With Anti-Christian College Bill, California Universities Might Become Even Costlier
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California is slowly becoming a state so intolerant to freedom, many argue it might as well benefit the rest of the country if it achieves its independence.
Recently, Governor Jerry Brown signed a series of gun control bills that would have blushed even one of the most anti-gun governors the state has ever known, prompting several groups of Californians to run for the hills. But if things continue as they are, yet another group will have to pack their bags: Christians.
Once California lawmakers get back to work in August, a bill targeting religious schools may change California’s education landscape for good. The Equity in Higher Education Act, or SB 1146, would force religious colleges that receive federal religious exemptions to publicize its status to newcomers. The bill would also restrict the number of colleges that qualify for exemptions, effectively raising the price of doing business for schools that lose their status.
To many opponents of SB 1146, the bill is an attempt at forcing Christian colleges that fail to comply with the state’s nondiscrimination laws to adapt. According to critics, Christian colleges should not be forced to comply with guidelines that go against their beliefs, especially when it comes to accommodating individuals who are transgender.
But if it wasn’t for the potentially costly discrimination lawsuits these schools could be facing in times to come, as well as the millions of dollars tied to the federal exemption status these schools would lose, the reality is that these same institutions would not be at a loss if the education system in California—and the country—were based on free market principles.
In an article for the Cato Institute, the former director of Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom Andrew J. Coulson wrote that the times we live in demand freedom in education, not the opposite.
“By combining a pluralistic society with a one-size-fits-all education system,” Coulson wrote, “we have created a perpetual conflict machine.”
He clarified his point by claiming that people are only able to obtain the type of education they want in a heavily regulated, heavily controlled system if they “force their preferences on their neighbors.”
On the surface, that assessment may seem correct and harmless. But once you analyze the actual real world consequences, you learn that where there’s a demand in a regulated environment, supply suffers tremendously due to the aggregated costs of doing business.
To individuals whose religious convictions are deeply rooted, attending a religious college makes sense. Restricting individuals because education “is a right” has the exactly opposite effect. Instead of opening up the market by allowing more people in once the religious factor is eliminated, the extra regulatory burden increases the cost of doing business. As schools struggle, they resort to lobbying governments for more funding. The result? A perpetual cycle of high taxes, low quality education, and high volume of individuals swimming in a sea of debt.
While the religious aspect of this debate is important and shouldn’t be ignored, honest progressives who believe quality education should be widely available do well by learning more about the unintended consequences of the government’s heavy hand.