There are some issues that rise above the inadequate and increasingly archaic labels of left and right – life and education being two of them. We have looked to various political parties for support and, whilst sometimes receiving encouraging words from some of them when in opposition, have invariably been ignored or even insulted once those organizations achieve power.
When it comes to education, however, President Bush in the United States might just be doing something right. He seems to understand that it is incredibly unfair that the mothers and fathers of evangelical, Jewish and Moslem children have to pay twice for their kids’ education.
The answer, of course, is a voucher system, so that parents and teachers rather than school boards and politicians may decide how and where children are taught. In other words, the proportion of a person’s tax-bill that routinely goes towards education would now be given to that person in the form of a voucher and could be directed to any school of that person’s choosing.
There would be some direction from above, making sure that health and educational level requirements were satisfied, but otherwise the school would be left to itself to do its job. Get the state as far as possible out of the lives of families. In the United States this has been tried in some areas and has worked very well. Religious schools have been established that cut across class and race lines, raising young people with a much higher moral and intellectual attainment than in the public system.
After all, surely nobody seriously believes that the public system works properly anymore.
The voucher scheme is fair and it is practical. The teachers’ unions oppose such an approach because they fear a loss of power. Many education experts oppose it because they are invariably on the liberal left and support state power. Incompetent teachers oppose it because they know that parental choice reduces the ability of lazy or inefficient teachers to hide away somewhere.
Vouchers would enable us to scrap the Roman Catholic school system as we know it and see hundreds of authentically Catholic schools set up. Thus genuinely faithful Catholicism could be taught rather than the trendy, secular, anti-intellectual nonsense that currently dominates in so many Canadian schools that have the audacity and arrogance to call themselves Roman Catholic.
If parents wanted a watered down, liberal Catholic education for their kids they could choose to give their voucher to such a place. If it just so happens that very few parents opt for such a choice, so be it. As for the public system, there would still be such schools and parents can send their kids there.
Let’s not kid ourselves that the secular schools are neutral. State education in this country is secular and routinely atheistic. To assume that a refusal or failure to believe in God is moderate and the norm and that any other philosophy is extreme is just silly. In fact most Canadians still believe in a moral code based on The Ten Commandments and The Golden Rule, ideals taught in Christian rather than public schools. Lack of belief is just as much a religion as belief, and secular humanism is these days a far more aggressive creed than Christianity.
The Roman Catholic schools of Ontario, for example, have been largely raped by this dogma. I guarantee that any thorough survey of such schools would find a high number of teachers who are not practicing Catholics, lessons based on political rather religious precepts, contempt towards papal teaching and secular attitudes towards faith and morals.
Legion are the examples of orthodox teachers being marginalized, conservative priests being excluded and members of staff living together outside of marriage. Trusting Catholic parents send their children off to be indoctrinated in moral relativism and wooly thinking about their Church and then are surprised when junior drops out of the Church.
There are still, of course, many teachers in the Catholic system that are doing a fine job and are serious Roman Catholics. But they are invariably under siege. The public funding of Roman Catholic education largely destroyed Roman Catholic education. I say again, the giving hand of the state in fact slapped Catholic education into semi-consciousness.
The same would happen if government or bureaucracy got its hands on other religious schools, which is why a voucher system is the only guarantee of freedom of religion and freedom of money. After all, they’re our kids, and it’s our taxes. It’s not that difficult to understand, is it?
Coren has two new books out – All Things Considered (Fenn),a collection of his columns, and JRR Tolkien: The Man Who Created The Lord of the Rings (Stoddart).