The Flawed Logic of “My Money Should Follow My Child”

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As we all know there is a significant push for the adoption of a “Money Follows the Child / Voucher” program.  There are a host of arguments that have been presented by the advocates of these programs.  One of the arguments that initially seems logical and rational can be summarized as follows:

“As a parent I should be allowed to send my child to the school of my choosing.  I pay school taxes.  It is only fair that my schools taxes follow my child to the school of my choice.”

Seems reasonable enough.  So let’s see if the argument stands up to scrutiny.

First, “I should be allowed to send my child to the school of my choosing.”  This is already the case.  This is not a right that need to granted.  A parent can choose from a variety of education options for his/her child.  These include public schools, which the state funds through tax dollars; private schools with either a secular or religious focus, which are funded through parent tuition and in some cases endowments; and home schooling, funded by parents.  Therefore, the need for “Choice” is moot.  It exists and has been exercised for generations.

Second, “I pay school taxes.” Yes, (directly with home / land ownership; indirectly if a renter) as does the rest of the populace.  That is a given.  Paying taxes (except for the ultra-rich and big corporations) is one of two absolutes in life.  The other being death.  Therefore, paying school taxes does not make a parent unique or unfairly burdened.

Finally, “It is only fair that my taxes follow my child.”  This is the weakest component to the argument.

It ignores the fact that it is not “my” taxes.  It is “our” taxes.  And the purpose of our taxes is to provide for the greater good, not the individual good.

If you can take your school taxes with your child then what about the taxpayer with no children.  By the logic of the presented argument, this taxpayer should pay no school tax at all.  What about the taxpayer who has a school tax bill greater than the cost of educating his/her child.  Wouldn’t the “fair” thing to do is to cap the tax bill at the actual cost of educating the child. The point being that for the provision of providing for public education, there are many more taxpayers being treated “unfairly” than the voucher advocate parent.

And here is what is telling; those “unfairly” treated taxpayers overwhelmingly support investing in their local public schools through bond passages (over 85%) and TRE approvals (over 75%).

Bottom line, the “Money Follows The Child / Voucher” argument can be summed up as a vocal minority pursing selfish self-interest at the expense of the public good.  This would seem to be the antithesis of good citizenship.  But then again, I could be wrong… I am a product of public education.  

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