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Carroll County Times Opinion

Chris Roemer: Someone will have to pay for those ‘free’ Maryland community college classes | COMMENTARY

Whether or not you think “free” dual enrollment at Maryland community colleges for all public school students is a good idea, it has to be clearly understood — those classes will not be “free,” and we have to stop talking about them in those terms.

Someone will have to pay for those classes, and as always, that someone will be the taxpayer.

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Not only will taxpayers be responsible for the “free” tuition, they will also be on the hook for all the “free” materials students attending will need.

In fact, to pay for the “free” classes, along with other components of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, Carroll County might very well need to increase its income and/or property taxes. This is something county commissioners are considering as way to accommodate the school system’s request for a $13.4 million increase in its budget.

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The “Blueprint” is a state initiative that dictates to local boards of education and local officials how they must spend taxpayer money, regardless of what the people represented by those school boards and elected officials happen to think about it.

The CCPS Board of Education is becoming less relevant all the time. Increasingly, the liberals at the Maryland State Department of Education and in the state House make decisions for the board and the people of Carroll County have no choice but to do what they say.

I’ll defer proffering an opinion at this time concerning the substance of Maryland’s new “Blueprint” other then to say, when talking about the plan, let’s leave the word “free”” out of the discussion. There is nothing “free” about it.

Further, while there are aspects of the plan Carroll’s taxpayers might enthusiastically endorse, there might also be components Carroll’s taxpayers would choose not to fund.

I’m not sure why that doesn’t matter?

Why shouldn’t the people of Carroll County be able to educate their children as they deem appropriate? Why do they have to take orders from politicians and bureaucrats in Baltimore and Annapolis who make decisions that might be appropriate for some school districts, but are not optimal for others, especially if local taxes need to be raised to pay for it all?

What exactly is the appeal of prescriptive, one-size-fits-all approaches that decide in advance how school districts must spend their money regardless of their individual circumstances?

Maryland conservatives have become used to the fact their views are pretty irrelevant when it comes to determining state and federal law or policy. Democrats now have a newly elected governor to go along with their super-majorities in the state legislature. Only one of Maryland’s eight representatives in Congress is Republican, and both of its U.S. senators are Democrats.

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And with each new census, Democrats use their super-majorities in the state House to gerrymander congressional districts in order to tighten their stranglehold on Maryland politics.

Nonetheless, Carroll County’s conservatives were always able to take some solace knowing, at least when it came to local issues — like education — they could implement policies that reflect the the local electorate. But Democrats are always working to erode that local autonomy.

In terms of Maryland’s public schools, the impact has been that MSDE is free to impose its will on entire communities that have made it clear they have different ideas when it comes to educating of their children.

Most Democrats are fiercely opposed to school choice. Not only because teachers unions have bought and paid for that opposition, but because they know if parents, in any significant number, begin to choose educational alternatives for their children other than the public schools, the tightening grip progressives have on the minds of today’s youth — tomorrow’s voters — would begin to loosen.

Abraham Lincoln was correct when he observed, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.”

School choice might result in better-educated citizens, but that is a secondary consideration for Democrats to the long-term political ramifications should school choice be implemented in earnest, and those ramifications would almost certainly not be to the benefit of progressives or their ideology.

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Who knows to what “radical” ideas children might be exposed to at private schools, ideas that might even challenge progressive orthodoxy, and that just won’t do.

It is only by controlling the mechanisms by which children are educated that Democrats can continue to have the opportunity to groom future generations, ensuring today’s youth grow to become reliable progressive voters.

That strategy has yielded tremendous results for the left, and the left will not abandon it easily.

Right now in Maryland, MSDE has a virtual monopoly in that regard. School choice would threaten that monopoly, and that makes it wholly unacceptable to Maryland progressives, so the growing tyranny of MSDE over local school systems continues unabated.

Only parents voting with their feet — and their pocketbooks — have the power to change that.

Chris Roemer is a retired banker and educator who resides in Finksburg. He can be contacted at chrisroemer1960@gmail.com


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