Johann Neem and Tony Tian-Ren Lin explain just how terrible the GOP Tax Law is. It harms our democracy by transferring public funds from public schools to private schools, without the consent of the governed.

“Most attention on the tax legislation enacted last month has focused on its impact on Americans’ wallets. But it was also a victory for school choice and a massive blow to public education.

“It initially included measures to benefit home-schooling families and the final version benefited those who use private schools while eroding the state and local sources that fund public schools. The financial strain to the public schools caused by the loss of that revenue is well documented. The long-term harm to the nation is less evident, but no less profound.

“Public schools were established to knit together the civic fabric of our democracy. They never fully succeeded in that task, but as our discourse becomes increasingly poisoned and our political divisions seem to grow deeper with each passing year, we need them to do so more than ever. Unfortunately, these same developments make Americans more resistant to restoring and completing this original vision for our schools.

”Legislation like the tax bill, which threatens the funding base for public schools and encourages private schooling, promises to exacerbate these problems and poses a real danger to American democracy.

“America’s founders understood that the American experiment would fail if citizens did not hold a common vision for the greater good. The need for a shared civic culture became urgent by the 1830s as ethnic and ideological conflicts produced violence in America’s streets. One of the most effective antidotes to this disunity was tax-supported “common” public schools. America’s public schools were founded to educate citizens and bring diverse Americans together to instill a common vision for the nation.”

Johann Neem and his family came to the U.S. from India when he was a child. He credits the public schools for giving him the opportunity to rise and succeed in American society.