Category: Choice in Education
Here’s the video they showed in school assembly (which included 1st graders).
Overall, I thought there were several inappropriate parts (including a part about flushing “deuces”), but perhaps the most dangerous lines were:
“I pledge to be of service to Barack Obama.”
“I pledge to be a servant to our president and all mankind.”
Remember these are first graders here: impressionable sponges (and not too discerning). We ought to be indignant.
But those quotes seem to be in line with Obama’s compulsory service plan:
“Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.” (emphasis added)
I would be very surprised if Obama’s September 8th’s in-school address to students didn’t have similar sections, intended to grease the skids on the “Community Service” draft.
Regardless, we should never pledge allegiance to the president –particularly when that president willfully reneges on his presidential oath to uphold and defend the constitution. To me, this projection of blind subservience into the classrooms of our unsuspecting youth is profoundly disturbing.
“When an opponent declares,
‘I will not come over to your side.’
I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already…
What are you? You will pass on.
Your descendants, however,
now stand in the new camp.
In a short time they will know nothing
else but this new community.’”
Obama will speak to public school children this Tuesday, September 8th. Here is the full text of a document issued by the U.S. Department of Education on how teachers can use the address as a “teaching” moment:
PreK-6 Menu of Classroom Activities: President Obama’s Address to Students Across America
Produced by Teaching Ambassador Fellows, U.S. Department of Education
September 8, 2009
Before the Speech:
- Teachers can build background knowledge about the President of the United States and his speech by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama and motivate students by asking the following questions:
- Who is the President of the United States?
- What do you think it takes to be President?
- To whom do you think the President is going to be speaking?
- Why do you think he wants to speak to you?
- What do you think he will say to you?
- Teachers can ask students to imagine being the President delivering a speech to all of the students in the United States. What would you tell students? What can students do to help in our schools? Teachers can chart ideas about what they would say.
- Why is it important that we listen to the President and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?
During the Speech:
- As the President speaks, teachers can ask students to write down key ideas or phrases that are important or personally meaningful. Students could use a note-taking graphic organizer such as a Cluster Web, or students could record their thoughts on sticky notes. Younger children can draw pictures and write as appropriate. As students listen to the speech, they could think about the following:
- What is the President trying to tell me?
- What is the President asking me to do?
- What new ideas and actions is the President challenging me to think about?
- Students can record important parts of the speech where the President is asking them to do something. Students might think about: What specific job is he asking me to do? Is he asking anything of anyone else? Teachers? Principals? Parents? The American people?
- Students can record any questions they have while he is speaking and then discuss them after the speech. Younger children may need to dictate their questions.
After the Speech:
- Teachers could ask students to share the ideas they recorded, exchange sticky notes or stick notes on a butcher paper poster in the classroom to discuss main ideas from the speech, i.e. citizenship, personal responsibility, civic duty.
- Students could discuss their responses to the following questions:
- What do you think the President wants us to do?
- Does the speech make you want to do anything?
- Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?
- What would you like to tell the President?
- Teachers could encourage students to participate in the Department of Education’s “I Am What I Learn” video contest. On September 8th the Department will invite K-12 students to submit a video no longer than 2 min, explaining why education is important and how their education will help them achieve their dreams. Teachers are welcome to incorporate the same or a similar video project into an assignment. More details will be released via www.ed.gov.
Extension of the Speech: Teachers can extend learning by having students
- Create posters of their goals. Posters could be formatted in quadrants or puzzle pieces or trails marked with the labels: personal, academic, community, country. Each area could be labeled with three steps for achieving goals in those areas. It might make sense to focus on personal and academic so community and country goals come more readily.
- Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals.
- Write goals on colored index cards or precut designs to post around the classroom.
- Interview and share about their goals with one another to create a supportive community.
- Participate in School wide incentive programs or contests for students who achieve their goals.
- Write about their goals in a variety of genres, i.e. poems, songs, personal essays.
- Create artistic projects based on the themes of their goals.
- Graph student progress toward goals.
This is dangerous, in my opinion. I don’t care what party a public leader is from, they should not have direct access to children in their classrooms.
But this is what happens when your tax dollars are filtered through the leviathan state. It inevitably uses them against you.
Why are we subsidizing this stuff? And why do we not have a decent way to opt out (and into a private school) without incurring additional –dare I say punitive– costs?
All this reminds me of a couple of quotes I’ve used before:
If the only motive was to help people who could not afford education, advocates of government involvement would have simply proposed tuition subsidies.
–Milton Friedman, Economist. Awarded 1976 Nobel Prize in economics.
“The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother’s care, shall be in state institutions at state expense.”
Karl Marx – Father of Communism (1848)
Hopefully this video of a retiring NEA veteran telling us what he really thinks will shame some of our local UEA members out of sending their dues to the National Education Association.
If nothing else, the video repudiates any notion that the NEA and its affiliates –the same labor unions that convinced Utahns to kill education vouchers– are really looking out for you and yours.
Some choice quotes:
“… Why are these conservative and right-wing bastards picking on NEA and its affiliates? I will tell you why: it is the price we pay for success. NEA and its affiliates have been singled out because they are the most effective unions in the United States, and they are the nation’s leading advocates for public education and the type of liberal, social, and economic agenda that these groups find unacceptable.”
No argument there! But, it wouldn’t be near so bad if that liberal, social, and economic agenda wasn’t constantly trickling into the classrooms!
“And that brings me to my final and most important point, which is why, at least in my opinion, NEA and its affiliates are such effective advocates. Despite what some among us would like to believe, it is not because of our creative ideas; it is not because of the merit of our positions; it is not because we care about children; and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have POWER. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us more hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year –because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them, the unions that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees. [Standing applause]
This is not to say that the concern of NEA and its affiliates with closing achievement gaps, reducing dropout rates, improving teacher quality and the like are unimportant or inappropriate. To the contrary, these are the goals that guide the work we do. But they need not and must not be achieved at the expense of due process, employee rights, and collective bargaining. That simply is too high a price to pay!
Wait, so collective bargaining (protecting your pocketbooks at taxpayer expense), and due process (making it difficult to fire bad teachers) are more important than having good teachers –teachers who are actually successful at educating children?
Think about that, seriously. They say protecting teachers is more important than reducing the dropout rate –the very minimal standard of educational achievement. What kind of backwards priority is that? Is it any wonder the US is getting is getting lackluster results?
When all is said and done, NEA and its affiliates must never lose sight of the fact that they are unions; and what what unions do, first and foremost, is represent their members.”
Yeah, tell me about it. If only there was some organization that represented schoolchildren and their parents… Oh wait, there is!
If you didn’t watch the video, please watch it! I’m afraid that much of the smugness just can’t come across in plain text.
I got this email from Parents for Choice in Education last night.
Transparency in Education Forum, Jan. 14th
On Wednesday January 14th, the Sutherland Institute is hosting a forum called Transparency in Education, featuring John Fund of the Wall Street Journal. The forum will include a sneak peak at Utah’s new transparency website.
We encourage you to attend the forum, both because of the importance of transparency and because John Fund is a great speaker (He’s spoken at PCE events in the past).
From our perspective, financial transparency in education is crucial to empowering citizens and increasing accountability, especially in an education system with limited choice. Increasing transparency is one of the main reasons we created the website www.UtahEducationFacts.com.
As we mentioned in our latest email bulletin, transparency will be a key issue in the 2009 legislative session. Last year, the Legislature passed a law requiring government agencies at the state level to post financial data online for public scrutiny. Senator Niederhauser of Sandy is sponsoring a bill for 2009 that will extend the transparency requirements to local government, including school districts and charter schools.
The event costs $25 per person and is on Wednesday, January 14th from 2 to 4 pm in downtown Salt Lake City. To reserve a seat, call (801) 355-1272 or visit www.sutherlandinstitute.org.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
For more info about the event, see this flyer.
To learn more about financial transparency in education, go here.
Please consider becoming a member of Parents for Choice in Education if you haven’t yet. It’s free, and it’s a darn good way to stay abreast of movements in education reform (which I think we need now more than ever).
By the way, I’m putting events like this on a colaborative Utah Liberty Events Calendar. You should subscribe if you’re into that kind of stuff (and let me know if you’d like to contribute).
I’d like to encourage everyone who voted FOR referendum 1 to please go to the Parents For Choice in Education website and register as a supporter. If the voucher concept ever resurfaces to sees the light of day in Utah (and I think it will since we only needed to sway an additional 12% of voters), we’re going to need people on the ground to pass out fliers, place yard signs, and host neighborhood meetings in their homes.
There was just too much misinformation out there. The opposition spent millions of UEA dollars to send daily mailers and buy up something like 6x the TV spots, and those anti-voucher ads were full of lies. The only way you can combat that kind of FUD campaign is to have a groundswell of grassroot support, willing to do what it takes to make sure that every citizen has the facts.
Please sign up now so that next time we can know our supporters and better coordinate our efforts. Help us ensure that parent’s choice in education never gets railroaded by union special interests again.
This is not over.
Well, they lied to us, and we believed them. Shame on them, and shame on us.
I’ve got a lot to say, but I’ll forbear for now.
Personally, I’m going to keep fighting for parents’ choice in education, although I don’t really know in what capacity. I hope you’re as angry as I am so that you will too. As a whole, we didn’t fight hard enough; but next time we’ll know better. We owe it to our children not to give up.
I’ll leave you for now with a selection of quotes, mostly from Conner’s blog.
“…A society that champions freedom of religion but at the same time countenances state regulation of education has a great deal of explaining to do.”
James R. Otteson, professor of philosophy. – The Independent Review, Spring 2000, “Freedom of Religion and Public Schooling”
“If the only motive was to help people who could not afford education, advocates of government involvement would have simply proposed tuition subsidies.”
Milton Friedman, Economist. Awarded 1976 Nobel Prize in economics.
“By preventing a free market in education, a handful of social engineers, backed by the industries that profit from compulsory schooling … has ensured that most of our children will not have an education, even though they may be thoroughly schooled.”
John Taylor Gatto, Source: Dumbing Us Down, p. 85
“In this matter of education, the law has only two alternatives: It can permit this transaction of teaching-and-learning to operate freely and without the use of force, or it can force human wills in this matter by taking from some of them enough to pay the teachers who are appointed by government to instruct others, without chargeâ€¦In creating a monopoly of education, the government must answer to the hopes of the fathers of families who have thus been deprived of their liberty; and if these hopes are shattered whose fault is it? We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say we are opposed to any education.”
Frederic Bastiat, The Law , 1850
“Here I encounter the most popular fallacy of our times. It is not considered sufficient that the law should be just; it must be philanthropic. Nor is it sufficient that the law should guarantee to every citizen the free and inoffensive use of his faculties for physical, intellectual, and moral self-improvement. Instead, it is demanded that the law should directly extend welfare, education, and morality throughout the nation.
“This is the seductive lure of socialism.”
Frederic Bastiat, Source: The Law, p. 25
“I am opposed to free education as much as I am opposed to taking property from one man and giving it to another who knows not how to take care of it. I do not believe in allowing my charities to go through the hands of robbers who pocket nine-tenths themselves and give one tenth to the poor. Would I encourage free schools by taxation? No!”
Brigham Young, Source: Journal of Discourses Vol. 18, p. 357
“The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother’s care, shall be in state institutions at state expense.”
“ Karl Marx – Father of Communism (1848)
Here’s a campaign status update from Parents for Choice in Education:
Some polls done by the media show that the school voucher law is behind in statewide opinion surveys. While we always knew this Referendum would be an uphill battle against a wealthy entrenched special interest union with millions in out-of-state cash, we remain confident.
This election will be decided by turnout. Normally, odd-year elections have very low turnout. Conventional wisdom has been that Referendum 1 would lead to higher turnout, but early numbers show that voters have been less than expected.
We have the votes to win, if those voters will show up and cast their ballots. The most important thing you can do is to get to the polls on Tuesday, and take other Referendum 1 supporters with you. We can win this election if you show up and vote!
This really is about turnout, so please take the time to get out and vote. Call your family. Call your friends. Let them know that this is important to you.
I’m going to repost this ad, because I think it may be helpful for some of the undecideds.
If you haven’t done your homework, these people have. Which side do you tend to agree with?
Powerful Union interests have spent millions of dollars on dishonest ads to try block this good legislation. But if you believe in low taxes; limited government; free market principles; and parents’ fundamental right to let their children learn how, where, or what they may; you really need to vote FOR referendum 1.
If you would like to hand out fliers and talk to undecideds near voting stations please call Deb at 727-460-2853 and she can get you some materials.
I’m going door to door talking to people again today. On the one hand, it’s rewarding to meet so many people that are FOR parents’ choice in education, but it’s easy to see how this has been and continues to be a real uphill battle. It takes a long time to educate people on a new policy, but it takes only a few seconds with some empty bullet points to create doubt.
That’s why the opposition is spending so much money on ridiculously inaccurate FUD campaigns. According to KBYU’s public affairs documentary, the anti-voucher people have at least 3x the budget (thanks to our national teachers’ unions) and they’re using it to buy up between 5 and 7 times more TV and mail ads. Those ads, in my opinion, are flagrantly misleading.
That’s why it’s crucial that every voter in Utah take the time to get the facts about Referendum 1. Right now the polls are just too close to be complacent about your right to choice in your children’s education.
If you’re interested in taking it to the streets either today or tomorrow, please contact Deb, a grassroots coordinator. Her number is (727) 460-2853. Otherwise, call your friends and family. We need every vote.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.