By Dr. Christian Overman
For property owners in the state of Washington (and I am one), a large percentage of our property tax, sometimes greater than forty percent, goes to support public schools and only public schools. What’s wrong with this?
There’s nothing wrong with property taxes going to fund K-12 education. We have lived with this system for a long time, and it’s likely to stick.
But forcing property owners to pay for only one brand of school is narrow thinking. In terms used by those who may pride themselves in thinking broadly, it’s non-inclusive. It’s intolerant, and it doesn’t come close to equality. Nor does it celebrate diversity. How so?
The current system only allows for one type of school to be funded by taxes. Yet, public schools are not the only approved schools in Washington. Many types of state-approved independent schools serve Washington’s citizens. This is America. We’re not living in North Korea or Cuba. No schools are allowed in those countries other than government-run schools. But this has never been the game plan here. We’re about the people here. At least we should be!
Suppose Muslim property owners in the state of Washington would prefer to give their forty percent of property taxes to support Muslim schools in Washington state. Why not let them pay this directly to an approved “Muslim School Fund” for equal distribution to all Muslim schools in the state of Washington?
Catholic property owners who would prefer to give their forty percent of property taxes to support Catholic schools in Washington State would send their funds directly to an approved Catholic School Fund. Jewish property owners to an approved Jewish School Fund, and Protestant property owners to an approved Protestant School Fund. There could be an approved Homeschool Fund and an approved Independent Private School Fund. Why not? This is educational equality for all.
People who prefer to have their forty percent portion going to public schools can keep paying their property tax as they now do. But let the taxpayers make the call.
Right now, property owners who send their children to non-state-run schools must pay twice for their kids’ education. This is oppressive, and it’s flat wrong. It’s morally and socially unjust. The current system also discriminates against poor students who would like to attend the school of their choice but are unable to because schools cannot function without sufficient income. With the Educational Equality Plan, economic barriers for the poor are eliminated, providing the most fitting school possible while paying the teachers well.
Funds to support independent schools should not go through the state at all. It would be very easy to track who has paid their forty percent and who has not in today’s computerized age. This would avoid using state funds for supporting religious schools because the funds would not be from the state. The funds would be from individual property owners who choose to direct their respective taxes directly to the school of their choice, and it would keep the state from having to spend more on administrative costs.
The current system is inequitable, antiquated, and unjust. When only one brand of school receives all the funding that comes through property taxes, and this brand is favored above all other schools providing approved services, this is more than unjust. One could say it is “bigoted,” but this might be too strong of a word. Let’s just say it’s “Neanderthal thinking,” to use a phrase from President Biden.
Taxation without representation is one big sign of an oppressive state. But this is oppression we can quickly change. It’s time to toss more tea overboard and correct the supremacist-based system. That is, a secularized, state-supremacist system that neither values nor tolerates authentic diversity of school types.
This Educational Equality Plan is one we can live with for generations to come.
Dr. Christian Overman is the author of Assumptions That Affect Our Lives and God’s Pleasure at Work: The Difference One Life Can Make. Dr. Overman has taught on biblical worldview and Christian education across America and Central America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. He and his wife, Kathy, have four adult children and twelve grandchildren. Contact Dr. Overman at email@example.com.
Copyright © 2021. Family Policy Institute of Washington. Reprinted from fpiw.org with permission.