March 5, 2013 by Anders Ingemarson
Here in Colorado the Douglas County School District on the south side of Denver has tried to implement a modest voucher program providing 500 kids with $4,575/year to use at a pre-approved private school of their choice.
As expected, it has turned into lawsuit galore. This past week the Colorado Court of Appeals overturned a lower court decision that had blocked the voucher program. For now it appears DCSD can move forward. However, the case will be appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.
While not being one of the litigants, the National Education Association (NEA) is rumored to have made Douglas County one of its prime targets for future School Board elections. It is prepared to pour significant sums into preventing the election and re-election of pro school choice candidates. The union sees any attempt at providing choice and otherwise injecting measures of free market thinking into education as a threat to its collectivist/statist powers, as is evident from this letter.
The union will not go away without a fight. However, more people are questioning the unethical practices of the NEA. In the past few years, documentaries such as The Cartel and Waiting For Superman have shone light on the failure of American government (“public”) education and the role the NEA is playing in blocking reforms. And last year’s battles in Wisconsin and Chicago revealed the vicious lengths to which union thugs are willing to go to protect their privileges.
Unfortunately, the critics are for the most part beating around the bush. The school choice movement lacks vision. That vision must be the abolition of government education, both production (who provides education) and financing (who pays). With a vision in place you can proceed to map how to get from here to there. Vouchers, charter schools, and tax credits are not the end solution. They can only be stepping stones towards total separation of state and education.
If we are the education abolitionists, the NEA representatives and members are the educational equivalent of slave masters and foremen. Parents, children, and anti-union teachers are the modern day slaves forbidden to move off the plantation, that is, leave the government schools.
As 21th century educational abolitionists we need to look to our 19th century brethren for inspiration. They were morally certain that abolition was right, and that slavery was evil. We have to develop the same moral certainty that individual rights and freedom in education are right and that government education is evil.
The NEA obviously has many excellent teachers in its ranks. And those teachers should take rightful pride in their professional accomplishments. But with respect to their NEA membership, we have to shame them into submission. Only if they feel moral doubt about their association with the union will it start to crumble. Teachers who say “I can’t help it; union membership is mandatory” will only take action if they feel and understand that they’re part of an immoral organization; that by being members they’re running the errands of their union official slave masters.
If you’re uncertain of where to start, as a first step give the Douglas County school choice fighters your full support. They hold the seed in their hands that may grow into the movement that will eventually abolish government education.