How human rights will impact school choice
[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Wire.]
By David Hodges & Daryl Jamesl
Real Clear Wire
Teachers unions debate school choice as a funding issue. Nebraska special education advocate Clarice Jackson reframes the conversation around human rights.
She understands why the Nebraska State Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, opposes the proposed Nebraska Opportunity Scholarships Act. The measure, Legislative Bill 753, would give tax credits to donors who use their own money to fund scholarships for lower-income families, opening doors that otherwise would remain closed.
Teachers unions prefer the status quo. They like having a captive audience, which guarantees revenue for public school systems regardless of performance. Jackson, who operates a tutoring center that specializes in dyslexia screening and intervention, applauds much of what public schools do with the money. “I love public schools,” she says.
But Jackson raises moral concerns that go beyond the funding issues. She points to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says parents must be free “to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”
Families with financial resources already have this right in Nebraska. They can purchase homes in upscale neighborhoods with easy access to high-performing public schools. They can hire tutors and coaches to supplement classroom instruction. They can arrange their work schedules to homeschool. And they can pay tuition at any private school they want.
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Jackson saw none of these opportunities for a special needs student she met years ago in Omaha, Nebraska. The girl, who lived with her grandmother because her mother was in prison, reached second grade without learning to read.
Jackson, who was still a teenager herself, became the girl’s advocate and eventually adopted her as a daughter. When specialists diagnosed the child with dyslexia, Jackson did research and found a private school with the right expertise. There was just one problem: Tuition was more than Jackson’s monthly income.
She needed assistance. The government cannot compel taxpayers to subsidize private school costs, so Jackson reached out to community partners, who stepped forward voluntarily. Soon the girl’s reading level shot up, along with her self-esteem.
“Some children benefit from choice,” Jackson says. “That just goes with what we all know about this world. There is no one-size-fits-all model for anything that we do.”
Now Jackson wants similar opportunities for others through the Nebraska Opportunity Scholarships Act. The program would not use a single cent of public funds. Instead, tax credits would allow donors to direct their money to scholarships for students in lower-income families.
Nebraska State Education Association president Jenni Benson calls this innovation “smoke and mirrors.” State Sen. George Dungan goes further. He says the tax credits would rob public schools of money that rightly belongs to them. These attitudes reveal an insatiable appetite for revenue. Benson, Dungan and other opponents of parental choice suggest public schools are not only entitled to actual taxes, but also theoretical taxes the government did not collect but could if policies were different.
Our public interest law firm, the Institute for Justice, has defeated similar arguments in Illinois, Alabama and elsewhere. In nearly every case involving challenges to tax-credit scholarships, state supreme courts have upheld them as constitutional.
Teachers unions say the best way to help struggling families is to pour all available resources into public schools. But not every child is well-suited for their neighborhood public school. What’s more, depriving parents of choice essentially treats them like schoolchildren who cannot think for themselves. It is antithetical to the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children.
If private donors want to expand opportunities for marginalized families — leveling the playing field in a rigged system that provides choices for some but not others — then state lawmakers should let them. Jackson has seen the benefits firsthand. “My belief in having choice, regardless of status or income, has become part of who I am,” she says.
Parents deserve the ability to get the best possible education for their children. The Nebraska Opportunity Scholarships Act would help.
David Hodges is an attorney and Daryl James is a writer at the Institute for Justice in Arlington, Va.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Long the world’s most Christian nation, America today is being taken over by a new “official” national religion, one being imposed on the entire populace by every major societal institution, from government, media and big tech, to academia, entertainment and business.
This new state religion is Wokeism. “Going woke” conjures up visions of someone claiming to be acutely sensitive (“awake”) to “systemic social and political injustice.” And not just alleged bigotry against blacks, but toward every other “minority” as well, from LGBT folk – especially everything transgender and “nonbinary” – to “undocumented immigrants.” All of them, being VICTIMS, intrinsically more virtuous than the shameful oppressor class: primarily heterosexual white males.
This new “woke” consciousness has turned America upside-down – from the nationwide Antifa and Black Lives Matter riots in 2020, to tearing down of historic monuments, to demanding multi-million-dollar reparation payments for blacks, to appointing transgenders as top government officials, to rampant reverse discrimination in every area of life, to the U.S. military imposing mandatory “diversity training” and transgender pronoun use on all personnel, causing recruitment to disastrously plummet.
Yet there is hope. Being “saved” – which in Wokeism is called being “woke” – is largely a matter of worshipping victimhood by becoming an “ally” and “defender” of all the many victim classes, and a determined enemy of the straight white male oppressor class. Thus, “joining the righteous” as an ally – even if one is cursed to be a straight white male – opens the door mercifully for salvation, even to the most wretched.
That is the power of the religion of Wokeism. And it’s explored as never before in the February 2023 issue of WND’s critically acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine. If you’ve ever wondered, for example, exactly how the most radical elements in American society are successfully pressuring the biggest corporations into adopting the most outrageous and immoral policies imaginable, even when doing so permanently damages and devalues the company, the stunning answers are in this issue of Whistleblower, titled “WOKEISM: AMERICA’S OFFICIAL STATE RELIGION.”
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