Voucher programs fail advocates’ claims

Thanks in part to redistricting, Georgia Republicans have hopes of achieving super-majorities in the state House and Senate in the next election cycle, meaning Democrats could no longer block changes to the state constitution.

Among other things, that’s almost certain to mean a renewed push to introduce a broad school-voucher program in the state.

The question is why.

Last month, Florida released the latest results of its school-voucher program for low-income students. More than 22,000 students took part in the program last school year, accounting for $148.5 million in state tax money diverted to private schools.

(Technically, the Florida program is funded by private donors, which in turn are given credits to lower their state tax bills. A $500 donation reduces your taxes by $500. Georgia has a relatively new program modeled closely after Florida’s.)

According to researcher David Figlio, an economist at Northwestern University, test results for voucher students last year showed modest to no gain. “In other words,” Figlio writes, “the typical student participating in the program tended to maintain his or her relative position in comparison with others nationwide.”

That has also been the result every year the test comparison has been conducted in Florida.

Figlio’s analysis does offer some interesting nuggets. For example, almost 50 percent of the students who joined the Florida voucher program last year came not from “failing schools,” but from schools rated as A by the Florida Department of Education. Only 9 percent of new voucher students came from schools rated D or F.

The test results out of Florida echo those in Milwaukee, which also has a long-standing voucher program. Students using vouchers there have performed no better and perhaps even worse than their peers who have remained in public schools.

Performance data, in other words, doesn’t seem to justify a dismantling of the public-school system in favor of a broad voucher system. It’s not the answer.

In fact, the whole concept seems more than a little strange. For example, in recent years state legislators and state and federal officials have imposed more and more restrictions on local school districts, dictating testing regimens, curriculum, training and how and where money is spent.

Yet in many cases, those same officials turn around and champion voucher programs that have few if any restrictions on how public money would be spent. They laud private schools for a flexibility that they themselves deny public-school counterparts. Oversight of the taxpayer dollar, used to justify strict regulation of public schools, is minimal by design under vouchers.

There’s also the matter of assimilation. Driven in part by immigration concerns, some Americans have become increasingly alarmed at the prospect of a multicultural America in which various ethnic and religious groups retreat into enclaves and don’t “melt” into the melting pot.

Traditionally, public schools have been the engine that ensured assimilation by taking children of all backgrounds and giving them the same general education. A broadly based voucher program dismantles that assimilation engine in favor of a system that subsidizes cultural separation. It’s not an accident that almost two-thirds of the private schools that participate in the Florida program are religious.

Of course, if voucher programs were producing the clearly superior results that its advocates try to claim, you could argue that whatever their other merits, public schools aren’t worth preserving and improving.

But clearly, that’s not the case.

– Jay Bookman

367 comments Add your comment

williebkind

September 19th, 2011
1:39 pm

“The SIMPLE fact that many conservatives FAIL to note is that the mandate of public and private education DIFFER”

Not really, the tax payer funds both, either through a tax collector or a check to the school. The mandate is to educate the children and public education does not graduate students who are job ready or prepared for college.

GT

September 19th, 2011
1:48 pm

The one thing I know the Republican Party of 2011 has little talent for is education. Perry is anti science, Palen thinks Paul Revere was the original Tea Party member and Bachman has the president spending 200 million a day. You get to the Georgia state level and these national icons are geniuses. None of this fuzzy thinking bothers the masses or at least the Republican masses. Somewhere in all this we have a new language being spoken not unlike biotic in the African American community. The difference is most of us can’t even hear the biotic message more less understand what is said, this new Republican language sounds like you said something smart because the room agrees with you which actually you have not. What they have done is get lazy with the facts like biotic gets lazy with the language. Neither is a boom for education and factual truth.

Joe Mama

September 19th, 2011
1:49 pm

williebkind — “The mandate is to educate the children and public education does not graduate students who are job ready or prepared for college.”

That’s strange. My public school education prepared me just fine for college, and I was able to earn multiple degrees at the Bachelor’s level and above.

Mary Elizabeth

September 19th, 2011
1:52 pm

Ronin@12:32

When our forefathers established this nation, they wrote into the Preamble of the Constituion of the U.S. that the government was to “provide for the defense” and “promote the general welfare” of this nation. We do both and we do both through taxes. Jefferson wrote of the need for taxes to pay for public education.

I believe that public education is as important to this nation as is the military. In fact, education may be more important, ultimately, in helping people to understand how to communicate and how to resolve conflicts in nonviolent ways so that killing is less likely. I would rather my taxes go toward public education than anything else I can think of. Do you get to determine whether your tax money can support a publicly or privately based military? Of course not. We do not hire mercenaries to kill in our nation. The “public” military exists because of our taxes, just as public education does.

What you are not seeing is that the desire to dismantle public education began with Republican propaganda which was based on Republican ideology to shrink all government programs. The military is part of the government. Where is the crusade to shrink the military, as has been the crusade to dismantle public education? The public has been manipulated in its thinking regarding public education, just as it has been manipulated to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid as we presently know those programs. Look more closely at what is happening. I worked in public education for 35 years, most of it in a leadership role. I know the reasons for its success and for its failures. What you are hearing today is blatant propaganda regarding public schools. Public schools need improving; they do not need dismantling for wholesale private schools.

HDB

September 19th, 2011
2:00 pm

williebkind

September 19th, 2011
1:39 pm

“The public education mandate is to educate the MASSES children; the private education mandate is to educate the discriminate children… ”

Fixed our statement…..and like Joe Mama, my APS/public school education prepared me quite nicely for a BS in Computer Science and TWO Masters degrees……

Realistic Parents

September 19th, 2011
2:14 pm

There is absolutely NOTHING that government can do better than private industry, and this includes school. I currently work two jobs to send our children to a private school. This private school, by the way, has DOUBLE the test scores of the best Georgia public/government schools and costs 1/3 less per student. Factor in what is spent federally, state, and locally per child, and you will be amazed.

What ever happened to giving folks a choice and letting them spend their own money on what they think is best, for them and their children? When there is no competition, quality erodes just as in the case of our Georgia government schools.

As a tax-paying citizen and parent, I will take ANY amount of money in form of a tax credit and or voucher. For us Generation X-ers, government/public schools are just like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and most other government programs; they tax the heck out of us and give us a negative return on our “investment.”

I for one am glad that our children are already academically superior than the majority of their public school counterparts. Surely they will need this education in the future!

Public/government schools do not work. They have not and continue to not produce a good product, and they are inefficient at best. Why not look for other solutions? I say if you let the marketplace back into our education system, just like everything else where us consumers have a choice, it will improve.

Joe Mama

September 19th, 2011
2:22 pm

Realistic Parents — “What ever happened to giving folks a choice and letting them spend their own money on what they think is best, for them and their children?”

You already have a choice. And you are perfectly free to spend your own money on whatever educational alternative you want for your children.

Whip out your checkbook and walk the walk. But quit looking to me and others to pay for your children’s private school education. If you want it so bad, then tighten your belt, make some sacrifices and hard choices and PAY FOR IT YOURSELF.

HDB

September 19th, 2011
2:25 pm

Realistic Parents
September 19th, 2011
2:14 pm

Question: If you let the MARKETPLACE rule the educational system, wouldn’t it price education OUT OF THE REACH of the masses, thereby creating MORE usage of governmental systems to care for those without the earning potential granted by HAVING an education??

As I stated before: note the COST of Westminister:

Tuition 2010-11:
$17,840 Grades Pre-first – 5
$20,690 Grades 6-12
Financial Aid: $ 13,086 – Average Award (to 16.9% of the student body)

Please indicate how someone making poverty wages can afford to educate a child??

Realistic Parents

September 19th, 2011
2:29 pm

Yes, we do have a choice as to where we send our children, but we DO NOT have a choice of paying the taxes that go to fund a broken and inefficient school system. What’s wrong with giving people a choice? It’s useless arguing with Liberals and anti-capitalists…

BOB FROM ACCOUNT TEMPS

September 19th, 2011
2:31 pm

Ronnie Raygun

September 19th, 2011
7:17 am
Conservatives push for vouchers for the simple reason that the owners of private schools give kickbacks to politicians that help funnel tax money into their pockets. The owners of public schools do not.

SORTA LIKE THE UNIONS DO WITH DEM POLS

Joe Mama

September 19th, 2011
2:32 pm

Realistic Parents — “Yes, we do have a choice as to where we send our children, but we DO NOT have a choice of paying the taxes that go to fund a broken and inefficient school system.”

No one gets that choice. So why should you?

I don’t have children in my local school system, but I still pay taxes to support that system. So why should you get out of it? If you want your kids in another educational program, then put on your Big Parents’ Pants and PAY FOR IT YOURSELF instead of begging the rest of us to do it.

“What’s wrong with giving people a choice?”

You already HAVE a choice. You just have to pay for it YOURSELF, like adults do. Grow up.

“It’s useless arguing with Liberals and anti-capitalists…”

It’s useless arguing with people who think they have a right to a taxpayer-funded handout.

WOODSTOCK MIKE

September 19th, 2011
2:36 pm

Interesting how so many love to bash the public school system. I guess I’m lucky, in Cobb county I received a fantastic education and my children are now receiving the same. You guys on here are so depressing.

WOODSTOCK MIKE

September 19th, 2011
2:37 pm

“It’s useless arguing with people who think they have a right to a taxpayer-funded handout.”

Did a Democrat actually say this? LOL

HDB

September 19th, 2011
2:39 pm

Realistic Parents
September 19th, 2011
2:29 pm
“It’s useless arguing with Liberals and anti-capitalists…”

Isn’t MORE of a capitalistic system to CREATE the workforce thant fuels the DEMAND for goods and services that creates the product that fuels the capitalistic system? If so, shouldn’t we ALL fund the entity that creates such a workforce?? As was stated before, private education educates the DISCRIMINATE whereas public education educates the MASSES!! The paradigms are different in scope!!

Plus, don’t you…like I…have a civic responsibility towards the operation of a free society??? THAT’S what taxes does……fund the entities that ensure a free society……

WOODSTOCK MIKE

September 19th, 2011
2:43 pm

@Realistic Parents

Hey, I’m all for private schools if that’s where you want your kid to go but you may want to show some facts to back up your statements…

“When the report’s authors compared students of similar socioeconomic status at private, public and parochial high schools, they found that:

•Achievement scores on reading, math, science and history were the same;
•Students were equally likely to attend college whether they had graduated from a public or private school;
•Young adults at age 26 were equally likely to report being satisfied with their jobs whether they had graduated from a public or private school;
•Young adults at age 26 were equally likely to engage in civic activity whether they had graduated from a public or private school.”

Atlanta1

September 19th, 2011
3:05 pm

Interesting how most missed the point here.

The reason that things stayed status quo is because the kids who took advantage of the program were primarily kids who were already achieving. I’m willing to bet that most of the kids who receive the money, were ALREADY in private schools.

The legislation is about giving people like me (who pay tuition to a private school) and pay county/state taxes some of our money back. While that would certainly be nice, it is my choice to send my child to a private school. I do this for a variety of reasons, including religious ones. As long as my taxes are not INCREASED or additional monies charged by the Government, since I decided to pay for a private education – I’m fine.

So “no” – I do not expect a voucher for my child to go to Private School. It’s MY choice and one that I do not expect the state to compensate me for.

Is it asking too much to allow ME to choose my own healthcare coverage? The same people whining about money going towards vouchers are the same people who want me to PAY MORE should I decide not to enroll into a national health care program.

So if you have a problem with your monies going to a private school, then you should understand why I have a problem with ADDITIONAL monies of mine going to a National HC Program. If you want in “fine”- but f I opt out – I should not be penalized for it.

Fair is Fair

DrJimboManbo

September 19th, 2011
3:13 pm

The simple address to this issue is this: Teachers DO NOT work very hard. Eight months per year of work for, I’d say, 30-35K is BIG pay. A gen-ed degree isn’t worth me wiping my butt with. That is what most public teachers have. Teachers, all administrators, and county super’s are all ridiculously overpaid AND underworked. Many should be fired. Same goes for the losers in private/charter schools as well.

HDB

September 19th, 2011
3:26 pm

DrJimboManbo
September 19th, 2011
3:13 pm

Having PERSONALLY seen the efforts teachers use in the education of our children, I must say that you are SADLY mistaken! Many educators have degrees in their specialty….and lately, many who are now teaching came from the business world!! Also note that teachers MUST attend classes to maintain their certification…..much of this, you DON’T see!!

Much of the problem can NOT be placed at the feet of teachers….but administrators and parents have some share of the blame!!

Joe Mama

September 19th, 2011
3:31 pm

Mike — “Did a Democrat actually say this? LOL”

See? We CAN agree on things! :D

Ron Paul 2012

September 19th, 2011
3:32 pm

I had no idea the jury was still out on whether competition ultimately helps the consumer…. I learn something new every day that I read this trash!

Mary Elizabeth

September 19th, 2011
3:36 pm

It seems to me that most of the posts have involved thinking only in terms of what I, as an individual, want to do – either in education or in medical care – rather than what is best for the nation or state as a whole.

Think larger than your own situation for a moment. Think wholistically. Think about educating ALL the children in this nation and state. Think about the many, many variations among all of them. Yet, they all need to be educated to the best of their abilities, and realistically that means through public schools. The vast majority of students simply cannot afford private schools, even with vouchers. Moreover, many would not be accepted by private schools because of their exceptional needs. Nevertheless, we need an educated populace overall, and, realistically, that means public schools through our taxes.

In terms of medical care, doesn’t every American need medical care? Some now have health insurance and some don’t. When those that don’t have insurance – as Wolf Blitzer suggested, on the CNN debate, with the example of the young man who had no health insurance but ended up in a coma and needed care – that population presently gets emergency care provided by the tax payer. The premium requirement, in the new health law, mandates that all pay for healthcare so that those in the overall population who are not now paying for any medical insurance to any agency, will now pay premiums, thereby taking care of themselves through their premiums in case the unexpected happens, and thereby, realistically, easing the pressure on the taxpayers, overall.

Barry

September 19th, 2011
3:45 pm

Williebkind: No, I don’t need a bodyguard – I need a voucher supporter who can attempt to answer a simple philosophical question. Here it is again:

If I’m unhappy with my local sheriff’s department, do you education voucher supporters believe I should be able to get a voucher for private security? Why not?

HDB

September 19th, 2011
3:45 pm

Mary Elizabeth…..well said!!

Joseph

September 19th, 2011
4:01 pm

HDB:

The answer is that if you can’t afford it educate yourself and get a better job so you can afford it. LOL… Throwing racism in the mix the way you loons on the left do is ridiculous. Parents should have the choice where their child goes to school. Not the state. Not the feds… Plain and simple. If you don’t like it you need to work on getting more democrats elected to office becuase they are wholeheartly against the idea because they want complete control of your children for indoctrination purposes….

Barry

September 19th, 2011
4:06 pm

Parents have the choice, right this minute, to send their children to school anywhere they wish, Joseph, or keep them at home and attempt to educate themselves if they’d like. But just because they would prefer to send their children somewhere other than their locally provided public school doesn’t mean they’re entitled to get money to send their kid elsewhere, any more than their displeasure with their locally provided law enforcement entitles them to a voucher for private security.

oldguy

September 19th, 2011
4:09 pm

Mary,
I hate to be the wet blanket here but:
“Think wholistically. Think about educating ALL the children in this nation and state.”
Our public education system is trash compared to most other countries. Our kids test in the lower half in math in the world.
So….the fact is we are NOT educating our kids well with the current mass system. Why not try something new? Look at you local taxes, a HUGE part of them go to local schools (as well as significant monies from your federal taxes).
What are we getting? Lousy returns on investment. There are many reasons why, but the bottom line is we are not getting our money’s worth!!
“In mathematics literacy, U.S. 15-year-olds’ average score of 487 on the 2009 PISA was lower than the OECD average score of 496. The average mathematics literacy score in the United States was lower than the average score in 17 of the 33 other OECD countries, higher than the average score in 5 of the other OECD countries, and not measurably different from the average score in 11 of the OECD countries. In 6 of the 31 non-OECD jurisdictions, the mathematics literacy scores of 15-year-olds were higher than the average score in the United States. In science literacy, the average score of 15-year-olds in the United States was not measurably different from the OECD average score. The U.S. average science literacy score was lower than the average score in 12 of the 33 other OECD countries, higher than the average score in 9 of the other OECD countries, and not measurably different from the average score in 12 of the OECD countries. In 6 of the 31 non-OECD jurisdictions, the science literacy scores of 15-year-olds were higher than the average score in the United States.
source? http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=1

TruthBe

September 19th, 2011
4:17 pm

The problem with Public schools are the sorry Teachers, Board Members, Superintendents, and Principles that can’t be fired because of the Unions and Political Correctness. If they had to compete for their jobs and we could only hired the best quailified people reguardless of race than we might have a change of improving our Public Schools. Education Jobs should have real competition. Our Children’s futures depend on it. Just look at the criminals that run and control the Atlanta, Fulton, Clayton, and Dekalb School Systems. Beverly Hall should have been arrested. Dekalb’s new superintendent was hired because she’s black. Look at the mess she created at her last job. Atlanta and some surrounding areas have a racial problem with their hiring practices. How about tiring some new Leadership? What about it Mayor Reed?

Barry

September 19th, 2011
4:25 pm

TruthBe, your lack of grammar and spelling skills fails to inspire confidence in your education advice.

TruthBe

September 19th, 2011
4:31 pm

GT, You need to learn the facts. FACT # 1 President Obama, his administration, his Czars, and the idiots in the Senate and Congress are destroying America. You and MOST Blacks are aplogizing and making excuses for Obama because of your balck pride period. What you might start thinking about is your Country America instead of some part time public employee that’s suppost to be the number one public servant.

Joe Mama

September 19th, 2011
4:33 pm

TruthBe — “FACT # 1 President Obama, his administration, his Czars, and the idiots in the Senate and Congress are destroying America.”

Did you receive an encoded transmission from the Mothership that gave you this information? :D

TruthBe

September 19th, 2011
4:33 pm

Barry, Sorry worked very late. My apologies.

TruthBe

September 19th, 2011
4:35 pm

Joe Mama, Wake up and put down the obamajuice.

Joseph

September 19th, 2011
4:38 pm

Barry:

Again you people on the left… Thats your opinion. Until you learn how to win elections again by pleasing the tax payers of this great state learn to live with Republican ideals. You can whine until your blue in the face but until democraps regain power in 50 or so years tax payers with children will get a choice….

oldguy

September 19th, 2011
4:42 pm

“AH Men” Joseph!!

Joe Mama

September 19th, 2011
4:50 pm

TruthBe — “Joe Mama, Wake up and put down the obamajuice.”

Please return to your home planet, TruthBe. There are human beings here who miss you and want you to come home. We will talk to the doctors about reducing your dosages of medications if you like. Just come back to Earth. Please. :D

TruthBe

September 19th, 2011
5:22 pm

Joe Mama, Who said you were human?

Trotsky Radio

September 19th, 2011
5:24 pm

Realistic Parents: “There is absolutely NOTHING that government can do better than private industry, and this includes school”

Government can do absolutely EVERYTHING better than private industry.

Trotsky Radio

September 19th, 2011
5:25 pm

The only answer to our woes is STRUGGLE.

On a MASS scale.

Trotsky Radio

September 19th, 2011
5:27 pm

And I’m interested in doing those things that will hasten that struggle.

What do you think, bloggers? You with me? :)

Mary Elizabeth

September 19th, 2011
5:33 pm

oldguy@4:09
“What are we getting? Lousy returns on investment. There are many reasons why, but the bottom line is we are not getting our money’s worth!!”
——————————————————-

I understand your frustration, but one cannot dismiss so easily the “reasons why.” Understanding the reasons why is key to getting to the heart of the problem. Please take a minute to read the following post that I saved from Kyle Wingfield’s blog on March 4, 2011 by a blogger by the name of JW. JW gave outstanding data, and his/her data is consistent with my 35 years of experiences in dealing, in great depth, with students and with many teachers in all curriculum areas and their difficulties in having all their students perform on grade level.
————————————————————
JW
March 4th, 2011
7:41 am

“Here is another little piece of statistical information that is not often seen or heard because it doesn’t fit the political agendas of many folks when it comes to our “failing” public schools/teachers and school “reform.”

“To justify their campaign, ed reformers repeat, mantra-like, that U.S. students are trailing far behind their peers in other nations, that U.S. public schools are failing. The claims are specious. Two of the three major international tests—the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study and the Trends in International Math and Science Study—break down student scores according to the poverty rate in each school. The tests are given every five years.

“The most recent results (2006) showed the following: students in U.S. schools where the poverty rate was less than 10 percent ranked first in reading, first in science, and third in math. When the poverty rate was 10 percent to 25 percent, U.S. students still ranked first in reading and science. But as the poverty rate rose still higher, students ranked lower and lower. Twenty percent of all U.S. schools have poverty rates over 75 percent. The average ranking of American students reflects this. The problem is not public schools; it is poverty.

“Room for improvement? Certainly. Failing? Hardly.
Who is to be held accountable for the continuing high poverty levels in the U.S. that are negatively influencing the performance of our public school students?”
——————————————————————–

I worked as a Reading Department Chair in a major suburban, essentially black high school where the economic background of students was from high to very low. The results of testing incoming 9th grade students each year for over a decade consistently showed that 1/2 of the students (300 out of 600 each year) were reading on 6th grade level and below in 9th grade, but that the range of scores was from 4th grade level to grade level 16+ in 9th grade. With that massive variation, how does a given teacher teach to all of those levels effectively? How could a private school teacher teach effectively if he or she had to contend with that kind of variance among his or her school’s population? If ALL the students are shifted to private schools, then that type of variance would also exist among students in private schools. Having an overall government plan to move ALL students to private schools would essentially be “passing the buck;” it would not be solving the essential problem.

The answer is not to dismantle public schools. You are correct that new approaches need to be tried, and where success is found, those successes should be emulated, but just to say – as you have said – that all students should now be educated through private schools is too gross an analysis to be helpful in solving this massive problem. New approaches can be tried within public schools.

Each child’s instructional level needs to be addressed and each child needs to be taught content at different rates because they learn at different rates. That can be done in public schools. Poverty, as JW’s data showed, is the main factor that needs to be addressed. Children are behind other children academically before they even enter kindergarten, by having impoverished backgrounds for 5 years before even entering kindergarten, and they often remain behind, as a result.

Improving education is a more complex a problem than I can possibly post on this blog, but for the average layperson to think they have all the answers through sending all children to “private schools” is a fallacy in thinking, and that fallacy has been fed to the general public through propaganda by hard rightwing conservatives who have had an ideological agenda that they have wanted to see implemented for years. That is simply a fact; I am not into partisan advocacy by stating that. I am simply trying to point out what has been happening for years politically.

More importantly, I am trying to show the correct way to solve this educational problem, effectively, for ALL of the children of our state to improve academically to their full potential as individuals.

Martin Williams

September 19th, 2011
5:42 pm

Jay, you know the saying very well, what goes up MUST come down and for us as a country we coming very softly. It will take some time but eventually, we will be at the bottom. Unit States of America is not even in the top ten when it comes to education as an advanced industralized Nation. The GOP is 90% responsible for this trend and they speak I love my country……….GOP first country second this days. Example, how can you pay for two wars without raising taxes and given/support tax break. Reagan raised taxes and still left the country in deficit.

Trotsky Radio

September 19th, 2011
5:50 pm

The spirit of the founding of America’s political institutions was first and foremost to put in check and ultimately to harpoon and kill off — to absolutely stymie — the will of the people.

Mary Elizabeth

September 19th, 2011
6:59 pm

HDB@3:45 Thank you.

Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

September 19th, 2011
9:12 pm

Jay, I am having to spend alot of time correcting you tonight. Public schools will soon go the way of the U.S. Postal Service – no need for the service anymore. This will result in a painful loss of revenue for the Democrats. New private schools pop up all the time – check the GISA website – why is that? A friend of ours taught in the local elementary school our children would have attended if they went to public school – she warned us in no uncertain terms not to place our children in that school. Vouchers or no vouchers – it does not make any difference. No one wants their children going through the government indoctrination program while placing their children’s physical safety at risk.

Mary Elizabeth

September 19th, 2011
10:02 pm

Vast Right Wing Conspiracy@9:12

If you want to send your children to private schools, that is your privilege, just so you pay for it yourself, and not with public funds. My child graduated from an outstanding public high school a dozen years ago. I have been paying for all the children of this state to be educated, through public education, through my taxes for over 40 years now, even though my child attended public schools for only 12 of those 40 years. And I plan to continue helping to educate all of the children of this state, through my taxes, for the remainder of my life even though I will have no child in public schools personally. So I say to you, send your children to private schools with your own money if you wish, but make sure you continue to pay taxes, like I do, to help educate ALL of the children in the state through your taxes for public education, as Thomas Jefferson recommended.

And you mention that public schools are a “government indoctrination program.” Using those words sounds as if you have believed the propaganda fed to the public that I mentioned in my 5:33 p.m. post. As a public school teacher of 35 years, I can testify to the fact that that perception is simply wrong.

Adam

September 20th, 2011
8:48 am

This whole thing, to me, seems to come from the idea that the more money you throw at something, the better it is.

hey wait, isn’t that the charge conservatives make FOR private schools, but that somehow the exact same premise doesn’t work for public schools?

Perhaps it’s time to look at something other than money and forced testing as a means of getting a leg up on global competition for education.

Joe Mama

September 20th, 2011
9:14 am

TruthBe — “Joe Mama, Who said you were human?”

I know I’m human, but I’m not so sure about *you.* :D

Ronin

September 20th, 2011
9:39 am

Mary Elizabeth, with all due respect, the 35 years that you spent in public/government education has slanted your view towards same. You continually mention Thomas Jefferson as a point of reference. Mr. Jefferson was a smart man, yet he owned a plantation, staffed by slave labor.

People have money taken from them by threat of seizure of their personal property and are told what school they must attend. That’s a great deal if your a socialist. The other option is to pay for private school. So, basically you have to pay for the masses, then pay for your own children.

Again, I state, your notion of “working together” to improve public schools is pure fantasy. You’ve been there 35 years and nothing has changed. The teaching conditions are worse, students have more social problems and our taxes continue to increase to support a system that is forced on the masses.

Further, the general public continues to pay for state and federal employee’s for decades in the way of defined benefit plans (dbp), pension plans. Simply put, this is not sustainable without continued increases in the tax base.

Oldguy was right, we are receiving a lousy return on our investment dollars. No one will convince you that you are flat wrong, but the facts speak louder than words, public education in the United States is a mismanaged abomination. The APS scandal was just the tip of the iceberg.

We don’t live in a nanny state, parents should have the option to decide on what school is best for their child. If the program you support (public schools) is best the family and delivers a superior product, you have nothing to worry about. The education process will continue unchanged. However, if people are given true school choice, the current government school systems will struggle to survive, given their poor record of performance.

I maintain, as per my prior post, the k-12 education system is a jobs program, pure and simple, which is controlled by the state.

Mary Elizabeth

September 20th, 2011
3:26 pm

Ronin – How many hours have you spent in a classroom – either teaching or being an aide to a teacher? Until you have spent quality time in the classroom, you really are speaking – with great self-confidence – about something of which you know little.

Adam

September 20th, 2011
3:33 pm

Ronin: So, basically you have to pay for the masses, then pay for your own children.

Yep. You are always free to take a pay cut so that you have zero or less tax liability. I heard those people are living the life. They have refrigerators and everything!

but the facts speak louder than words, public education in the United States is a mismanaged abomination.

True, but to say there should be absolutely zero public education or that you shouldn’t have to pay a little of your taxes for it is not the way to fix such a problem. Your solution would only make the problem worse. The solution is to get away from the idea that standardized testing is the end-all be-all.

Adam

September 20th, 2011
3:34 pm

Ronin: We don’t live in a nanny state, parents should have the option to decide on what school is best for their child.

You can, by either paying for a school in your area (or not), or by moving to an area where the school you want to have your child attend is.

Ronin

September 20th, 2011
7:47 pm

Hmm… Mary, sorry, the progress of linear time (35 years) doesn’t make you and expert on all things teaching. Still, all the items on my prior post can be viewed as fact. Your inherent bias is what it is.
If you’re retired from the State of Georgia, enjoy. I’m one of the people picking up the tab to fund your defined benefit plan from the state.

Schools need newly trained teachers who are willing and able to consider new approaches to current problems, rather than the standard of, it worked that way back in 1982.

@Adam, uh no. I’m not cutting my income to live in a box and become a moocher.

point 2, you agree, as per your statement, the current public/government education is an abomination. done. However, I will agree with you, standardized testing needs to be, well, severely curtailed or eliminated. There are better ways to track progress. Most tests are for the politicians to determine what to throw money at next. No child left behind is just another spoon to stir the pot for politicians.

Last: your statement: You can, by either paying for a school in your area (or not), or by moving to an area where the school you want to have your child attend is.
***** You’re missing the point. Education should be designed around the child and not around the system to school the masses. Nor should there be a penalty that you have to pay private school tuition and fund local schools. I should not have to move from one property to another area of town for a child to receive better instruction because they live in a poor performing county. That’s the same debacle that has been happening in Dekalb County. If you have a child that excels in math and science, take the $8,300.00 or $10,000.00 that the county would receive and send them to a specialist program. Same with language or auto mechanics, take your pick.

Simply put, it’s unacceptable for children to graduate after 12 years of school and have no job skill and then have to pay for technical training or “Hope” they can get into college.

That’s why I say the current system is an abomination.

Oh, Mary, one last point. You don’t know anything about me and as to your comment:

“you really are speaking – with great self-confidence – about something of which you know little.”

Sorry, wrong again. Compared to my knowledge base in medicine, law, engineering and education, I would consider you obtuse.

That’s not meant as an insult, just a fact.

So please stop pontificating how wonderful government schools are, after 35 years of indoctrination you should know better. Better yet, consider listening to Neal Boortz on AM 750 in Atlanta, you might learn something useful.

Mary Elizabeth

September 20th, 2011
9:44 pm

Ronin, I am glad of the children of this state that you were not a teacher.

Mary Elizabeth

September 21st, 2011
7:13 am

Ronin@7:47 p.m., Sept 20th:

Correction of my 9:44 post, above:
“I am glad for the children of this state that you were not a teacher.”
——————————————————————–

When I had said in an earlier post that we fare better when we work together, that was from a philosophical perspective and not simply from an educational one. For example, here is a line from your post above: at 7:47 p.m., Sept. 20th:
———————————————–
“Education should be designed around the child and not around the system to school the masses.”
———————————————–
There should be no dichotomy. Education should be designed to “school the masses” AND designed “around the child.” As a former Instructional Lead Teacher, I monitored daily the continuous progress in reading and mathematics of about 800 students in a model school, 1 – 8th grades, which was designed to implement mastery learning and monitor the continuous academic progress of each student.

There is nothing outdated about focusing upon the precise instructional progress of each student. That always has been a sound instructional principle, and it always will be one. I was taught that educational principle in graduate school, I practiced it, and I trained other teachers, as well as parents, in reading techniques and principles so that they, too, could foster the individual continuous progress of their children or students.

As Thomas Jefferson wrote, public education should educate the masses through public taxes. That means educating every child, for the enhancement not only of the child but for society as a whole. That relates to my philosophical statement, earlier, that we are better (as a society) when we work together (or pool our resources) for the common good. For example, you appear to want your tax dollars to follow your specific child or children, and you want the overall system designed in the same manner for all parents and students. There is an inherent problem with that. For instance, my last child graduated from an outstanding public high school 12 years ago, yet I have continued to pay property taxes to support all students who are presently in public schools, i.e. the masses of students, even though I receive no personal benefit, directly, from doing so. However, I do receive benefit, indirectly, because I know that society, as a whole, will be more elevated, more informed, and more skilled when the masses of its people are educated. Therefore, I have no problem paying taxes to support the common good through public education, even though I have no child in a public school. Likewise, as a tax payer, you should want to make sure that all citizens are educated. That means that you, too, should want to pay taxes, even if you have no children in school, in order to support the common good through public education. There will always be public education, of some nature, simply because all children cannot afford private schools, even with vouchers, and private schools would not accept some of the public school students because of their special needs. When we take our tax money – that has been allocated for educating all of the children in this state – and use that money only for our own children, we are hurting the overall public educational system because we are depleting it of its resources. Furthermore, and we will have been contributors to resegregating our students, by class and by wealth, when we remove those students who can afford private schools – with public tax dollars via vouchers – from those who cannot afford private schools, even with vouchers, and who must remain in a greatly depleted and impoverished public school system, as a result. Doing that could be compared with choosing to pay taxes for the defense of this nation, through its military, only if you, personally, had a child in the military. Both public, “government” education and the government-based military serve the common good of this nation. Education is equally as important to the survival of our nation as is the military. Both serve the common good of all. That is what I mean by saying “we are better when we work together” as a nation. That is a philosophical perspective, as much as it is an educational one.

Finally, you should know that I had worked for 44 years of my life, 35 of which were in education, when I retired. Your remarks above seem to imply that by drawing retirement, that I am somehow on public “welfare.” Let me remind you that for 30 years, I made a contract with the state of Georgia to be paid for “services rendered” to the students of this state. I paid into my own retirement during those years. The Teacher Retirement System of Georgia invested my funds for me, as well as those of other teachers, so that we would have retirement in our senior years (another example of how pooling resources, helps all). Thus, the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia pays for 90% of my retirement. Taxpayers pay for less than 10% of it.

I have no interest in listening to Neal Boortz. I have read some of his articles and I have not been impressed with his worldview. In my opinion, he offers only simplistic suggestions for how to solve complex problems.

Ronin

September 21st, 2011
8:46 am

Hmm… Mary, I offer substantive ideas of what I believe and make a compelling argument for positive change. You maintain that having 35 years of teaching experience and quoting obscure references to Thomas Jefferson gives you superior knowledge on how to disseminate information.

Sorry, this may sting, but you’re part of the problem, not the solution. Most long term educators highly overate their own intellectual capacity. Jazzed up with an educational leadership or library science Ph.D’s they strut around calling each other Dr. Mary or Dr. Smith, whatever. Pure and simple ego gratification on their part. I’ve yet to see a kindergarten teacher with a Ph.D that is worth 85k a year vs. the one that is paid 45k, each with the same results. Yet, one is paid more for his/her longevity and a meaningless Ph.D.

As to your quip: “Ronin, I am glad of the children of this state that you were not a teacher.”

If so, children under my supervision would have been exposed to proper money management, economic theory, and financial planning as well as estate and tax planning. Things that allow a person to be independent of government. Does it come as any surprise that a government school would omit such basic information in educating a person. That is, unless the ultimate goal is for the masses to be dependent on government.

In your 35 year tenure as an educator, public/government schools have gotten worse and in my humble opinion, have not reached bottom yet.

It’s time for the public to have the option of school choice. As they/we are paying for your salary and retirement benefits.
It’s not just the sum that I pay in property tax for the county, it’s every business that I do business with, their products are priced with the cost of overhead, part of which is local property tax, the majority is for the local board of education. So, people are paying far more than just their local property tax to support the school system.

It’s time for greater transparency in education funding and also greater accountability of those who are charged with stewardship of educational funds.

We deserve a better return on our tax dollar investment in education, no, the children deserve better.

Mary Elizabeth

September 21st, 2011
11:51 am

Ronin, this is my last post to you, and I am writing it not so much for you, but for any interested reader who may be following our dialogue. I said that I was glad, for the students of this state. that you were not a teacher not because of any lack of intellect you displayed, but because you appear to lack historical vision and compassion for others. To be an outstanding teacher, a person must have both of those qualities, as well as intellect.

If you had historical vision, you would understand that African-Americans were denied receiving an education both during the days of slavery when some white citizens were punished severely, and at times even killed, for teaching slaves to read. Moreover, the decades of Jim Crow – which ended only in the 1960s – held back generations of African-Americans from being educated to their full potential because Jim Crow laws created segregated sub-standard schools as well as a segregated society. The combination of slavery and Jim Crow existed for three centuries in America, and that type of educational suppression of a race takes decades to overcome fully. Now, at least, we are finally educating all of our children. We do not need to go back to having impoverished public schools for those who are part of society’s underclass. I have mentioned several times to you that poor students would remain in public schools because they could not afford private schools even with vouchers. You continue to ignore that fact in your responses.

If you had historical vision, you could not make a statement such as this: “You maintain that having 35 years of teaching experience and quoting obscure references to Thomas Jefferson gives you superior knowledge on how to disseminate information.”

First, I never said that my having 35 years of teaching experience gave me superior knowledge on how to disseminate information. I said that you should not be speaking with such self-confidence about how to solve educational problems when you have neither taught in a classroom nor worked as a teaching assistant, because you have not seen the problems firsthand. My 35 years in classrooms should have given me greater insight than that of someone who never has never set foot in the classroom to help students and/or teachers. Moreover, it was my knowledge and my skills in teaching, not simply the 35 years, that caused me to receive promotions over the years, and to receive a “Teacher of the Year” award from a national/international corporation.

If you had historical vision, you would not dismiss the words of Thomas Jefferson as being “obscure.” Jefferson, one of the primary founders of this nation, was so passionate about public education and freedom for America’s citizens (He wrote that public education reinforced freedom.) that he made certain that his being the “Founder of the University of Virginia” and author of “The Declaration of Independence” were engraved on his tombstone. Education and freedom were central in Jefferson’s mind, moreso than power. “President of the United States” is not engraved on Jefferson’s tombstone. Because of the passion for freedom and education in our founders’ hearts, we, today, are beneficiaries of their vision and commitment. Their vision should never be dismissed as “obscure.”

Moreover, a person with compassion would not be writing remarks such as these that you have written above:

- “If you’re retired from the State of Georgia, enjoy. I’m one of the people picking up the tab to fund your defined benefit plan from the state.”

I have explained to you that TRS of Georgia has invested my teacher retirement funds (which I paid into for over 30 years) so that the TRS pays almost 90% of my retirement, and that the taxpayers pay less than 10% of it. You keep ignoring that fact. Moreover, active teachers are paid by taxpayers for “services rendered” to students, just as taxpayers pay for policemen/women and firemen/women for their “services rendered” to the general public. It is called serving the “common good” of our state and nation. Most people believe that those services are still of benefit to the society-at-large.

And by writing the following remark, you demonstrated not only a lack of compassion, but a lack of humility:

“Compared to my knowledge base in medicine, law, engineering and education, I would consider you obtuse.”

I will not respond to that insult; I will let readers judge the validity of your remark for themselves.

And for your information, financial mangement is taught in public schools by the appropriate teachers. That is not the domain of a music teacher or an art teacher, for example.

Ronin

September 22nd, 2011
8:05 am

Mary, this is my last post to you as well… for the common good of any reader who might come across this thread. One could liken your position on education to that of an alcoholic. You are in DENIAL. I’ve seen many people maintain the same position and NEVER are they able to win a debate on logic and reason. It’s always about the “common good” of society. What made this country great is individual initiative and intestinal fortitude. Call it Darwinian theory, it’s true in nature and also rings true in societal evolution.

Mine is not an opinion lacking compassion, I deal with facts. I’m not a Liberal or a Conservative Republican. As an independent/Libertarian, you think for yourself and in many cases decide close elections because most party voters simply vote party lines.

The reason that I maintain that you’re in denial is that you believe that the current government education program will work. If it could be reformed it would have happened by now. Simply put, it’s broken beyond repair and as someone who has been a part of this system for 35 years, it’s hard to see education as a failure. That’s not harsh, it’s a fact from an impartial observer.

The main point that you’re missing is as clear to someone without a political agenda. The parents are ultimately responsible for the education of the child, not government, not society, or for the greater good of anything. Education starts in the home with responsible parenting and stays in the home with parental support, if the child then goes to government or private school.

As far as the children of economically poor parents, all they have ever known is government schools, they never have a choice unless there is a scholarship available to a private school.

They deserve school choice as well. However, they will never have a choice because of the current bias toward “traditional” government schools. I’m sure you are aware of the recent 4-3 decision regarding the Charter commission, it was a highly political fight that expended a great deal of political capital, resulting in what some believe was judicial activism. Will school choice destroy government school? Only if government schools are ineffective and provide an inferior product. Liberals with good intentions create institutions like government schools and they become self perpetuating. With government, when a program or tax is in place, it rarely goes away.

The problem is, the very people that you want to help are kept in the same poor performing government school system which maintains a cycle of poverty and dependency. That is why it’s my belief, that no matter how much money you throw at education, it will never improve.
Same, you could send some of the poor children to elite private schools and the results would be directly related to the environment at home.

So, in review, the success of the student is beyond the control of the school, public/government or private.

Mary, I think you are passionate about education and improving the lives of the children that are involved. However, you are too close to the process to be objective in your analysis.

Final point: As to the Teachers Retirement System. It’s a good program overall, you contribute roughly 5% of your salary and receive an annuity when you retire, which is partially funded by the state. The point is, the plan does an excellent job in fund management because it linked to the individual. You may receive about 50k a year in total retirement benefit, depending on your rate of compensation. A quick comparison to Social Security, which collects about 13% on the first $106,000 from a government managed program, the maximum benefit is about $35,000 per year.
EVERYONE, all workers should have retirement option choices, just like the program you received.

But that’s another debate, for another time. .

Test

September 22nd, 2011
9:52 am

Test

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Test

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Test

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Test

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Test

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Test

September 22nd, 2011
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Mary Elizabeth

September 22nd, 2011
3:43 pm

Ronin@8:05 a.m., Sept. 22

Ronin, you say that you deal in facts, as well as in logic and reason. And, yet, you say that I am in “denial” regarding public schools, which you capitalize for emphasis. That statement, itself, is a subjective, and not an objective, analysis so I must, respectfully, disagree with you. In fact, the genesis of that statement stems from your feelings. So there is no need for you to be condescending or patronizing to me. I see in your thought processes what you have missed seeing in yourself. But I do not judge you because of that because I know that we are all human, and that we all have feelings often mixed within our reasoning.

You say that you are a Libertarian, which is the same philosophical vision as the Koch Brothers and others of their persuasion. I am an FDR Democrat. I am taking a break from blogging for awhile because I intend to build my resources to fight for the principles maintained by FDR in his Second Bill of Rights, in the upcoming presidential election, against the Libertarian philosophy as a pure form of government for our nation (alhough some elements within Libertarianism are worthy). I believe that the soul of our nation is at stake in this contest of very different worldviews.

As to historical vision, I do not believe that you perceive that the world is evolving toward a more egalitarian consciousness. I perceive that it is. As such, the principles that FDR espoused will serve humanity well. His worldview will enlarge not only the consciousness of this nation, but that of this planet, as well.

Ronin

September 22nd, 2011
5:31 pm

Mary Elizabeth…. Well, dang it… I’m going to have to agree with you agree with you on one point.
The pursuit the “Newer Bill of Rights” or “Second Bill of Rights” is a noble endeavor, I’ll give you credit for your efforts and actually hope that you can achieve FDR’s vision. Now, for the pragmatist, monetarily it’s all but impossible. To give people the standard of living that they “want” can’t be achieved. There is not enough money in circulation to make make everything work according to his plan. Print more, it simply devalues the currency. I’ve been to countries all over the world and seen poverty that is hard to stomach. The “poor” in the USA are far better off than the most every other country I’ve been to. Still, most of the poor here don’t have the benefit of my view.
They simply see that they are poor. The fact that someone four or ten thousand miles from them has much less does little to improve their view.

As far as my thought process? There is none. Simple random synaptic activity with occasional neural feedback, which is transmitted to the keyboard.
Also, don’t be offended by the denial comment. I come across kind of harsh at times, but I see it as a statement of fact given the current status of government schools. It’s time explore other options for education and give people a choice so that they are empowered to change their future.

We both want the same end result, but simply differ on the correct path of how to get there.

Good luck on your project, who knows, maybe it’ll work.

Mary Elizabeth

September 23rd, 2011
8:20 am

Ronin – final thought or two. Thank you for your sentiments expressed to me regarding FDR’s Second Bill of Rights.

With decades of experience working with the young from every socio-economic background, I know that, if vouchers were to be allowed to every student, the very poor would not be empowered because they would still not have the financial resources to attend a private school (for various reasons) and, therefore, they would be less empowered than before because their public schools would then be – with the more affluent students fleeing – poorer in financial resources, and they, moreover, would become more isolated from the rest of society than they had been previously – a return to segregation having been effected by massive voucher use, but this time a segregation created by wealth and by class, if not by race.

There are no easy answers to improving our public schools; however, from a historical perspective, please keep in mind that full integration of our public schools has only happened within the last four decades. As I mentioned earlier, it took centuries of suppressing literacy to get us where we are in educating all of our children today, and it will take more than four decades to get us where we need to be, educationally, for all of our children. Public education has been going through a great transitional period over the last few decades, not only because of integration, but because of enormous changes in the society-at-large (such as globalization and computer technology) that have occurred during those years. The movement to disparage and to dismantle public schools, has been the latest plan – in an overall deliberate national design – to severely curtail the role of government, and that plan has been part of a national Libertarian agenda. That agenda is the antithesis of how FDR envisioned – in his Second Bill of Rights – that all citizens could to be uplifted. We will not see FDR’s vision implemented for all citizens if we are determined to dismantle our public schools (and our government as a whole). We must see the real source of the problems in our public schools – without being influenced by deliberate propaganda – and we must solve those problems, rationally, for the betterment not only of individual students but for the society-as-a-whole. We are all interconnected. FDR knew this.

I believe that your vision for students to become empowered is driven by your sincere desire to see them empowered and by your frustration that this is not happening more quickly, and I salute you for that interest, but please consider what I have written. I have been where “the rubber hits the road” in education, and I can foresee a detrimental return to segregation of students, and of members of society-at-large, if vouchers are allowed for all. Patience is a virtue and particularly within education, as it is today. We all want these long-in-developing educational problems solved immediately, and rightly so, but we will better to do that by understanding the real sources of those problems, and by working together to solve them within public schools, such as by encouraging businesses to offer tutors and resources to public schools for more one-on-one instruction as community outreach projects, and by encouraging seniors to volunteer as aides to teachers and to students one-on-one, as well as by training teachers in precise instructional techniques and newer approaches in fostering student growth (and by paying teachers well enough to attract the best to the field, as well as by addressing poverty directly, which is a primary source of educational dysfunction). I am not against vouchers being allotted to some students, but I am against them being used as a massive movement to dismantle all public schools for an ideological agenda.

My best wishes to you, Ronin.