Conservatives will contend over school vouchers in the next session of the Texas Legislature. Critics of vouchers worry that a “money follows the child” approach will lead to government control of homeschools. Strident critics tell us we should prefer the current school system over vouchers, because the risk of regulation is so great. Moderate critics say that we should oppose vouchers until we get sound constitutional protections for education freedom.
Both criticisms misunderstand the risks of doing nothing. Everyone agrees that fixing the public school system is a decades-long endeavor, perhaps six to 12 high school generations. If we leave students to languish in the current system, there will not be an electorate to accomplish reform of the public schools. In an all-too-common pattern, conservatives will have ceded victory to the left on principle.
Doing nothing carries much more risk than vouchers. The risk of doing nothing is this: Our children will be reared by leftists and turned into enemies of our own values and freedoms. Our children will join a leftist, Democratic majority. We will fight our own children for the future of the nation.
With concerned parents involved, the government can never attain the level of social and cultural control they now have in the public schools. Suppose government regulates homeschools, as the strident critics fear; regulated homeschools still present far less risk than the current indoctrination school system. The government would mandate a curriculum, but parents would not teach all of it. The government would mandate testing, but parents would teach the test answers and conservative rebuttals to the errors.
School vouchers are worth the risk. The danger from the public school system dwarfs the risk of regulating homeschools. Homeschools can minimize the risks; public schools will magnify the danger. Over time, the current school system will destroy our families and the democratic electorate itself. The current system cannot be allowed to continue.
Both strident and moderate critics of vouchers are right to seek ways to minimize the risks of vouchers. We should seek constitutional protections for educational freedom. We should create legal structures to protect homeschool autonomy. Nevertheless, a rational analysis of risks shows that we should proceed with vouchers whether we get these protections or not. The *status quo* school system is just that bad.
Conservatives must provide a way for parents to move children out of public schools. All policies have risks. Doing nothing has risks. The risks of school vouchers are far less than doing nothing. Seek constitutional and legal protections for educational freedom and homeschool autonomy. Even if we do not secure such protections, we should nevertheless deliver school vouchers.
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