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Educational policy analysis archives
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Arizona State University
University of South Florida
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University of South Florida.
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Tempe, Ariz
Tampa, Fla
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Education -- Research -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
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usfldc doi - E11-00183
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Educational policy analysis archives.
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Moral considerations regarding the Arizona tax credit law : some comments / Anthony G. Rud, Jr.
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1 of 6 Volume 8 Number 39August 1, 2000ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal Editor: Gene V Glass, College of Education Arizona State University Copyright 2000, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES. Permission is hereby granted to copy any article if EPAA is credited and copies are not sold. Articles appearing in EPAA are abstracted in the Current Index to Journals in Education by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation and are permanently archived in Resources in Education Moral Considerations Regarding the Arizona Tax Cred it Law: Some Comments Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue UniversityAbstract I begin by commenting on the language used, both by the Arizona tax credit law, and by our commentators, and then turn to a discussion of a factor I believe fuels the impetus for sectarian ed ucation. I end with a consideration of questions related to the social, c ognitive, and moral costs of such privatization, in contrast to a democ ratic commitment to education.This article is one of four on the Arizona Tax Cred it Law: Welner: Taxing the Establishment Clause Moses: Hidden Considerations of Justice Wilson: Effects on Funding Equity LanguageLanguage can mask, or be used to deconstruct, purpo se and motive. George Orwell's speaks about the importance of clear expression in Politics and the English Language

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2 of 6(1946/1981): Now it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the ba d influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensifi ed form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he fe els himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely beca use he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English lan guage. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, bu t the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish tho ughts. The point is that the process is reversible. (pp. 156-57) Orwell was writing in a different time, but his wor ds apply in many instances today. I hear Orwell when I read about the Arizona tax credi t law discussed by Welner, Moses and Wilson. Our authors claim that deception throug h the use of language has occurred in this issue. The very title of the session at whi ch the papers were originally delivered suggests such linguistic deception. To don a costum e, we all know, is to dress up better or differently than we really are. What kind of costume do our authors tell us that vouchers wear? The term proposed is a "scholarship," implying that academic merit is rewarded and inequity redressed. However, as Welner points out, this is n ot the case. Our authors claim that more likely terms for the Arizona tax credit law ar e vouchers, tax credits, and so forth. Indeed the language of "scholarship" is used to man ipulate sentiments toward more lofty goals than mere personal gain. Wilson concludes tha t these scholarships are tax credits, while Moses more bluntly calls this usage a decepti on.The Move to Sectarian Education Such use of language masks an important iss ue that give impetus for this kind of law. The papers all talk about how religious school s are disproportionately represented in the funding. There is a deeper motivation for su ch that is not sufficiently discussed in the public debate in Arizona. Why are religious sch ools chosen overwhelmingly by these parents? What do some parents believe they are not getting from public education that makes them want to opt for this kind of instruction al environment for their children? Warren Nord (1990, 1995) has written on the absence of the study of religion in public schools. He has criticized this lack on curricular grounds, in that religion can explain a great deal about history and other aspects of cultu re. When a religious explanation for certain events or theories is absent, Nord argues, that event or theory is meaningless. Unfortunately, a discussion of religion in the public schools brings up many knee jerk responses, and a worry about indoctrination ra ther than education. This kind of reaction is understandable, however, it confuses th e study of religion with its practice Certainly this is a fine line, but a line that must be treaded in our public schools, and I believe that it is compatible with a democratic vie w of education. Leaving out a religious explanation for many phenom ena, such as the birth of mathematics, the Crusades, the motivation of a Thom as More, the theories of Copernicus, and so forth, can be criticized on curr icular grounds. If religion is left out as a curricular element the student gets an impoverished and incomplete v iew of how certain events in history came about, as well as th e genesis and rationale of certain

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3 of 6scientific theories that ground much of the curricu lum. I would argue that missing the element of the study of religion in our curricula m ight contribute to the choice of private, sectarian education by some parents.However, my advocacy of an element of the study of religion in the curriculum may not satisfy all. Many families choose sectarian educati on because of a lack of perceived order and authority in public schools (usually such parents, in my experience, especially complain about profanity). In doing so, they move m ore toward what has been called a "lifestyle enclave" (Bellah et. al, 1985/1986, p. 3 35) where an aspect of private life is shared, and consequently, the benefits of a democra tic and diverse way of life diminished. Retreat from Democracy Let us look at some other items that can be seen through the lens of the retreat from the public and the publicly supported that the Ariz ona tax credit law permits. Perhaps most distressing to an educator is the learning the ory that supports this movement. There is a retreat from a Deweyan learning from others wh o are different, to a kind of learning within what I termed above a lifestyle enclave. The re are benefits from open dialogue. As Dewey pointed out, "A democracy is more than a f orm of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicat ed experience" (Dewey, 1916/1989, p. 93). One learns from the other, and with learnin g comes growth. The notion of freedom that underlies the mo vement toward sectarian and privatized education is also distressing. As Moses points out, the move to privatization contrasts the clash of individual, atomized, freedom, (her ap t phrase is "the politics of disconnected freedom”), to the more fragile notion of contextual, participatory freedom. Our authors point out that similarly, justice takes a back seat in these arrangements too. Democracy is cumbersome and in a sense bothersome, but the alternative leaves out, and leaves behind, too many students and families, as w ell as offering the chosen families and students a narrow education. Markets and Education Sergiovanni (2000) reminds us of the differ ence between markets and education: In markets, individuals, motivated by self-interest act alone in making preferred choices. Democratic choice, by contrast, is collective, complex, cumbersome, timeconsuming, and sometimes combativ e. Further, and unlike market choices where the will of the majorit y is not supposed to be imposed on everyone, once a democratic decision is made it applies to everyone. (p. 163) Efficiency does not equal or even lead to equality. Moses makes a convincing argument in contrasting the libertarian market determined, e fficient conception with the liberal democratic, participatory conception. Is the improv ement of education best served by the market, or by other forces? Is it a question of mon ey and power, or schooling and justice?

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4 of 6Concluding thoughts In sum, I am of at least two minds about th ese issues surrounding the Arizona tax credit law. I look toward democratic participation as essential in schooling. Yet, I want to keep in mind the existential needs seemingly exp ressed by these parents regarding the need for sectarian education. I believe many of the ir concerns could be addressed with a robust and critical curriculum that takes into acco unt the role of religion in culture. Since our authors are discussing an issue that is very mu ch alive in Arizona, and in other parts of the country as well, I think it is urgent that w e all ask what kinds of action are best suited to bring about and enhance a participatory a nd democratic ideal. I join many others in being prepared to defend this ideal on mo ral, and cognitive, grounds.ReferencesBellah, R. N., Madsen, R., Sullivan, W. M., Swidler A., & Tipton, S. M. (1986) Habits of the heart: Individualism and commitment in Ameri can life New York: Harper & Row. (Original work published 1985).Dewey, J. (1989). Democracy and education In J. Boydston (Ed.), The collected works of John Dewey (Vol. 9). Carbondale: Southern Illino is University Press. (Original work published 1916).Orwell, G. (1981). Politics and the English languag e. In Orwell, G., A collection of essays (pp. 156-71) San Diego: Harcourt Brace and Company (Original work published 1946).Nord, W. A. (1990, September). Taking religion seri ously. Social Education 287-290. Nord, W. A. (1995). Religion and American education: Rethinking a natio nal dilemma Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.Sergiovanni, T. J. (2000). The lifeworld of leadership: Creating culture, comm unity, and personal meaning in our schools San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.About the AuthorAnthony G. Rud Jr.School of Education Purdue University Email: rud@purdue.edu Anthony G. Rud Jr. is Associate Dean in the School of Education at Purdue University. He did his undergraduate work at Dartmouth College, and holds a master's and PhD in philosophy from Northwestern University. In additio n to his administrative duties, he teaches courses in philosophy of education, and a c ourse in the cultural context of education for doctoral students in educational admi nistration. Rud has also been heavily involved in teacher education curricular reform at Purdue. He is a founding member of the Editorial Board of this journal.

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5 of 6 Copyright 2000 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesThe World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is epaa.asu.edu General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, glass@asu.edu or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 8 5287-0211. (602-965-9644). The Commentary Editor is Casey D. C obb: casey.cobb@unh.edu .EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin Greg Camilli Rutgers University John Covaleskie Northern Michigan University Alan Davis University of Colorado, Denver Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Richard Garlikov hmwkhelp@scott.net Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Alison I. Griffith York University Arlen Gullickson Western Michigan University Ernest R. House University of Colorado Aimee Howley Ohio University Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Calgary Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas Mauhs-Pugh Green Mountain College Dewayne Matthews Western Interstate Commission for HigherEducation William McInerney Purdue University Mary McKeown-Moak MGT of America (Austin, TX) Les McLean University of Toronto Susan Bobbitt Nolen University of Washington Anne L. Pemberton apembert@pen.k12.va.us Hugh G. Petrie SUNY Buffalo Richard C. Richardson New York University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Dennis Sayers Ann Leavenworth Centerfor Accelerated Learning Jay D. Scribner University of Texas at Austin Michael Scriven scriven@aol.com Robert E. Stake University of Illinois—UC

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