Are You Voting in the Food Board Election?

In just over two weeks, voters across Kansas will select new school board members in Topeka and other cities.

While the stories about who is running for what board may be interesting, it’s time to step back and ask another question: why have school board elections at all?

Consider a few things that taxpayers buy with their tax dollars:

shelter for the homeless (Section 8 vouchers);

food for the hungry (food stamps);

pre-school and day care for children (child care tax credits);

college education subsidies (loans and grants to students.

Taxes are collected from the public at large, and distributed to people who meet the terms of an entitlement: they have low income (food stamps, housing vouchers), have children of a certain age (child care tax credits), or are enrolled in a university (student loans and grants).

There are no elections involved in the spending of this money. We don’t set up a “public food district,” invite the hungry to visit there, and elect members to the “food board.” Neither do we elect board members of the Little Tykes Preschool, whose customers receive the benefit of tax credits.

Yet through an accident of history, K-12 education is different. It doesn’t have to stay that way. We can continue to have government-owned schools, whose directors are selected through public elections. That’s the food board model of doing business, but a lot of people like it, so let is be.

But let’s add the model of the independently owned grocery store or day care center. Let the people who actually consume the bulk of the spending (in this case, the parents of minor children) select where the money is spent. Some will choose government-operated schools. Others will pick privately-operated schools. Both can serve the public purpose.

Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
%d bloggers like this: