Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Publicly-financed Education

If a single-payer health care system is such a good idea, why isn't a single-payer education system?

Taxes, religion and education -- this politically charged trifecta divided the Supreme Court on Wednesday in a case involving a state school choice program.

At issue is a lawsuit challenging Arizona's tax breaks for voluntary donations benefiting private school scholarships. The 13-year-old program provides dollar-for-dollar income tax breaks for money given to "school tuition organizations," or STOs.

Some Arizona taxpayers challenged the program as unconstitutional because, they say, not-for-profit religious organizations award most of the scholarships, and require children to enroll in religious schools. Those opponents say the state has effectively been funneling taxpayer money to religious schools through a third-party "front" group.

The justices appeared torn over whether that represented a de facto "endorsement" of religion by Arizona.

6 comments:

MiaZagora said...

I'm all for separation of school and state.

The Vegas Art Guy said...

Which religion specifically is getting endorsed? Christianity? The Jewish faith? Islam? Seriously

Fiftyville said...

I wonder if those folks would object if there was a school run by Wiccans?

allen (in Michigan) said...

The reason a "single-payer" education system wasn't a good idea was the need to bring the wealthy into the public education system which they would have vigorously resisted if they couldn't use their wealth to the advantage of their children. Hence the district system which has no obvious utility beyond the maintenance of class barriers. No districts? No differences in funding and rich people fighting tooth and nail to stay outside the system.

Mrs. C said...

Aren't there tax deductions for religious giving as well? Yet I don't see too many people saying that the government is simultaneously "endorsing" bunches of different religions.

As long as the rules for all charities are evenly applied, I don't have a problem with it. Know what I have a problem with? Our CITY holiday charity requiring that recipients have all school-age children enrolled in PUBLIC schools. That's just plain old wrong.

Bill said...

@Mrs C.
The issue is that it's not a deduction (taken off at the marginal tax rate), but a tax rebate in the total amount donated. You can write off donations to charities, but you can't decide to redistribute the tax revenue as you choose.