freedom, what the Governor has done is to send a clear message as to her moral standards and her belief that pornography is a worthy state activity, an activity that in truth has absolutely nothing to do with the basic purposes of state government. As Jefferson put it, it was a sinful and tyrannical act. Her moral standards were also on display when she vetoed the bill that set health care standards for abortion clinics. It is not far fetched to view the two vetoes as payback to two of her most ardent and supportive constituencies - educrats and abortionists. Actions do speak louder than words.

See you Trackside.


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