Parental rights advocate offers compelling reasons to reject government vouchers

by Cris Shardelman

Poulsbo, WA - 8/23/02 - By way of introduction, I am Cris Shardelman, a strong advocate for parental rights over the education of their children.  Since the mid-60's, I have worked for initiatives, and written legislation for that purpose.  Until I studied government education vouchers, I thought they might prove beneficial.  I hope my critique will show the dangers vouchers pose for Christian Schools.

Education's big battle this coming year across the states will be over use of vouchers in religious schools. Coercion will come in the form of both legislation and court challenges.  July 10th Richard Komer, of the Institute for Justice, told the Washington Times that lawsuits to mandate vouchers are targeted for Maine, Vermont and Washington State.  Compelling reasons to reject government vouchers:

First, the government definition of Choice:  "The definition of "public schools" should be broadened to include any school that serves the public and is held accountable by a public authority regardless of who runs them."  (America 2000 An Education Strategy Sourcebook, pgs. 22 and 41)

A second government definition (from Ginny Baker's Educational Choice:  An Innovative Report: ) "..on July 1971, key federal legislation underlying and controlling any subsequent education legislation was adopted.  This master control system, "The Interagency Day Care Standards", hinged upon the federal government's own definition of day care.  "Day care is defined as the care of a child on a regular basis by someone other than the child's parents for any part of the 24-hour day".  It states that "Any agency, public or private, which receives federal funds directly or indirectly through a grant or contract, or by the way of a voucher plan" must meet all requirements that are set down for public schools.  Acceptance of Federal funds is an agreement to abide by the requirements."

Federal funds are involved, even though the federal government is prohibited by the 10th Amendment from involvement in education.  It is very dangerous to place any education on the federal level, because ONLY the federal government is allowed to make agreements with other nations.  Agreements can establish international curriculums, teacher training, etc.   This opens the door to control of education from a global/UN level, and demolishes any remnants of parental authority.

Federal control of education violates constitutional representative government, because citizens cannot give consent, through elections, to be governed by the appointed Secretary of Education.  Protective state laws will be void, because we are acting outside the Constitutions and laws.

School vouchers do not provide the freedom the G.I. Bill afforded.  Students and parents have not earned the funding like the veteran did.  Grove City and Hillsdale Colleges rejected federal student loans (repayable by the recipient) because the loans came with over 7,000 regulations. (The Sun 10-25-96)  It is highly doubtful the government will supply a list of thousands of regulations the voucher-accepting schools will have to comply with prior to receipt of funds.

The Cleveland vouchers, upon which the Supreme Court Decision was based, was to benefit only low-income students, not be given to everyone.  Even the religious voucher-accepting schools  had to agree to abide by the non-discrimination laws in student admission and educator hiring, in essence becoming "public schools, accountable to a public authority". The Court's Decision was for low income students rights to "better education as defined by government".  For receipt of funding, the religious school could not reject a student on the basis of opposing religious viewpoints or physical or academic handicaps. One atheist plus ACLU equals a lawsuit.  Violations could result in the school being forced to repay the funding.  Bringing the school up to building codes to accommodate the numerous needs of special education students would be very difficult for most Christian Schools. Salaries for specialists for special education students needs would stretch most budgets.

To insure voucher schools are accountable for tax dollars, they must prove "better education" is taking place.  That proof will no doubt be in the form of those federal No Child Left Behind assessments and state assessments that parents do not see..  Since assessments drive the curriculum, religious schools will have to abandon their Christian missions and teach to the assessment, leading to a federal curriculum.  Remember all education reform is structured around School-to-Work.  Will the student's future be directed by God or government and business?

Many parents already sacrifice for a Christian education for their children.  If that school accepts vouchers for low-income students that exceed the amount other parents are currently paying, the school may well raise the tuition for all students, forcing Christian students to drop out. Once a school's budget is set to include government funds, it would be very difficult to return to its original mission of teaching the gospel.

With the advent of vouchers, Christian School parents will not only be forced to pay for the Religion of Humanism in the government schools, but  for other opposing religious schools, such as Muslim, Buddhist, or other New Age Schools.

The best way to destroy Christian Schools is to make them accountable to the government through vouchers.  Then what "choice" will Christian parents have?  Homeschools will be next.  To say vouchers provide "marketplace competition" is ridiculous when  tax dollars are confiscated from citizens, then given to government to control.  Vouchers will absorb and transform Christian Schools into the government monopoly. Schools that want to retain their mission to educate children according to the Bible by refusing vouchers will find themselves losing students to "religious" government schools.

Cris Shardelman
Poulsbo, WA. 98370

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref.]


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