Education Voucher System Should Have Standards

TONY ESPINAL | Asst. Opinion Editor

Knowledge is one of the most powerful tools that we can achieve in our lives. Education is the tool by which we attain this strength. Some of us have been fortunate enough to be able to continue our pursuit of knowledge despite rising costs.

Others have not been so fortunate. To help with cost of education, several states offer vouchers to eligible families.

In addition to public schools, some of these vouchers have been offered to private and faith-based schools.

But is mingling taxpayer funds with faith-based schools really a good idea?

I would say that depends on the school.

Recently, I came across a special report on Politico that made me feel a variety of different emotions—anger, concern, sadness and even curiosity.

The article spoke about taxpayer dollars that are being used to fund private schools, including Bible-based schools.

Let me first clarify—I have nothing against teaching creationism or religion. I have my religious beliefs, like millions of others.

However, my concern came when, after reviewing course outlines, textbooks and school websites, Politico reported that many of these schools seem to be teaching their students to oppose anything secular.

The textbooks used in some of these schools refer to evolution as “a wicked and vain philosophy” and attacks math theorists who do not see mathematics as laws ordained by God, according to Politico.

This means taxpayer dollars are going to schools that oppose modern science and appear to have set out to create students who are being taught to treat with disdain people who do not support the schools religious beliefs.

But that is not the only issue facing private school subsidies.

Some schools prohibit openly gay students to enroll and have even extended this restriction to include the children of same-sex couples, according to the report.

I am a staunch advocate for equality and I find it rather disconcerting that taxpayer dollars are being used to fund schools that are teaching students such a troubling set of views, including acceptance of discrimination.

In January, CBS reported that Matthew Barret of Massachusetts filed a discrimination complaint against a Catholic prep school.

He claims his job offer was rescinded after he reported that his emergency contact was his husband.

While it is unclear as to whether or not this school receives taxpayer money, there appear to be schools across the U.S. that receive subsidies which follow the same discriminatory standards.

I can appreciate the importance of the religious doctrine to these faith-based schools.

As a private school, it should be allowed to adhere to its strict code. However, I believe that once an institution begins to receive taxpayer subsidies, it ceases to be truly private and should be held to the same standards as public schools.

A private institution should not be allowed to receive taxpayer money if it is going to endorse discrimination and such a narrow view of education.

To allow our money to fund schools that work to undermine education and approve discrimination is a grave disservice to students and, ultimately, our future.

Do not get me wrong, I can see the benefits of allowing vouchers for private and faith-based schools.

It gives parents a chance at sending their kids to top-rated schools they may not have been able to afford and provide more opportunities for children.

However, it is imperative we, as students and the future of this country, stand up against narrow-minded views on education and keep our money out of schools that embrace methods of discrimination against not only students, but also educational subjects that do not fall entirely in line with their beliefs.

Whether we are creationists or believe in evolution, we all must do what we can to protect education and keep our taxpayer dollars out of schools that support discrimination and indoctrination.