©2018 Kari Carlisle
When we’re not being divisive over politics, we’re talking about how divisive we are over politics. Tiresome, isn’t it? So, when I attended an academic symposium last week, I wasn’t sure it wouldn’t turn into a political rally. It did. But I stayed. I stayed because I was interested in learning what people’s perspectives were, and I learned a lot about an issue that I didn’t know much about… K-12 Education.
Arizona passed a law allowing tax dollars to be taken from public schools and given to parents as vouchers to use for private schools. I’ve seen firsthand the damage being done to public schools on Indian reservations and just didn’t know what the cause was. While I like the idea of freedom of choice for families, I can see that most families, especially in rural areas, have no choice. There are not a lot of private schools on the reservations that make up a good chunk of Arizona. Nor am I super keen on my tax dollars being handed over to affluent families who have the resources to pay for private schools without vouchers.
A grassroots movement of parents and teachers is underway to undo the voucher law, yet there’s an initiative is on the ballot in the current election to actually expand the law. The initiative is significantly up in the polls and seems likely to succeed. According to the speakers at the symposium, Arizona is not alone. This is a nationwide effort by billionaires making a lot of money from the private school system to eliminate public schools by defunding them and then denigrating them as ineffective. Me loves me a good conspiracy theory, and this one rings true.
Why, if the law is so clearly damaging to public schools and their students, is the initiative succeeding? One reason, I believe, is the billionaire backing to fight it with cleverly-worded ad campaigns that twist the issue around. People who vote based on slogans will vote for the initiative because it sounds like they are voting for “empowerment” and “choice” and “freedom.” The other reason is that the issue has been clearly cut on party lines. People who vote based on their political party’s stance without giving it another thought are idiots. Sorry, but if you have a brain and don’t use it, you’re an idiot. Don’t let others make your decisions for you.
While I’m far from understanding all the nuances of the current law and the upcoming ballot initiative and their impacts on children, from what I do understand, the voucher system as it currently works does seem to be a bad way to go about providing families with freedom of educational choice. Like I said, I’m all for freedom of choice, but our freedom should not be at the sacrifice of innocent others.
As you head to the polls, please, I’m begging you, take the time to research candidates, understand the issues, and consider how your vote will affect people, our freedom, the environment, the economy, and everything that matters to you. It’s just plain lazy to vote on party lines, on slogans, on gender, on looks, on how you like a candidate’s name or not (there’s a candidate with last name Schmuck, and I wonder how that will affect voter decisions).
We’re not voting for prom king and queen. We’re voting for our future. Do it right.