By John Andrews Bob Ewegen of the Denver Post, that paper's designated hitter to read me out of the human race in order to pass Referendum C & D, had a breathless expose last Saturday, "revealing" that I favor ending government involvement in education. Those quote marks signify that this story is ancient news, having been fully aired my first year in the Senate, 1999. But it's quite true: I had signed, several years previously, and I remain to this day a signer of, the Proclamation for the Separation of School and State. Here's why...
I believe, quite simply, that an education system designed, operated, and funded by government does more harm than good for the pursuit of truth, the protection of liberty, the diffusion of genuine learning, and the formation of character and civic virtue. Some good is done, yes, but in cold reality the harm is more.
For this reason I favor replacing government schools -- all of them, in due time -- with an education system run and paid for by families, entrepreneurs, and citizens voluntarily.
I recognize this could not be done overnight, indeed it would take decades to accomplish if it could be done at all. Perhaps the conditioning of most Americans by attendance at government schools down the years, 1840 to the present, has swum our whole society into a one-way fish trap from which there is no exit short of societal ruin. But perhaps, again, the broad national (and global) trend away from coercion and centralism to liberty and choice will gradually help us swim back out into open intellectual waters.
Note this, however. For purposes of the present debate in Colorado -- should voters say yes to a $6 billion package of higher taxes and deeper debt? -- my personal adherence to a long-term vision statement about how to provide honest education in this country has zero impact on what would happen to school funding and policy if the C & D tax/debt plan is defeated.
I do not, as Ewegen seems to forget, hold public office and am seeking no office. The defeat of C & D would not change the Democrat legislative majority and the school-friendly governorship of Bill Owens -- no proclamation signers in that group of 101. When I did hold public office, in fact, my record was one of tough love toward the government school system; nary an abolitionist bill did I sponsor or speech did I make.
But heck, Bob, thanks for the publicity. Separation of school and state is a debate worth having. If the price of forwarding that debate is one more brickbat thrown at me, I'll cheerfully take it.
One thing is certain: Colorado's and America's educational status quo -- ever more tax dollars thrown at a union-dominated bureaucratic monopoly where ever less learning takes place and our kids are ever further behind the international competition -- is absolutely unsustainable. Mr. Ewegen and the Amendment 23 spending lobby have no answer to this but to raise budgets, C & D being the next installment but surely not the last. For which we must award them a dunce cap, a flat F.