1.31.2007

The War on Schools

It is obvious from the slate of bills before the Utah Legislature that there's an agenda here...and it's distinctly anti-school and conversely, anti-school children.

We begin with the voucher bill, or the spin title "School Choice". This elitist bill would take money from the worst-funded (even during a huge surplus) public schools in the nation and give it to parents to send their kids to private schools. Here's why it doesn't make any sense:

1 - The upper limit is $3,500 per year. At last count, the tuition for Waterford School in Sandy was $15,000 a year. The rich can pay that with or without tax credits, but why not throw another bone their way? They claim these credits will benefit people with all incomes, but what poor family can come up with $11,500 more to pay for private tuition?

2 - Private Schools would receive public money without having to answer to the public. Private schools can hire whomever they please, as long as they meet standards set by the board of the private school. They can teach whatever they want, or not teach whatever they want. There are not testing standards or attendance standards.
While I agree that parents should be able to have a say in what their child learns in school, if they want to send their kid to a place where there is more focus on religious tenets than math and science, public dollars should not subsidize that.

Learn more here.

Next comes the bill taking away in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants. This hateful bill would take away the chance for children who are already here, many of them citizens, to become more productive members of society. But why do that when we can trample them down and create a secondary class of citizens?

Finally comes the partisan school board race. As if the majority party does not control enough of the state, they want to make school board elections less about kids and more about making sure they have the right people to support their anti-education agenda. In addition, they would make the superintendent an elected position, rather than one determined by the elected school board according to qualifications. Would this also be a partisan election? One would hope that a persons education, experience, and devotion to education would outweigh the letter that follows their name on the ballot.

2 comments:

Dave said...

I'm confused by your arguments against vouchers. The average voucher will only be about $2,000, yet we spend over $6,000 per student in the public schools. Even if Utah gave a voucher to every student currently in a private school, the voucher program would still save the state money so long as only 2% of the student population switches from public schools to private schools. And since you and your friends seem to think that everyone and their dog is about to switch to private schools with a voucher, the state is looking to save A LOT of money that could then go back into our public schools or into any other public need like roads, etc.

Here's another point to consider. Children First Utah gives half scholarships to low income families in Utah. The average family receiving their scholarship makes only $25k a year and spends over $2,000 a year to make up the difference between the scholarship and tuition. That means that on average, their tuition is only costing $3,500 a year.

You might wonder if these $3,500 a year schools could possibly be better than the local public schools. Well, could you imagine that a low-income parent who is heavily involved in their child's education would pay $2,000 out of pocket to send their kid to a worse school than the free one in their neighborhood that even provides transportation??

I just read in the paper the other day that Children First Utah turned away 2,000 applications because it only had enough funds for 375 scholarships. They do little if any advertising.

Now if over 2,000 low-income parents are dying for a $1,500 scholarship, how many more low-income parents would find a $3,000 voucher helpful in getting their children the education they need?

And finally, private schools receiving vouchers would have the highest acocuntability there is--direct accountability to parents. We've tried to implement this in our current public school system through school boards and community councils, but it hasn't worked. The school boards do what they want regardless of what their constituents say. The people making the decisions are too many levels away from the people who are affected their decisions. This will change with vouchers.

Can I guarantee that every voucher school will be awesome? No, but I can guarantee that overall, more children will be getting an education that works for them.

And concerning the extremist school scenario, are there any extremist schools existing currently in the private sector in Utah?? Are there any existing in current voucher and tuition tax credit programs across the US? Do you know anyone that would send their kids to an extremist school? That's what I thought.

Juniper said...

Hey, I'm not saying private schools are bad...what I'm saying is that public dollars should go to schools that are accountable to the public.

My tax dollars should go to schools that I can influence...that may be a difficult endeavor, but unless I send my children to a private school, I will never have a say in what they teach.