The Tax Cut Families Need: Credits for Private Schooling

By John Zmirak Published on December 1, 2017

It’s unclear as of this writing what, if anything, will come of the GOP tax bill. A key split has emerged among Republican senators. There are two key factions:

  • Small government, pro-business fans of the lowest corporate tax rate they can pass.
  • Social conservatives who want to use tax policy to foster good decisions by taxpayers. For instance, having children.

Marco Rubio caught flack from the Wall Street Journal for championing a modest increase to the per-child tax credit. Rubio is right. A slightly smaller cut in the corporate tax rate is a small price to pay for rewarding families who raise the next generation of workers and customers.

The tax credit offered by Rubio would have only a modest effect on encouraging parenthood. But it would be at least a symbolic gesture toward a crucial truth: Parents do crucial work that benefits all of society. But they mostly bear the costs themselves. And ever fewer people are choosing to have enough children. America’s birth rate isn’t bottoming out like most Western European countries, but it’s flat and that isn’t good. 

In our Catholic schools, teachers didn’t need to use corporal punishment. They just threatened us with expulsion into PS 666. We saw that as capital punishment.

I have a reform that would do much more to support hard-working couples who’d like to have one more child, but are not sure they can afford it: Tuition tax credits for non-public schools.

Alternatives to P.S. 666

Where I grew up in New York City, parochial schools were affordable. So there was just one kind of kid who went to public school: Those whose parents didn’t really care about them. The schools were not just godless, mediocre and radicalized. They were positively dangerous. We blue collar kids would hurry past them with a shudder. We thanked our parents and God that we didn’t serve as practice stabbing dummies for the thuglets who were too young for juvie or Riker’s Island.

In our Catholic schools, teachers didn’t need to use corporal punishment. They just threatened us with expulsion into PS 666. We saw that as capital punishment. Our schools weren’t lily white by any means. We had plenty of kids of various races, and immigrants. We all got along just fine. What we didn’t have were future felons. Such kids got quickly kicked out. They went on to thrive in the pre-crime internship opportunities offered at Stokely Carmichael Junior High.

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The Poison Spreads, from California of Course

I learned after moving to Texas that in other parts of the country, public schools have been more usable, at least until recently. That’s changing, however, as dumbed down standards imposed by educationist ideologues homogenize school curricula in a national race to the bottom. Textbooks approved for radical California get picked up by other states. That goads the next generation ever further to the left. Anti-American curricula discourage immigrant kids from assimilating. Radicalized teachers unions and LGBT pressure groups collude to promote the latest radical fads across the country. That’s why the shiny new elementary school in conservative Highland Park, Texas will have “gender-neutral” bathrooms.

Does it make sense to have any children if you must send them to a public school?

Add to all that the suffocating secularism, explicit sex education, transgender madness and abortion advocacy. You’re not shaping their souls for heaven. Nor even for clear thinking, patriotism, or success. They’ll emerge with beliefs so alien to yours that you’ll hardly recognize them.

Credits, Not Vouchers

Some propose school vouchers as the answer. I don’t agree. As I wrote last year:

By accepting vouchers, religious schools would become the equivalent of federal contractors. We saw the Obama administration impose the LGBT agenda on such contractors who provide aid to refugees — with no need to consult Congress. Obama’s HHS used Obamacare’s mandate to try to force the Little Sisters of the Poor, and privately held companies like Hobby Lobby, to pay for abortion pills. We saw the State of California come within a hair’s breadth of using Title IX funds to force religious colleges to abandon their morals policies, or face financial ruin. Why would we think that the same fate wouldn’t face schools that accepted vouchers?

The next time the Democrats win the White House, imagine the likes of Elizabeth Warren drawing up the list of policies that schools getting vouchers must follow. Do we really want the school nurse at Calvary Baptist or Sacred Heart junior high dispensing puberty-blockers?  

No, refundable tax credits are a much better answer. They’d help parents pay for private, religious, or home school programs. But they wouldn’t nationalize and federalize religious schools. We should fund those credits by deducting the money, dollar for dollar, from federal education aid to public schools. The goal, in the long run, should be twofold:

  1. To increase the birthrate. Then we don’t have to outsource the “grunt work” of sexual reproduction to poorer foreign countries.
  2. To gradually privatize all education in America. Let educational entrepreneurs, churches, and parents do it.

Public Schools: The Soup Kitchens of Education

We don’t need secular government schools in every neighborhood in America to educate our kids any more than we need shoddy government cafeterias to feed them bowls of gruel.

Public schools weren’t such a menace once. Decades back, they were de facto Protestant, transmitting a basic Anglo-American culture. They knit the country together. They encouraged patriotism, assimilation and prayer. Now they do none of those things. They’re the educational equivalent of filthy VA hospitals or abandoned fallout shelters. It’s time to start phasing them out. Nor do we need grabby, greedy, lefty teachers’ unions taking over local governments, as they did New York City, foisting the bumbling Sandinista veteran Bill de Blasio on my long-suffering hometown.

That’s my modest proposal. I hope Sen. Rubio gets working on it.

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