Wednesday, January 04, 2006

If you have been following this blog, you know that I was a former public school teacher and a former public school board member.  If you read the news, you know that a Pennsylvania school district had voted to teach “intelligent design” in their science classes.  This issue was taken to court and, meanwhile, the supporters of “intelligent design” were voted out of office according to the media.

What I want to discuss tonight are some possible unintended consequences of this issue of the supposed “separation of church and state.”  (I have said many times that that phrase is not in the Constitution and that concept was never intended by the original writers and supporters of the First Amendment.)  Perhaps they are actually intended but I certainly hope not because I have no doubt they will be harmful to public education in the long run.

One consequence of this continuing attack on GOD in the public schools is a shift toward some state governments indirectly financing private education.  A prime example has occurred in the State of Arizona where I lived for a number of years.  In the 1990’s the state legislature passed a law which has been upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court allowing a one for one dollar tax credit to pay for the education (cover the cost of tuition) of private school students.  For a married couple, the credit is a maximum of $625 each year and may be used every year.  Donate $625 to an approved organization and you save $625 in Arizona income tax payments.

I don’t believe the legislature intended this; however, this is a case where tax payers can actually make more money than they donate.  By state law, the money can not be donated directly to a specific private school.  It must be donated to a specifically established non profit organization set up to funnel the donated money to at least two different private schools.  However, because the organization must be a non profit organization, by federal law a tax payer may deduct that donation as a charity contribution if they itemize their tax return.  

Let’s say a tax paying couple donates $625 to a legal organization.  They can take a $625 credit on their Arizona tax return.  If they itemize, they can also take a $625 charitable contribution on their federal tax return for the same money.  If they are in the 27% tax bracket, that $625 will save them about $169 in federal tax.  The result, they “earn” $169 with that $625 contribution and they get the $625 back.  I encourage my clients to make the donation.  They pay $169 less to the federal government, give $625 to a private school to help students pay their tuition, and the state has $625 less in tax revenue.  They make money, the state loses money having less to give to public schools, and private schools have more operating capital.

Since this provision of the tax code was enacted, I have observed more of my clients’ children attending private schools.  It costs less money to attend; the private schools are getting more money, and parents are leaving public educational systems that ignore the importance of GOD in their children’s lives.

Another consequence of children of Christians leaving the public school system is this.  The discipline problems in the school system tend to increase on a percentage basis.  In general, the children of Christians are less of a discipline problem than the children of non Christian parents.  I’m sure the libertines will dispute this and they have a right to.  However, public opinion surveys, which they love to quote, support this statement and my own observations as a public school teacher support this position.  If it is true, the results are less learning because disruptive behavior lessens the learning environment and the cost of education increases as more money is spent on discipline.  A double problem of increased costs and less learning when GOD is removed from the education process.

Finally, consider this.  If you are financing your children’s education in a private school, how would you vote on a public bond referendum to increase your taxes to finance public education?  The answer for many people may be to vote no.  Many people do not want to have to pay for a private education for their own children and then turn away and increase their own taxes to support a public school system that has removed GOD from the schools.  If you were a Christian with limited financial resources and children in private schools would you vote yes to increase taxes?  If you were a Christian with no children in schools would you vote to increase your taxes so that a school system that ignores GOD could continue to do so using your money?  

Remove GOD from the school system; harm public schools!      


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