Little Blurb, Big (disturbing) TrendOct 19, 2007
It’s amazing how, in a sea of type, the smallest blurb can catch a reader’s attention. In the Wednesday, October 17, Richmond Times-Dispatch Metro section, in its “News Near You” column, a blurb about the Pamplin Historical Park & The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier, stuck out. It seems the park is getting a state (i.e., taxpayer funded) grant of $23,750 to defray the costs of admission for school children taking field trips there. Several Southside cities are eligible to participate. Seems simple and worthy enough (aside from the pork barrel nature of it). Nothing like giving the children some hands on learning about the Wah. Then, this smallest of articles, lands a whopper — in parenthesis no less — “(private academies, home schools, etc. are not eligible).” This is the latest in a disturbing trend in state and local government in recent years in which parents of home or private school children getting short changed. Not enough that they foot two bills — public and private education — these tax payers face a discrimination so disturbingly illustrated in this seemingly benign case. Pay up on an ever-increasing tax burden, but, oh-by-the-way, you can’t participate! Yes, these parents pay for the schools they don’t use, and they help pay for the museum through state subsidies, but because they make the decision to educate their children in a different environment, they have the door shut in their face. This is modern day discrimination at its worst. In just one of many more glaring examples of this continuing discrimination, last year a Shenandoah Valley governor’s school initially refused to accept admission applications from home and private school children. Basically, the participating school districts were saying you lose your citizenship the minute your children enter a private or home school. This past session, the General Assembly finally passed the common sense, non-mandatory, school bus bill (giving school districts and private schools the ability to contract with each other for mutually beneficial transportation purposes). One would think that in the aftermath of such progress government discrimination and the effective double taxation (in the Pamplin case, quadruple taxation) would begin to erode. Yet this government sanctioned — and unconstitutional — picking and choosing among its own citizens persists, to the bewilderment as to why we have such cultural disarray.