About Author

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Nicole Stacy is a cradle Catholic with the uncommon distinction of having been both a conservative activist and a professional classical musician. Her adventures have taken her from West Virginia to Connecticut to Washington D.C., where she now resides. Her Myers-Briggs type is INTP, and her blood type is espresso. Follow Nicole on Twitter @Nicole_in_DC.

21 Comments

  1. This doesn’t make sense. First, who exactly supports mandatory attendance at public schools? Last time I checked, private schools have existed in all 50 states for a very long time. Who has attempted to shut them down? Can you cite any historical example?
    Second, if it is true that because the KKK supported mandatory public schooling because of bigoted reasons, therefore anyone who opposes so-called “school choice” is also a bigot, then it must be true that people who support keeping Confederate statues up are bigoted, since the KKK supports those same statues for bigoted reasons. Yet, you all wrote the exact opposite in this article: https://catholicvote.org/why-should-we-care-about-confederate-statues/
    Please note, I’m not making the claim that people who take various sides in the statue debate are bigots. I’m simply pointing out that your claims of guilt by association should be applied equally.
    Finally, it is pretty telling that you can write an entire article about “school choice” without writing a single word about school funding. Pretty much reveals the ideological blinders you choose to wear.
    Many of those who are concerned about the school choice movement, myself included, are concerned about the financial degradation of public schools, in particular in urban areas, due to shifting financial resources to charter and private schools. You see, charters and privates don’t compete on the same level as public schools. While public schools have defined geographic boundaries, meaning they have a finite number of students, charters and privates can recruit from anywhere. As a result, when students – and their funding – leave a public school for a charter or private school, their funding goes with them. Unfortunately, that simply means that the reduced funding still has to shoulder 100% of the burden of funding – somehow. If you had 30 kids, and now there are 20, you still need 1 teacher. You can’t have 2/3 of a teacher, or 2/3 of walls, floors, air conditioning, heating, physical plant, gymnasiums, playgrounds, counselors, psychologists, computer labs, libraries, etc. You still have to fund those things. We’ve seen how this plays out – public schools are forced to cut things left and right to preserve the bare essentials. Charters and privates don’t have this pressure. They can recruit to attain financial stability.
    If you truly want “school choice,” and it seems you do, then it seems you should recognize that some people’s choice might be to send their kid to a public school. There are very legitimate reasons why: charter schools might be far away; parents might fear sending their kid on public transportation or across gang lines; research has proven that parents are more likely to be involved in their child’s education in a school close to home. If you support a parent’s choice to send their kid to a public school, where is your voice regarding the equality of funding of all schools?
    It’s telling that you choose to level personal attacks against people (that frankly make no sense) rather than addressing the core issues of the argument.

    • I should note, I don’t dispute the history of the KKK supporting mandatory public schools, but you seem to be claiming that people on the “left” have also supported such things. I can’t think of an actual historical example of this. Sorry for my lack of clarity above.

      • I think the article seems a bit tortuous/byzantine, but I do believe that there is an animus in certain left-leaning circles RE: parochial schools.

        “Not like real life”, “selective” etc. I hear that all the time.

        I don’t think it’s become a cause celebre of the left or anything, but I believe that such a animus exists.

        FWIW

      • Can you clarify this statement?

        ” If you support a parent’s choice to send their kid to a public school, where is your voice regarding the equality of funding of all schools?”

        Are you speaking of allocation of existing tax monies, or?

        I think school districts allocate that money, do they not?

        • Parents must pay the full cost of Catholic school for their children. They still have to pay Real Estate Tax to support public schools. They do not get a tax break.
          I have lived in various States. The Catholic schools have always been academically superior. Plus, the children learn self- responsibility, and respect and charity.

          My grandson has a speech impediment. My daughter was told, since she oaid tax, she was eligible for tge free speech therapy public schools offer.
          At their interview, the speech teacher informed then that they were ineligible because my grandson is a straight A student. She said, he obviously doesn’t have a handicap.
          That is the thinkung of liberal schools

          The KKK consisted of Democrats. Therefore it is considered a Leftie organization.

    • “As a result, when students – and their funding – leave a public school for a charter or private school, their funding goes with them.”

      How so?

      A private school parent is still taxed for public schools, yes? Given this, it seems to me that the per capita available per student (very incrementally, of course) would increase with fewer students.

      • Ryan Schroeder on

        While I cannot speak for the specific views of the author (I already noted, she doesn’t really tell us any herself), the result of the school choice movement in many cities has been a per-pupil funding model. This is a model that DeVos supports as well, who is referenced in this article. In this model, schools receive X funding per student. Due to the unlevel playing field between public schools and charters/privates, charters and privates have a much greater ability to get the number of students they need for financial sustainability (they don’t have geographic boundaries).
        In per-pupil funding districts, when a student leaves a public school to enroll in a charter school, their X share of funding goes with them.

        • I don’t know enough about charter schools to say, but I think it is known that the per pupil expenditures with private schools is much less than their public school counterparts on average.

          Understood that private schools don’t bus, many times don’t have food service, etc., but it’s all money that adds up to per pupil expenditure.

          I guess I don’t understand how your arrive at the idea of public schools being funded predicated on number of students. They’re funded by property tax levies and that money is allocated by the school districts.

          So, when the student leaves the public school, they don’t leave with any money, literally or figuratively. They aren’t the source of funds.

        • If you mean that charter schools would divert some of the collected tax funding that the public school had received previously, then yes, since the voucher money would come from that pool of money.

          • Charter schools are part of the public school system. They are not private schools. A charter school in a particular district is funded in the same way and from the same sources as any other public school. Attendance for charter schools is restricted by district and county lines just like any other public school. If a parent wishes to send their child to a school outside of their district, under current regulations, that parent has to pay the equivalent of the per child expenditure – in my state around 8k per child – and still has to pay the full amount of property and municipal taxes in the district in which he or she resides.

        • Ryan-

          I don’t know if you di or did not go to private school or whatever, but I did.

          My high school was a Jesuit school that billed itself as a college preparatory school. By name, in fact.

          Had the school not habitually not delivered on it’s stated promise, people would not pay the tuition to attend and the place would close. It would be an untenable value proposition for prospective students and their parents.

          I understand that many public schools are facing funding shortfalls and have had to make cuts in various things they want to do. I also know that many times they do not achieve good results for their pupils and are not held accountable for this-instead, they ask for more money, which is either granted via an increased tax levy or bond issue or not.

          At this point, given the test scores, proficiency rates, etc. in my own city with the pubic schools, I think it may be time to try something different. i.e charter schools, etc.

          • Ryan Schroeder on

            I’m not opposed to trying something different. There are great and bad charter schools, great and bad religious schools, great and bad public schools. It would be really quite insulting for me from my catbird’s seat to tell someone else they should send their kid to a poorly performing school.
            The point is how the voucher system unfairly decimates public schools. For all the talk of “choice” and “competition” and “trying something new,” none of those are accomplished unless all schools are on an equal footing. Per-pupil funding via vouchers does not put public schools on equal footing. If we want a free market and equal competition, let’s set it up that way. That would be a starting point.
            As I already wrote, it is very telling that the author does not acknowledge that some parents’ choice may be to send their child to a public school. We seem to lose that in this debate.
            The other point the author fails to address is that there is a finite number of seats across all schools in a district. By definition, someone’s child is going to have to go to the public schools.
            Replacing all public schools with charters is not a panacea – see New Orleans. They have already done this, and it turns out that the problems associated with poverty have somehow transferred right over to the charters.

          • I guess that if the NOLA thing with the charters didn’t work, I must assume the poverty issues you note would be on part of the students vs. the schools’ impoverishment..

            Given this, doesn’t that kind of take the money spent per pupil thing out of the question to dome degree?

            Does the author really need to tell us that school choice could involve the public schools? I guess I inferred as most would-that public schools are the default choice now. You already pay for them, you attend them or you attend elsewhere of you choose to do so.

    • A couple things:

      1) This was not intended to be the last, best, or most comprehensive word on the subject, but I do think I provided enough information to start one down the road of examining how public schools came to utterly dominate American education with more than 90% of schoolchildren enrolled. I included examples of the kind of sneering condescension with which religious schools are all too frequently, though of course not universally treated — which I suspect for at least some people is a reactionary tendency they inherited from generations before them and may not have seriously questioned, not unlike racist attitudes (which is the serious part of an otherwise highly sarcastic suggestion). I never said everyone — you did.

      2) My name is not “you all.” Other authors are entitled to their own opinions and whether CV wants to run them is a matter of editorial discretion.

      3) It’s not my place to tell parents what you do, but as a rule I care a whole lot less about the financial degradation of any school than the spiritual and intellectual degradation of young souls entrusted to its care. Last year the Newseum Institute found that nearly 40% of American adults can’t name one First Amendment guaranteed freedom. The year before that, Pew found the same proportion of young adults think the government should censor “statements that are offensive to minority groups.” That would be bad enough if they weren’t also being taught utter nonsense about gender, being taken off for secret abortions on school time, and told to shut up about God (I know you can’t see what parts got left on the cutting room floor, so no worries about that).

      3a) If you read the link I provided: “The Society answered with a message that resonates with today’s rhetoric. It argued that by funding Catholic schools, money would be dissipated”…hmm.

      4) It’s a very common argument of the modern left that an unfunded right is a useless right (“access”).

      Again, I’m not expecting the Pulitzer, but I would hope we could spend more time addressing arguments I made as opposed to ones you made and attributed to me or ones that merely happened to appear elsewhere on the same website. Thank you,

      NS

    • Charter schools are not private schools. Charter schools are part of the public school system and are bound by district and county lines like any other school. Charter schools tend to focus on a particular aspect of education – the Arts, Language Immersion, Science and Technology, Classical Education, to name a few. While they are more specialized either in curriculum or pedagogy than traditional “cafeteria” style public schools, they are still public schools run and funded by the government rather than a private entity. Some charter schools have academic entry requirements, some do not. Many districts are opening charter schools in high crime/low income areas to give those students who are academically serious to freely pursue a more rigorous or specialized education in a safer environment. Many often have a more strictly enforced and enforceable code of conduct in which parents and students agree to abide by the rules, maintain a certain level of involvement, and maintain a standard of work in order to continue in the school. Those who are not willing to do the work or follow the rules can return to the more traditional public school which often has to tolerate poor students, dangerous behavior, etc. because they cannot deny any child an education and there is no alternative place to send disruptive, dangerous, or unmotivated students. Some people complain that this type of meritocratic system is somehow negatively discriminatory. In some states and districts, parents may pay a fee to send their children to schools – public charter and public traditional schools – for a fee often reflecting the per-student cost of that district. Some charters, like the short -lived one that opened in our district – do not succeed. This school did not provide anything much more different than the traditional public school, and so parents returned their children after a year or two to the traditional school. Some charter schools are wildly successful and have waiting lists because they are filling a need in the community, like the arts school in the neighboring district. No public traditional schools closed or had funding cut because a charter school opened in the district. Again, charter schools are part of the public school system, not privately funded or governed.

      Private schools are funded by private individuals or corporations. In some states they may not be accredited by the state. This is the case in the state in which I live. There is no type of government assistance, tax relief, write offs, etc. for parents wishing to send their children to a private school or otherwise alternatively educate their children. You may be surprised to find out that many people in private education or who educate their children alternatively do not WANT to be forced to accept government vouchers because they fear it will open the door to government interference in policies, procedures, and curricula effectively making all schools government schools. Just like property owners with no children, families who choose not to use public education as a tool in their children’s education continue to pay the same taxes as families who do have children in the system. I think for many that is a price they are willing to pay in order to maintain the freedom to educate their children as they see fit.

      If funding truly went with the children, then failing schools would either have to improve or succumb to failure. Under the current system, a failing school can be the death knell for an entire neighborhood as new families will not consider buying a home (or even renting for that matter) if they will have to send their children to a failing school, and anyone who can sell up and get out will do so. Those who remain tend to be the most burdened by poverty and all that generally goes along with it. Those who are new arrivals tend to be those who have no other options – being afflicted with poverty as well – and come to these neighborhoods with little ability to contribute to improving them.

      Successful public schools have high levels of parental and family involvement. If a significant number of families are not involved in the success of the local school, it simply won’t be a good school. Property owners tend to work to improve their communities. Parents whose priority it is to ensure their child’s education who are bound to their neighborhood by financial or other concerns, will find their way around the obstacles you have presented if given the opportunity. Those who do not will be content to send their children to wherever is most convenient. Regardless of how much money the government pours into a failing school, it will fail if the community at large does not do the work required to make it a success. It will take more than a small percentage of families to aid a failing school, but in poverty stricken areas, a small percentage of involved families are all that are there. The government cannot make parents care, but it can stop penalizing those who DO care and are drowning in failing systems by forcing them to try and keep afloat in a sea of apathy that many districts have become. Government funded education ought to be equally accessible and of equal quality for all. No citizen should be forced to send their child to a substandard school because of district lines. To do so is blatant classicism. Those who can afford to live in “good” districts do so. This flows over into entire communities as property values plummet, people who already live in these areas are more tightly bound because they cannot sell, and new families do not come into the area. Removing district lines does more than make education more accessible to all, it allows for entire failing communities to have a chance to grow. Many families would be eager to buy property in less affluent areas if the school district were not the deciding factor – which it nearly always is for families who plan to send their children to public school – in which neighborhood to buy in. I spent some years in residential real estate and would watch the cycle of failing school/falling property values in an endless downward spiral until some neighborhoods became “unsellable”.

      Allowing for residents of failing districts to have other options as to where to send their children to school allows for these communities to attract new residents, breathing new life into them. As the community rebounds, the residents will naturally want to build up their local school along with the community. As time passes, residents will prefer to send their children to the improving local school rather than the more distant school. This will never happen if people simply will not buy homes there in the first place. District lines can be as impassible as moats and drawbridges of a medieval fortress, keeping lower income families trapped, and discouraging higher income families from moving beyond their borders. Forcing children to attend schools only in their district makes about as much sense and is about as successful as forced busing.

      When talking about school choice, people often forget that the school system is supposed to serve the student, the student’s purpose is not to bolster up a failing school by being a widget in a desk that has a dollar sign attached to him.

  2. Ryan Schroeder on

    Ram – clearly, people who are using vouchers aren’t paying for public schools. Their money is going elsewhere. Again, that’s the point.
    I’m assuming the author supports vouchers, otherwise, what is the point of this article besides to disparage people who disagree with her? Although in the end, it seems that the point of the article, like many here, is simply to disparage.

    • Sure they’re paying for pubic schools, Ryan.

      Those families aren’t exempted from paying property taxes or whatever tax mechanism their state uses to fund the public schools. Again, that’s how public schools are funded. The charter student receives, I guess, a portion of that pooled money in the form of a voucher to enroll at a charter or private school, but they pay into the pool.

      The author used Feinstein’s unfortunate episode and parlayed into historical minutiae to make a pojnt about the public school system-that she herself matriculated from. Yes, she seems to support vouchers.

  3. To the author of this piece:

    “Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it.” — Barney Frank

    “What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.” — Billy Madison

    Ryan and Ram, kudos for turning this heaping pile of garbage into what appears to be a thoughtful, substantive debate on the issues. Someone has to represent the adults here.

      • LOL, same could be said about many of the writers on here!

        Actually, Stephen, it may surprise you to hear this, but although I think most CV articles are just dressed up versions of the latest GOP outrage de jour (“turd-polishing,” if you will excuse the language), cloaked in a veneer of Catholicism, you’ve stood out as one of the better writers on here. You’ve written some pieces that I’ve actually enjoyed, because they were well-written, substantive, and thoughtful, even when I disagreed. That’s more than can be said for most of what gets posted on here, unfortunately.

        What’s funny is that if you were to go back and read one of my past comments on an earlier thread, you’d see that I actually said they should give you more space to write on here.

        See, I can be nice 🙂

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