Last week I mentioned a school choice bill being considered in Alabama that would help offset the costs of homeschool – or private or charter school for that matter – for parents in the state. Apparently it’s not likely to pass, facing sufficient bipartisan opposition to not be able to escape a filibuster. I’ll admit that I’m not 100% clear on the procedural rules in the Alabama legislature so apologies if I’m mischaracterizing things, but it looks indeed like the bill will probably evaporate.
To be clear, there is 0% chance Alabama will make it more difficult legally to homeschool ones’ kids. This bill would just make it more affordable to homeschool – in other words, it’s relatively easy for a family like mine, living off a single fairly good income, to homeschool, but the financial burden of foregoing a second income, not to mention buying supplies, prices a lot of people out of the market entirely. Thus, the bill under consideration would have little impact on me (maybe my summer vacation budget could go up a bit) but would open up homeschooling as a viable option for tens of thousands of Alabama families for whom it’s currently off the table. Why would Alabama’s Democrat representatives – nearly all of whom represent districts dominated by lower-income black Alabamans who shoulder most of the burden from our poor education system – oppose a bill that would increase school choice for their constituents? Probably because they are systemically opposed to doing anything to improve anyone’s lives. But some Republicans have to oppose it as well, or else it wouldn’t have become filibuster-able. What’s their deal?
It’s interesting to read the reasons people oppose the empowerment of school choice for lower income Americans, detailed in this article from 1819news.com. Unsurprisingly, most of the complainers are upset that money will be diverted away from various inefficient public school programs that they profit from. From an insightful Cato Institute essay by Corey Deangelis:
The unions’ main argument to protect their monopoly is that school choice “defunds” public schools. But the money doesn’t belong to the public schools in the first place. Education funding is meant for educating children, not for propping up and protecting a particular institution.
Of course, if these grifters (cough cough teacher’s unions cough cough) were of any use, the public schools wouldn’t be so godsawful that people are willing to forego their careers to be homeschool teachers in order to save their children from them.
Many of the bill’s opponents seem bizarrely clueless about why people want to homeschool. Here’s Eric Mackey, the State Superintendent of Education:
We have no accountability for homeschoolers in this state. In other states, they require homeschoolers to register with the state. They have home visits, and they are required to take the state tests… If you are going to give them money, then they should take the same assessments as public schools.
So what Mackey wants is to inflict the same ineffective “assessments” on homeschools that have failed so spectacularly to improve the public schools. Because standardized tests focus on very specific topic areas, they act as a de facto mandate for curricula – exactly the reason many of us have abandoned the public school system to begin with. Does he not realize this? Maybe he should, you know, listen to people before opening his bureaucratic yap? Disturbingly, it even seems there’s a chance this could get pushed into the bill as a poison pill amendment — at which point I would oppose it, as it would cause net harm to homeschoolers.
Here’s one of the aforementioned grifters, the boss of something called the “Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools”, putting it a different way:
If private schools are going to get public money, they should have to meet the exact same requirements as public schools…What if they don’t want to use the textbooks or the curriculum of the state?
Well exactly, bubba, you hit the nail on the head. Your textbooks are garbage, hit the road, get a real job.
To be clear – assessments, curriculum mandates, and the constant Big Ed grifts are bugs, not features. Everything about the public school system in the United States is awful. One of the grifters laments that “Fifty-five to 60% of teachers are talking about leaving the education profession in the next two years” – and this is a reason we should not fund this bill? Why do you think they’re leaving, genius? Could it be that working in public schools is unremittingly toxic? That if you actually care about education, being told by some ignorant bean-counter in Montgomery what you’re supposed to teach in your class is deeply offensive? Or that realizing you’re just babysitting kids half the time, watching them waste their youths spending twice as long in school for half the intellectual gain they could achieve on their own, breaks your heart? Not to mention the efforts of the communist teachers’ unions… Yeah, it’s garbage, burn it down.
ASD’s school policy has been pretty consistent since 1986, y’all. In as few words as possible: