The following is a response to a comment made on an earlier blog post. I address it here partially because of it’s length, but mostly because I think it would be generally beneficial to lots of people who have doubts about Referendum 1.
Actually Referendum 1 will divert money away from public schools. The money being allocated may not be in the budget but it should be and that is the point. We could use this money to help fix our public schools.
Referendum 1 will not divert money from public schools. Even if it did, it would amount to .0025% of the education budget. That’s nothing, and putting so little money directly into public schools would solve nothing. This is not about the money, no matter how badly voucher haters want you think it is.
It seriously makes no sense to give up on our public school system.
Who’s giving up? Public schools will certainly have their place. Public and private schools are not mutually exclusive.
This money could be going to increase teacher’s pay. If we increased what teacher’s made it would be more of an incentive to go into the education field. We would get brighter and more qualified teachers.
Oh yes, if that .0025% raise goes directly to the teachers (which it wouldn’t), people will be absolutely clamoring for those jobs.
Here’s a real idea: why not create a market for those jobs so great teachers can choose whomever pays the best. A bigger market means more competition among employers, more competition among employers means increased teacher pay, and increased teacher pay together with increased competition means better teachers. Those are economic facts; it’s as simple as that.
If that were the case [that "we would get brighter and more qualified teachers"], we would also be able to reduce class sizes.
This bill will reduce class sizes, and it’ll do it for much cheaper.
Our children do not deserve to just be a number on a roll. We need to emphasize more one on one education and more time being spent on each child.
No kidding. Do you think anyone in the world disagrees with those arguments? Those are not points of differentiation, but as long as you’re trying to differentiate on points that everybody and their dog agrees on, you might think of adding: “No child should be force-fed summer sausages for mere amusement.”
I would argue that Referendum 1 protects your axioms better than the status quo: If any child really isn’t getting enough teacher face time, their parent will have reasonable alternatives so they can vote with their feet. Think about it.
Everyone who is for referendum one wants parents and kids to have a choice. The fact is they already do have a choice.
Exactly, one choice. As Henry Ford said: “The customer can have any color [Model T] he wants so long as it’s black”.
OK, I know you didn’t mean only one choice, but let’s face it: when the public school system limits you to any of its schools, that’s somewhat analogous to Del Taco saying you can eat anything in the world you want as long as you buy it from Del Taco’s dollar menu. That’s not choice.
Why do tax payers have to pay for someone else’s child to go to a private school?
On that note, why do taxpayers have to pay for any child to go to public school? The reason we subsidize education is that a educated populace is in everybody’s best interests. Granting a monopoly the exclusive right to those subsidies, on the other hand, is in almost nobody’s best interests.
But as long as we’re subsidizing, why not do it efficiently by offering smaller subsidies to children whose parents decide their needs are better served elsewhere? It really is that simple. For every poor kid that leaves a public school with a $3000 voucher, Utah taxpayers save about $4500.
Also, why should taxpayers who choose an alternative school have to pay twice? That’s a terrible price to pay to opt out of a system that (nationally) ranks 25th in the modernized world.
But something tells me the labor unions that are out to kill Referendum 1 aren’t really worried about tax increases. Indeed, their true interests lie in protecting their monopoly so as to continue to “own” education in America. This is much to the detriment of any parent who wants anything that’s not on their menu.
But in case it really is taxes you’re worried about, why don’t you take the Utah Taxpayer Association‘s word for it? Referendum 1 save you money.
If you want your kid to go to a private school because you think public schools are failing our children then send them.
OK, but that option is currently only realistic to the rich because they’re the only ones who can afford to pay twice. Referendum 1 aims to give poor kids (like the 45 or so percent of Utah minorities that drop out of some disadvantaged Utah schools) the same freedom and flexibility that rich folks have –all by spending less. Would you deny them that right?
Charter’s schools are also a very affordable option for low income families who have given up on public schools.
Yes, but charter schools are not for everyone either. Even if they were for everyone, charter schools are very limited and many have very long waiting lists –so much so, in fact, that many charter schools have adopted a lottery system to determine the lucky few who get in. Are you seriously calling that a choice? If charter schools were already meeting current demand, whence all the outcry for more options?
Furthermore, the very labor union that fought tooth and nail to kill charter schools is now fighting tooth and nail to kill vouchers. In fact, they fight just about every new innovation that might ruffle the feathers of their educational Monopoly. Why climb in bed with them now? Is it because they’ve already begrudgingly conceded a little?
If you like charter schools now, chances are you’ll also like voucher schools: each takes the real decision-making power one step closer to its rightful owner, the parents.
I think the problem with public schools in Utah is they are poorly funded.
Then let’s increase their funding! Nobody is saying we don’t want to invest more in public schools, but let’s also make sure we’re spending our money wisely! If we invest in the entire market rather than just the monopoly, the entire market will be more responsive. But if we invest solely in the monopoly, it’s likely that nobody will be more responsive. Same ‘ol, same ‘ol.
We are taking money away from public schools just by not using this money to improve them.
Again it’s .0025% –almost 0. Even if you could fix the problem by throwing money at it (which you can’t –especially in a Government monopoly) that amount would do virtually nothing. I’ll be happy to put more money into everybody’s education, but I want to see that money create significant change.
The best way to help schools improve is to introduce real competition into the system. When FedEx came along, the Post Office improved dramatically: shorter lines, faster shipping, taller socks –the works. When email started to take off the USPS lowered rates. (But they were going to lower rates anyway, right? Isn’t it always in the nature of a monopoly to “give you the most value for money”? [Sarcasm added.])
Bottom line: increased competition is good for customers. Have you noticed you can buy any color of car you want these days? Education should operate on the same principle, but instead of getting adjustable cup holders and a built in CD player, we’ll get kids who can compete in a global market. Now that’s a sweet deal.
I understand the choice argument you are making. I just think it is misguided. Right now even with the poor funding we get in public schools, our kids can graduate from high school with an associate’s degree. Right now even with the poor funding we get in public schools, our kids can take Advanced Placement courses taught by teachers who are certified through local Universities. Right now even with the poor funding we get in public schools, our kids have every oppurtunity to succeed in our public schools through hard work and study.
Those are all great programs, but what about the 45% of minority students in Utah who never graduate from high school? Think about that number for a minute. Your school in Utah Valley might have served you well, but their schools in West Salt Lake have failed them; and now what is their outlook on life? Certainly something could be done to help those kids, and the answer is not more of the same.
Many of those minority kids would love to get into private school, but who can afford that? Why must the poor kids –the very ones that “free” public schools are meant to help– remain stuck in a system that is failing, especially when we can get them out of that system at no cost to us?
And what about kids who want do go directly into high-paying tech jobs? What about kids who need a dedicated “scholarship counselor” to have any chance at paying for the university of their choice? What about potential nightschool kids who never see their single moms because mommy has to work at night? What about kids who want to excel at anything that is not offered in our public schools?
If you’re saying that every conceivable innovation that might benefit Utah children has already happened in our public schools, you’re dead wrong. There is much more that can be done, and the innovations that will best serve Utah families will take root in an education market that is allowed to flourish because parents have a feasible opportunity to pay for the education that’s best for their kids.
Besides poor funding, another major problem is poor parenting. Having parents involved in a child’s education is crucial. If parents think they can just send their kid to a private school and assume their kid is doing well this is a mistake. Regardless of the school your child attends parents need to be involved and committed to their child’s education
That’s another non-differentiating point that nobody will argue with. Also, “Children can stay more focused when their study environment is kept hornet-free.”
But here’s a though, don’t you think that parents who can choose where their children are educated might be more involved in the system? It’s easy to disengage when you have virtually no choice in the matter.
Plus, I repeat, private schools are no better then public schools in this state.
No better for whom? Can you presume to know what is best for each child in Utah? I think parents know what’s best for their children –not bureaucrats, not teachers unions, and definitely not you.
Furthermore, if private schools and public schools really do test equally, where is the opposition to substituting a $7500 public school expense with a $500-$3000 private school expense. If both give equal results but one costs less, one of them really is better, isn’t it?
But there are many metrics good parents may use to measure up their schools; and although many metrics are academic, many more are not. The night school example was based on a family time metric. The high tech training school example was based on a job placement metric.
But let me push this further since I think it needs to be said. If your kid’s school starts handing out condoms without so much as advising you, might that also be some kind of metric?
Bottom line: Let parents decide what’s best for their kids. We know and love our own kids a hell of a lot more than you or anyone else does, and we are best equipped to make the decisions that will affect their entire lives. It’s a parent’s right to determine how, where, and what their children learn. Denying parents that right is a disservice to everyone, especially the kids.
If even one precious dollar is diverted from our public school system, which is broke down as it is, we have failed the overwhelming majority of Utah children. Yes, taking tax payer’s money to fund private schools instead of public schools is diverting money that could be used to fund our school system.
Its .0025 percent, dude. Freedom is priceless.
Good Night and Good Luck,
You too bud. Tell Aaron I say hi.
For more myth-busting goodness, please download this stellar doc. Remember, the polls results are tight, so please get out and vote on Tuesday.