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Dismantling the DC voucher program

 
 
Reply Thu 30 Apr, 2009 01:46 pm
http://conservativebrawler.blogspot.com/2009/04/no-vouchers-for-you.html

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_HChOeYner4c/SfmvMFKSi8I/AAAAAAAAAeU/dcxodb-UklY/s400/No+Voucher+for+You.gif

Quote:
... "The reckless dismantling of the D.C. voucher program does not speak well of the promise by Obama to be the Education President."
-- Juan Williams

Is it really all that surprising that liberals are opposed to voucher programs? Let's think this through: Aside from the MSM, what is the biggest supplement of liberalism?

That's right... student indoctrination.

While the Left has a powerful system of regulated indoctrination in place within the public school system, the same cannot be said for private schools. Therefore, democrats will do whatever necessary to take students out of private institutions and put them into public schools - where FDR policies, "climate change" alarmism, "everyone's a winner" mentalities and forced dilution of moral values are the status quo.....
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Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 8,335 • Replies: 32
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rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Apr, 2009 07:39 pm
@gungasnake,
The government shouldn't be funding private schools (especially those with religious agendas) to do the job that public schools should be doing. Instead of spending money on vouchers we should be spending it in improving public education (instead of giving up on it).
roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Apr, 2009 08:01 pm
@rosborne979,
I would say that people who sent their children to private or charter schools shouldn't also be expected to support the public schools, which the believe to have failed.
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Thu 30 Apr, 2009 08:03 pm
@roger,
roger wrote:
I would say that people who sent their children to private or charter schools shouldn't also be expected to support the public schools, which the believe to have failed.

Of course they should. They are still citizens of the country. Citizens aren't free to opt-out of paying taxes just because they don't like what government does with the money.

0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Apr, 2009 09:25 pm
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:
The government shouldn't be funding private schools (especially those with religious agendas) to do the job that public schools should be doing.

Why not? You wouldn't, after all, argue that the government shouldn't be funding private grocery stores by giving poor people foodstamps they can redeem wherever they want. You wouldn't argue that the government should run a system of public grocery stores instead, and should force food stamp recipients to redeem them there and nowhere else. What's the distinction?
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 09:13 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Why not? You wouldn't, after all, argue that the government shouldn't be funding private grocery stores by giving poor people foodstamps they can redeem wherever they want. You wouldn't argue that the government should run a system of public grocery stores instead, and should force food stamp recipients to redeem them there and nowhere else. What's the distinction?

Well, a couple of reasons.
First of all, there are no government run grocery stores receiving any funding, so any benefit the private ones receive isn't at the expense of someone else.
But more importantly, private grocery stores aren't in the habit of passing out "come to Jesus" pamphlets whenever someone redeems a food stamp, so they don't run afoul of the constitution. Many private education facilities can't make the same claim.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 09:55 am
@rosborne979,
Your last post implies at least two factual claims that are false, or at least dubious:

Claim 1: vouchers redeemed at private schools come at the expense of a public school.

This claim is dubious: Although public schools miss out on the benefit of the vouchers, they also save the cost of schooling the students whose parents opt out. To a first approximation, the profit margins of public schools, if any, remains unchanged under the bottom line.

Claim 2: School vouchers violate the non-establishment clause if redeemed in religious schools.

This claim is false. Admittedly, you could have made a reasonable case for it until six years ago. But in 2002, the Supreme Court considered your claim in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, and rejected it. If you make a legal argument, you have to make sure that your legal facts are correct -- and in this case, they aren't.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 11:07 am
@Thomas,
Ok. I'll drop my objection to claim #2 (even though I disagree with the court's ruling), and rally around claim #1.

I propose that if the government were to focus on running and funding the public education system (as they should, in my view) then they would be able to improve the efficiency of public schooling to the point where it was more cost effective to educate students there than to provide them vouchers for private schools.

And as an aside, my main objection to the court's ruling on claim #2 is that is presupposes that the private schools available to any given student are equally representative of various religions and non-religions in the area. Which clearly isn't always the case. If the government underfunds public schools but passes out vouchers for private schooling, how is that fair to little Johnny who's only choice is the Christian academy (or buddhist temple... yeh, right, like that's ever gonna happen) down the street?
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 02:17 pm
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:
I propose that if the government were to focus on running and funding the public education system (as they should, in my view) then they would be able to improve the efficiency of public schooling to the point where it was more cost effective to educate students there than to provide them vouchers for private schools.

Why? There are two points I don't understand here.

1) What makes you think that schools run by government would be more efficient as schools run by the private sector? (You appear to think so, because if you didn't you wouldn't prefer public to private schools.) and,

2) What makes you assume significant efficiencies of scale in public schooling? (You appear to assume those because if they weren't there, and if your point #1 was true, public schools would win the competition with private schools for vouchers, whatever the size of the public school sector.)
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 02:21 pm
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:
If the government underfunds public schools but passes out vouchers for private schooling, how is that fair to little Johnny who's only choice is the Christian academy (or buddhist temple... yeh, right, like that's ever gonna happen) down the street?

If that is your main problem under point #2, your suggestion to sack vouchers altogether is overbroad in fixing the problem. Here is a narrow, technical fix: Make vouchers redeemable in any school, public or private. That way, if you are right and public schools really do provide better education, parents will redeem their vouchers in public schools, and public schools will get just as much money as they did before.
H2O MAN
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 02:38 pm
@gungasnake,



Government schools and Teachers Unions are probably the worst threat this country faces.
PrezBO only exacerbates the problem.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 02:45 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

rosborne979 wrote:
If the government underfunds public schools but passes out vouchers for private schooling, how is that fair to little Johnny who's only choice is the Christian academy (or buddhist temple... yeh, right, like that's ever gonna happen) down the street?

If that is your main problem under point #2, your suggestion to sack vouchers altogether is overbroad in fixing the problem. Here is a narrow, technical fix: Make vouchers redeemable in any school, public or private. That way, if you are right and public schools really do provide better education, parents will redeem their vouchers in public schools, and public schools will get just as much money as they did before.


I'm interested in your ideas, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 03:06 pm
In Googling the news on the subject, I just discovered an interesting twist. Remember when Obama, during his presidential campaign, stated that he'd support school vouchers if data showed they worked, and oppose them if data showed they didn't?

Well, last month Obama's very own Department of Education released a study on the question. It finds that Washington DC students who participated in the progam consistently outperformed their peers who stayed in the public school system. (Source: Washington Post)

Well, I'm sure that settles it. Obama will no doubt be true to his word and get behind school vouchers, just as the data suggests he should.
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 03:09 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

rosborne979 wrote:
If the government underfunds public schools but passes out vouchers for private schooling, how is that fair to little Johnny who's only choice is the Christian academy (or buddhist temple... yeh, right, like that's ever gonna happen) down the street?

If that is your main problem under point #2, your suggestion to sack vouchers altogether is overbroad in fixing the problem. Here is a narrow, technical fix: Make vouchers redeemable in any school, public or private. That way, if you are right and public schools really do provide better education, parents will redeem their vouchers in public schools, and public schools will get just as much money as they did before.

Ok, I'm following along. I like the idea of allowing public schools to compete for the vouchers, but there is still one wrinkle. With private school there are two selections being made -- that of the parent selecting the school and that of the school selecting the student. Private schools can reject applicants and maintain their class sizes with consistency. With public schools, there is no selection wrt to the parents, and only bare minimal economic selection from the school based on the neighborhood property values. If you allow parents to select public schools with vouchers, that takes care of one side of the equation but leaves the other more or less unchanged. How can public schools compete fairly with private schools when they have a mandate that the private schools don't -- namely that they select their students.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 03:20 pm
@FreeDuck,
That's fair, FreeDuck. I have nothing against regulations limiting the ability of schools to cherry-pick their students.
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 03:28 pm
@Thomas,
I meant to say "namely that they can't select their students" above, but I guess you understood my meaning.

What kind of regulations would you be in favor of, Thomas? We can't tell private schools what to do unless we do the old "strings attached" thing and say that if they accept vouchers then they must abide by our regulations. But cherry picking is not really what I meant by selection. Well, it's not all I meant by selection. Private schools have the ability to stop taking students when their classrooms are full. Public schools can't do that. Even if we allowed public schools to do it, then we have the problem of how to provide an education for the children who wouldn't fit.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 03:30 pm
@FreeDuck,
To put this whole discussion into the proper context: As a libertarian, I'm quite fond of ideas like that of vouchers, and of privatizing the school system as much as parents want it to. But over the last eight years, I've read a lot of teaching posts from teachers here on A2K, including MsOlga, littlek, and Sozobe (who isn't working as a teacher but has the degrees to work as one). From what I read, I'm getting a sense that the limiting problems in teaching are nuts and bolts stuff -- didactics, group dynamics, etc -- that wouldn't change dramatically if vouchers became much more widespread. I am much more skeptical than I was five years ago that the lack of private alternatives to public schooling is the critical factor holding American students back.
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 03:36 pm
@Thomas,
As an ex-libertarian I find the idea of vouchers interesting but don't think they will fix public schools, mostly because of the reasons I laid out. I see public education much the same as universal health care and think that the systemic challenges will be very much the same in a general sense.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 03:48 pm
@FreeDuck,
FreeDuck wrote:
Private schools have the ability to stop taking students when their classrooms are full. Public schools can't do that. Even if we allowed public schools to do it, then we have the problem of how to provide an education for the children who wouldn't fit.

1) I agree this is a problem -- but it's a problem made worse, not better, by terminating initiatives like the Washington DC voucher programs. If overfull public schools are a problem, sending some students to private schools is still part of the solution, not part of the problem. Even if the solution is imperfect because you're sending only some of them, not all of them or even all of the excess, that shouldn't stop policy makers from making a start.

2) Although I think regulations can help solve the cherry-picking part, I don't think they are necessary or sufficient for solving the problem of limited resources. From the schools' point of view, full classrooms will not be a problem as long as students come with voucher endowments that are generous enough to build or rent extra class rooms. So the solution to your problem isn't regulation, it's sufficient funding, no matter if the funding is for vouchers or public schools.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 03:56 pm
@FreeDuck,
FreeDuck wrote:
I see public education much the same as universal health care and think that the systemic challenges will be very much the same in a general sense.

The parallel with universal health care (like under the Roberts, H. Clinton, and Obama plans) implies public funding for education. I agree there's a compelling case for that, and so do many libertarians from Milton Friedman on down. But the parallel does not imply public production of schooling. If you like how food stamps work for the poor, and if you like how the Democratic candidates' plans would implement universal healthcare, you ought to like school vouchers too. The analogy is exact.
 

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