This article was published in the booklet Vouchers: Shekels with Shackles by Christian Education Initiative under the revised title of School Choice: The Principle Approach®(1). I highly recommend reading the whole booklet on this important topic of ‘School Choice.’
I’ve written about “tricky words” and why words matter before and here we are once again. Parents, we already have school choice. We have the liberty to: 1. Send our children to a government school; 2. Send our children to a private school (secular or Christian); 3. Do government school at home; 4. Homeschool independently. That being said, this idea of “school choice with tax-payer dollars” is a trap. No one “needs” tax-funded dollars to offer/afford effective education via Private Christian schools or homeschools. Let’s reason this through and practice thinking governmentally about it.
Short Chains of Reasoning
The first time I heard of “short chains of reasoning” was from Gary North. He explained that most people are trained to think that way and it has to do with clever little slogans that people resonate with (this includes memes, by the way). Let me tell you, that’s what politicians are counting on when it comes to anything they want passed. But, long chains of reasoning are necessary so that we don’t easily fall for things. Plus, we need to reason from Biblical principles. God’s Father heart loves us so much that He didn’t leave us without a compass. His principles are our compass for life (and learning).
For today’s short chain of reasoning topic we have (drum roll, please): school choice.
Thinking According to Biblical Principles
My mentor Ben Gilmore taught me: “At the root of every issue is at least one principle.” Ben is wise and I can’t thank him enough for teaching me and others how to think and reason from truths and how to spot the lies. He could have done a million other things with his life, but instead he answered Holy God with “Yes! Send me!” to teach others.
Arguments About School Choice
We’ve probably heard them all. But mostly I hear arguments like the following:
Premise 1: “It’s okay to accept money from the government for private Christian schools or homeschools because the government already taxes us on education. It’s our money to begin with, we’re just getting it back.”
Premise 2: “I believe in rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s! Tax dollars for education are Caesar’s and we should be able to use them to do what we want for our child’s education.”
Premise 3: “The money is there so we should use it. And, we can do it with no fear. It’ll be different this time. We’ll just make sure that legislation says the government can’t interfere with homeschools.”
Premise 4: “We have to ‘rebuild’ before we can tear down. And, homeschools aren’t going to save America. Christian schools will. The money will help get children into Christian schools.”
Premise 5: “I don’t have a problem with being taxed for education. I feel like it’s a way to love my neighbor. And, I think an extension of that is by offering school choice with tax dollars attached to it.”
Premise 6: “Are you okay with roadways? Because the government taxes for those.” (Faulty Premise)
Getting to the Bottom Line About School Choice with Tax Funding
People can argue all day about why they favor accepting tax dollars for private Christian schools or homeschools. Let’s learn how to love our neighbors by reasoning from Scripture and remembering that God’s ways are not like man’s ways.
The Principles at the Roots of the Above Arguments
School Choice with Tax Dollars is Collectivism
The following addresses Premise 1.
Collectivism is counter to God’s Principle of Liberty: Individuality. Any time taxes are collected, that money is no longer yours or mine. Once it’s in the hands of the government, it belongs to the government. Whenever anyone accepts money from the government, they are beholden to the government because it aggrandizes the State.
Modern Day Caesar is Globalism
The following addresses Premise 2.
Caesar has nothing to do with America’s Biblical form of government. Rather, Caesar was a globalist of his time.
When talking about forms of government, it’s important to recognize that America’s form of government isn’t monarchical nor is it globalist. In addition, God never gave “education” for Caesar to possess.
Speaking of globalism, the question “Who or what is in control?” must be asked. Pay close attention to who/what is behind this idea of tax-funded school choice. Also, pay close attention to the logo at the link above. It doesn’t matter if this is handled at a federal or state level. The same ultimate who/what is behind it all (that’s not to say that all advocates for tax-funded school choice are aware of this).
Tax-Funded School Choice is Centralization
Centralization is counter to God’s Principle of Liberty: Local Authority.
The following addresses Premise 3.
Tax-funded school choice is nothing more than a way to centralize education. Over time it will rob private Christian schools and homeschools of their individuality. And by that I don’t mean their own “personalities”. To be clear, I mean that it’ll rob them of their ability to operate individually—free from having to meet the standards and regulations over education that the government decides. As such, in the end we’ll have no alternatives to the forced content that is taught in government schools. All local authority is removed from the parents, the church, and one’s county or city.
Using Tax Dollars for School Choice is Degradation of Character
Tax-funded school choice is counter to God’s Principle: Quality Character.
The following addresses Premise 4.
I was rather shocked when a pro-The Principle Approach® individual said that she thinks tax-funded school choice is a positive thing for Christian schools. In her thinking, Christian schools will “save the nation”, not homeschools (I think it’ll take both Christian schools and homeschools to restore our nation to her first principles).
To accept funding from the government “because the government is already taxing individuals and families” is pragmatism. And, to accept funding from the government “because more families will choose Christian schools” is pragmatism. It’s saying that the ends (money in your pocket) justifies the means (legislated theft). This line of thinking shows degradation of one’s character as it violates God’s principles.
God can do and still does amazing things! After all, isn’t He still involved in the lives of men and nations today? We don’t need to compromise principles for government funds. God’s economy functions differently.
Tax Dollars for Education is Socialism
The following addresses Premise 5.
Socialism is counter to God’s Principle: Private Property.
Many families choose to homeschool independently. That means they choose not to receive “government funding” for their homeschools via a charter school or other means. These families don’t get “their money” back when others choose to “use it anyway”. What’s happening is that these families’ hard-earned dollars are being stolen from them via legislative theft. And, their neighbor is okay with that because they want to use their neighbor’s hard-earned money for themselves.
There’s a big problem with that. God is sovereign and within His moral law is the commandment: “You shall not steal.” It’s not expected for non-believers to accept this (even though they don’t want to have their property stolen from them). But, it is expected of those claiming to be Christ-followers.
Funding government schools with tax dollars is an idea that’s disguised as an “angel of light”. To use the government to steal private property from one’s neighbor isn’t loving one’s neighbor. Instead, one may choose to privately fund their neighbor’s education directly. This would be voluntary.
Unfortunately, socialism among homeschoolers is popular. And unfortunately, it’s also common among many private Christian schools/colleges/universities that choose to receive tax funding.
Roadways Are Tax-Funded
The following addresses faulty Premise 6.
Yes, roadways are tax-funded and that’s because provision is made in our U.S. Constitution.
Some people may say that government education is necessary and that it falls under the General Welfare clause of our U.S. Constitution. However, that is incorrect. The U.S. Constitution lists what falls under the General Welfare clause and education is not listed there.
That being said, some may argue that state constitutions allow for education to be funded by the government. Even so, the same Biblical principles apply to the states and the same counter principles are a threat to the liberty of the individual at the state level. As with some other laws, just because they are law doesn’t mean they are moral and aligned with America’s Biblical form of government.
Whether funded via federal or state taxes, it is arguable (based on principles and morals) whether or not government education is necessary. But, that’s a discussion for another time.
The Bottom Line
It comes down to choosing who is sovereign over our individual lives. To whom will you submit your life and the way you live?
God understands mankind and government better than mankind itself does. Praise God for His principles and that He gives us the ability to reason from His Truths. Isaiah 55:8-9 teaches us:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(1)The Principle Approach® is a registered trademark of the Foundation for American Christian Education.