fbpx

Jack Coons

school choice

Coons: More than money

Public school parents in Rhode Island have asked a federal court to declare that the state’s very spotty provision of instruction in civics and related humanities violates constitutional rights of its high school students. Their complaint has it that, especially in poor neighborhoods, children are taught shockingly little about our state and federal governments and the expected role of the citizen in jury service, voting, taxation and so forth. It seems that fewer than half our states even require the teaching of civics, and the Rhode Island suit would put that failure to the test of “equal protection” and...
demographics

Coons: A charter with God?

In Chicago, the teachers from a system of fifteen charter schools that serve 7,000 mostly Hispanic students have gone on strike. These schools are among the few charters in the country that are unionized. Well, good luck to them all, but it is only fair to remind these folks of the essentially private and voluntary nature of these schools, and the risk that this entails. In the private sector, parents freely choose. A strike by teachers, just as a strike by widget makers, puts their own employment at risk. Their company's product has competitors all hoping to see another one...
school choice

On school choice and the teaching of equality

Are we clear what we mean (or even could mean) when we fight for “human equality?” In what would a truly “equal” world consist? As a lawyer, I have more than once invoked the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment: “No state shall … deny to any person … the equal protection of the law.” But let us be clear: These words do not proclaim humanity’s universal equality. They assert only the right of every person under our national law to receive the same treatment that is accorded every other person in his specific situation. “All six-year-olds” are entitled to...
religion

Separated and secular

Three score years ago the U.S. Supreme Court forbade the teaching and symbols of religion in public schools. God is neither to be discussed, pictured nor even sung to at Christmas; maybe at graduations and football games students may express their thanks to God – up to a point. It is proper, of course, for the teachers to relate the truths of Darwin and his theory of natural selection. But, it is improper to invite the student mind to wonder about just how all that material reality came to be in the first place. Could matter create itself; could all...
education choice

Consider downside of denying choice

Assemblyman Snodgrass would appreciate your thoughtful response to questions about school choice she will face this year in the legislature. You may respond at length if you choose. Who is better able to decide upon the school that the individual child will attend? a. Whoever draws the boundary lines of the attendance zones that determine the specific public schools to which individual children are assigned according to family residence? b. That child’s parent? If you answered “a,” is this because, without having met the child, the government is a better decider of this issue? a. Yes. b. No. If “yes” to Question No. 2, should well-off...

“Public education” is anything but public

In much of American society, children attend a school that has been chosen by their parents. Mom and Dad have picked out a home in the attendance area of a certain school that is owned and run by the government. At the very least, when they moved they knew its reputation. Whether or not the school was a major consideration, they accepted it as a substantial part of the culture that would count greatly in shaping their child’s worldview. That school of theirs will be called “public.” My Webster’s defines this word in various ways, but most prominent among these...

A school choice classic, revisited

The humble interim editor of this worthy school choice blog, one Ronald Matus, recalls to me the 40th anniversary of a certain book, “Education by Choice: The Case for Family Control” (University of California Press, 1978), hereafter EBC. I am to call up its conception, its ideological focus, its faults and future. To begin, my Berkeley colleague and collaborator, Stephen Dwight Sugarman, and I had already co-authored two books on school finance, the first with William Clune, long a professor at Wisconsin, and, like Steve, my student at Northwestern in the ‘60s. “Private Wealth and Public Education” (Harvard, 1970) was...

Child, Seek the Good!

“… the modern world is organized in relation to the most obvious and urgent of all questions, not so much to answer it wrongly as to prevent it being answered at all.”  – G.K. Chesterton It would have come as no surprise to GKC that the “most obvious and urgent” of human issues - our eternal destiny – is undiscussable in the classrooms of the American public school. For any child’s insistent inquiry about God or no God – heaven and all that – the scripted reply must be “ask your mother.” Thus, it is that – for seven hours a...