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The Voucher Trap

by Gordon Francis Corbett

After the Supreme Court ruled that school vouchers are Constitutional, some authorities said that vouchers are just as Constitutional as the G.I. Bill was. They are right, but not in the way they intend.

Some admirers of the G.I. Bill say that its Constitutional legitimacy came from Congress's power to raise armies. That is not true.

The raising of armies comprises recruiting, equipping, and training. Education takes no part, except for the instruction that helps soldiers to carry out their military tasks. No Constitutional provision sanctions post-service education.

The G.I. Bill inaugurated the Federal defrayal of higher education. It was fascism in action: not the fascism we had defeated, to be sure; but fascism it was, nevertheless.

Fascism and socialism are two different peas in the "pod" of collectivism. Socialism takes private property outright; but fascism, while leaving owners in ostensible possession, steals their rightful prerogatives with a blizzard of regulations.

This is the trap awaiting private schools that accept tax-defrayed vouchers. In the 1941 case of Wickard vs. Filburn, the Supreme Court said that "It is hardly lack of due process for the government to regulate that which it subsidizes."

So, to obtain Federal aid for its schools, a State's Department of Education signs contracts binding them to Federal regulations. Tax-defrayed State vouchers will do the same to recipient private schools.

The relevant questions are: how many schools' owners will recognize this trap how soon, and tell how many of their fellows how swiftly.

When the penny finally drops, the recipient schools' owners will react in one of two ways. Some will expel their voucher-paid students after the current term and reject all vouchers thereafter. Others, eager for the students' fees and, perhaps, fearing to leave "the national consensus," will continue accepting the shekels and shackles.

A few schools will remain completely private. When the trap springs, and the victims scream out their anguish, the truly private schools' owners will receive their vindication.

On them, ultimately, will the fate of American education depend.

This article was originally featured on Jefferson Review at

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