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Our Public School System, a Government Monopoly…
Posted: 04 June 2006 04:30 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Curious as to what thoughts about public school education, private school education and vouchers this may bring up:

Interesting article…

The key word on how our public school system is run is: Monopoly. Or more specifically, government run monopoly. If you want to send your kids to a different school. Too bad. If the school is performing poorly. Tough luck.

Two damaging results of having a monopoly in any industry are: First, a lack of accountability and second, little incentive for improving the product. In our public school system tax money funds the schools regardless of the schools performance. Are kids performing poorly? Too bad you still send your kids and the feds still take your money.

Would you continue to visit the same restaurant if the food was poor or the service lousy? Would you continue to purchase your next car from the same dealer that has sold you lemons in the past? Of course not. But you are expected to accept lousy service from your school. I’m not saying all public schools are lousy. That’s not the point. Some are excellent. Some of my most memorable teachers were public school teachers. The point is if you find yourself faced with a lousy school as a parent you have little choice.

A common solution proposed at improving our pubic schools is to throw more money at the problem. But does that work? Of course our schools need a minimum amount to pay for computers, teachers and other materials but does throwing more money at our troubled public school fix the root problem?

Well first, how much do we spend now?

Data for the 1999-2000 school year puts revenues for public education (k-12) at $373 billion. Divide this number by total students attending k-12 education and this works out to an average of just under $7,000 spent per student per year. In a recent John Stossel program on 20/20 he put the figure closer to $10,000. That works out to about $100,000 education after completing high school. Are American students getting $100,000 worth of education out of our public schools?

So, the question remains. Do we need to spend more money? Seems to me without competition or accountability throwing money at the problem will have little impact on student’s performance. John Stossel recently provided an excellent example of this in an article from January entitled "Myth: Schools Need more Money." John found an extreme example in Kansas City where a judge by the name of Russell Clark ordered the government to spend billions more on public education.

John writes in his article, "Did the billions improve test scores? Did they hire better teachers, provide better books? Did the students learn anything?

Well, they learned how to waste lots of money.

The bureaucrats renovated school buildings, adding enormous gyms, an Olympic swimming pool, a robotics lab, TV studios, a zoo, a planetarium, and a wildlife sanctuary. They added intense instruction in foreign languages. They spent so much money that when they decided to bring more white kids to the city's schools, they didn't have to resort to busing. Instead, they paid for 120 taxis. Taxis!

What did spending billions more accomplish? The schools got worse. In 2000, five years and $2 billion later, the Kansas City school district failed 11 performance standards and lost its academic accreditation for the first time in the district's history."

Yes, they learned how to waste a lot of public money all while not improving student performance.

Here is another argument against spending more money. If spending more money will help then how is it possible for other nations, which spend far less on their students, to routinely outperform American students?

Furthermore, Jay Greene, author of "Education Myths" has this to say, "If money were the solution the problem would already be solved…We've doubled per pupil spending, adjusting for inflation over the last 30 years and yet schools aren't better."

Here's the simple truth. Just like my government run grocery store idea would be inefficient at delivering quality products at reasonable prices to store shelves in our neighborhood, our current method of running public schools is not the most efficient way to educate our children. And I'm afraid it shows. Monopolies are not efficient. Competition is stifled and government agencies waste money. The laws of capitalism and free markets, the very engines that drive our current economy to the envy of the world, are squashed in favor of mediocrity.

Ask yourself what does the government run efficiently? The IRS? Immigration? Or maybe the long lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles. We all know the government is excellent at wasting your money. Putting bureaucrats and large sums of your tax money in the same room is a sure fire formula for waste. Couple that with a monopoly which ensures lack of competition and death to innovation and what do you have? Our public schools.

In America we have an abundance of choice on where we can live, what we eat, the type of job we want to do, where to vacation, what music we listen to, our healthcare, what car to drive, where to shop but when it comes to our children's education your choices can be very limiting.

A possible solution to ease the problem might be to interject some market competition and free choice. Enter the school voucher.

‘Vouchers’ are a means of implementing school choice. That is, parents are given a ‘voucher’ by the school district, which entitles them to, say, $5,000 that can be applied to their school of choice. So, if you want to send your kid to a private school this voucher can be applied to the tuition. The value of the voucher is generally lower than the cost of one year of public education.

But guess who stand in the way of you using your own tax money to send your kids to a school of choice?

Yes, that was our good friend Hillary Clinton speaking in February 2006 about the dangers of parents sending their kids to a school of their choice. Clinton, uses scare tactics to give the impression that kids will be sent to “School of the Church of the White Supremacist” or the “School of the Jihad.”

School vouchers would be used to send kids to accredited schools. Just like private schools operate today. There are no accredited private schools called “School of the Church of the White Supremacist” or the “School of the Jihad” operating in America. I think she is confusing America with Iran. The only difference with a voucher program is the parents get some tax money to help pay for the tuition. In many, many cases the government would be returning your own hard earned money. Remember, that $7000 per student is tax money collected from you – whether you send your kids to public schools or not. If you make the choice to send your kids to private schools – are you not entitled to have your own money returned?

Anything that takes money away from the government pisses Democrats and liberals off. They hated Bush’s social security reform because it provided the option of choice by allowing you to take a lousy 2% of your own money from the pockets of politicians – placing back into your hands. They hate that. They harp about Bush’s tax cuts. And they dislike returning your money for sending your kids to a school of your choice.

In a recent example in Florida, Republican Gov. Jeb Bush offered students whose public schools fail the state's grading system at least twice in four years the opportunity to take advantage of a voucher program called "Opportunity Scholarships". The students could use the money toward tuition at private schools, including religious ones.

Palm Beach County Republican Party Chairman said, "School choice is the civil rights issue of the 21st century,"

But opponents say the vouchers siphon state money from precisely the public schools that most need it, funneling it instead into private schools that don't have to meet state standards.

Hillary Clinton makes the same case on her senatorial web site; “In addition, I strongly oppose voucher schemes that divert precious resources away from financially strapped public schools to private schools that are not subject to the same accountability standards."

Florida ACLU director Howard Simon makes it clear that returning money to the people is not the right answer but, “to get about the difficult business of improving the public schools for everyone.”

Translation: I don't want to erode the government monopoly or the power of the teachers union.

Well ACLU and Hillary Clinton not everyone wants their kids sent to a school that performs poorly. Why should parents settle for a school that is failing them? Whose money are we spending anyway? The people’s!

Furthermore why reward failing schools? In the business world a company severs the people and it must continue to serve the people better and better or else it will die. But in this case we reward poor schools by throwing more money at them. How much sense does that make?

Well after a six-year legal fight, the FL state Supreme Court struck down the voucher program just last month. Bush and some influential Republican legislators have vowed to revive them. You can bet Democrats and the ACLU will be their to stop them.

The message today is clear. When politicians discuss plans about reforming our public school system with vouchers or tax breaks listen to the democrats whine. The so-called party of choice does not want to empower you with choice. In their world the government knows best how to spend your money. Government knows best on where your kids should go to school.

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Posted: 14 June 2006 07:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Man, with all of the “intellectuals” in here, I figured our children’s education would be a good topic…guess not.  rolleyes

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Posted: 14 June 2006 08:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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I don’t understand it. If you are a caring parent who cares about your child’s education but the school district you are in is miserable, and you can’t aford to moved, the kid is stuck. In this kid’s situation, vouchers coud be the difference between a college degree and success and something much less. According to John Stossel, a private Catholic education in New York is about $5,000 per year and first rate, whereas the cost for public schools cost about $13,000. I know that an education in the Catholic school would not be very popular here, but everybody I have ever known that went to one ended up very successful because of their discipline and study habits. But regardless what kind of school it is, I would think that our government should only be concerned that it is a quality education. What the kids are getting at public school for the most part is not outstanding.

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Posted: 15 June 2006 05:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Our educators are out to lunch. The American system of K-12 revolves around methodology effectively designed to indoctrinate our children into playing low roles in life. We are taught to be workers and consumers, with a bit of art, music and literature thrown in occasionally. Crucially important subjects such as epistemology, logic and psychology are almost completely ignored.

Ph.D.s and M.D.s are not allowed in the classroom unless they jump through ridiculous hoops, such as numerous education courses that end up inadequately addressing the only reason to take them: maintaining control of the classroom.

But don’t get me started.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 16 June 2006 01:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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The fire department would seem to be a government monopoly, too. I’d like the option of having my home served by a different fire department, and feel that I should have choice in the matter. Could I contract with a private fire department? Of course, but I don’t want to pay for both. I would like a voucher.

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Posted: 16 June 2006 03:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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The solution to fixing schools isn’t found in stripping money from the system. It’s found in parental and civic involvement. Electing the right school board candidates and being involved in what goes on in a school is a good first step. That can make a difference. The real difference is parental involvement with their kids. Schools are seen as a babysitter. They spend more and more time teaching manners rather than academics. Parents have forgotten their roles.

How do we, as a society, fix that?

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Posted: 16 June 2006 04:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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You could import all those foreign teachers that are turning out the kids who seem to be better educated than ours…and I bet you wouldn’t see a difference. It is a parenting problem…lack of discipline…and an unwillingness to really challenge their kids…wouldn’t want to affect their self-esteem. When 50% of people await the end times…what’s the point?

Rod

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Posted: 16 June 2006 05:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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People have to understand that you can’t have two systems for the price of one. Private schools aren’t publicly funded. The amount of public funding won’t increase. Take money from public schools and give it to private schools, and see what happens. It’s not competition—it’s starvation.

It’s a knee-jerk reaction. If there is a problem, it won’t be fixed in that way. Fixing the problem requires work and dedication, and I don’t believe most Americans care. They just want someone to do it for them. We’ve become a nation that has forgotten that change requires work.

People talk as though there is no alternative. There are alternatives up the wazoo—more than ever. Charter schools, students being able to transfer to the schools of their choice, private schools… Some people actually care enough to consider the quality of the schools before they move into a community.

If a parent wants their child in a different school, there’s no reason that can’t happen. Well, there is one. That’s the parent’s choice as to how important it is to them.

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Posted: 17 June 2006 09:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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well, educating the masses to the point where they can question the rulers is not something the rulers like, me thinks

I think marx said education was mega important, most education is really the product of what makes people good workers & consumers not thinkers.

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Posted: 17 June 2006 09:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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[quote author=“jetsetjason”] most education is really the product of what makes people good workers & consumers not thinkers.

I disagree. You get out of education what you put into it.

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Posted: 17 June 2006 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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There is ONE system to succeed in and year after year, decade after decade, we have the same discussions…People just aren’t cut from the same cookie mold. Based on values, interests, ability or lack thereof, there needs to be a choice for kids who can’t fit the single system we have. I think vocational high schools are an excellent idea.

Not everyone is cut out for school…secondary or post-secondary.

The notion that everybody deserves an education (meaning high school and college) is ridiculous to me. Long ago, when getting an education was considered a privilege, there were those that would argue that all people who didn’t receive an education truly wanted one. Now, that’s true in some cases, but most of those kids couldn’t care less about school…they wanted to be farmers, or welders, etc. Those types of professions don’t necessarily require “school education”, they just require job knowledge, which can easily be learned in a vo-tech environment or through apprenticeship.

Remember when it was considered to be an honor to get to go to the University? Remember that people only went who actually wanted to further their education…not just get pell grant money, or not have to work for a living for a few more years? (Although I know that’s not the case with everyone)

We have become a society that has actually lowered the value of an education, and made it a fundamental right of sorts, and feel that everyone should be given one. That is not how it should be. We even lower are entrance exams that allow us to get into colleges. ACT? What is that? Kids started to not be able to pass it, so we made an easier one (Asset test). It’s ridiculous, and as Sacto said, to change our education system, it is going to take radical change from all involved.

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Posted: 17 June 2006 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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[quote author=“Mulaka”][quote author=“jetsetjason”] most education is really the product of what makes people good workers & consumers not thinkers.

I disagree. You get out of education what you put into it.

Suppose so, you can always get a library card and read books for free BUT someone decided to teach me about different religions at school but never mentioned Darwin.

Or Karl Marx

Or lots of other things I discovered after leaving school which other people are still ignorant about.

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Posted: 17 June 2006 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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[quote author=“jetsetjason”] BUT someone decided to teach me about different religions at school but never mentioned Darwin.

I hope you weren’t taught this in public school.

K-12 is for basic education, if you want to get more education you go on to University, and do your own research.

Private school is BS.

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Posted: 17 June 2006 11:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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http://www.reonline.org.uk/

standard state education in the UK, we had religious education which explained about different religions, we had biology, nobody ever mentioned darwin / karl marx / philosophy

things maybe different these days, no idea

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Posted: 17 June 2006 11:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“Humble Servant”]but everybody I have ever known that went to one ended up very successful because of their discipline and study habits.

Well, while we’re giving out anecdotal evidence, what about the nun in one of my classes who screamed at and belittled kids who made the slightest error?

There’s also the one right next door to our daycare provider (who does go to that Church) who didn’t want our child playing in their yard (after hours) with the rest of the daycare kids because we didn’t belong to any church.

Great examples of Christian kindness from those who run our two local catholic schools.

Of course, anecdotal evidence is next to useless, mine and yours. There are likely good and bad examples of both Catholic and Private schools.

The issue I could see with Catholic schools, even a good one for the general populace is that it likely wouldn’t be a very supportive environment for an atheist/agnostic or someone who belonged to another faith.

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Posted: 17 June 2006 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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[quote author=“jetsetjason”]http://www.reonline.org.uk/

standard state education in the UK, we had religious education which explained about different religions, we had biology, nobody ever mentioned darwin / karl marx / philosophy

things maybe different these days, no idea

Seems the UK is behind the times…

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