Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Bishop Joseph McFadden had some strong words about the public school system. “In totalitarian governments, they would love our system. This is what Hitler and Mussolini and all those tried to establish - a monolith so all the children would be educated in one set of beliefs and one way of doing things.” Bishop McFadden is pushing for school vouchers that could be used by private schools.
I’m not so sure he is right about his comparison to Hitler and Mussolini. The big difference is that American children still have the right and choice to go to private schools, or even home school. They don’t have to be educated in public schools. There is nothing that says that one must go to public schools. As always though, this is about money. What the Bishop really wants is tax dollars normally used for public schools to be applied to private schools, if a student chooses to go to a private school. Again, there is nothing preventing a student from going to a private school and thus nothing to keep kids in the public schools.
While there may be a lot to be said about a school voucher system, I think it is a far cry from Hitler and
Mussolini. True, kids that choose to go to a private school or home school get less use of their tax dollars meant for education. Even that is predicated on the fact that their parents pay taxes, even though 50% of Americans don’t. Yet, there’s nothing new about not getting full use of tax dollars. For example, we pay for the postal service whether we use it or not. If one chooses to use email, UPS, and Fed Ex instead of the U.S. Postal Service, there isn’t a voucher to use for the other mail services. On the other hand, all types of tax dollars are used for programs many of us don’t support. I suppose with our system we all pay (if you’re a taxpayer) for things we don’t want, and we don’t get vouchers to help pay for what we really want. It doesn’t make it right but it is reality.
With the direction public education is going, private schools and home schooling are becoming an increasingly popular alternative. There is a definite leftist tone and agenda to our educational system that supports in part what the bishop said, “…a monolith so all the children would be educated in one set of beliefs and one way of doing things.” Whether a voucher system is the remedy that education needs remains to be seem. Nevertheless, a mighty change in needed in the educational system. Bishop McFadden wants to use the educational tax dollars; I hope he wants educational changes in the public system of which so many Catholics are a part of. In the meantime, I suppose we’ll give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.