Thursday, August 24, 2006

Captain Fishsticks with shining eyes

There has been a lively discussion in comments to the post Harry Potter and the Pathetic Bag of Wind, some good, and some, well there are some others, too. Since this is Spot’s blog, he gets to reply with a whole post, not merely a comment. Don’t like it? Tough.

After disagreeing with Spot’s assessment of school vouchers as merely a subsidy to private school students, Mark concludes a comment with this:

But then again, I have no real affinity for vouchers either. Government has no business WHATSOEVER in schooling children.

Well, actually Mark, it does! In Minnesota, the people decided that a long time ago. The obligation of the state to educate children, and the raison d’être for it are summed up neatly in the Minnesota Constitution:

Article XIII, Section 1. Uniform system of public schools The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it is the duty of the legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public schools. The legislature shall make such provisions by taxation or otherwise as will secure a thorough and efficient system of public schools throughout the state.

As Walter Cronkite used to say, And that’s the way it is! Spot invites Mark and his friends to try to amend the Constitution if they feel so strongly about it. Or, of course, they can hold their weekly “the government is being mean to me” pity party. It’s just a useless stupid debate, both on the merits, and on the political reality.

The Legislature’s appetite for school vouchers is waning, as Rep. Buesgens and his buddy Captain Fishsticks found out this spring.

Oh, by the way, boys and girls, did you know that Minnesota used to have a voucher-like scheme for private, including sectarian, schools? Well, it did until the Legislature got spanked by the Minnesota Supreme Court in MCLU v. State (oh, vile MCLU!) in 1974. It was called a tax credit system, where private school tuition up to a certain amount could be credited against Minnesota income tax, and if the credit was bigger than the tax owed, the state would send you the difference. Vouchers without the actual coupon.

The Court said, in a unanimous opinion, what? Are you nuts? (That’s Spot’s paraphrase, anyway.) It’s a violation of the separation of church and state. The Court ruled on US constitutional grounds, but noted that Minnesota also had this constitutional provision:

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.

Spot has written many times that vouchers will remain merely a gleam in Captain Fishsticks’ eyes.

Update: cite for MCLU v. State:
302 Minn. 216, 224 N.W.2d 344 (1974)

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