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The Ohio Pilot Scholarship Program

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court favorably decided a case so fundamentally about freedom that its very adjudication was hard to believe. It involved an experimental Cleveland program offering low-income children scholarships to attend either public or private schools. Your education, your choice - what could be more straightforward? Yet it was not just opposed, but vehemently so, by the public education industry. This opposition raises two questions: Why is the public education industry so opposed to this particular experiment and why are they so generally liberal? The answer to both questions has more to do with economics than education. Begun in 1996 because of unrelenting mismanagement in Cleveland's public schools, the Ohio Pilot Scholarship Program offers low-income children up to $2,500 annually through eighth grade to pay either a private or on an out-of-district public school's tuition. No out-of-district public schools chose to participate, so in the 1999-2000 school year all 3,761 students participated attended private schools. Because 96 percent of program students chose to attend church-affiliated schools, it was hauled before the courts on the grounds of violating the Constitution's establishment of religion clause under the First Amendment. The federal government's unqualified extension of higher education assistance - regardless if a student attends a religious school - easily refutes the ostensible objection on religious grounds that caused the suit. More troubling is the public education industry's persistent opposition to a full range of choice in K-12 that is equal to the range of choice already available for college students. The public education industry levels three serious charges against giving a full range of choice for students: tuition support is too low, money will be taken from public schools, and the best, easier to educate, students will leave the public school system. However, if you examine all three together the argument falls apart. First however you must ignore the basic unfairness of a willingness to sacrifice an individual's future to the assertion that they need to be present to help others learn. ...read more.

Middle

Such 'being with,' according to Arendt, is the crucial reason the ancient Greeks needed to invent democracy as a political form, as it enabled the public disclosure of the 'who,' the unique identity of the agent. Of course, as I reiterate the central theme of my introduction, methodological approaches and substantive concerns inextricably intertwine here. In this case, is the issue of dialogue just a members' concern (e.g. of Montrealers), or is it also a theorist's (project researchers) concern, or both? Nielsen et al. refer to the idea of 'the obligation of justice' at the end of their article. This obligation expresses, in part, a civic concern with the distribution of resources. However, speaking reflexively, what is the 'obligation of justice' with regard to the practice of dialogue? In what way does the voice of this paper practice this 'obligation of justice'? With regard to the practice of dialogue in all of the articles that follow, is the 'obligation of justice' to correct and to criticize, or to dialogue and exemplify, or both? Such questions should fertilize a reflexive reading of this issue. Humans make a place for themselves in the made place that is the city when the city is not so overwhelmed by a past (e.g. Rome) that the present can only bask in its past glory. Such a problem is decidedly not the concern of the authors of these papers, or the concern of these four cities. However, when a city is always being remade in a celebration of the productivity of humankind, it does not lend itself to being a place fit for humans. The danger of the latter is that the city, "dazzled by the abundance of its growing fertility and caught in the smooth functioning of a never ending process, would no longer be able to recognize its own futility -- the futility of a life which does not fix or realize itself in a permanent subject which endures after its labour is past" (Arendt 1958: 135). ...read more.

Conclusion

Human materiality assures certain physical limits regarding consumption and work. The human body can consume only so much in one sitting so to speak, and can work continuously only for some fixed number of hours without rest. In like fashion, capital equipment cannot be run continuously without maintenance before it breaks down. Further, without other limits on what and how much we consume, on how long and how hard we work, and how much we allow for or indulge in re-vitalising activities (leisure), limits which reside quietly in the human spirit, our development as human persons is arrested or misdirected. The three principles of justice provide useful and effective limits on consumption, work, and leisure, and their faithful practice contributes powerfully to the realisation of the full potential of every human being. As with the order of presentation, there is nothing fixed about the number of central tenets in personalist economics. The ones enumerated herein I think will pass the test of time and endure. As to any others, as stated previously, we will know more later. Edward J. O'Boyle is Senior Research Associate at Mayo Research Institute where he conducts and publishes research in social economics with an intense focus on the role of the person in economic affairs. In this regard, he is most concerned about human material need and its two distinct aspects: human physical need and the need for work as such. This work is best captured in his 1998 book Personalist Economics: Moral Convictions, Economic Realities, And Social Action. Most recently he has extended his interest to include the premises of mainstream economics, how those premises differ from the ones employed in personalist economics, how those differences influence the way in which economists observe and understand economic realities, and the policy positions which follow. He has served on the economics faculty at Louisiana Tech University since 1977, and at different times over the past 10 years as visiting professor at Poznan School of Management (Poland), the National University of Ireland in Galway, and the University of Verona. ...read more.

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