Utahns Get Heavy Dose Of Dishonesty From NEA

Tomorrow, Utah voters will decide whether to launch a school-voucher program to allow parents more choice in educating their children. The NEA has launched a full assault against the program, and in some cases against the truth, as the Wall Street Journal notes:

A new report from the Utah Foundation shows the state’s public education could certainly use a shake-up. The states most similar demographically to Utah, by measures such as student poverty and parental education, are Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Utah finishes last in this group, based on eighth-grade scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Utah youngsters trail the pack across the range of core subjects — last in math, last in reading, last in science.
Still, the unions are banking that fear of the unknown will trump demonstrated incompetence. The opponents have raised a bundle to disseminate their predictions of doom, including more than $3 million from status quo headquarters, the National Education Association. They’re stoking that fear with antivoucher TV ads that aren’t winning high marks for honesty. Salt Lake’s KSL-TV, an NBC affiliate that has editorialized against vouchers, nonetheless felt compelled to label as “false” the central claims in two recent attack ads against vouchers.
One ad featured the “Utah teacher of the year” claiming that vouchers “take resources away from public schools.” In fact, the law provides only up to $3,000 per child toward private school tuition, depending on family income, and the voucher money comes from the state’s general fund, not the education budget. The average voucher will cost $2,000, but the state now spends $7,500 per student. The public schools get to pocket the difference, $5,500, without an obligation to provide any services. So the more parents choose vouchers, the higher per-student spending will rise in the public schools.
Another attack ad claimed that private schools would have “no accountability,” when in fact they are required under the law to report to parents how their children in voucher-supported schools do each year on nationwide achievement tests. Market-based competition will force exactly the kind of accountability that the unions fear in public schools.

Voucher work by issuing a partial rebate on taxes spent on each child for their education. They remove part of the funding but the entire child from the state-run schools, meaning that each voucher represents a profit to the public school in which the child would have enrolled. Even at $3000 per voucher, more than half of the allocated resources for the child would remain in the public school system, which then would be relieved of the costs associated with that child.
As for accountability, the notion that private schools have less is simply absurd. Private schools in a competitive market have the ultimate accountability to parents to produce results. If they don’t, the parents will find another private school that works. Schools that fail to educate will close from lack of customers, just as any other business does when it proves incompetent in a competitive arena. These schools will have to show the responsiveness of any business in the marketplace if it expects to keep its clients satisfied enough to do repeat business.
Compare that to the responsiveness of administrators at public schools. Most of them are well-meaning, but even school boards have their hands tied through federal mandates, union job protections, and other issues outside of local control. Parents have almost no influence over curricula, nor do they get much accountability for actions taken by the schools or the teachers. Those who have tangled with administrators find that the education monopoly inculcates a certain mixture of arrogance and resignation among most of even the best people in the system — and much worse among the less worthy.
The Journal reports that the measure appears headed for defeat, fuelled by the scare tactics of those with the most to lose from the end of the monopoly. Utahns should keep that in mind when they go to the polls tomorrow. Which side wants to give the power to the parents, and which side wants to scare them into keeping the power with the monopoly that has made Utah the worst educational system in the region?

44 thoughts on “Utahns Get Heavy Dose Of Dishonesty From NEA”

  1. This type of duplicity seems to be a common tactic for the NEA. We are having a referendum vote here in the Savage Lands. The school district sent home a flyer that stated if we did not vote for the referendum our home values would GO DOWN! There is no basis in logic OR economic fact in that statement but that didn’t stop the pro-mediocrity, pro-teachers union hacks from stating it…
    LL

  2. Part of the problem is the insidious nature of the decline of public education. Grade inflation hides quite a lot of woes; “My child made honor role again this semester! The schools are doing a great job!” even though the child can barely write his own name. Add to this a sense of apathy that seems to be epidemic among American parents, and you’ve got a recipe for keeping the status quo. After all, if Americans are too lazy / apathetic to take care of their own health care, why should they be expected to take an interest in something as pedestrian as their child’s education?

  3. The NEA and its co-conspirator, the absolutely worthless Democrat Party, are plainly racketeering and will go to any ends to protect their “right” to steal money from American taxpayers.
    The RICO statutes should be used against these people and the leaders of the NEA should be put on trial and locked up.
    As for the absolutely worthless Democrat Party, a vote for a Democrat, any Democrat, is a vote for corruption, ignorance and incompetence.

  4. This is as inexplicable as the democrat reactionary opposition to election ballot security reform.
    There is no way the NEA does not know that public education is failing along broad lines. There is no way they do not know that competition does not improve results in any industry. And there is no way they don’t know that vouchers are the cheapest way to bring in competition.
    Yet there they are, not only opposing the a common sense reform, but lying to do it.

  5. Let’s just pay these people NOT to teach and move them off the field. Just like we pay farmers not to grow crops, and like France is paying illegal aliens to get the hell out.
    Seriously, they’re in the way; their agenda is to cement lifetime job security and to grab as much government cash as they can, while filling little skulls full of mush with bolshevik propaganda.
    Pay them to leave and let us educate our kids again.

  6. It is not about fairness, or money taken from the education, it is about system MONOPOLY.
    I think educational vouchers should eventually cover all the amount state pays for schooling: why should we feed some useless bums from the public system? Let’s go back to the schooling roots, let the parents decide on which school, and the State on the backbone of the education standards.

  7. The NEA dishonest? I never knew.
    Why I got out of teaching.
    In this state being a member of the NEA and the State’s equivelant outfit is pretty much required unless you want to spend a career as a roving sub.
    The NEA is NOT about educating our kids, is NOT about raising the quality of education among our kids, is NOT about anything dealing with improving the lifetime prospects of the kids at all.
    The NEA is ALL about building and maintaining an elite class of education administrators and facilitators and to obtain state-provided salaries on par with doctors and lawyers and such.
    Anything that dares to threaten or even touch the hegemony of the NEA is fair game for any sort of lies and distortions, and this Utah assault is simply another such effort.
    Face it, most parents don’t have a clue what happens when Johnny or Susie steps off the bus and walks into the Peoples Education Palace built and funded by tax dollars with little or no oversight. And face it, to a large degree, too large a degree, most parents don’t seem to care.

  8. While your analysis of this makes a number of good points, one thing stands out.
    As for accountability, the notion that private schools have less is simply absurd. Private schools in a competitive market have the ultimate accountability to parents to produce results. If they don’t, the parents will find another private school that works.
    I’ve seen this red herring in a number of discussions among opponents of the NEA. In theory, it’s a fine argument to make and a rule that certainly does apply to most truly competitive businesses. However, in terms of schools, it falls apart entirely. Unless you live in one of the handful of truly major metropolitan centers, the open market theory simply doesn’t work because there arent’ enough “suppliers” to effectively compete. In our area there is a grand total of one private, charter school within less than 90 minutes travel. If parents pull their child out of one of the public schools and send them there, then find it unacceptable, there just aren’t more options.
    There are only so many children in need of education in any given area. Private schools need students in order to be profitable. You’re not going to go build a second, third, or fifth private school in a suburban area with few prospects for immediately attracting a sufficient customer base. It’s just bad business.
    If you’re rich enough to send your kids great distances to boarding schools, you’re probably not worried about a 2.5K$ voucher anyway. If you’re on a budget and could use such help, you can’t ship your kids off every day to a school 4 hours away when you have to provide the transportation as well.
    It’s not a competitive enough environment in most of the country to simply say that “the market forces will take care of everything.”

  9. Since the Democrats and the unions have done such a bang up job on public “education”, why not let them manage health care?
    Because we all know the eventual Democrat vision for health care will model their present stranglehold over our overfunded/underperforming public schools.
    It’s all boilerplate. They can trot out the same tired excuses for failure (too little funding, our customers are boneheads/fat slobs) and develop a leviathan bureaucracy, similarly beholden to the Democrat Party.
    And when they get their talons into health care, we’ll all get the same “tough luck buddy, it’s the only option – unless you want to open your wallet for actual education/health care, that is, besides paying sky high taxes for government “services”.
    Don’t allow health care to go down the same crooked road “education” has gone down.

  10. Jazz,
    I think you’re underestimating the effect that vouchers will have. Markets form to meet demand, and a couple of million families with $3000 vouchers for each child makes a rather tempting market. The initiative will launch hundreds of private schools servicing this market, depend on it.

  11. Jazz,
    Your analysis is basically flawed: It would not be a few “Private” schools versus many “Public Schools”, it will be “Good Schools” versus “Bad Schools”. The bad schools would have to adjust, or starve. And the process will take years.

  12. The Captain said

    Private schools in a competitive market have the ultimate accountability to parents to produce results. If they don’t, the parents will find another private school that works. Schools that fail to educate will close from lack of customers, just as any other business does when it proves incompetent in a competitive arena.

    Wrong. To see just how wrong, google “La Academia Semillas del Pueblo” or “Aztlan Academy”. Semillas del Pueblo has the lowest test scores in the LA area, but the kids who go there do so with enthusiastic parent support. Until we have a central testing regimen for all schools allowed to do business, we’ll be stuck with schools outside the system which don’t work just as badly as schools inside the system.
    While I’m for school choice (including vouchers), our childrens’ minds are not to be messed with. Any school, private or public, should be accountable, and schools failing that accountability test should be closed or taken over by the state and their administration held accountable for the failure. Furthermore, a central (state) core curriculum for the “3 R’s” should be requi
    The moment the voucher marketplace opens up, there will be shysters to take advantage of the money. Even an entire year is too much time to allow a failing school to operate. Any voucher plan must have a means of quickly identifying and fixing vampires and buzzards.
    Until we can fix problems like Semillas del Pueblo (which is actually a charter school problem, but equivalent in nature to a private school problem), how can we hope to fix the fly-by-night schools that will certainly pop up in the face of vouchers?

  13. Jazz,
    The other flaw in your statement is the assumption you can’t move. I chose to move to a state and a town with a highly rated school that provided an excellent education. It was a pain, I took a significant cut in pay as did my wife, but that’s part of being a parent. We sacrificed so our kids would have a good education. Both are in college (one Ivy league and the other a top State school–both on full academic scholarships–not to brag but to point out how good the school was at preparing my kids). The kicker? It was a public school. The other kicker? It’s non-unionized.
    It’s isn’t “private vs public”. It’s “lousy schools vs good schools”.
    People lament that school teachers aren’t paid as well as pro-athletes all the time. I bet if you made teaching as competitive as pro-sports you would see teachers bringing in high salaries. The unions have pretty much guaranteed mediocrity throughout their structure.

  14. “Furthermore, a central (state) core curriculum for the “3 R’s” should be requi”
    The problem with the “3 R’s of education” is that few seem to realize that only 1 of the 3 actually begins with an R.

  15. unclesmrgol,
    This is the point where there is indeed a requirement that the states and the federal government be invovled in education, to set standards, to define competencies, and to test the schools, and the teachers, first, to insure that they are going above and beyond the minimum requirements, and then evaluating the students, to insure that at the end of the day they understand and are facile in such mundane things as math, science, social studies, English, and can read.
    The emphasis in too many school districts to teach the test in order to obtain federal and state funding is the wrong approach. Teaching the core subject material in the earliest grades first, and then teaching the deeper subjects as the kids grow, and teaching them well, will make testing easier for the kids, and more representative of the students actual understanding and knowledge.
    Having mandated state minimums as a start point, not a goal, is where too many states and school districts are fouling up the works. Most states look at the minumums as a goal, not a start point. Thus the inordinate amount of time teaching the tests instead of teaching the subjects. Only with honest testing and evaluation of teachers down to the students will we be able to get a handle on how well or how poorly our kids are being taught, but also determine who is and who is not a competent teacher.
    In one of my school districts a few years ago, there was an outcry of intense magnitude that teachers would be required to pass well within the top 5 percentile ALL tests to be given to students. The NEA locally rationalized that teachers had too much to do to be bothered taking competency tests. They are demanded at the time of being granted a teaching degree or certification, but at any other point in a teaching career, they are not demanded at all. Seems a bit dumb, for want of a better word.
    If the medical profession were held to such low standards, the results would be? In teaching, we are talking about the lives of our kids, in a very serious way. But to try to test teachers annually and make their certification an annual event is anethema to the NEA, and to teachers as a whole.
    Thus, there is not only poor teaching being allowed in public schools, but also in charter schools and even in private schools, though less so in private schools. Your concerns about the bent of charter schools is noteworthy. Unless there are mandated state minimum requirements and ALL schools in a state being required to meet and exceed annually those requirements, we will have such instances as you mention.
    The role of public education is to offer kids the tools and understanding of those tools they will need to be prosperous and able members of society.
    Thus far, public education over the past 40 years continues to fall short of this simple goal.

  16. Thanks for this great post Captain Ed… I have just filed under the 112,768th reason I homeschool my teenager… His Iowa Standard Testing Scores for end of year 7th grade:
    12th grade equivalence in history/social studies
    11th grade equivalence in math/pre-algebra
    9th grade equivalence in science
    8th grade equivalence in English/Spelling/Literature
    cowgirl…

  17. Faith +1
    Your efforts and sacrifices on behalf of your children are certainly admirable, if not falling into the category of heroic. However, in a country such as ours, shouldn’t there be an expectation that parents shouldn’t have to crawl over a mile of broken glass for this, and have a right to expect something as basic as a solid education opportunity for their children? Moving entails even more trauma, if even possible, for many people.
    I have long disagreed with the proposals being discussed here, not because they are not needed, but simply because I think it’s the wrong approach. Like so many social problems, the answer IMHO isn’t more schools, but fixing the ones we already have. The solution, however, shouldn’t be coming from the government, expecting them to fulfill to role of “nanny state” and fixing all these problems. Throwing money at problems, particularly our tax money, rarely solves anything long term. The schools we have now could be vastly improved simply by bringing to bear pressure from the parents and community they serve. It’s the community who can be made more aware of shortcomings and empowering them to force out poor performing teachers and administrators and to work for change. But they will also need to be made more invovled in the lives and prospects of their children. Concerned, engaged parents will send motivated, success oriented kids to the schools. The best school in the world won’t be able to force success on an apathetic student who just doesn’t give a crap.
    Why the Republicans fight against this used to be a mystery to me. Why should this be one subject where suddenly they want the government to go in and start throwing tax dollars at a social problem and dictate how the families should address a serious issue? The answer, sadly, seems to be suspicously rooted in politics.
    The NEA typically supports the Democrats. The NEA’s members work in public schools. This means that public school teachers = “bad” which means public schools = “bad” which means the GOP needs to attack the public schools. The Right doesn’t want money spent on expanding healthcare, social security, medicare, etc. etc. But on education it looks to hurt Democrats so it’s a winning position?
    No. It’s a serious problem which appears to be rooted more in our social fabric than anywhere else. If you want to spend taxpayer money on this problem, I think it would be better spent on programs designed to educate and engage parents. Declining family responsibility and absentee parents (either physically or emotionally) who use public schools as a free baby sitting service rather than the vehicle to launch them on to higher education and professional success are the real problems here as I see it. It’s high time to stop blindly attacking the NEA just because they support the Democrats and work on the real problems. Social conservatives? Ok… walk the walk on this one and start working on ways to imporve the social fabric in families. If that can be achieved, the school quality problem will solve itself.

  18. If I was starting a family today, we would home school. My kids were both national merit scholar finalists and in leadership positions and earned state-wide recognition in their areas of interest. They were not particularly well prepared when they got to their ‘maned’ schools. The home schooled kids I see are better prepared. And the networks of home school kids assures good socialization and access to experts on tough topics. The age of public school is passing wether the unions and other anti-progressive power groups like it or not.

  19. As a former teacher, and a Conservative, I do not want more money thrown at public education. I want competent teachers required to prove annually they are facile in the subjects they teach. I also want a nationwide basic set of standards for teachers and for students. I want evaluative testing.
    I also want a teaching profession that rewards excellence and is willing to purge their ranks of those who occupy space in a classroom and cannot pass the same tests they offer our kids. I want an end to the dumbing down of curriculum. I want an end to bi-lingual education as well. I want an end to the glorification of sports over the achievement of an education.
    But throwing more money at education? Seems over the years, the NEA has been successful in ingraining among the population that the mark of a good school district is the amount of money per pupil spent.
    I have personally been in countries where the expense per pupil is a pittance of that spent here in the U.S., where schools consisted of rude buildings, benches and tables and a blackboard or two, where the kids actually learn, and teachers are actually respected in the community, and where the kids compete and earn placements across the globe in many many very fine post-secondary schools, schools our own kids would be hard pressed to gain admittance.
    In this state there is a requirement that in order to maintain a teaching certification one has to enroll in a Master’s program within three years of obtaining a basic teaching degree, and to complete the program within five years of enrollment. The catch is that the Masters programs that most teachers flock to are administration and counseling, not the subject areas in which they teach, nor in any related field. The result is a growing cadre of highly paid administrators and counselors, who are rewarded financially and are also part of a growing interstate trade of administrators, inflating salaries along the way as districts compete for new administrators with more broad exposures, and a loss of teachers who want to teach from our classrooms. In this state the average longevity of a classroom teacher is about 7 years.
    In the closest metropolitan area here the school district spent nearly $1 million to interview and locate and select potential a new administrator, and the starting salary offered was in excess of $250k per year in pay and benefits. $250k per year in a city where the average income per family is well below $75k. So far, after over a year of searching, they still do not have a new adminsitrator, their salary offer apparently is too low.
    The NEA over the years has established a caste, and a caste that values high salaries far far more than the education of our kids.
    I offered in one teaching interview to take a salary a good bit lower than that offered by the school district. I was jumped on by a wide range of teachers for trying to do so. I was also made the target of a number of NEA/unionized teachers because I refused to re-new my union membership and tried to negotiate my own salary. Needless to say, I am no longer teaching. But, what did that school district want of me? First and foremost, they wanted a new coach. teaching would be secondary to my coaching. I refused to be a coach, for any sport, offering instead my credentials as a teacher in history (American and world), geography, sociology and civics, offering to be a one-man social studies department, single, available, and willing to work. I don’t coach. I offered to cut that extra salary for coaching out of the equation. I was met with hostility for even considering that.
    The trend in public education is not good, and has not been good for a few decades. In urban areas it is far worse than in suburban or more rural areas, but the emphasis is on teacher salaries, and avoiding testing of teachers, and teaching kids the tests in order to garner more state and federal funding. One of my kids went to high school in a $65 million school, new, had all the bells and whistles and whizbangs one would expect for that amount of money. But quality of teachers? Pathetic.

  20. Jazz,
    You preference for Democrats (and an apparent dislike for Republicans) shouldn’t affect your fairness, or clouds your logic.
    The answer to the bad schools is NOT through yet another State sponsored program, this time a course for adults, on “How to get involved in your children life”.
    The answer is much simpler: let the parents have a simple choice. They don’t have it right now, short of moving to another part of town, or a new city. Let the schools compete for the parents and the students.
    Incidentally it wouldn’t cost a dime, since bad schools would pay for it (by loosing students and hopefully bad teachers).

  21. You preference for Democrats (and an apparent dislike for Republicans) shouldn’t affect your fairness, or clouds your logic.
    I realize that such assumptions and generalizations make the world much nicer and easier to live in, however in the 31 years that I’ve been registered to vote, I have never registered as a Democrat, and was in fact a registered Republican for 28 of them. I don’t have a “preference for Democrats” and am unlikely to vote for any of them in next year’s elections, except possibly on the local level. I do have a “dislike” for Republicans these days, but that’s only because they are politicians and the Dems get to share my dislike in equal abundance.
    I’m afraid you would have to discuss the issue with me on its merits rather than trying to automatically pigeonhole me into some easily packaged “enemy” mold.

  22. Jazz,
    I apologize for pigeonholing you wrongly as a Democrat, however I still don’t understand, why you object to parents simply having a choice (which, IMHO would led to closing of the bad schools in the hurry). At present parents are apathetic, since they can do nothing, school system was taken over by the Unions and PC crowd and the problem festers hopelessly. Let the people vote with their feet (their voucher dollars), it worked with the totalitarian regimes, it will work with the school system as well and luckily, but unfortunately will be painful for the cause of the mess, bad teachers and bad principals. And will cost no money.

  23. “Faith +1
    Your efforts and sacrifices on behalf of your children are certainly admirable, if not falling into the category of heroic. However, in a country such as ours, shouldn’t there be an expectation that parents shouldn’t have to crawl over a mile of broken glass for this, and have a right to expect something as basic as a solid education opportunity for their children? Moving entails even more trauma, if even possible, for many people.”
    Oh, please. Cut the hyperbole. It wasn’t heroic. It’s called being a parent. I didn’t crawl a mile over broken glass. I moved. That’s it. It wasn’t a herculean effort, just a sacrifice, but not a soul wrenching one. I just did what was needed and didn’t look to the government for the solution. Yes, it was hard work, but maybe if people were willing to actually, you know, be adults, instead of just glorified children with the government being the parents things could actually get done.
    There is a right to a basic, solid education–it just isn’t being provided by the failed, union-driven monopoly of the “public education system” run by the government. I moved from an area with a poor track record of education to one where it was a better track record. Everyone is free to do so. That is the basic right. Not everything in life has to be hand delivered to your doorstep. Sometimes you actually have to get up off your butt and DO something.
    I pity a mindset that thinks moving is “trauma”. Perhaps if people just quit whining over every inconvenience in life, put on their big-boy or big-girl underwear and took of their business we wouldn’t have entire generations out seeking basic needs as a handout from the government?

  24. Yeah, like “cherry picking” won’t happen!
    As if some children aren’t born dumb, either.
    I can remember when it was suggested that Americans would “save money” if we just put the post office out of business.
    And, then came reality. Nobody wanted to deliver may and LOSE money … so great swaths of towns, and cities, would be without consistent mail delivery at all.
    Of course, Lincoln said it: You can fool some of the people ALL of the time. Perhaps, this is not balanced out between both parties?
    And, the republicans, not in Utah, but in Idaho … so they read each other’s news events. Know all about Larry Craig. Even very religious folk, who have no ideas outside of their own frams of reference, pretty much figured out that Larry Craig, saying he “was not gay.” Was not telling the truth.
    Improving schools, ahead?
    Or creating a system where bright kids will get academic credentials; and the dumb kids will go back to “sharing” “separate but unequal” environments. And, opportunities.
    Dunno how the vote will break.
    Don’t even know if there are far more supports for our school system, or not. But having raised a kid, who got send to public schools, here … WHICH ARE EXCELLENT. I haven’t heard of one horror story.
    However, in my community? School breaks at 3:00 PM. And, more than half the kids toodle off for parent-paid-for tutoring. Others? Get music lessons. So the school’s rich in kids who can play instruments. To supply the whole orchestra, with musicians.
    You’d be surprised what the taxpayer’s “dime” supplies.
    Politics of special-interest groups, by the way, tend to suffer from NO “across-the-board” support.
    But it’s an interesting tug-of-war to watch.

  25. coldwarrior,
    I agree with your analysis. The tests have to provide a meaningful measure of student competance with respect to the core curriculum. Not necesarily at the per-student level, but at the per-class level. Outliers need to be analysed for reason. Results of analysis (for superior and inferior performers) needs to be reflected in updated processes.
    With regard to a school administrator, the price should track to achievements — if all they can afford is a newbie, they will pay low. They may get an excellent administrator, but if they are looking for a seasoned administrator at a bargain price, they won’t get one. There are too few able administrators and too many positions.
    Faith+1:
    I understand that the “3 R’s” aren’t all “R’s” — that’s why the term was in quotes. But they all start with the “R” sound if you’re a pirate. In fact, pirate mathematics was my favorite subject.

  26. Jazz
    The schools we have now could be vastly improved simply by bringing to bear pressure from the parents and community they serve.

    Why the Republicans fight against this used to be a mystery to me.
    I had not noticed that the Republicans fight against this. Can you offer some examples?
    And how do you propose that we bring pressure to bear from parents and community?
    unclesmrgol
    Even an entire year is too much time to allow a failing school to operate.
    Then you should be demanding that many public schools be closed down ASAP.

  27. Bringing postive pressure to bear with an entrenched monopoly, an entrenched monopoly about which a great majority of parents have not a clue, is like trying to pee out a forest fire. Nice valiant effort, but essentially useless. That monopoly is so ingrained into the local state and federal political realm as to make sinecure within the teaching profession an easy given.
    Yet another anecdote…a few short years ago a science teacher in a nearby public school district was cashiered because of parental protests. He was giving too few “A’s” and too many “F’s.” He, a naturalized Pakistani-American, taught physics. He laid out his teaching and learning goals during the first week of class, and had the students sign a contract to achieve the majority of these goals. Depsite the fact that a wide number of former students, students who achieved “A’s” and “B’s” in his classes went on to very successful collegiate careers and to a student stated that were it not for this teacher’s high expectations and daily demands that they read, research, and above all think beyond mastering the basics, the teacher was finally fired after protests from parents who had kids who did not achieve “A’s” and “B’s.” He was viewed by the school board as being too tough and not willing to streamline his teaching so that students who didn’t have a strong suit in physics could pass the courses he taught so they could more easily fulfil college admission requirements.
    In the end, within a few weeks of his being fired, he was hired by a local private (Catholic) school, at a bit lower salary, and given free rein to continue his demanding and exacting tutelage.
    The whole point being, this teacher was canned by a local populace who saw his teaching as being too demanding. Every teacher should be demanding, pressing the envelope, guiding the students to exceed the norm, rise above the average, and excel, and abvove all learn to think, and be able to do so and excel in college and or in their professional careers.
    But, here is a case where dumbing down became public policy, right out in the open.

  28. How many students does one need in order to create a profitable school?
    That depends on your expenses.
    If you are teaching out of your home, that number could be as low as 1.

  29. School vouchers is to the NEA what Toyota and Honda are to planned-obsolescence UAW Detroit.
    The instant people have a choice for a superior product the old UAW / NEA union “how can we stick it to the consumer today” mentality gets thrown back in their substandard union faces.
    Liberty is predicated upon choices being available. Socialism and Communism are predicated upon learning to live with bloated bureaucratic poor quality.
    Part of the reason for home schooling success is the instructors having a vested interest in the quality of the current and final product. In the public skool setting where the goal is to get the biggest paycheck while peddling duhversity or the socialist political scam of the day quality becomes irrelevant because quality IS irrelevant.
    The power of school vouchers derives from an attained or reclaimed ability to purchase the education product electively just like an automobile. The free enterprise cream puffs get purchased while the socialist lemons get left to rot like so many moldering beets on an Epicurean Soviet food train.

  30. Jazz,
    You said “In our area there is a grand total of one private, charter school within less than 90 minutes travel. If parents pull their child out of one of the public schools and send them there, then find it unacceptable, there just aren’t more options.”
    But there is an option. You can send your child to the public school if it is better. The two schools, one public, one private, are in direct competition. If the private school provides a better education, then it will retain its students. If not, the private school will draw them away. For those areas that don’t have competition, it will be because there are no private schools available. In those cases, status quo reigns. I don’t see the down side.

  31. They remove part of the funding but the entire child from the state-run schools, meaning that each voucher represents a profit to the public school in which the child would have enrolled. Even at $3000 per voucher, more than half of the allocated resources for the child would remain in the public school system, which then would be relieved of the costs associated with that child.

    Actually, that’s quite misleading, because the $7000/pupil is only the average cost. Some kids cost $1500/year to educate, and some special ed kids cost $25,000, $50,000, half-a-million per year to educate. Under a voucher system, the $1500/year kids will take their $3000 voucher and go somewhere and get a much better education with it. (Probably not twice as much better, though…) And the most expensive special-ed kids, with their 3-1 student teacher ratios, their individual aides who shadow them, their fancy electronic gear, their armies of bureaucrats who test them, and write IEPs, and conduct meetings to discuss the IEPs, and write reports showing that the IEPs have been followed, and test the kids more — all of them will stay right there in the public schools.
    I happen to send my kids to Catholic school, and am in favor of vouchers, but I have no illusions that public schools are spending anything approaching that average cost on the vast majority of students.

  32. flenser,
    I am. The two schools I mentioned above are “charter schools” — public schools run like private ones. They have a rather interesting legacy rooted in the racist organization “La Raza”.
    In my area one district (Compton) was taken over by the state due to malpractice (it has since been returned to school board control after the election of a new school board).
    My point — there are good schools and bad schools, and the bad schools are run by bad proprietors. Whether the proprietors are public or private, they need to be detected and either repaired or replaced ASAP. Letting the problems go on interminably does no child in that system any good. Implicit in the voucher system as well as the current system is the concept that the People consider well educated citizens to be a priority. Nobody, either public or private, should profit from that trust without delivering the goods.

  33. Unless you live in one of the handful of truly major metropolitan centers, the open market theory simply doesn’t work because there aren’t enough “suppliers” to effectively compete. In our area there is a grand total of one private, charter school within less than 90 minutes travel.

    One of the reasons for that is planning and zoning. Private schools have to obey that, public schools don’t. Many times there are few if any places you can build a private school because of zoning. Even when there are suitable places, it’s very common for school board members to serve on the P&Z committee that approves real estate projects. Do you think they’re going to approve a competing private school? In the unlikely case they do approve it, do you think their conditions will be reasonable or very, very onerous?

  34. Jazz
    Your argument falls totally on it’s face because you start from a false premise.
    You say essentially that private schools don’t work and it’s shown by how few are in them.
    You totally neglect that private schools are funded totally out of the parents pocket and they still get no exemption from paying for the public schools in their taxes.
    Public schools are clearly a disgrace and can’t be even called a disaster waiting to happen, because it’s already here.
    Again ColdWarrior hits it on all cylinders.
    There are reforms that could help but their is to much inertia involved to do anything other than a drastic remake.
    The NEA is pulling out all the stops here because they fully know like pulling a thread on a sweater their whole agenda will unravel. If private schools are put on a level playing field the differential in output will doom their arguments to the dustbin.
    We may all have disagreements on their directions but their is not a prayer of a comparison between public colleges and private colleges. States throw tons of money at the supported schools and end up with something passable and median with all the bloat of the public school system.
    Sooner or later the Nevada’s , Missippi’s or South Carolina’s of this country will be fed up enough to shout out do something different even if it’s wrong.

  35. “You totally neglect that private schools are funded totally out of the parents pocket and they still get no exemption from paying for the public schools in their taxes.”
    Not totally – many church schools, in particular Catholic schools, are mostly funded through church donations.
    And in many inner city cases, parochial schools are the defacto school of choice of anyone who can possibly shield their children from terrible public schools.
    Members of my family are from Metairie, LA a middle to upper class suburb of New Orleans. Just like New Orleans, anyone who can possibly scrape by to pay for it, sends their children to private schools because the public schools are a complete and utter disaster. So they’re paying school taxes and again for an actual school. Great deal there.
    Sort of like DC. Where all the Democrats who love public schools, send their children to private schools. Along with the public school teachers.
    Why isn’t anyone asking Ms. Rodham why it is Chelsea didn’t attend public school in the District of Columbia?
    And why if Ms. Rodham was charged with improving Arkansas public schools, why are they pretty much the worst in the nation? Is that her legacy of “experience”?

  36. Sorry NoDonkey
    Slight glitch to your argument.
    The statement by me was correct because I was talking about totally private schools not church related.
    In that case the school is covered by a combination of the parents and other parents so the burden is spread.
    Totally private schools also get some from fundraisers and endowments.

  37. I actually had someone try to tell me one time that more people were double dip punished by a system of public and church schools because they had to pay taxes for the public schools and part of their church donations went to private schools.
    When I presented them with the statistics of how little of their church money went to support the church schools they didn’t know what to say.

  38. I don’t think that anyone can understand a parent’s frustration and potential apathy unless he (or she) is a parent who has attempted to exact some small change in the local school district. I believe it was ColdWarrior who said it is like peeing on a forest fire – a useless effort. Worse, you are liable to get badly burned.
    I homeschool my 11 year old son, and will probably homeschool our baby girl as well, though I would very much like to have other options. Given that we live in a small rural school district and cannot afford the taxes and mortgage that are part of living in a affluent and highly regarded school district without me returning to work, we will do what we have to do within our means and without jeopardizing our future finances.
    The bureaucracy of NY state education is appalling and those involved in some way have managed to convince themselves that it’s “all for the children.” As if some stranger in Albany has a greater interest in my son’s welfare than me, his mother, who will have him living in the basement if he doesn’t make something of his life, beginning with a sound education.
    It really makes me sick.

  39. As to public school accountability: When the high school my sons attended violated their homework requirement rules my son complained to me. Incomplete homework was to impact grades, but didn’t for some good, but lazy students in their classes. They said to me that why should they do homework when others didn’t. Since, in particular, this caused my sons to develop an attitude I did not approve of, I wrote a letter to the principle of the school. As a family we were very active in the school activities and PTA plus my wife was a former teacher. After the letter to the principle, which was not made public, we were ostracized, although the homework situation did improve.

  40. Captain Ed,
    I am the sponsor of the voucher legislation. Thanks for highlighting the issue. Your take on accountability is right on — parents’ ability to vote with their feet is the ultimate accountability. (Much more so than the public system where “customers” are assigned by zip code and even the worst teachers can hardly be shown the door).
    And you are right in your response to Jazz; markets will respond, and more private schools will be built. A few years ago, Utah passed a voucher for special needs children. It faced the same opponents and many of the same arguments, including lack of capacity for special needs students in private schools. I bet you can guess the outcome. After the voucher became available, capacity increased significantly.
    I am a die-hard advocate for improving Utah’s public schools. I’m still hopeful our teachers union will join me in that fight some day.
    Rep. Steve Urquhart

  41. I hope Utahans go to the polls and stand up for their rights as parents. I’ve pulled my children out of public schools, and I live in one of the best school districts in the country. I’m homeschooling them now, and we’re all much happier. Parents need to reject the idea that the education of their children is someone else’s responsibility. The NEA doesn’t care if your child gets a decent education. If you don’t care either, you can be sure that your child will be the one to suffer.

  42. The concern over the quality of private schools is a legitimate one, but it is solved the same way we approach the question of the quality of a college: We visit it, we talk to people who have used it, we read news stories about it, we examine the qualifications of its teachers and the accomplishments of its students, and we examine commercial services that evaluate and compare competing schools. And if we enroll in it, we evaluate our experience to see if it lives up to our expectations and is worthe investment of time and money.
    The government has certain basic standards for car safety, but overall quality is driven more than anything else by market competition using information tools like evaluations done by Consumer Reports, the retention of used car value as shown by the Bluebook, and customer satisfaction analyses like those done by JD Powers.
    We would think that the government making us buy only one kind of car, based on the number of people in our family, would be ridiculous, even if it was the “best” car that the government could make within the constraints of how much it would cost and the features it could have. Innovation would be minimal, and selection of options (like different colors) pretty limited. But that is the beauty of it–we will all get the same product. We will be treated equally, even though our wants and needs are different. We are being told by the UEA and schoolboards that we should buy education for our children from the Yugo factory!

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