Flies in the OintmentrnThe Problem With School Vouchersrnby Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.rnSupporters of school vouchers are jumping for joy over arnWisconsin Supreme Court verdict, handed down thisrnsummer, that permits tax dollars to be used at religious schools.rnThey hope the decision will be the basis of a vast expansion ofrnvouchers (four other states are debating this same question),rneventually leading to a federal voucher program to “privatize”rnall education.rnBut there are flies in this ointment, enough to cause conservativesrnto rethink all the sympathies they have for vouchers. Forrnthe court did not rule that religious schools can receive governmentrnmoney with no strings attached. It ruled narrowly on thernMilwaukee program itself, which only passed muster becausernof its rigid restrictions. Those who actually read the decisionrnwill find that in order to receive vouchers, religious schools willrnhave to surrender all control over admissions and gut anv doctrinalrnteaching.rnWhat are the problems with vouchers? First, there is the eligibilityrncriteria for stiidents. The money is not available for thernchildren of middle-class parents who actually pay the taxes thatrnsupport the public schools. It is available onlv for those the governmentrndefines as “poor,” the very group that already enjoysrnvast subsidies in the form of free medical care, housing, daycare,rnfood, and cash. Vouchers represent not a shrinkage of thisrnwelfare state but an expansion, the equivalent of food stamps forrnprivate school.rnWhat’s more, vouchers are available only for children cur-rnLlewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., is the president of the Ludwig vonrnMises Institute in Auburn, Alabama.rnrentiy in public school, which creates perverse incentives andrnstrikes at the heart of fairness. Parents scraping by to pay theirrnchild’s tuition at a parochial school get nothing, but the nextdoorrnneighbor, who lets her kid founder in the streets and thernpublic schools, gets a full scholarship. Parents will have everyrnincentive to rip children out of private schools and put themrnback into the public ones temporarily, just to be eligible for thernprogram.rnAnd what about middle-class kids in the private school? Wernknow how much animosit)- small freebies like meals for somernbut not others create in public school. What about free tuitionrnat private schools for some but not others? No matter how yournslice it, vouchers represent more welfare, another free lunch forrnthe imderclass. And there is no point in hiding the racial elementrnhere, since voucher advocates have not been shy aboutrntouting it. Vouchers are for poor blacks. Whites have to payrntheir own way into private schools, plus pay for public schools,rnplus pay for vouchers for eligible blacks to attend privaternschools. This is not a prescription for racial harmony.rnSecond, vouchers will have a disastrous effect on the schools,rnwhich will not be allowed to choose which voucher studentsrnthev can accept. Catholic schools cannot pick Catholics overrnMohammedans. Single-sex education is out. Nor may schoolsrnconsider a history of abject academic failure or even violence.rnIn fact, the court underscored that schools are prohibited fromrnexercising any judgment whatsoever about the students theyrntake in (except that they may give preference to siblings). AsrnJustice Donald J. Steinmetz, writing for the majority, said inrnthese startling sentences, beneficiaries are to be “selected on arn24/CHRONICLESrnrnrn