Two-Question Poll

October 30, 2007 | 98 comments
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Which of the following statements would you agree with?

1. A school voucher system should be put into place, to more easily allow parents to remove their children from sometimes-deficient public schools and place them in more appropriate, parent-selected educational environments.

2. A ward opt-out system should be put into place, to more easily allow parents to remove their children from sometimes-dysfunctional wards and place them in more appropriate, parent-selected ward environments.

For your answer to each: Why?

Further reading:

Is there a duty to stay with a dysfunctional ward?

Russell’s very interesting post from a little while back on the conceptual links between these two concepts, and their implications for Mormons: “Why be beholden to dysfunctional ward, but not a dysfunctional school system? Why does one’s presence at church, even if one should have complaints with its functioning, loom so much larger in the thinking of your average potential homeschooling Mormon than does the similar call to support the local school system?”

(Coming tomorrow: A poll with three questions! Okay, maybe not.)

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98 Responses to Two-Question Poll

  1. Julie M. Smith on October 30, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    I agree with (1) and not (2). I see the following differences:

    (a) The primary locus for spiritual growth is the home/family, not the ward. I believe that my children would be much more likely to come out of a bad ward with their spirituality intact than to come out of a bad school with their minds and souls intact.

    (b) My children would benefit others in a bad ward to a much greater extent than they would benefit others in a bad school.

    (c) Unless a ward is messed up enough to merit intervention from the stake (or higher), we can assume that the level of its dysfunction isn’t all that great. It is no great or unusual thing to have wards changed or collapsed or split or given new leadership or whatever if the situation isn’t so great. On the other hand, there is no bottom for the dysfunctionality of a public school. A bad ward might be a C-, but a bad school can be an F.

    (d) Almost all wards are basically functional. We might quibble about the %, but no one in their right mind thinks that almost all schools are basically functional.

    I would be interested in hearing from those who don’t support vouchers what precisely they think should be done to fix our incredibly horrible public schools. I grew up with a mom who was a public school teacher, I taught public school myself, and now I teach my boys at home. I’ve seen this system from a few different angles (including student teaching at a darned clever excuse to avoid desegregation laws, but that’s another story), admittedly never seeing the worst of the inner city schools, and I can’t think of anything besides something as drastic as vouchers that has the potential to get us out of the mess we’re in.

  2. djinn on October 30, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    If one decides to opt out of the school system, why must the government pay for it? For this reason, the two questions are quite different. No one is saying that a parent can’t homeschool the child. The issue is whether they should be paid for the privilege. With wards, the situation is reversed; we do something like pay for the privilege of attending a ward.

    To belive that the government must pay for my preference in schooling my children requires, as far as I can tell, that the money paid by our taxes be seen as, I don’t know, accountable to each of us on whether or not we agree with the policy involved. Each dollar used to homeschool or privately some student takes a dollar out of another student’s education. Why, for this issue, do we get to choose how our tax dollars are spent? I, for one, want all of my tax dollars spent on the Iraq war refunded to me. Now.

    I think that it is wonderful that children are given a free education here in the US, and I feel that efforts to hinder it, such as the voucher program, are terrible. What will happen to those poor children that don’t live in the sort of households that can provide a private or home school? What will society be like if we don’t spend the money to educate them? I have always thought of Mormons as Kind. But lately, there’s this scarey strain…. It’s not a part of the Mormonism that I know; rather, it’s been imposed on us, we should resist.

  3. Ardis Parshall on October 30, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    I agree with 1, and not 2.

    That’s largely because of the way I view the organization and leadership behind the two enterprises. I have faith and confidence in the church, even if the leadership of a given ward (or mission, in my case) is highly suspect, and I believe that the ward’s problems will be worked out, with help from upstream and with effort from ward members. I have no such confidence in the bureaucracy behind the public school system.

    I have a literally sacred duty to make the ward work. I have no such duty to a tax-supported commodity that makes no effort to work out its problems, and that is a tool of every philosophy I despise. There is nothing sacred about the public school system.

    And even when wards are somewhat dysfunctional in the short term, they still accomplish part of their purpose. You can still take the Sacrament every week, you can still go to the temple, you can still live the gospel, even if the YW president is a gossip and the bishop is lazy and the Sunday School teacher preaches politics and half the ward is feuding with the other half. When the public school fails, it pretty much fails completely.

    Since I don’t have children, not even when I was a property owner paying horrendous annual taxes almost exclusively for the schools, I’m not particularly speaking from direct self interest. If even a few children can be salvaged by using vouchers to get out of the dead public schools and into a living private school, it’s a good thing. We can keep working on other plans to salvage the kids left behind. Saving a few is better than losing them all.

  4. Julie M. Smith on October 30, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    djinn, I wonder if you would reach the same conclusions that you do if you thought about vouchers as a way to create a demand for better schools (which would benefit all children) as opposed to thinking about vouchers as a way to force the gov’t to pay for the private choices of individuals.

    If our public schools consistently produced A+ students, then I would agree with you that no one should expect the gov’t to fund their personal choice of education any more than they should expect the gov’t to fund their choice of new road construction. But since the current system isn’t working well (and: is working the least well for the most disadvantaged students), vouchers are one option to put better choices on the table for all children. Right now, if you are poor and living in an area with crummy schools, what choice do you have? If you (and all of your neighbors) had a voucher, I can pretty much guarantee that six private schools would spring up in your neighborhood, each competing to offer you a better education than the others.

  5. Mike the Horebite on October 30, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    I would also support #1 but not #2, for all the reasons stated by Julie and this one in addition:

    If you follow the chain of authority up from a public school, you eventually get to govenment.

    If you follow the chain of authority up from the ward level, you eventually get to God.

    I feel it is my moral obligation to be loyal to God, and to assist in building up his kingdom, which includes dealing with bad wards and trying to make them better. I don’t feel the same obligation to my government. If the government is not capable of running functional schools, then it’s not my responsibility to sacrifice my kids education in order to help fix them. Note that when I say I don’t feel that obligation to my government, I’m not saying I don’t feel some obligation to improve my nation, so I’m not being un-patriotic. It is more beneficial to society to raise educated kids rather than support failing schools, in my opinion.

  6. David Clark on October 30, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    I agree with #1 in theory, but sometimes not in practice. If the kid is going to hillbilly homeschool, the kind where ma and pa learn the kid readin and ritin, but they mostly just work in the family business then I disagree (I knew a family like this growing up). I also don’t agree if the kid goes to a rabid fundamentalist school where they are taught all kinds of crazy things. If you can find a way to prevent both of these then I am all for #1.

    I disagree with #2 in theory, but sometimes agree with it in practice. When moving, most Mormons ask around to find out if the ward they will be moving into is “any good,” whatever that means. Some people will factor this into moving decisions. I don’t do this personally, but I don’t fault people if they do.

  7. Mike the Horebite on October 30, 2007 at 10:34 pm

    RE #2:

    “Each dollar used to homeschool or privately some student takes a dollar out of another student’s education”

    In the voucher system I’m aware of, only the money that would have been spent to educate that child is redirected to the alternative education choice, so that doesn’t affect the amount of money spent on any other child. Rich families will still be paying more in taxes than is required to educate their child, so they will still be subsidizing public education, while poor families will still be assisted in educating their children–exactly how it works in a non-voucher system also.

    “Why, for this issue, do we get to choose how our tax dollars are spent?”

    Individually, we don’t decide how our tax dollars are spent. However, as tax-payers we all can influence how our collective tax dollars are spent through our elected representatives. So your analogy to wanting your taxes that went to the Iraq war back is not consistent. So I see nothing wrong about our elected representatives to deciding to redirect tax dollars to alternative education choices, just as they decide everything else about how our taxes are spent.

  8. a spectator on October 30, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Disagree with both.

    It is interesting to hear everyone here (and elsewhere) bemoan the public education system. It has problems. There are also public schools that are fabulous. Even in my local troubled city school system, there are city high schools anyone in that district can attend that make the Top 100 HS list in Newsweek every year. Even though public education is not perfect, people can make it work for them.

    The thing is, study after study show that private and charter schools are almost always only as good as the public schools. There are some stand-outs, for sure (frequently funded by the Gates Foundation so hardly sustainable or KIPP type schools who pick and choose their students and kick out any who do not conform–thankfully, the public schools cannot do this). There are many many private and charter schools that are much WORSE than public schools.

    Sure, those of you living in TX have it bad because you have had No Child Left Behind kind of testing frenzies for longer than the rest of us. I have wondered if that initiative (and the dreadful “teaching” it inspires) was actually designed to finally bring down the public education system, making everyone flee for schools that are not accountable to the tests tests tests.

  9. Julie M. Smith on October 30, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    “There are also public schools that are fabulous.”

    How many of those schools are accessible to kids whose parent make less than, say, 30K per year?

    “city high schools anyone in that district can attend”

    I find it interesting that you base your opposition to vouchers on the existence of a voucher-like program that allows some school choice.

    “Even though public education is not perfect, people can make it work for them.”

    News headline today labeled 12% of US high schools “drop out factories.” If you live in their district and can’t afford to move or pay tuition, how exactly might you make that school work for your kids?

  10. a spectator on October 30, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    Julie–
    In my area, we still have bussing choices for urban kids to get out to superb suburban schools. We also have excellent public schools within the city district (although they are not all excellent) and significant choice (a magnet system for specialization) [no vouchers--no money leaving the school system for private schools]. So, without moving, low-income families can obtain solid education within the public system.

    It is interesting to me that you are asserting a family might not be able to make a school work for them. I have seen a broad range of public schools, and I have never seen a school that I thought was worthless. Couldn’t a family make a poor (no resources, little technology, no frills) education work for them much the same way you make no school work for your family? If my daughter’s math teacher is insufficient, I supplement. When my son’s reading list leaves him bored, we enrich the program with our own choices.

    I do this for Church, too. I had enough questionable Sunday School and Seminary teachers that I will discuss the lessons taught with kids and offer my supplements where I think it is necessary.

    I left my thoughts about public schooling on the previous thread and we have already disagreed at least once about the immense good your (and my) children could do within a school. This is a social choice, I think. When you leave the public school system, you are choosing a different society. I choose public schools, and I choose my geographically assigned ward. I would never make the choice of saying to either: you’re not good enough for me. I would stay and help make the school and ward better for those who come next.

    [ps--I have a lot to say about drop-out factories, but I don't want to go too far afield]

  11. Mike Parker on October 30, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    djinn #2: “If one decides to opt out of the school system, why must the government pay for it?”

    This comment goes to the root of many of our problems — a great majority of Americans believe “it’s the government’s money.” On the contrary, it is my money, and I want it directed toward the education I feel is best for my children, not the education the state wants for them.

    The current process for funding public education is not easily fixed, though. In many states it is paid by property taxes, but not all homeowners have school-age children, and not all with school-age children are homeowners.

    A better solution would be to have a tax exemption one could take to pay for private schools; that way the money stays in my pocket rather than going to the government first and then being graciously given back to me.

    In a perfect world the government wouldn’t even be in the education business, but I frankly admit that’s a libertarian pipe dream of mine that will never happen.

  12. MLU on October 30, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    I make it a point not to have opinions about the administration of the church unless someone in authority asks me. It’s my job to make it work as best I can.

    But I would support vouchers, charters and anything else that would break up the current school system. It’s true charters and vouchers often don’t outperform public schools. I wouldn’t really expect them to, as long as they are getting teachers and students from the same place as the public schools. They don’t go far enough to make a big difference, but it’s all that’s available thus far.

    At present, things trend strongly toward the wasteland

  13. Ray on October 30, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Fwiw, Ohio’s educational funding system was declared unconstitutional ten years ago, and the legislature was ordered to alter the system to fix the inequities identified. Four years ago, the court refused to impose a compliance order, thus ending the case for all practical purposes. The funding system, riddled with the exact same flaws that caused the original lawsuit and decision, still functions to this day in almost every district in the state.

    Do I think the system could be fixed? Absolutely. Do I think it can be fixed? Probably not. Do I think it will be fixed? No. Do I think vouchers are the answer? Not at all.

    The geographic organization of the Church is one of the things I love most about the Church. Choice, in too many ways to list concisely here, eventually would make us just another Protestant denomination, imo. Do I support an opt-out system? It already is in place for exceptional circumstances. Otherwise, and I choose the answer carefully and thoughtfully: Hell, no.

  14. Mark D. on October 31, 2007 at 12:24 am

    That isn’t much of a parallel, because the second statement is purely intra-denominational. A better proposition two would be:

    2. When a parishioner loses faith in the state established church, he should be allowed to quit paying tithing to the government run religion and pay tithes to his preferred denomination instead. (Or at least apply for a partial transfer…)

  15. Matt Evans on October 31, 2007 at 12:43 am

    Agree with Mark D. that changing from public to private school systems is more like changing denominations than changing wards.

    We should stay in a dysfunctional ward because we’re called to serve, not to be served, and because the church is run by volunteers, a single committed family can make a measurable difference. Public schools and districts are too big, with entrenched bureaucrats fiercely opposed to change, for a single family to make a dent.

    Supporting a dysfunctional school makes as much sense as deciding to patronize restaurants with poor service, bad food and high prices.

  16. N.G. on October 31, 2007 at 1:01 am

    Julie (#9):

    How many of those [public] schools [that are fabulous] are accessible to kids whose parent make less than, say, 30K per year?

    About as many as good private schools are available to kids whose parent makes the same amount, even when awarded a voucher. This is one of the biggest flaws with the idea behind vouchers. Even with a portion of private school tuition available through vouchers, low income children, whose families don’t even have a livable income to begin with, will never be able to make up the tuition difference. So all vouchers do is make private schools the academic home of the super rich and the slightly less (but rapidly aspiring) rich.

  17. Norbert on October 31, 2007 at 1:04 am

    Here’s what would make these truly parallel:

    What if, along with individuals being able to choose wards, wards were able to set standards for membership in those individual wards? So I’ve got a good ward going and everybody wants in, but I only have space for say 250. I Would set up requirements for entrance that would maximize the success of the ward and make us even more successful. Chuck out the inactives, first of all. Anybody struggling with addictions, dissenters, church welfare candidates … why take them? We’re competing, after all. Anyway, people with those sorts of individual spiritual needs shouldn’t be a burden on the ward community.

  18. Lulubelle on October 31, 2007 at 1:34 am

    #1 – Agree, but not for kids who are going to be home schooled, unless the parent has a teaching credential. Even then, I’m just basically against home schooling. Don’t flame me but I have quite a lot of experience with home schooled kids and they are usually the biggest misfits of a group of their peers. My dad who taught school for 35 years could tell a kid who was re-entering traditional education after being home schooled and it wasn’t pretty. Sorry, disagree with me all you want but it’s my experience and my opinion and no one’s going to change it. Sure, there are exceptions but it’s not the rule.

    #2 – Agree with that, too. I think it’s bizarre that we, as members of a church who pay 10%+ of our income to the church and donate countless hours, too, can’t attend a ward we want to. When I lived in DC, I couldn’t stand my ward. I was a newly married professional female in a ward with a jillion kids, the loudest ward I had ever been to, mostly SAHMs. I had nothing in common with no one and felt like a total alien. My then=husband was a non Mormon and after one visit to that ward and it’s incredibly noisy Sac Meeting, walked out 1/2 way through it and vowed never to return. He said the Rose Parade was more respectful than that meeting. The ward was also an additional 10 minute drive longer than another ward. I begged my stake president to allow us to attend the chapel that was closer to us and had a demographic that was more similar to us (not to mention a much quieter Sac Meeting that my husband enjoyed attending). He said no. I felt like I was 10 years old asking daddy for permission to stay out late. For goodness sakes, it should be my choice where I feel more comfy on attending church, not an arbitrarily divided boundaries. It’s that paternalistic “obey” mindset/mentality that we have in the church that oftentimes leaves me scratching my head.

  19. LRC on October 31, 2007 at 2:26 am

    Lulubelle – Not to threadjack, but it’s intriguing to me why you felt such a need for permission to attend another ward. Looking back, what would have happened if you had just decided to attend the closer ward, bring your then-husband with you and attend a ward where you fit more comfortably?

    As for the poll –
    #1 – no vouchers, for reasons very similar to a spectator’s;
    #2 – if attending church to partake of the sacrament and serve others is the prime directive, then what matters to God is that you attend, partake and serve. somewhere. That an arbitrary geographic boundary has been delineated is for the convenience of administering programs, not necessarily for the benefit of saving souls. In The End, it’s the soul-saving that should take priority, and each member/family needs to find the place where their abilities to serve and their needs for being served bring them closer to Christ and allow them to bring Christ closer to their family, friends and neighbors.

  20. heathermommy on October 31, 2007 at 2:32 am

    Lulubelle (#18) – I have to vote that I would definately want vouchers to be extended to homeschoolers. I pay my taxes but I get none of the benefit! I think we can all agree that we see just as many \”misfits\” who are public schooled. Homeschoolers may not always fit in with their public schooled peers but I don\’t know if that is a bad thing. I can do without my daughters becoming \”mean girls\”, boy crazy, worried about being popular rather than good, etc.. I don’t mind if you are personally against homeschooling but I don\’t think that is a good reason to deny homeschoolers some sort of economic relief from the double burden of paying school taxes and completely funding their own children’s education.

    I\’m all for vouchers or school choice or tax write-offs for homeschoolers. I also have to agree with whoever said that you can make a difference in a dysfunctional ward a whole lot easier than you can in a dysfunctional school. And if a school is so bad that I am having to do a lot of supplementing at home I may as well homeschool my kids instead of sending them off to waste 7 hours of their day getting a sub-standard education.

  21. Jonathan Green on October 31, 2007 at 3:12 am

    No and no. In either case, in any truly untenable situation, parents should do the right thing for their children.

  22. Sarah on October 31, 2007 at 3:39 am

    You can move to get out of a ward (or just attend a different one,) and you can pull your kids out of the school system already. I vote for #3, end government interference in education, and no to #1 and #2.

    (Incidentally, I think you need to have a good working definition of “dysfunctional” to have this conversation. I knew people who thought that having the YW president also be the Seminary teacher was a sign our branch was going straight to the dustbin, and a woman who believed our high school was hopelessly inadequate to meet the needs of any children in our town because it only had one AP course on offer. There are many levels of functionality, and bad wards and bad schools are both often influenced by (the same) outside factors that would basically necessitate moving to escape them anyway.)

  23. Ranbato on October 31, 2007 at 8:54 am

    Yes and maybe.

    (Disclaimer — my wife is on the board of a Charter School)

    I think it is funny when Charter Schools only get 75% of the funding of Public Schools (the other 25% still goes to the PS) and have to fund their buildings and property out of their per-pupil funds (no school bonds for them) and people complain that most of them only do as well as the public schools. Our local elementary (which is pretty good) continually calls us up and asks us to take more kids to try and get their class sizes smaller.

    With Vouchers (in Utah) at least 60% of the funding will go to the PS for 5 years! In many cases, it will be 90%! If 10 kids leave a PS, it will get up to $65,000/year with no associated student costs. (Fox fixed cost complaints I challenge you to find a PS that doesn’t have at least 10 students move each year) All of the funding comes out of the state general fund which has a huge surplus. I don’t see how you can be against this experiment. (For teacher skill complaints, note SL county schools are using 100 ‘full time’ subs. To be a sub you must take a 2-day class on how to be a sub.)

    .02

  24. N.G. on October 31, 2007 at 10:19 am

    With Vouchers (in Utah) at least 60% of the funding will go to the PS for 5 years! In many cases, it will be 90%! If 10 kids leave a PS, it will get up to $65,000/year with no associated student costs

    This is one of the biggest fallacies perpetuated by the pro-voucher movement in Utah. The voucher referendum being voted on next week says absolutely nothing about funding the public schools. Basically, the current funding policy gives so much money to public schools, which this year works out to average $7500 a student (note that it isn’t allocated per student, but this is what the number would be if it were). However, those are the numbers for this year. The numbers you quote (or that the cookie commercial quotes) would be accurate if the budget were to stay the same. But there’s nothing in Utah law that says the budget will be the same in any year. Legislators are free to set the budget how they want, higher or lower, in any year. They don’t have to give the “extra money” to the schools. They can give more than the “extra money” to the schools. It hasn’t been determined. To talk about hard numbers, other than the amount of the general fund which will go to the actual voucher awards, is a red herring (and yes, the anti-voucher people are guilty of this as well, trying to quote numbers about the shortfall, how much it will cost, etc. The legislature can set PS budgets to any amount they want in the future).

  25. Nate Oman on October 31, 2007 at 10:41 am

    In both cases parents can remove their children from dysfunctional enviroments under the current system by either moving or going to private school. So aren’t we really just talking about the cost of exit? In that case, it seems that we are really talking about systems in which exit is only possible for the wealthy. Is that good? (For churches or schools?)

  26. djinn on October 31, 2007 at 10:58 am

    Schools in Utah get money directly based on student attendance. When students don’t attend, the schools loose commensurate funding. When money is given from tax dollars to parents, that money is removed from the system and is not available for schools. Schools lose money, any way you look at it. Voucher programs have the effect of removing money from the budget first for those students who aren’t in the public schools anyway. A direct drop in available funds.

    I’d like to second the poster, above, who mentioned that homeschooling seems to make kids weird. I’m not quite sure why this is, but yet, all the homeschooled people I’ve known have been a bit off. Family members say this is because parents who homeschool are weird, and so have weird offspring. I think that socialization amongst peers, many of whom you dislike, who dislike you, who come from different backgrounds, etc. teaches valuable life lessons in how to behave in society that cannot otherwise be learned. I also feel strongly that the only way for a child to develop true self esteem is to succeed in an actual environment where the success means something–i.e., getting a decent grade in an actual school classroom; someone other than your mother praising you. Harsh words, I know, but these are actual human beings we are discussing.

    Also, Julie M. Smith, I see no indication, aside from the margins (e.g, sending your kid to Andover) that private schools are better than public schools–it seems to be just some sort of sturm and drang “everybody knows” kinda knowledge without actual support. The examples I read about that make it to the papers indicate the opposite–charter schools seem to have a disturbing tendency to go off the rails.

  27. a spectator on October 31, 2007 at 10:59 am

    Norbert–I like your parallel.

    I had said I would not get into drop-out factories, but I have been thinking of the church parallel: dropping-out=going inactive. We certainly have some more vulnerable segments of our ward society than others, which is also the case in schools. I don’t have the numbers to run, but I wonder what percentage of our wards might qualify as drop-out factories?

  28. Jacob Proffitt on October 31, 2007 at 11:09 am

    N.G., that’s nice propaganda and all, but however much the legislature allocates to schools, that funding is allocated based on enrollment in each district and students with vouchers remain registered at their local district–thus keeping the funding allocated at that district the same as if that student were actually attending there. You can’t claim that the voucher program would somehow inspire legislators to reduce funding for education for some mysterious reason without backing that up. Do you seriously think that Utah legislators are stupid enough to reduce education funding? Ever? It’d be the end of their career and they know that. Could they change how funds are allocated? Sure. But until they do, vouchers function pretty much how the cookie commercial indicates.

    As for the spectator’s fallacy:
    The thing is, study after study show that private and charter schools are almost always only as good as the public schools.

    Someone else has already pointed out that private schools achieve that average much cheaper. I’ll point out that these studies are comparing averages and my child isn’t in the average situation. No child is. As it happens, my children would be forced to go to a high school that is, quite frankly, a waste of space. So even if I find a private school that is “only” as good as average, I come out individually ahead of the game. Vouchers allow more people to seek individual optimums that would be otherwise impossible for them to reach. Averages only count for bureaucrats…

  29. Ardis Parshall on October 31, 2007 at 11:17 am

    djinn, if you want to be taken seriously on the issue of public vs. private schools, please avoid the “weirdness of homeschoolers” argument. The last thing I would want for any child I cared about is to have him or her develop the social conscience, behavior, and language of the kids I associated with in Provo and Las Vegas over the past generation.

  30. Jacob Proffitt on October 31, 2007 at 11:30 am

    djinn: “Schools lose money, any way you look at it.” Only if you’re deliberately squinting. With the voucher program proposed in Utah, the students are still counted as part of the school district they live in so their schools still receive funding as if they were there minus the amount of the voucher. That looks like the school loses the amount of the voucher, but only if you neglect to consider that the school also has zero cost for that student. Class size goes down, resources used go down, and the rest of the funding stays. It’s a huge net gain for the school. Consider that with 100% participation in vouchers, the school district would still be allocated over half of what they currently receive and would have functionally zero costs.

    “I’d like to second the poster, above, who mentioned that homeschooling seems to make kids weird.” I hate to call you ignorant, but that’s how you are coming off here. While you may notice weird kids who are homeschooled, you only notice them because they are weird and you look for reasons. It’s like claiming that all Mormon kids are cliquish because the ones I know are. It’s not like homeschooled kids are forced to wear a big H on their foreheads (though I wouldn’t put it past the teachers’ unions to try to force that if they thought they could get away with it). The vast majority of homeschooled kids are perfectly normal, particularly the LDS ones who have socialization opportunities in both church and community.

    ” I see no indication . . . that private schools are better than public schools–it seems to be just some sort of sturm and drang “everybody knows” kinda knowledge without actual support.” Again, you have to look at it like a bureaucrat for this to make sense. Nobody cares about averages. Parents aren’t rolling dice to select private schools for their children and they aren’t comparing the merits of private schools against the public school average. If all public and all private schools were average there’d be no voucher proposals (though there’d still be private schools if only for ideological reasons–like the local jewish schools where parents send their children so that they can accomodate jewish holidays easily). The thing is, all schools aren’t average. In my case, average would be a huge step up, so I’ve been searching for and using every alternative I can find.

  31. Julie M. Smith on October 31, 2007 at 11:38 am

    “Couldn’t a family make a poor (no resources, little technology, no frills) education work for them much the same way you make no school work for your family? If my daughter’s math teacher is insufficient, I supplement. When my son’s reading list leaves him bored, we enrich the program with our own choices.”

    If you are a middle-class, reasonably well educated person with discretionary time, yes. If you are a recent immigrant, limited English proficiency, dog tired after a ten hour day of physical labor and two hour bus ride person, not so much.

    N.G., your objection seems easily solved by offering a voucher large enough that a private school becomes affordable. It’s a logistics problem with vouchers, not a systemic problem.

    For djinn and those of you who think public or charter schools don’t do much better than public ones:

    You put an awful lot of faith in the ability of tests to evaluate education. If there is one thing public schools have become good at, it is teaching to tests. So of course their kids do well. In private schools, parents aren’t going to pay 10K or whatever per year for their kids to fill in bubbles but never have art or science. Charters often have curriculum that doesn’t align well with state tests. For example, a child being classically educated will probably underperform peers in writing in elementary school but then kick their butts in high school. But even if we grant that non-ps kids aren’t performing as well, it may be that the parents have made a deliberate decision that, say, the moral/cultural environment is more important than 8 percentage points in math.

    As for homeschoolers being weird: (1) given what passes for normal socialization these days, I sincerely hope my kids are weird and (2) if you see a weird ps kid at mutual, you think “huh, I wonder why so weird” but if you see a weird hs kid at mutual, you think “huh, must be the homeschooling.” Despite “everyone”‘s anecdotal evidence, there have actually been studies performed on the socialization of homeschoolers and they show that the kids are well within normal range but show less anti-social (i.e., aggressive, socially inappropriate) behavior. That said, I don’t doubt that some homeschoolers suffer from poor socialization and that their parents should be doing something differently. But that isn’t inherent to homeschooling; the same could be said of some ps kids.

  32. Ben H on October 31, 2007 at 11:51 am

    I affirm #1 and not #2, in large part because:

    My kids will spend something like 3-5 hours per week in church. They can handle a few hours of disfunctionality.
    My kids’ spiritual development remains primarily in my hands.

    My kids will spend something like 8 hours per day, five days a week at school (if they participate in extracurriculars). It will be the primary thing their lives are organized around, for year after year. If the main thing their lives are organized around is disfunctional, how can I expect them to come through without becoming disfunctional themselves? School is an enormous influence on them. It has got to be done well, or I can’t stomach the thought of sending them.

  33. Kevinf on October 31, 2007 at 11:53 am

    First, my answers to the questions:

    No, and No.

    I have great respect for home schoolers who do the job well. My wife’s experience teaching in the public schools for years, however, is that many home schoolers (not most, but a significant minority) coming into junior high age classes are often not socially prepared for the public school environment, and frequently are not up to grade level in specifics such as math and science. The school districts here in Washington have made efforts to provide more choice by way of charter schools and open enrollment, with mixed results. Withdrawing your kids from public schools to attend a private school, while a proper choice for some, only weakens the public schools in the long run. Kids with parents involved in their education do better in school, period. Help them with their homework, communicate with the teachers and administration, and get involved in PTSA and ad hoc activities at school when you can.

    As to wards, people can always opt out by either going inactive, or choosing to attend another ward. If they choose to attend another ward without the proper clearances, they can participate, but not hold callings. However, the same arguments as above apply. Get involved. Accept callings. Learn to deal with the dysfunctional folks, as they often will view you as the dysfunctional ones on occasion. It’s the beauty of our geographic ward assignments. In really serious cases, you can generally, with good reasons, get a SP to allow you to move your membership to another ward. Unfortunately, not feeling comfortable in a ward is usually not a good enough reason.

  34. CS Eric on October 31, 2007 at 11:58 am

    #1. Both my father and father-in-law were public school teachers, so they believed strongly in the public school system. Could my wife or I have done better if our parents were so disposed? Maybe. But I also know that within our school district, the high school on the “rich” side of town had better facilities and got more money per student than my high school did. As as student, I didn’t care so much about the money per student, but I was incredibly jealous of the rich high school’s facilities whenever we would go there for some district competition. Why were the competitions always held there? Better facilities. So no matter the activity, athletics, academics, music, drama, etc., students at the rich school had the home field advantage. When a new high school was built in our area, my wife’s parents worked it so she could attend at the nice new one, rather than the dumpy one I went to. But it was still a public school.

    #2. Over our nearly 20 years of marriage, we have had our membership in different wards than the one we lived in three different times, each for different reasons. The last time was the only one that was because of the “dysfunction” of the ward. And in the case of that last ward, we had several families, including one of the bishop’s counselors, ask us how we did it, because they wanted to get out of it, too.

  35. Lulubelle on October 31, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    LRC: on #2… I agree with you– in the end, God cares where we are spiritually, not where we physically took Sacrament. But if I didn’t have “permission” from my SP to switch wards, I would not have been allowed to accept callings, home teachers, visiting teachers, etc. so I opted to go where I was “told” so I could be a bigger participant. The whole “getting permission” to attend another ward just seems so off to me entirely. We should all have freedom to go to whichever ward we want. I can understand if you’re attending church really far away from your home where this may make HT/VT, etc difficult on the other ward members so you may not get those visits, but for the other stuff, it should be a personal decision. By the way, and entirely off thread, I don’t even truly enjoy the whole HT/VT visits anyway. They’re nice in concept, and it’s nice to have someone you should call should you need help, but it’s just another hour or two in an already hectic evening that I have to try and fit into our home schedule when I really should be feeding the family, doing dishes, helping kids with homework, making lunches and getting kids to bed in a reasonable hour.

  36. Ranbato on October 31, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    N.G.
    Funding in Utah is based on per-pupil enrollment Oct. 1st. As I stated previously, if 10 kids in a school take advantage of vouchers, that school still gets $40,000 – $65,000 for the students even though they have no costs for those students — exactly the same way Charter funding works. Since I have been reviewing budgets for CS for years and have been to Utah Stage Board of Education meetings discussing it, and have worked with a number of legislators involved with it, I venture to say that I know more about it than you do.

    This is the closest you can get to a free trial.

  37. Adam Greenwood on October 31, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    I agree with #1, I disagree with #2.

    Church is to teach us to be Christlike. Serving and persevering in a dysfunctional environment meet that end.

    School is to teach us reading, writing, science, geography, math, and history. A dysfunctional environment does not meet that end.

    That said, I can see some extreme circumstances where changing wards might be warranted and some marginal cases where civic duty might be a reason to send kids to a local public school where some slightly better private alternatives were available.

  38. MrBlue on October 31, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    I do not like private schools. My wife has taught in both public and private schools. Frankly, I was appalled at the management of the private school she worked at. Private schools generally pay their teachers substantially less than public schools. Moreover, there are no governing standards for the teachers, and private schools often hire unaccredited teachers. The teachers at my wife\’s old school — a highly regarded one in a well-to-do part of town that had the children of professional athletes and performers in it — varied widely in quality. My wife was confronted of the problem of having a big class because everyone wanted into her 2nd grade class because she had the reputation as the \”good\” teacher. People obsessively focus on teacher-to-student ratio, but that statistic, by itself, isn\’t that useful, in my opinion. I would rather have my kid in a larger class with a qualified and experienced teacher than in a smaller class with someone winging it.

    Having seen the operation of both private and public schools, I strongly prefer public. Private schools, especially non-parochial ones, are businesses. Their goal is to make money. They make money from the families of those who they can convince to attend their schools. Several years ago, I attended a silent auction event thrown by the private school my wife was was working for TO RAISE MONEY FOR A LIBRARY. That\’s right, that private school had no dedicated library, and they were shilling to the parents to pay for one. These are the same parents paying thousands of dollars for this supposedly higher-quality education. I was appalled. I oppose school vouchers because, among other reasons, I do not believe that my tax dollars should support private schools\’ business activities, and I would much rather see that money spent in improving our public schools.

  39. annegb on October 31, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    I miss the good old days when I had time to check in here several times a day. Truly. I miss “being totally ignored by the nicest bunch of people.”

    And I understand a little better why Kaimi and Nate hardly ever answer my e-mails. There’s no time !

    Question #1 – Yes, because my grandson has Asperger’s and we’re considering private school for him.

    Question #2 – Yes, but with the caveat that MOST of the time when people want to go to another ward, it’s because they have problems getting along with people in general. For instance, we have several families in our ward who’ve opted out of our ward.

    One was a guy who thought he should be the bishop and literally went door to door to object to the new bishop. He wrote him a long letter telling why he should not be the bishop and generally made a horse’s ass of himself.

    Then he and his family were allowed to move their membership to a neighboring ward. And he’s a stake clerk. I think he should have been slapped so hard up the side of the head he’d regain consciousness in the millenium.

    Another woman’s daughter was raped by a kid in our ward and she felt she didn’t get enough ward support. She takes offense at every little thing before and after her daughter’s tragedy and moved to the same neighboring ward, where after several months, somebody offended her and she’s now going to go to a ward in town.

    Another woman constantly fought with her neighbors in her old ward, moved into our ward and has managed to offend almost everyone and she said she was going to go to another ward. I said to her, in the chapel one Sunday, “You can go to another ward, but you’re taking yourself with you, and you’re the problem.”

    And she jumped up and ran out sobbing and she was bawling and talking really loud about me in the hallway to a bishop’s counselor and I just sat there looking serene and like I’d never met her in my life.

    I was in a bad ward once, though. I stayed until I moved, but I can see how going to another ward would have been better for me and my son.

  40. MrBlue on October 31, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    Lots of extraneous \\\\\s got inserted in my last post — bizarre.

  41. Ranbato on October 31, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    On topic #2, I know a number of people, including my parents, who have been called to attend a new ward. Anyone know how common that is?

  42. Adam Greenwood on October 31, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    #38

    I wish the government ran everything, because businesses are just there to MAKE MONEY. Putting your kid in PRIVATE daycare or hiring a PRIVATE babysitter is child abuse, in my opinion.

  43. Mike Parker on October 31, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    MrBlue #38: “I oppose school vouchers because, among other reasons, I do not believe that my tax dollars should support private schools’ business activities, and I would much rather see that money spent in improving our public schools.

    But there are lots of examples where tax money supports private business activities. (Let’s talk agribusiness and farm subsidies for a start. Then we’ll move on to military contracts.)

    Why should private education be any different? Just because you prefer public schools, why should my tax money be taken to solely support them, even if my kids don’t attend them?

    This comes down to allowing the parents to keep their money (not the state’s) to use on the education that they (not the state) feel is best for their children.

  44. CS Eric on October 31, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    There are a lot of reasons to have your records in another ward than the one you are living in. In the case of the second ward I mentioned, we kept our records in one ward when we moved across town because the bishop asked us to. We were in callings that were difficult to fill, and we stayed until we could be replaced. It was an easy request for us, since the chapel for the new ward was farther away from our home than the old one was. That situation lasted for several months, and then we switched to our residential ward.

    The last one was different. The leadership didn’t like us (the new bishop especially), and made it clear we weren’t welcome. The bishop wouldn’t even let the RS president visit my wife in the hospital. After we left, the new bishop drove his executive secretary inactive (from what I heard, that argument nearly came to blows in the chapel), and as I said before, one of his counselors asked us about the process to have records moved. People were blaming us for the situation for as long as our records stayed in that ward; once we left and other families were targeted for the same treatment we got, they understood better our feelings and quite a few apologized for how they treated us when they were following the bishop’s example.

    We are now in a new ward, in a new state, and love the ward we are in. We were living in an apartment for a couple of years, and when we decided to buy a house, we made sure to buy in the ward’s boundaries. Some of the problems in the bad ward were our fault, but there was blame enough to go around.

  45. Kevinf on October 31, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Ranbato, # 41, my daughter, who learned Spanish on her mission to Chile, and her husband were called to attend a ward in our stake with a high population of native Spanish speaking members. They enjoyed it. This is not unusual.

    I’ve have also heard in one or two cases of families being called to attend another ward for leadership purposes, but that is extremely rare. The last case I am aware of, the ward that needed the help was disbanded a couple of years later, and the divided up into the rest of our stake.

  46. Carl Youngblood on October 31, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    Julie, do you live in an area where the school system is as dismal as some of the stats cited here? I’m inspired by your example, and I am in favor of the idea of homeschooling, but I work full-time and my wife seems overwhelmed even with our kids in public school, and, having been educated to be a public school teacher herself, is not very supportive of the idea of homeschooling. On the other hand, we live in South Jordan, UT and our school system seems pretty good. I guess I’m asking to try to figure out at what threshold of public school mediocrity you think homeschooling becomes a necessity.

  47. Lupita on October 31, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Uh, tough questions. And I thought trying to decide on costumes was challenging.

    Yes to more choice regarding schooling but only because I have a kindergartner and actually am mildly obsessed about education currently. Depending on where we move next year my preference is public, private, then homeschool. I’ve met terrific kids who have been products of all three (at the risk of sounding ignorant, I have had some very interesting experiences with homeschool weirdness BUT don’t attribute it fully to the homeschool process–In a perfect world, I think homeschooling is best case scenario).

    As to removing children from a dysfunctional ward, I would say it would have to depend on the degree of dysfunction and how it was affecting my child and his relationship to God. Was it an isolated incident? Was there abuse involved? Adversity can be both character building and also soul crushing so it would definitely depend on the child and their personality. It wouldn’t be a decision that I would make lightly, either way.

    (FWIW I was in a horrible ward in college but kept trying to support and sustain. When I moved and changed wards, it was an amazing transition. I had always discounted the concept of “good” and “bad” wards but man, they exist).

  48. Lupita on October 31, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    Oops, did I double post this?

  49. Kevinf on October 31, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Mike Parker, # 43,

    You are correct about tax dollars supporting private businesses. However, to use the logic in the rest of your comment, one could hypothetically ask the question, “Just because you prefer (the war in Iraq), why should my tax money be taken to solely support it, even if (I don’t agree with it)?”

    You could substitute: Farm subsidies, Public Libraries, The Centers for Disease Control, Homeland Security, the FBI, local police, fire departments, etc.

    Part of the package deal we get for living in a democracy, everybody helps out some. While I personally have some issues on local and federal levels how my tax dollars are being used, the overall deal is such that I happily (well, dutifully if not happily) pay my taxes. I have some misgivings about vouchers, but don’t dismiss them out of hand. Hope the folks in Utah make a good choice next week.

  50. Julie M. Smith on October 31, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Carl, I honestly don’t know much about the schools in my area: we started homeschooling as an alternative to a local K that was full day and taught whole language instead of phonics. Since that point, I’ve become so invested in the classical approach that I wouldn’t send my kids to the local school if it were the best in the country if it weren’t classically oriented.

    On the one hand, an overwhelmed wife is a good reason _not_ to homeschool. On the other hand, I personally have found that homeschooling provides order and purpose to my days in such a way that I feel significantly less overwhelmed as the pregnant mother of a 3, 6, and 9 yo than I did as the mother of preschoolers. One thing to consider is that it is actually possible that the public school is putting greater demands on your wife (homework, projects, rides, stress, etc.) than homeschooling would–I know people who spend more hours driving to and fro and helping with homework than I do homeschooling. It is a personal and complicated decision.

  51. Jonovitch on October 31, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    1. Schools should be funded 100 percent by state tax dollars, 0 percent by local property taxes and special referenda, and all students across the state should have the same number of dollars allocated to them. Consequently, the teacher-to-student ratio should be equal, too. This is the simplest way I can think of to reduce the disparity between the poorer city schools and the richer suburban schools. (One potential byproduct could be that housing costs — no longer tied to local school performance — might even out among suburbs.)

    Either we pay for proper education now — equally across all income-levels — or we pay for more cops and more prisons later, at exponentially higher prices per person. And we hope to high heaven that they have access to GED or college courses while they’re doing time. Why? Because education is inversely proportional to inmate recidivism.

    Seriously people, education is the great equalizer, but only if it’s equal across all socio-economic classes (BTW, it’s not a race issue, it’s a money/class/income issue — tell a friend). The poorest, who need proper education the most, aren’t going to be served at all by school vouchers (an elitist fallback if there ever was one). Competition is great for drawing more students (i.e., money) to the better schools, but it leaves the worse schools to rot and fail, and ultimately leaves the teaching to the local gangs — I’m not kidding either; go talk to your major-county sheriff. If there’s one hope for solving the poor-school problem, it’s to eliminate all local funding and go straight to 100-percent state funding.

    Busing is fine and dandy, and works great to send some of the kids to some of the better schools, but in the end it’s inefficient — and again, it’s not a race problem (anymore) it’s an income problem. Reverse the process: leave the students where they are (close to home) and send the better schools to them. But it only works if we stop mucking around with local school funding. If class (not race) disparity is the problem (and it is — compare local taxes and house prices and you’ll see it), then statewide funding is the answer.

    For those of you concerned about taxes (and I’m certainly one of them), realize that a little more money per student now, equals more contributing members to society later: more jobs and less unemployment pay; more private insurance and less Medicaid; more cash on the barrel and fewer food stamps; etc. If you have any hope of paying for fewer welfare entitlements in the future, then support proper, equal, statewide funding for education now. Equal education is the answer to so many societal ills; it’s sad that some elitists are only thinking about themselves.

    2. I sometimes long for being in a more suburban ward (like the one slightly to our north) where I wouldn’t have to work so darn hard to make my little corner of responsibility work. But then I read about all the horror stories with bickering and gossiping and politicking and whining and complaining, and I’m reminded that in my own ward’s mixture of suburban/urban, Mexican/Liberian/Tongan/white/black/mixed, citizen/immigrant/refugee, etc. — that in all of that, I’m not aware of a pretentious bunch in the ward. Not one. And then I start to feel sorry for those other wards that have it “easy.”

    Jon

  52. Mike Parker on October 31, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Kevinf #48:

    I support vouchers, albeit as a “less bad” alternative to the current system.

    You bring up a very good point about tax dollars being used for all sorts of unsavory things. The current federal budget is a monster, and should be pared (WAY) down to the items in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. The current system is “government as Santa Claus,” with all sorts of people hanging around the halls of Congress looking for a handout.

    Personally, I pay my taxes grudgingly, and try not to think of how many people will be killed and how many corporations will be enriched with my money.

  53. Julie M. Smith on October 31, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    “The poorest, who need proper education the most, aren’t going to be served at all by school vouchers”

    This is an assertion, not an argument. Make an argument for why this would be true.

    As for your equal funding, that’s all well and good, but your best teachers still aren’t going to want to drive into the inner city every day to deal with more problematic children if the school in their suburb is paying the same. And you’d need to do some serious ‘retroactive equalization’ to make up for the crummy facilities in urban and poorer areas.

  54. Mike Parker on October 31, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Jonovitch #50:

    So if I think that I should keep more of my tax money so I can purchase a better education for my children than the one offered by state-run schools, does that make me an “elitist”?

    Truly this is a through-the-looking-glass world we live in — socialism is dead; long live socialism!

  55. MrBlue on October 31, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    These issues obviously highlight some fundamental philosophical differences people have with the role of government in society. Or to drill down even further, the role of the federal vs. state vs. local governments. Way beyond the scope of a thread like this. Although I am generally a free-market capitalist at heart, education is one of those areas I think should be high on the priority list for spending by state and local governments (but not the federal gov’t *cough* no child left behind unfunded mandate *cough* ). I do not fault anyone for wanting a better education for their children, but it concerns me that voucher programs disproportionately benefit individuals in higher socio-economic regions that have access to alternative schooling arrangements (though, as I pointed out earlier, the benefits of such private schools may be illusory at best).

    One problem that I am not sure has an adequate solution is the issue of parental involvement. Many suburban districts, such as the one my own kids attend, benefit from actively-involved parents and PTAs. In schools located in more urban, inner-city areas, parental involvement is much lower — I suspect as a result of most parents needing to work to make ends meet. This has a tangible effect on the overall quality of education the kids attending those schools receive. Active parental involvement can go a long way to offset funding deficiencies. I am located in California, where school district funding (as a percent of the total state education budget) is based on an archaic districting map of California that does not adequately reflect the massive growth certain counties in the state (including mine) have experienced in the last 25 years. As a result, L.A. and San Francisco districts receive per-student funding that is much higher than in many of the suburban districts. Having discussed the problem with a colleague who is a former member of the California legislature, politically, fixing this disparity is very difficult because of the strong lobbying positions of those urban districts, and the general recognition that those districts are in the most trouble. Having said that, even though the district my kids attend is proportionally underfunded, the schools are quite good. I attribute that success to a mixture of socio-economic factors, but in my opinion, the most important one is parental involvement.

  56. Kevinf on October 31, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Julie,

    # 52, there are many incentives to try and lure the best teachers to troubled schools. Teaching in a qualified school (based on economic factors, primarily free/reduced cost lunch student populations) can get you a partial or complete waiver of your student loans. Many states are doubling the bonus for National Board Certified Teachers if they also serve in such a school. I don’t think they are doing that in Utah, but in Washington, I believe, the bonus jumps from $5,100 to $10,200 per year. In other states where the bonus is already at $10,000 per year, it may not double, but even a 50% addition can be a powerful incentive.

    Also, be wary of the Newsweek lists of the top 100 public high schools. The sole measure is the percentage of students taking AP or IB classes, and pays no attention to the drop out rate, or whether or not the students are passing the associated tests for college credit. To that end, one of the districts here in Washington that really pushes these classes, consistently gets 3 or 4 of its high schools on the list each year. What they don’t mention is that students are often coerced or pressured to be taking 3 or 4 AP type classes, with all the associated homework, and then are not allowed to drop them if they begin to struggle. As a result, one of the high schools on the list has suffered a 30% drop out rate over the last several years, plus many students opting out for schools in different districts. Parental wishes are routinely ignored.

  57. Mike Parker on October 31, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    MrBlue #54: “…it concerns me that voucher programs disproportionately benefit individuals in higher socio-economic regions that have access to alternative schooling arrangements….”

    MrBlue, are you aware that, in the Utah program, the amount of the voucher goes down as household income goes up?

    See http://www.utahvouchers.com/amount.html

  58. Kevinf on October 31, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Mike,

    I think the point might be that adjustable vouchers probably won’t in most cases cover a quality private school. As to the quality of the cottage industry that promises to erupt in Utah if the initiative passes, well, we’ll have to wait and see.

  59. Mike Parker on October 31, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Kevinf #57:

    You are right on both points. This initiative is a “better than nothing” proposal that has been tailored to get around the standard opposition to vouchers.

    From my political POV, freedom and choice trumps concerns over quality every time. Since utopias are impossible under any (earthly) system, then I choose the one where the government runs my life the least.

  60. Naismith on October 31, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    ‘“The poorest, who need proper education the most, aren’t going to be served at all by school vouchers”

    This is an assertion, not an argument. Make an argument for why this would be true.’

    Where I live, if a parent sends their child to a charter school or the university demonstration school, transportation is not provided. I am sure the same would be true for vouchers if we had them.

    Poor parents can’t afford to send their children to those alternative schools, even though free, unless they happen to live nearby (and fortunately, a wonderful charter school has opened in an economically depressed section of town).

  61. Adam Greenwood on October 31, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    For some facts about vouchers and charter schools:

    http://www.amazon.com/School-Choice-Findings-Herbert-Walberg/dp/193399505X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-5524518-4871206?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1193744459&sr=8-1/marginalrevol-20

    Even without vouchers some poor parents manage to get their kids to private schools. You can believe that vouchers would make no difference to poor kids only if you believe (1) competition and innovation would not improve public schools, (2) parents who cannot afford private schooling under our present systemwould under no circumstances be able to get their child to a school that wasn’t nearby and (3) under a voucher system, no private schools will try to open schools close to their potential students.

  62. Adam Greenwood on October 31, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    Back to KW’s poll question:

    I think I would feel differently about church if we we’re forced to go for the public good and if churches were therefore supported by taxation. Under that system, I would feel very strongly that citizens should be able to choose their own church and public funding should go with them.

  63. Adam Greenwood on October 31, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Another interesting comparison is between healthcare and education.

    A “single payer” system, which many on the left favor, is basically a voucher system.

    Megan McCardle comments here:
    http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/10/no_exit.php

  64. Mike Parker on October 31, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    Adam #62:

    You bring up an exceptionally good point, in that, under a voucher system, it’s still the government’s money — taken from the people in the form of taxes and redistributed according to need.

    A better system — for healthcare and education — is to allow people to establish tax-deferred savings accounts with no contribution limits. This way the money stays in the hands of the wage-earner to do with as s/he pleases.

    Vouchers are an imperfect solution, at best, but still preferable to the current system, which is akin to having all doctors as government employees.

  65. Jonovitch on October 31, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    Julie (52), me: “The poorest, who need proper education the most, aren’t going to be served at all by school vouchers”
    you: “This is an assertion, not an argument. Make an argument for why this would be true.”
    me: Because the poorest can’t even afford the school lunches.

    Yes, the funding for inner city schools has been abysmally poor and will require “retroactive equalization” (great term, by the way!), and the teacher’s will require extra incentive to choose those locations. That’s exactly how equalization works — money floods back into the city to fill the gaping lack of resources (i.e., negative pressure) that has developed there over the years. And that’s just fine — it’s the way it ought to be.

    Mike (53), everyone benefits from improved education for all (more/better jobs, lower crime, fewer entitlements, etc.) so everyone should contribute to it. You can’t dictate where every one of your tax dollars goes — that argument has already been made and defeated in this thread (corporate farm subsidies, Iraq war, etc.). This isn’t socialism, it’s reality.

    For too many years, where I’m living anyway, funding has been more and more localized, so that the higher (local) property taxes on the larger McMansions can fund superschools for the Haves, while the Have-nots get a non-education. That’s called stratification, and in the long term that makes for an unbalanced (read: unstable) society. I’m all for “keep your hand out of my pocket” when it makes sense. But if we continue to stratify education, we’ll only create uneducated, jobless, angry, poor people who have no incentive to do anything other than (a) suck the life out of our massive welfare system, or (b) blow things up, or (c) both.

    It is in everyone’s best interests to educate everyone — not just our own kids, and especially not if it’s to the detriment of those who are already in unstable circumstances. Vouchers only compound the problem of a stratified system. They’re great for those who can afford private schools, or who have the time to home-school, but again, the poor have a hard enough time paying for rent with two parents working three jobs, so the “solution” only works for your problem, not theirs. You can build a fence and a gate around your own little community, but that doesn’t mean the problems outside just go away. One more time, It is in everyone’s best interest, even the libertarians (and I’m leaning Ron Paul these days), to get some good learning to everyone.

    Adam (60), the key word in your argument is “some.” Yes, “some” parents “manage” to get their kids to private schools, but that’s not a valid solution for most parents who can’t manage. Again, a gated community can only stay isolated for so long. Also, competition would indeed improve some schools, but was is your solution for those schools that get sucked dry? What about the families that can’t afford (or don’t care) to send their kids elsewhere? What happens when those schools collapse under the weight of competition? And what happens to the bloated “good” schools that survive? If you follow it to its conclusion, you have all the same kids travelling to a school further from home. My solution is to simply flip that (to the benefit of all): bring the good schools to the kids.

    It’s in everyone’s best interests.

    Jon

  66. Jonovitch on October 31, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    Julie (52), me: “The poorest, who need proper education the most, aren’t going to be served at all by school vouchers”
    you: “This is an assertion, not an argument. Make an argument for why this would be true.”
    me: Because the poorest can’t even afford the school lunches.

    Yes, the funding for inner city schools has been abysmally poor and will require “retroactive equalization” (great term, by the way!), and the teacher’s will require extra incentive to choose those locations. That’s exactly how equalization works — money floods back into the city to fill the gaping lack of resources (i.e., negative pressure) that has developed there over the years. And that’s just fine — it’s the way it ought to be.

    Mike (53), everyone benefits from improved education for all (more/better jobs, lower crime, fewer entitlements, etc.) so everyone should contribute to it. You can’t dictate where every one of your tax dollars goes — that argument has already been made and defeated in this thread (corporate farm subsidies, Iraq war, etc.). This isn’t socialism, it’s reality.

    For too many years, where I’m living anyway, funding has been more and more localized, so that the higher (local) property taxes on the larger McMansions can fund superschools for the Haves, while the Have-nots get a non-education. That’s called stratification, and in the long term that makes for an unbalanced (read: unstable) society. I’m all for “keep your hand out of my pocket” when it makes sense. But if we continue to stratify education, we’ll only create uneducated, jobless, angry, poor people who have no incentive to do anything other than (a) suck the life out of our massive welfare system, or (b) blow things up, or (c) both.

    It is in everyone’s best interests to educate everyone — not just our own kids, and especially not if it’s to the detriment of those who are already in unstable circumstances. Vouchers only compound the problem of a stratified system. They’re great for those who can afford private schools, or who have the time to home-school, but again, the poor have a hard enough time paying for rent with two parents working three jobs, so the “solution” only works for your problem, not theirs. You can build a fence and a gate around your own little community, but that doesn’t mean the problems outside just go away. One more time, It is in everyone’s best interest, even the libertarians (and I’m leaning Ron Paul these days), to get some good learning to everyone.

    Adam (61), the key word in your argument is “some.” Yes, “some” parents “manage” to get their kids to private schools, but that’s not a valid solution for most parents who can’t manage. Again, a gated community can only stay isolated for so long. Also, competition would indeed improve some schools, but was is your solution for those schools that get sucked dry? What about the families that can’t afford (or don’t care) to send their kids elsewhere? What happens when those schools collapse under the weight of competition? And what happens to the bloated “good” schools that survive? If you follow it to its conclusion, you have all the same kids travelling to a school further from home. My solution is to simply flip that (to the benefit of all): bring the good schools to the kids.

    It’s in everyone’s best interests.

    Jon

  67. Julie M. Smith on October 31, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    Kevinf, if that is the case, then it *isn’t* the equalization of funding scenario to which I was responding.

    Naismith in #60: that is another minor issue to tinker with, not a systemic problem with vouchers. Springing for transporation costs is easy enough to manage. And as others have mentioned, we would expect voucher schools to spring up in depressed areas.

    I’m sorry, Jon, but you are making no sense to me. What do school lunches have to do with anything? My understanding is that the current free or reduced price school lunch (and, in some cases, breakfast) program would easily exist in voucher-supported schools as it does in public ones.

  68. Naismith on October 31, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    “Naismith in #60: that is another minor issue to tinker with, not a systemic problem with vouchers.”

    I don’t feel comfortable dismissing it so easily. It’s been a systemic problem with the charter schools in my area for years. “School choice” really favors the well-to-do where I live. My kids have gotten a great education because I’ve met the deadlines for magnet-school applications, filled out the forms properly, and been able to drive across town.

    “Springing for transporation costs is easy enough to manage.”

    Except that it hasn’t happened for charter schools where I live, making me think that it would not magically be solved if vouchers were introduced.

    I am sure that if vouchers were means-tested, they would benefit more temporarily-poor college-student families than permanently-low-income families.

  69. Matt Evans on November 1, 2007 at 1:13 am

    Something many voucher opponents forget is that the Utah voucher program isn’t intended to be used by everyone. They’re borrowing the argument made in the 90s against TRAX — a majority of Salt Lake County residents said they wouldn’t ride it. (And don’t).

    Yet that was a dumb argument because TRAX doesn’t have capacity to carry the county’s 1 million people and never intended to carry 1 million passengers. UTA knew that it would only be used by a fraction of the county. TRAX is a success because it works serves some people very well, and those who don’t use it are benefitted because there are fewer cars on the freeway. The voucher program works in the same way. A relatively small number of kids will be directly benefitted, the districts those students leave will have fewer kids but receive equal money, and some poor students will be able to leave their failing schools like rich kids do.

    Jonovitch, the tuition at a third of Utah private schools is below the $3,000 voucher scholarship targeting low income families. I think the threshold of low income is generous, too. ($43k for parents with three kids). There’d be Utah neighborhoods where every family qualifies for the maximum voucher $3,000. A private school could move in and compete head-to-head with the government school.

  70. ganzo on November 1, 2007 at 2:02 am

    #68 – A private school moves into a poor neighborhood and caters to poor families by limiting tuition to below the voucher limit – who is going to stay at the public school? I am guessing it will be the students of less involved parents who may not care about their children’s education as much as they should. Even if the public school has more money per pupil (which is not the case in many voucher programs), I think the public school will end up worse off. I am not completely oppossed to vouchers because combined benefits of those who can get out of a bad school might be greater than the costs to those who stay. However, it is far from being a win-win situation.

  71. Matt Evans on November 1, 2007 at 2:20 am

    #69 – Imagine half of the neighborhood’s students flee the government school for the new private school. The government school district receives the same amount of money as they did before, but with half as many students. Good teachers would LOVE to have half of their students moved elsewhere so they can dedicate more time to the remaining students. The government school definitely wouldn’t be worse off in that case.

    Notice too that in this example the government school would receive $15,000 per pupil while the private school has to make do with $3,000. Even *I* think the government-run schools could compete with private schools if they had FIVE TIMES the funding.

  72. ganzo on November 1, 2007 at 2:32 am

    #70 I think having the “good” students/parents around is much more important than spending. You can find plenty of studies to back this up. If you go from 30 to 15 kids per class but it is the 15 most difficult cases and there are fewer or no parents volunteering- I’m not sure how much it helps. Also, I don’t think that the public schools usually gets to keep all the money with voucher programs. The voucher student takes their funding with them so that the per pupil spending stays the same at the old public school. Is there a specific situation you know of where the public school get to keep the money?

  73. Naismith on November 1, 2007 at 6:58 am

    “The government school district receives the same amount of money as they did before, but with half as many students.”

    How reasonable an assumption is that? In my state, school funding is per child. And it isn’t just per child enrolled, it is by actual attendance. (Yes, it’s crazy; an epidemic of head lice or flu can negatively impact a school’s funding.)

  74. a spectator on November 1, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Julie–I appreciate your concern for ESOL kids and immigrant families–that is precisely the population I serve in the public school system. Unfortunately, it is a very expensive program so most charter and private schools simply do not have it. If your child requires ESOL services, they will generally only get them in public schools. Many charter and private schools will accept such students (many will not) but just sit the kids in classes and offer no service, it is simply sink or swim.

    So generally, these kids are better off in public systems. Besides, these exact families you propose may benefit from vouchers generally do not have the information or system-savy to use them. They are left behind in their neighborhood public schools. It is vital that we continue to serve these populations, and that can only be done in the public schools.

    Also, for those discussing “incentives” for teachers to teach in hard-to-staff schools: National Certification bonuses are generally a one-time deal, not a yearly addition to the salary and programs that erase a teacher’s student loan debt are VERY restrictive–generally limited to specific fields (math and science) and only teachers that stay in specific districts for 5+ years can apply (that means no maternity leave allowed). Since teaching is a field most people exit within 3 years, these programs apply to very very few teachers.

    In my experience, education simply does not work on a business model. Wards frequently don’t do well on a business model, either.

  75. a spectator on November 1, 2007 at 10:04 am

    Oh, many have thrown out financial figures. I just wanted to remind you that charter and public schools can teach more cheaply because they do not teach EVERYONE. Special Ed., ESOL, etc. are expensive programs. Those charter schools and private schools that offer these services (few do) generally cajole the local public system into lending their teachers out.

  76. Ranbato on November 1, 2007 at 10:05 am

    Most voucher laws only leave a portion of the funding at the public schools, if any. That, however, doesn’t impact whether vouchers are a positive or negative directly. I would relegate that to a discussion about a particular voucher implementation rather than vouchers in the general sense.

    I agree that there are significant concerns that some schools might be left with only students whose parents don’t care or can’t support the school. On the other hand, while I want to support those students, I don’t want to do it at the expense of my own children. On the gripping hand, more funding per pupil might result in decreased class sizes and increased personal attention (by reducing the fiscal burden when children opt out.).

    (Far to often I find myself thinking we just need to reduce the _amount_ _of_ _choice_ people have and force them to become invested in their children…. we could save them all!) :(

  77. MDS on November 1, 2007 at 10:19 am

    Question 1: yes
    Question 2: yes. we have several families in our ward who don’t live within the boundaries but belong with us. We’re happy to have them. They’re not just “attenders” they’re full participants.

    Ward boundaries are not the Gospel; they’re man-made policies. I dont like to be told where I can and cannot participate in Church on the basis of “order’ or because there’s something I should learn by attending such-and-such ward (their view, not mine) based on some geographical logic. That said, I’ve always attended the ward I’ve lived in.

    djinn #2

    Re: the legislature can change the PS funding any time they want. In 2004, the total budget for Utah Public Education was 2.5 bil. This year it is over 4 bil! (300 or so mil over 13 years for vouchers vs 4 bil a year–and growning every year). Show me one year where the legislature reduced actual dollar spending on education.

    NO CURRENT OR FUTURE INCOME OR PROPERTY TAX DOLLARS that now go to education WILL GO TO VOUCHERS. It is so dissapointing to hear educators repeat this lie that money will come out of public schools. If the education communuty wasn’t lying, I would probably vote to repeal, but I’m so mad at them scaring people with lies–and succeeding!

    Question to educators: How much of the general fund dollars do you want to start going to education? What does “fully funding education” looks like? I’d like to “fully fund” my needs and wants around my house also, but I’m limited by my revenues.

  78. Ranbato on November 1, 2007 at 10:26 am

    spectator:
    Actually, that is incorrect in my experience — at least in Utah.

    Charter Schools are funded at a percentage of PS funding here. That means a regular student is funded at $7500/year and a CS gets 75% of that. Special Ed, etc. programs are funded at (say) $12,000 – $20,000/year and a CS gets 75%-100% of that. There are many CS in Utah that specialize in ESL, Special Ed, troubled youth because of that.
    There is one within a few miles of my house that specializes in the blind.

    The proposed Utah voucher law doesn’t address this AFAIK and it probably should. Of course, people are screaming now because of $500-$3000/student vouchers; I can’t imagine what they would say about a $15,000 voucher.

    PS. The Deseret News reported yesterday that the Pro- and Anti- voucher groups in Utah have now spent enough to fully fund the program for the first year.

  79. Jonovitch on November 1, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Julie (67), my point is simply that if a poor family can’t afford to pay for school lunches, or if they can’t manage to transport their kids to a school further away from home, they are certainly not going to be able to make up the difference between the vouchers and the actual tuition amount. Vouchers don’t help poor families.

    Matt (69), if your statistic is correct, two-thirds of the private schools in Utah would be inaccessible to poor families, even if they did get vouchers (and I can’t imagine how the other third manage to run a decent school). Also, that low-income threshold is not as “generous” as you claim. I make about that much right now with two kids, and I’d have absolutely no way of paying for a private school, even with vouchers.

    And finally, to everyone claiming that voucher money won’t take any funding from public schools: what a bunch of hogwash! Money doesn’t just appear out of thin air (although the Federal Reserve is certainly trying)! If you put a dollar into one bucket, another bucket is a dollar shorter. The money might not come directly from the public school fund, but it’s coming from somewhere. As other public projects and services get squeezed, so will education.

    Again, stratifying education is not the answer, and vouchers only worsen the already stratified funding of our schools. The Haves go to a select (and selecting) private school because Daddy can afford it, while the Have-nots are stuck in an underfunded public school, confined to a cruel cycle of low-paying jobs > poor neighborhoods > less school funding > inadequate education > low-paying jobs …

    The best (and most efficient) way to break the cycle is to send the good schools to the kids (rather than the kids to the good schools), so they get a decent education, go to college, get a better paying job, and contribute to society for the rest of their lives, rather than leeching off of it.

    Again, in the short run, vouchers might save you a little bit (it certainly doesn’t work for everybody), but in the long run, proper funding all schools, across all classes/neighborhoods, will produce more taxpayers and fewer welfare recipients. And that saves you money!

    Jon

  80. a spectator on November 1, 2007 at 11:35 am

    Ranbato–
    I am glad to be wrong about the trend around your neighborhood. Unfortunately, in much of the rest of the country, public schools are the home of many students with special needs because they offer the best services.

    Special education generally fares better because the parents are excellent (and loud) advocates. The ESL kids are much more vulnerable (through no fault of their parents).

  81. Jonovitch on November 1, 2007 at 11:44 am

    It is in the best interest of society to create a sustainable society. Proper education for everyone is the best way to keep our communities stable. A good education for my kids only (I don’t care about yours that much) will end up destabilizing society.

    Employment rates drop, welfare increases, satisfaction of life disappears, crime rates escalate, and you (the one paying for private school) end up paying for more food stamps, more police, and more prisons.

    If we properly educate the lower income-class children, they will continue on to college, get better-paying jobs, pay for their own food, pay their taxes, and eventually start complaining that they want their tax money back to pay for their own kids’ private schools. Oh well.

    Jon

  82. Jonovitch on November 1, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    So that we can at least agree on some things regarding education, here’s a list of what has been proven to improve classrooms (as in real evidence):

    1. Proper dress, (i.e., “school uniforms”). This doesn’t mean kids can only wear school-logoed attire. But a classroom devoid of spaghetti straps, mini-shorts, low-riding pants, and baseball caps actually performs better. Conservative dress standards really have been shown to improve classrooms.

    2. Separating the genders. Classrooms with girls only have been shown to perform better than mixed ones (ditto for boys only). This doesn’t mean girls-only/boys-only schools, and it doesn’t mean every single subject. Math, science, and English, for example could be separated, while choir, art, and foreign languages could remain combined, according to whatever needs the school has.

    3. Later start times (for high schools). Multiple studies across the world show that teenagers naturally fall asleep later and rise later. They actually need more sleep than they did a few years earlier. Our current system of high school starting first, then middle school, then elementary school is exactly backwards. Who are the first to rise in most households? The younger kids. And who are the last to roll out of bed? The teenagers. It only makes sense — and as an added bonus, it has been proven, empirically, that high schools that start just one hour later than normal result in better attendance, higher grades, fewer problems, and fewer car accidents.

    4. More money. How do those big suburban schools do it? They have a lot of money (mostly from local property tax revenue coming off of those big, big houses, but this is just going to start another fight, so I’m going to leave it at that). As one professional educator once told me, “It’s amazing what money can do to improve a school.”

    The first three are relatively cheap to implement, and would create positive effects across the board. The fourth is easy enough, too, but we tend to disagree on how to cut up the pie. I suppose this is a bit of a threadjack, but has anyone else seen other things that have been proven to improve schools?

    Jon

  83. a spectator on November 1, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Jon,
    NO EXCUSES is an interesting read, although I have not read it for a while. The point I remember years later is that a certain kind of teacher made a big difference. Unfortunately, it is the kind of teacher that is hard to find and cannot be compensated: a teacher who has no life outside of teaching. Really, I thought the excellent teachers profiled all assumed a monastic kind of devotion to their students. Pretty hard to find enough of those, and I would guess that burn-out comes pretty fast.

    I agree with you on uniforms, would be happy to experiment with gendered scheduling and different school times (I would even be happy to go to more radical a, b, and c, shifts where students could choose when to attend), but I hesitate on your #4–money, I think, is not a solution (although I wouldn’t turn it down if offered).

    http://www.amazon.com/No-Excuses-Closing-Racial-Learning/dp/074326522X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_3/103-4674991-4267825?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1193936467&sr=8-3

  84. Adam Greenwood on November 1, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Adam (61), the key word in your argument is “some.” Yes, “some” parents “manage” to get their kids to private schools, but that’s not a valid solution for most parents who can’t manage. Again, a gated community can only stay isolated for so long. Also, competition would indeed improve some schools, but was is your solution for those schools that get sucked dry? What about the families that can’t afford (or don’t care) to send their kids elsewhere? What happens when those schools collapse under the weight of competition? And what happens to the bloated “good” schools that survive? If you follow it to its conclusion, you have all the same kids travelling to a school further from home. My solution is to simply flip that (to the benefit of all): bring the good schools to the kids.

    This is hysteria and unreason followed by a wish-upon-a-star solution. The question is how to bring good schools to the kids. On average, vouchers are the best solution. Your command-and-control solution may work when there’s an exceptional individual empowered to call the shots, just as a good king is better than a democracy, but exceptional individuals empowered to buck inertia are exceptions and good kings are rare.

  85. Adam Greenwood on November 1, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    #70–you’re making the perfect the enemy of the good. Kids from broken homes with apathetic parents are going to do poorly under any system.

  86. Adam Greenwood on November 1, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    More money. How do those big suburban schools do it? They have a lot of money (mostly from local property tax revenue coming off of those big, big houses, but this is just going to start another fight, so I’m going to leave it at that).

    Suburban schools have been better in every unified school district I’ve been in. The money argument is mostly a mirage until changes are made in how its spent.

  87. Jonovitch on November 1, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    5. Parental involvement. (I’m embarrassed that I forgot this one.) It can even be required by teachers (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/04/education/04homework.html), and it always makes for better students.

    a spectator (83), money buys better facilities, hires more teachers, rewards better teaching, invests in newer books, etc. If the problems with bad schools include leaky buildings, crowded classrooms, underpaid educators, tattered texts, etc., then money is indeed a solution. It’s a controversial one, and it’s not the only one, but it deserves a spot on the list.

    Jon

  88. ganzo on November 1, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    #85 – I agree that most will do poorly under any system but we can makes things even worse for them.

  89. Adam Greenwood on November 1, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    I doubt that vouchers will have that effect. Does having some kid who is getting by in a public school make the dropout not drop out or convert his illiteracy to literacy? How could those people be worse off than they already are? In those areas where limited voucher systems have been implemented, it hasn’t made the public schools worse. In fact, its often the kids who are doing the worst who get pulled.

  90. ganzo on November 1, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    #89 If the top 10% of students leave a school (especially if you asume that by making the decsion to leave, the parent cares and is involved in the child’s school), I think it can leaved the school worse off. Maybe not for the drop-outs but there are probably plenty kids who a barely making it who get left behind. You seem to have information that the top students aren’t leaving but it seems to me that these are the students most likely to take advantage of the vouchers.

  91. Jonovitch on November 1, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Adam (84), if vouchers acted more like tickets that paid the entire amount of “tuition,” whether for functioning public or private schools, then perhaps that would be a valid solution. But the reality is, vouchers are subsidies for higher-income families who can make up the difference in the price of private tuition. On average, the vast majority of families with kids in school are not able to participate in this “solution.” Exactly how do vouchers benefit the countless numbers who simply don’t have the option?

    Sure, competition will make winners, but by definition it will also make losers. So the good schools get better (and the housing prices go even higher), and the bad schools get worse (and the graduation rates drop). You end up paying for the welfare, cops, prisons, etc. anyway, so why not try an ounce of prevention?

    How do you bring the good schools to the kids? You can make a good start by equalizing the funding. Stop pre-selecting a better education for the kids who’s parents can afford it (whether by housing location or by vouchers), to the detriment of those who can’t help living where they do. Why does your kid deserve a better education than the one in the city? Because he was born with the right last name?! Talk about kingmaking!

    Vouchers are a selfish solution. Unreasonable indeed.

    Jon

  92. CS Eric on November 1, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    I realize this doesn’t follow the main track of discussion here, but I have been wondering where home schooling fits in the voucher arena. Do homeschooling families get vouchers the same way families that send their kids to private schools do?

  93. Julie M. Smith on November 1, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    CS Eric, most of the proposals I’ve seen do not fund homeschooling. I believe that kids in some parts of Canada are funded at home and you can homeschool under an umbrella charter in CA and get substantial money.

  94. Ranbato on November 1, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    Jonovitch:
    My issue with the funding is it (while a real issue) diverts attention from much more important issues. DC has the highest funding in the nation and one of the lowest graduation rates. Utah has about the lowest funding and one of the highest graduation rates.

    My wife’s charter school gets 75% of the funding of a public school, can’t fund the building and property from a school bond and so has to take it from the per-pupil funding _unlike a public school_, deals with special-ed and ‘troubled’ kids whose parents are trying to get them to succeed by getting them out of the public schools, and yet they manage to have a pay scale equal to the highest school district in Utah, all new computers every 3 years, bussed field trips, etc. and yet they have some of the best U-PASS scores in the state!

    Where the crap are the public schools wasting all their money?!?

  95. Mark D. on November 1, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    Jon (#91),

    The only reason the voucher amounts are less than 100% is as an attempt at compromise. If the opponents keep complaining that the amounts are too low, I am sure the legislature could make short work of the problem.

    An even better system would be to reduce the state’s role to that of a lender. Every student could borrow up to $100,000 with no interest until he or she turns eighteen and minimal interest after that. The state income tax could be eliminated and be replaced by student loan payments.

  96. MrBlue on November 1, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    #95 “An even better system would be to reduce the state’s role to that of a lender. Every student could borrow up to $100,000 with no interest until he or she turns eighteen and minimal interest after that. The state income tax could be eliminated and be replaced by student loan payments.”

    Because nothing says “We Care” like crushing debt…

  97. Mark D. on November 2, 2007 at 12:52 am

    Mr Blue,

    How do you think public education gets paid for now? It is not a gift from the tooth fairy.

  98. PoNyman on November 4, 2007 at 4:23 am

    Adam touched on one of Megan Mcardle\’s posts on vouchers, but she has been writing much more. Scroll through her October archive many of which address the segment of society that is able to decide which schools their children go to based on geography, but take no real thought as to the plight of the children who cannot make that point.
    As to the point of the post:
    #1, yes, I believe in the current school environment it is appropriate to allow parents to choose which public, private, home or charter schools their children should go to. I do not believe that vouchers will end up being the perfect or end all solution, but I do think that it may be just the right medicine to get the machine moving. I think that it will help open up best case solutions.
    #2, no, unless the circumstances are extreme. Most often the problem with any \”bad\” wards that I\’ve been in is looking at me in the mirror.