kitchen table math, the sequel: Remedies For Willies

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Remedies For Willies

A commenter in my previous post, Willies Water Slides, made the cogent point to be careful what you wish for. It turns out that what you wish for is one of the keys to successfully getting a court to allow the suit in the first place. Generally, you can't sue for monetary damages. The reasoning is that individuals should never be in a position to force a government entity to take an action that favors them. I guess you don't want the tail wagging the dog.

But what if you sue to stop the government from doing something to you? What if the remedy you seek is to simply ask the government to stop doing something to you? What if the remedy is to ask the government to stop forcing you to submit your kids to the gross negligence that is the school system?

Your goal could be to simply stop them from spending whatever your dollars per student number is in their demonstrably bad system. Let's say it's $10K per head, so you ask for them to allow you to designate where they spend that $10K. OK, it's a voucher. But, it's a voucher as a remedy in a law suit. The plaintiff is not asking government to spend more or change their system in any way. You just want your kid back, with the money they would have spent on them anyway.

All you're doing is enjoining them from spending the plaintiffs dough at Willies. You're not wagging the dog, just stopping the dog from pooping on your kids.


ChemProf said...

But there isn't any relation between your taxes and putting your kid in school. I can choose not to submit my child to the public school system, but I have to pay my taxes anyway (as I did when I didn't have kids). I can either pay for a private school out of pocket or homeschool, but that's my own problem. If the law forced me to choose public school, then I might have an option here.

If we could sue on the basis you are talking about, then I could sue to make sure my tax dollars aren't used for a purpose I disagree with, and I can't do that either.

Paul B said...

The law doesn't force you to send your kids to a public school, true. But for most citizens it would not be practical to be obligated to pay taxes (for education) while simultaneously paying to opt out of the system in some private form of replacement. Therefore it would be grossly discriminatory to pull that trigger wouldn't it?

All people are to be afforded equal opportunity to a 'public education', one that is not grossly negligent. All you would be asking for here is that an equal proportion of money be committed to your child, no matter where it is spent.

You're not asking your tax dollars to be released from something you disagree with. You're asking your child's apportionment to be released from being spent in a grossly negligent manner.

You can still be in complete agreement with public schools :>}

And by the way, all of the state constitutions I've looked at (not many I admit, but more than a few) are silent on what 'public education' means. None imply, in any way, that the meaning is a system run by the state. Merely providing for public and equitable funding meets that definition by my reading.

Paul B said...

Here's another oddity. How many of you would be surprised to learn that home schooling has nothing to do with schooling at home. Read your state's statutes. When I read my (former) statutes I was surprised to learn that home schooling is defined as schooling that happens outside the state system, not a single word in the statutes about homes or parents.

So if you could pull the thread that secures monopoly funding, freeing it for your own discretionary pursuit of education, you create a nice little pot of money that could unleash the entrepreneurial monster.

It is still public education isn't it?

LynnG said...

I'd be happy with a tax break for my homeschooler, to help offset the cost of purchasing books and materials of a higher quality than she would have gotten in the public school.

ChemProf said...

Personally, I don't want a tax break as I figure that with government money will come government strings. Of course, in California, homeschooling is legally private schooling. You have to register as a private school with the state, and keep basic attendance records that can be inspected.

However, in our district, a few years back, the district was pushing families to enroll in district ISPs, to the point of police harassment. Why? Because of the way California schools are funded -- all the money goes to the state, who then send it back to districts based on enrollment (and let's think about the possibilities for graft in such a system). So more enrollment means more money for the district. There is even a local charter that will split the per student money with you (half goes to materials for you and half to the charter). However, that charter is always under attack by district schools that want the enrollment, and so deals with higher and higher levels of regulation.

I'd love to see Paul's idea work somewhere, but until you get someone with standing to have a successful lawsuit, I'll opt out, thanks.