Follow-up question for supporters of school vouchers:

In a voucherized system, should a school receiving voucher funds be allowed to use a textbook with a question of the sort described above? How about if the lesson doesn’t directly inclucate violence, but merely conveys some political message? (“If there are 100 African-Americans, and the racist cops kill 9 of them and prosecutors frame another 17 and put them behind bars, how many are left at large to fight for freedom?”) If the answer is “No,” what principle applies, who should make the decisions, and what process should operate?

(For example, after the Good News Bible Elementary School is cut off for a question that reads, “If there are 12 baptized children and 5 are Catholics, how many are Christians?” should a new school with substantially the same personnel be eligible for vouchers the following year? If the answer is, “Depends on the curriculum,” then who acts as curriculum censor?)

Obviously, these hypotheticals are far more outrageous than are likely to arise under actual current U.S. conditions. But the question in principle remains: If parents choose schools that practice political indoctrination, to what extent should those schools be eligible for public subsidy? I think I would give a different answer about grade schools than about colleges, and perhaps a different answer about grade schools than about high schools.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: