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June 2024

10 Commandements laws are about education, not evangelization

In an op-ed for Kentucky Today, I defended Louisiana's new law mandating the display of the 10 Commandments in classrooms in K12 schools and public universities:

Making sure every student is aware of the Ten Commandments is not an attempt to indoctrinate them into a specific religious belief. As evangelism, such an effort would be clumsy and ineffective. The Ten Commandments law is, rather, about forming students with an accurate historical understanding of the American system of government and its patrimony...

Louisiana’s Ten Commandments law, like Kentucky’s before it, does not infringe on any student’s right to believe whatever they choose about any religion. But it does recognize that students need to know the history of their government, and the civilization from which it emerged, and the religious ideas that informed it.

Read the whole thing here.

Enemies of school choice need better slogans

In my latest op-ed for the Bowling Green Daily News, I took on the slogan being used by opponents of this year's school choice constitutional amenment that "public dollars are for public schools." This argument fails to convince on two fronts:

First, public dollars are already used in private colleges and universities. Pell grants, the GI Bill and government-subsidized student loans all follow beneficiaries to the college of their choice, including private, faith-based institutions. Even the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) program, which gives high school students money for college tuition based on their grades, can be used in private colleges. Many opponents of school choice have championed preschool programs that would empower Kentucky families with resources to choose from both public and private early childhood options.

Outside of education, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, the WIC program, Section 8 and Social Security are all programs that allow beneficiaries to choose from a wide variety of providers, almost all of which are private entities. It’s only in K-12 education that we systematically deny low- and middle-income families a choice in who educates their children.

As for the second problem with this slogan,

“public dollars for public schools” assumes education tax dollars automatically belong to public school districts and the state. Instead, school choice is based on the idea that, like the other programs just described, education is a highly personal public good. Education dollars are for helping children thrive intellectually. Families should be able to direct those resources to the provider that best fits their needs in the same way Medicare beneficiaries choose their own doctor and hospital.

Read the full argument here.