I often find myself in situations where I’m the lone advocate for a particular ideal. At Republican functions, I’m usually the only Democrat. If I’m at a gathering of Democrats, I’m often the only one who will speak in favor of education reform.
When I attend education events with like-minded Democrats, I advocate for vouchers and, later that evening, buy my own drinks at happy hour.So it should surprise no one that I attended a summit, hosted by the American Center for School Choice, where the audience consisted of faith-based education leaders from all over the country.
I am not religious. In fact, I have been known to reject the whole idea of organized spirituality and have, on more than one occasion, championed doubt and reason instead. I’ve even quoted Bill Maher who once denounced faith because it “makes a virtue out of not thinking.”
Yet there I was, amidst faith-based leaders, discussing the excellent work they do with children and schools. At several points in the discussion we lamented that, in some areas, this work is being threatened. Whether due to the growing numbers of charter schools or rising tuition rates, enrollment in religious schools is down and some schools are even being forced to close.
This is tragic for many neighborhoods where there is no secular solution to take its place.
No wonder then that many leaders are eager to see tax-credit scholarship and voucher programs come to their neck of the woods. When discussion centered on ways to garner public support for such programs, I eagerly listened to their ideas.
But the ensuing discussion was disappointing. They wanted to focus on statistics, parent empowerment and the importance of teaching God-given morals and values in a setting that isn’t allowed in secular or public schools.
While persuasive to many in the room, those arguments simply won’t work with much of the larger public. So I took a deep breath and raised my hand. Continue Reading →