Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Beautiful Dreamer . . .

Captain Fishsticks that is. Spot’s readers can determine for themselves whether the beautiful part is true, but the dreamer part surely is. Sticks posted a long, perhaps cathartic, but ultimately fruitless comment to Spot’s post School Vouchers Redux. There was a troubled wind from the east this morning; Spot should have seen the comment coming. What do they say Sticks, Red sky in the morning, right?

Sticks hauls out the hoary - and to Sticks religious - tract, the Northwest Ordinance, which of course governed the Territory out of which Minnesota was carved before it was a State. According to Sticks, the Northwest Ordinance is a document of epic and titanic proportion, able to sweep away mere state constitutions without breaking a sweat. The Northwest Ordinance can spread its magic fairy dust and make Article XIII, Section 2 of the Minnesota Constitution go away.

Spotty says that Sticks has been spending entirely too much time with Lee McGrath. Spot also suggests to Sticks that he read cases like Economy Light & Power Co. v. United States, and Hawkins v. Bleakly, and many other Supreme Court cases like them that make it clear that the Northwest Ordinance, while not quite as dead as the parrot in the Monty Python sketch, is still pretty dead, especially when it comes up against a provision in a state constitution that speaks clearly and unambiguously on a subject.

At the substantial risk of being repetitive and tedious to Spot’s readers, he will quote once again Article XIII, Section 2:
PROHIBITION AS TO AIDING SECTARIAN SCHOOL. In no case shall any public money or property be appropriated or used for the support of schools wherein the distinctive doctrines, creeds or tenets of any particular Christian or other religious sect are promulgated or taught. [the italics are Spot’s]

Spot wrote about this at some length in Affirmative Action (for Catholics). Before you get to spread magic fairy dust, Sticks, you have to conclude that the language is somehow ambiguous, and this language certainly is not. Sorry, the entrails of owls and those of the drafters of the Northwest Ordinance will have to go unread.

Sticks also opines that the thinking of the Florida Supreme Court on language virtually identical to Minnesota’s (referring now to the subject of Spot’s most recent post on vouchers, Article XIII, Section 1) is somehow inapposite. Sticks says we should look to Ontario which has parallel systems of public and Catholic schools, both of which receive provincial funding.

Imagine Spot’s flat out astonishment that über patriot Sticks would refer with approval to anything done by foreigners. Heaven forfend! Florida’s our homie, Sticks, not Ontario. Did you know they have an official government sponsored religion in Ontario? Yup. It’s headed by the Queen of England. Canada also has a Governor General, the representative of the British Crown and at least the nominal head of state. Just your kind of precedent Sticks.

Sticks wraps up with this valediction:
This view is consistent with my contention that “public education” consists of education in the public interest and includes government run schools, private schools, religious schools, cyber schools, home schools and forms of education not yet created. Market forces, parent desires, will coalesce the seeming chaos of diversity into those types of education that enable children to become educated, discerning, productive citizens in the way a single system cannot -- whatever that system.

Come on Sticks. You don’t believe in the public interest. You’re a social Darwinist hunter gatherer. Sometimes “seeming chaos” is just well, chaos, and that’s what you want to create. And Spotty says that “market forces” are really poor at delivering public goods. So, you just go off and live in your little hut all by yourself if that’s what you want, but we’ll still tax you for public schools.


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