President Donald Trump’s administration is considering a tax credit for working class families who want to send their children to private school, Politico reports.
Trump, during a recent meeting with parents and teachers at the White House, said he wanted to make sure “every single disadvantaged child in America, no matter what their background or where they live, […] have a choice about where they go to school.”
Tax credits instead of subsidies for private schools are a good thing. A tax credit sends the message, “It’s your money in the first place. Instead of paying it for a school you did not choose, spend it on the school of your choosing.” A subsidy, on the other hand, sends the message, “You have a right to send your kid to any kind of school you want, at another’s expense.” No, you don’t.
A tax credit does not equal freedom. Freedom is the ultimate goal. In a free market, parents decide how, when and where to educate their children. Choices and price ranges would be far more diverse than in the government-monopolized non-market we have today. Imagine if government paid for everyone’s cell phones. That’s what education is like today. There is no competition. As for the content of education, government (state and national) would stay completely out in a free market. It’s all up to the parents, shopping in a free marketplace for schooling just as they do for less important things like clothes, cell phones, haircuts and cars.
I like President Trump’s choice of words here. He’s not saying parents have a right to education for their kids. He’s saying they have a right to choose the education they want. There’s a difference. You don’t have a right to education, or a right to anything someone else creates. Why not? Because that right would impose an obligation on another to provide and/or pay for it. You don’t have a right to turn anyone into a slave, not for 100 percent of their lives, not for 10 or 20 percent of their lives, and not for five seconds.
I don’t know that Donald Trump grasps or cares about this distinction. But it’s important, just the same.
The core issue here is freedom of choice. The status quo is a corrupt, command-and-control, Communism-like federalized education system run by unaccountable, often toxic-minded bureaucrats or officials in the nation’s capital. This is the worst possible scenario. At a minimum, we should dismantle and shut down the federal Department of Education and leave it to local governments. We should support this not as a final outcome, but as a transitional step toward the moral, economic and educational ideal of a totally free market for education.
Young minds are important. For that reason alone, government should keep its grubby hands off the education of children.
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