Saturday, February 07, 2009

Time to take care of ourselves.

In one of those convergent moments, an instant of clarity was revealed.

I was already annoyed about discriminatory language remaining in Section 803 of the the stimulus bill.

Section 803 prohibits funds for "modernization, renovation, or repair of [educational] facilities--(i) used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity; or (ii) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission."

Congress refused, in spite of an amendment offered by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), to remove that stipulation. The vote failed 54-43. Congress voted to not allow funding to a facility that is used for any type of religious activity--even a school of Divinity. That leaves out schools at even Yale, Harvard, Duke, Wake Forest, any School of Divinity. Incredible!

I know that one of the purposes of stipulations such as this are to control what is taught at our schools. If schools want the government funds, they have to jump through government hoops. It's rare to find a school district, college or university that is willing to sacrifice its accreditation in order to follow the community's own values and curriculum goals. As a homeschool mom, I came to understand that it was necessary to sacrifice the accreditation from my sons' school district, and to sacrifice financially to pay for their education ourselves, in order for my sons to get the education we deemed necessary.

Both sons are now freshmen at a small private college in Texas. We were surprised to find out last fall that the school doesn't take Federal Financial Aid. We were surprised again to discover that the tuition tax deduction and the Hope and Lifetime tax credits are only available to schools who receive Federal Financial Aid.

At that moment I saw our situation for what it is. Like when we homeschooled, if we don't want to follow the mandates of government-sponsored education, we have to not accept government funding. In this case, if it means that we have to forgo the tax deduction for tuition in order to get the education that we want, then we have to step up and pay for it.

The government will never give us what we want on our terms. It's always on theirs. We need to have the courage and the confidence to step out of the system and take care of ourselves.