Change He Can't Believe In

Obama's old-fashioned opposition to school vouchers

I know, because admirers of Barack Obama tell me, that this year's election poses a choice between a candidate who represents a fresh approach to problems and one who offers a dreary continuation of the status quo. That much I understand. What I sometimes have trouble keeping straight is which candidate is which.

On the subject of elementary and secondary education, the two seem to have gotten their roles completely mixed up. Obama is the staunch defender of the existing public school monopoly, and he's allergic to anything that subverts it. John McCain, on the other hand, went before the NAACP last week to argue for something new and daring.

That something is to facilitate greater parental choice in education. McCain wants to expand a Washington, D.C. program that provides federally funded scholarships so poor students can attend private schools. More than 7,000 kids, he reported, have applied for these vouchers, but only 1,900 can be accommodated.

Obama promptly expressed disdain for McCain's proposal. The Republican, his campaign said, offered "recycled bromides" that would "undermine our public schools."

You would think a leader who plans to liberate us from the partisan dogmas of the past would be open to this approach—and in February, Obama indicated he was. "If there was any argument for vouchers, it was, 'Let's see if the experiment works,'" he said. "And if it does, whatever my preconception, you do what's best for the kids."

But it didn't last. After those comments drew attention, his campaign hastily reminded voters that "throughout his career, he has voted against voucher proposals" and that his education plan "does not include vouchers, in any shape or form."

Too bad, because vouchers, though they have been tried only in a few places, have shown considerable promise. Patrick Wolf, a University of Arkansas education professor who has the job of evaluating the Washington program, says that of the 10 studies of existing voucher programs, nine found significant achievement gains.

In Washington, it's too early to tell if test scores will improve. But already, Wolf's report says it has had "a positive impact on parent satisfaction and perceptions of school safety."

Those benefits ought to be enough to make Obama reexamine his preconceptions. After all, it's not as though everything else we've been doing has set the world on fire.

Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, the nation has seen no improvement worth mentioning. As Andrew Coulson of the Cato Institute writes, "U.S. students have suffered overall stagnation or decline in math, reading and science in the years since NCLB was passed."

Democrats don't like NCLB, as a rule, but about the only thing Obama and his party offer is pouring more money into schools and teacher salaries. It's an idea that sounds sensible not only to teachers and principals but to a lot of other Americans as well—mainly because most taxpayers don't realize how much they are already spending.

A survey by William Howell of the University of Chicago and Martin West of Brown University found that 96 percent of Americans underestimate these expenditures, usually by a lot. On average, per-student outlays are more than twice what most people think, and teachers get $14,370 more per year than commonly assumed. Per-pupil spending, adjusted for inflation, has soared in the last four decades with no visible payoff.

Vouchers are a different approach: Instead of enlarging the monopoly, stimulate competition by empowering low-income students and parents to go outside the public school system. Over time, that should give rise to more private schools and impel public ones to do a better job—or, in the case of the worst ones, close down.

It's not a radical design. It's pretty much the model we use for higher education, and it may explain why American universities are held in much higher regard around the world than our elementary and secondary schools. And it's comparable to what we use for most other goods, which accounts for the vast improvements in computers, cars and TVs that have occurred even as public schools were stagnating.

McCain apparently grasps all this, while his opponent prefers to close his eyes. Obama says he stands for "change we can believe in." But change that works? That's another matter.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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  • ||

    It's not going to happen regardless of who wins, because most Americans don't support it, but it's nice to see McCain actually be on the right side of an issue.

    Vouchers, like the drug war or evolution, is a topic that brings out the irrationality in Americans very quickly. It's depressing to me because it seems like one of the most obviously great ideas that libertarians have.

  • Sean Scallon||

    Vouchers are welfare by another name which is why most citizens oppose them.

  • soulrebel||

    i live in milwaukee where vouchers have been experimented with since the 90s and they don't work. we have one of the greatest gaps between black and white students in the country. it's being pushed by the republicans because it costs less than sending a kid to a public school, but the public schools work in the suburbs, and the best high school in the state is a public school located in the inner city.

  • ||

    Vouchers are welfare by another name which is why most citizens oppose them.



    That is an amazingly ignorant sentence. Have you noticed the size and cost of our various government entities lately? Most of them are welfare by some definition and they are enthusiastically supported by most citizens. In case you haven't gotten out of your house in your whole life, here's a little tip: most people aren't libertarians.

  • Element||

    Improved parenting is the solution to our failing schools. To his credit, Obama has spoken about that.

  • ||

    If you want to know why our schools suck take a trip to the nearest college's graduation and see what percentage of the education majors graduate with honors.

    I think underwater basketweaving presents a more rigorous and challenging curriculum.

  • Cain||

    To his credit, Obama has spoken about that.

    As if his words can magically make parenting improve. Those words were beamed to the wire services and lost in the real world.

    [Yawn]

    When it comes to what the government actually could/should do in this arena, he misses the boat big time. Vouchers. Tax credits. Charter schools. Something. Anything is better than the current monopoly.

    Public school works okay in the suburbs b/c those parents actually have choice and freedom of movement away from the bad schools. It's the inner cities that get hosed.

    As far as Milwaukee goes, based on what I've read, test scores have improved.

  • ||

    ...it costs less than sending a kid to a public school...



    Why? The whole point of vouchers is (or should be) to take money that is already being spent on education and spend it smarter. I'm not the least bit familiar with the Milwaukee school system, but you're making it sound like they've implemented vouchers as well as California implemented free market energy reforms. Perhaps you could supply details?

  • ||

    Improved parenting is the solution to our failing schools

    I assume that by this you mean parents who work hard and move their kids into better schools without gov't assistance. While I agree in principle, vouchers are a good transitional approach, particularly for parents with lower incomes.

  • Other Matt||

    Improved parenting is the solution to our failing schools. To his credit, Obama has spoken about that.

    He speaks "about" a lot of stuff, when it comes to concrete proposals he's sorely lacking. This is yet another example where he says something definite, and when people notice it, he claims that wasn't really what he meant.

    It would seem that the "fresh approach" to problems is to lie to your face, outright, deny anything of actual substance, and just shout "change."

    Amazing. We will deserve every painful minute if we elect him for being such head up the ass stupid idiots as to do so.

  • ||

    Vouchers are nothing more than an attempt to legalize mandatory school prayer, creationism, abstinence guidance and the break-up of a powerful union into one package. In other words - a right-wing wet dream.

  • TPE||

    soulrebel - "it's being pushed by the republicans because it costs less than sending a kid to a public school"
    False. Private schools are as or more effective than public and cost less.
    The voucher attempts in Milwaukee take SOME of the money from the public school and add to it some MORE money from the state and pay tuition. It cost more currently. You could argue that if public schools did not exist then schooling would be cheaper and be correct.
    Ask yourself is that such a bad thing?

    P.S. If you do a little reading you'll find out that in areas where public schools have to compete with private schools, the PUBLIC schools performance improves. The force at work here is called competition.

    Also you can throw money at schools all day, you know what you'll get . . . . slightly more happy teachers and staff.

    My freshman year in college what 8-9 years ago i did a great study for my multiculture diversity class, too bad no one could understand it. However, it clearly points to one major element effecting school performance and that was the SES of district. This is in spite of how much per pupil spending took place.

    Schools can't fix what is not and should not be theirs to fix; no matter how convenient it would be.

  • ||

    Vouchers are nothing more than an attempt to legalize mandatory school prayer, creationism, abstinence guidance and the break-up of a powerful union into one package. In other words - a right-wing wet dream.

    And they are known by the State of California to cause cancer.

  • Flip you, Motherflipper||

    Dammit! Why call them vouchers? It's a bad word. The important thing is that not one single child is trapped in a failing school.

    (1) Parents choose schools
    (2) Schools compete to get the most students because...
    (3) The money follows the child

    Using education tax credits--where parents and other citizens get dollar-for-dollar reduction in their taxes when it pays for their kid or someone else's education--is a much better program design...and a much easier sell.

    Money that's going to tax coffers should be going to directly fund individual students' education.

    That's the bottom line.

    (Goddammit I gots to whip it out AGAIN)

  • Fluffy||

    Vouchers are welfare by another name which is why most citizens oppose them.

    But that would mean that direct spending on public schools is also welfare. Why don't most citizens also oppose public schools, then?

  • ||

    Liberals seem to be very big on following what the Europeans do, so I'll just mention that although schools in Europe are tax-funded like they are here, in Europe the kids aren't simply assigned to a school near them. Parents choose which school to send their kids to, and the funding follows the student.

    -jcr

  • ||

    "Improved parenting is the solution to our failing schools."

    Putting up with the US schooling cartel is one of the ways that American parents are failing their kids.

    -jcr

  • Fluffy||

    Just to clarify that a little, the "most libertarian" position on public spending on education would be: Don't have any.

    But that's not the system we currently have.

    In comparison to "No education spending at all", instituting a voucher policy is welfare. But in comparison to our current system, vouchers represent a huge step down in the size and power of the state, whether they are technically transfer payments or not.

    If we currently had a system where local governments, with massive assistance from and interference by state governments and the federal government, maintained restaurants all over the country where 80-90% of the public went to eat all their meals [with all of the fraud and waste and political favoritism and everything else that this would entail] and someone stood up and said, "Hey, this is stupid. Let's scrap this system and have people buy their own food. To make sure poor people eat we'll give everyone food vouchers," it would technically be "welfare", but it would be a vast improvement.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "For the so-called candidate of change, writes Steve Chapman, Barack Obama sure has some old-fashioned ideas about education."

    Obaman was never about any actual new "change" to begin with.

    All his "change" is nothing more than the same creaky old socialist policies that leftists have been spouting for decades.

  • Episiarch||

    Vouchers are nothing more than an attempt to legalize mandatory school prayer, creationism, abstinence guidance and the break-up of a powerful union into one package. In other words - a right-wing wet dream.

    shrike, just because you changed your handle doesn't mean you've changed your mania.

  • ||

    Vouchers are nothing more than an attempt to legalize mandatory school prayer, creationism, abstinence guidance and the break-up of a powerful union into one package. In other words - a right-wing wet dream.

    I've been on the Internet too long - my parody-meter is completely broken. I have no idea if this is serious.

  • ||

    We just passed a voucher program for New Orleans. We also have tax credits IIRC. I support rescuing the prisoners of the New Orleans school system, their parents certainly aren't going to be able to do it. Vouchers are a tool to break the cycle of poverty, not fix schools. Tax credits will help schools, but something about giving a rich guy who will pay for private school no matter what a $5,000 tax credit bothers me a little

  • ||

    Oops, forgot the period. Damned public schools.

  • ||

    Tax credits will help schools, but something about giving a rich guy who will pay for private school no matter what a $5,000 tax credit bothers me a little

    Shoveling money down what is demonstrably a rathole bothers me a lot. People in this country incessantly say, "We just need to throw more money at [insert problem here] and it will get better."

    I blame the public schools for that.

  • Jesus H||

    Obaman was never about any actual new "change"

    He wants to "change" the president. So, technically, he is not incorrect in this bold approach.

  • Chris||

    Vouchers are a way to force the public to fund other people's religious activism. 90% of vouchers go to christian schools.

  • ||

    He wants to "change" the president.

    That'll happen with or without Obama. You know, term limits and all. So I don't think that counts as a change that we need him for.

  • ||

    Chris,

    People like the AFA think that public schools are a way to force the public to fund secularism and the gay agenda.

    Of course the AFA are nutjobs, but one can still see how similar their arguments are to your own.

    I wouldn't allow my child to go to a school that teaches Creationism or something similar. But I do want those parents who would to have the same opportunities to raise their children as they see fit that I myself want.

  • H&R Blog Police||

    Linford Crittle's email addres is the same as Shrike's.

    http://www.reason.com/blog/show/126161.html

    Could it be there is some sock-puppetry going on here?

  • Sam Grove||

    Vouchers are a way to force the public to fund other people's religious activism. 90% of vouchers go to christian schools.

    They way to avoid that is to stop taxing people to pay for education. That way, no one will be forced to subsidize the educational preferences of others.

    We home school, therefore we subsidize those who use government schools.

  • Rhywun||

    in Europe the kids aren't simply assigned to a school near them. Parents choose which school to send their kids to, and the funding follows the student



    True. I attended such a school in Germany in the 80s. Of course, all schools there are public, which simplifies matters somewhat. I don't think that would fly in America.

    Another thing there which simplifies matters is the fact that secondary schools tend to be centrally located in the cities, rather than sprawled all over the landscape. A system where a kid could choose any high school in the region would simply not be workable in America; the transportation would be a nightmare, and many parents would resent intrusions on their jealously-guarded turf.

    As it is, big cities in America already have school choice of a sort. Back in my day, maybe half the kids chose a special school program while the other half went to their neighborhood school. The trend is toward more specialization. But it seems you're always going to have kids with parents who don't (or can't) care--these kids live in the "inner city" and wind up in the worst schools.

    Anyway, there are all kinds of reasons vouchers won't take off, and not all of them have to do with teacher unions.

  • Neu Mejican||

    A few small points.

    1)"Our schools" are not failing, even if there are specific schools withing specific school districts that do a poor job.

    2) Vouchers do not address a central issue putting a drag on public school success unless they include an element of coercion...forcing private schools to accept difficult students and restricting their ability to kick them out when they are disruptive (the head to head comparisons between private schools and public schools usually ignore the issue of who is attending which school).

    3) A good PTA will do more to improve a school than any federal policy.

  • Chris||

    mk,

    I appreciate the kindness of your view but I fear that your sense of cultural relativity loses sight on the important goal of a secular public education - to promote equal opportunity for kids.

    Even I admit that truly equal opportunity should not exist because it would require the government to bring down some and bring others up - a solution worse than the problem.

    But the answer for what helps teach kids and helps them compete in an increasingly global world is clear - and it's science. This is especially true for kids who are not so lucky to be born into families with connections and wealth who can find good non-technical jobs for their kids.

    Keeping education public does not infringe on parent's rights. Parents can still teach kids about flying spaghetti monsters on Tuesday night, or have them go to church on Sunday.

    Yes I am liberal and anti-religious. But please think of it this way. How successful and happy would you be now if you grew up in a small town and were taught that dinosaurs are God's way of testing your faith and if you believe in them you will be eternally tortured. Now it is clear why 'the faithful' support such an atrocity.

    Now, I do realize that you did not suffer this fate so this not help you as much as kids in the aforementioned situation. I can only hope you wish success to future generations.

  • Leo Augustus||

    One problem no one has addressed here yet is that it is mandated that parents send their children to school in the first place. The quintessential libertarian position would include the option for no educational requirement at all.

  • Fluffy||

    Vouchers do not address a central issue putting a drag on public school success unless they include an element of coercion...forcing private schools to accept difficult students and restricting their ability to kick them out when they are disruptive (the head to head comparisons between private schools and public schools usually ignore the issue of who is attending which school).

    Here's the answer: Don't address it.

    Let's say the public schools completely went away tomorrow and were replaced by a 100% voucher system where every kid went to a school chosen by their parents, and where the schools also had some capacity to choose their students.

    Let's further say that this resulted in a system where the private schools competed over 95% of the students, but almost no private schools wanted 5% of the students because they were extremely disruptive. And most students ended up with a progressively greater number of choices, while the most disruptive students ended up in the least selective schools.

    Um...So what? Why should I give a damn?

    Should we deny educational choice to 95% of the students because the worst 5% of students would have fewer choices?

  • ||

    One thing that could be done to deal with the problem of students with special needs is to attach a funding bonus to their vouchers. The publik skooklz already get extra state and/or federal funds for students with various learning disabilities, or who come from poor families. Let that cash follow those students. Some private outfits will specialize in educating kids with those challenges.

    Kevin

  • Jesus H||

    Socks and underwear. Change we can believe in.

  • ||

    Should we deny educational choice to 95% of the students because the worst 5% of students would have fewer choices?

    Let's keep in mind that 5% won't get educated no matter what. You have to want to learn.

  • ||

    Parents can still teach kids about flying spaghetti monsters on Tuesday night, or have them go to church on Sunday.

    And you could still teach your children that the world is over 6000 years old and that gay people aren't trying to make you gay using the Teletubbies after school as well. So why should you not want your children to be taught about teh evil gays and how god put dinosaur bones in the ground to test their faith for 8 hours a day?

    I share your enthusiasm for promoting science, but if I want to teach my child what I think is important, I may have to allow for other people to do the same.

    FWIW, I have a brother-in-law who works with the ICR and is as loony as they come. He does have an extensive knowledge of science, however, and his children came out pretty intelligent. Some of them even, fortunately, turned out intelligent enough to challenge the creationist thinking that they grew up around. I've seen this happen enough in even the most extreme circumstances that I don't feel much alarm at the thought that more kids might end up in religious schools.

  • Dave B.||

    2) Vouchers do not address a central issue putting a drag on public school success unless they include an element of coercion...forcing private schools to accept difficult students and restricting their ability to kick them out when they are disruptive (the head to head comparisons between private schools and public schools usually ignore the issue of who is attending which school).



    Ooh, let's also prevent them from firing bad teachers. We better throw in a strict state-mandated curricula while we're at it. Don't forget to force private schools to have NCLB-style testing. After all, it's unfair to compare private schools to public schools while private schools aren't shooting themselves in the foot the way public schools do.

  • ||

    McCain has already convinced me to vote for somebody other than him. Obama is almost there.

  • ||

    Then only solution for this mess is to take every child born in the inner city and give them to a suburban family while taking the suburban children and giving them to inner city families.

    It might not solve the voucher question, but it would certainly remove the unfortunate racial undertones from the subject.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "I fear that your sense of cultural relativity loses sight on the important goal of a secular public education - to promote equal opportunity for kids."

    An that is an erroneous goal because there is no such thing as a right to an equal opportunity. That would be an affirmative right and there is no such thing as an affirmative right.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Keeping education public does not infringe on parent's rights"

    It infringes on the right of taxpayers not to be forced to subsidize somebody else's kids education.

  • Chris||

    Gilbert,

    So you don't mind being forced by the government through vouchers to teach kids that noah repopulated the earth with two of each animal? If so, I can only think of one reason - control. You've already made it so you don't care about others.

    As far as rights go, here comes a shocker. What is right, and therefore what rights people have, have nothing to do with the law.

    Now your gut instinct here may be to play the cultural relativism game with this statement as well - i.e. by arguing that my views are meaningless because I have my opinions based on culture and the constitution.

    Frankly, this does not hold up to simple empiricism and logic. Countries benefit from public education. Democracies benefit from educated voters. Of course, you may not believe in democracy. If this is the case, dust off a couple history books.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Should we deny educational choice to 95% of the students because the worst 5% of students would have fewer choices?

    Let's keep in mind that 5% won't get educated no matter what. You have to want to learn.


    That 5% of children can create a lot of social problems...less public money is wasted on educating them than on prison, even if that money only lowers that 5% to 4%.

    Kevrob's idea should be part of any local districts voucher program should that local district deem vouchers a viable solution to their particular educational challenges.

    Ooh, let's also prevent them from firing bad teachers. We better throw in a strict state-mandated curricula while we're at it....

    An inapt extension of the issue I raised, although I will point out that the curriculum is pretty much the product the state is buying with its voucher money, so some stipulation as to what that money buys is probably in order.

    After all, it's unfair to compare private schools to public schools while private schools aren't shooting themselves in the foot the way public schools do.

    No. It is unfair to compare performance between two systems that provide very different services to very different clients.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "So you don't mind being forced by the government through vouchers to teach kids that noah repopulated the earth with two of each animal?"

    I mind being forced by any level government to subsidize anyone else's existence in any way shape form or fashion, be it paying for public schools or paying for medicare, food stamps, farm price supports, etc.


    "Countries benefit from public education."

    You aren't the least bit capable of proving that they do - and neither is anyone else.



    "Democracies benefit from educated voters."

    And you aren't the lesst bit capable of proving that public schools have ever done anything to "improve" democracy.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "As far as rights go, here comes a shocker. What is right, and therefore what rights people have, have nothing to do with the law.

    Now your gut instinct here may be to play the cultural relativism game with this statement as well - i.e. by arguing that my views are meaningless because I have my opinions based on culture and the constitution."

    First you say rights have nothing to do with the law and then you say it's based on the Constitution.

    Make up your mind because it can't be both.

  • Fluffy||

    That 5% of children can create a lot of social problems...less public money is wasted on educating them than on prison, even if that money only lowers that 5% to 4%.

    Perhaps. But no one has suggested not giving these kids vouchers. They can be in the voucher program the same as everyone else. If there's a school they can go to - even if it's just ONE school - they're no worse off than they are now. Right now they also have only one choice. And if their problems are so acute that no school will take them, well - we have students like that now. There are kids who get expelled from public school too, you know.

    I'm just disputing the argument that vouchers aren't a fair comparison because private schools can take the kids they want. To me, that's not a bug; that's a feature. One of the problems with the public school system is the way it chains all students from a given geographical area together. A less centralized system would actually be desirable precisely because it would allow schools and students to sift out the students that cause problems in a less dictatoral way than expulsion.

  • ||


    2) Vouchers do not address a central issue putting a drag on public school success unless they include an element of coercion...forcing private schools to accept difficult students and restricting their ability to kick them out when they are disruptive (the head to head comparisons between private schools and public schools usually ignore the issue of who is attending which school).


    Ah, yes- the old "cherry-picking" argument.

    Students who prevent their classmates from learning, either by disruption, or simply consuming an inordinate amount (definition required) should be removed from the classroom, and sent to work the bellows at the blacksmith shop. This holds true for public, as well as private, schools.

    But that wouldn't be "equal" in the nannybot usage of the word.

  • ||

    Then only solution for this mess is to take every child born in the inner city and give them to a suburban family while taking the suburban children and giving them to inner city families.

    And if there were sets of twins....

  • Jordan||

    A less centralized system would actually be desirable precisely because it would allow schools and students to sift out the students that cause problems in a less dictatoral way than expulsion.



    Also, gifted students wouldn't be forced to go to schools which cater to the lowest common denominator. And they wouldn't have to waste their time on bullshit like "diversity" indoctrination sessions.

  • ||

    As a resident of the largest US city with a universally recognized failed (note tense) school system, I'm willing to try just about anything. As far as educating those that would otherwise become criminals, some suggest that the Detroit Public School system is more likely doing the opposite, turning those who would otherwise become educated into criminals. Or victims.

  • ||

    Since others have touched on it, I have a proposal relating to the difficult or unruly students and the gifted ones. Every school district should spend at least as much on the the top 10% of the student body as they do on the bottom 10%.

    I hate to be an asshole* but we are pissing a shitload of money away on the bottom 5%. Sorry, it's true.

    * Not really.

  • ||

    What I have never figured out is the math. If there are 75 million kids in public school, and maybe 1 million kids in other schools, how does a voucher system do anything? Even if you kick out all the kids now in other schools, 74 million kids get nothing out of it, 1 million benefit, and 1 million lose.

    Since, I assume, the 1 million kids in private schools are not going to lose their spot. They simply get to use Federal money to pay for what they pay now out of pocket. If you look at the people who support vouchers (Republicans, especially wealthy ones), it makes sense for them.

    If I'm in a suburb with a good school which borders another area with a bad one, how do vouchers help? For every kid that wins the lottery and gets to come to my school, a kid from my school gets shipped to the bad school?

    There are simply not enough spots. Plus, with the price of gas, who is busing all these kids to schools that are not the closest?

  • ||

    For every kid that wins the lottery and gets to come to my school, a kid from my school gets shipped to the bad school?

    You seem to be presupposing that no new schools will spring up.Also, you seem to be presupposing that bad schools will continue to exist or not change.

    The gas bit is actually something that many people would have to keep in mind. Myself, I wouldn't have any problem with putting my kid on to the metro to attend a school near a stop. It certainly wouldn't be any worse than taking a school bus.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I have a proposal relating to the difficult or unruly students and the gifted ones. Every school district should spend at least as much on the the top 10% of the student body as they do on the bottom 10%.

    This proposal is, essentially, the status quo. Special education law stipulates programs for exceptional students whether they are exception due to handicap or giftedness.

    The cut-points are closer to top/bottom 5% than 10% in most states, and often restricted to around 3%.

    Of course, being "unruly" is not enough to get you status to access special education programs unless you can demonstrate that unruliness is neurologically based rather than willful behavior.

    One of the problems with the public school system is the way it chains all students from a given geographical area together. A less centralized system would actually be desirable precisely because it would allow schools and students to sift out the students that cause problems in a less dictatoral way than expulsion.

    Vouchers are only one way to cut those chains. Many districts already allow for free movement of students between schools. Trick is, the best schools have waiting lists, and some method for prioritizing admissions is usually applied. Often that is a lottery system, but just as often priority is given to the local neighborhood. For private schools, the method is usually financial (raise tuition when you can) or partisan (prefer in-group, catholic, protestant, whatever).

  • ||

    Competition never improved anything! LOL

  • ||

    whether they are exception due to handicap or giftedness.

    In my experience, gifted kids are treated like handicapped kids. Just ones that will allow your schools to have great test scores.

  • soulrebel||

    voucher schools, charter schools are not held up to the same standrads that public schools are. there is not standardized testing, and they don't have to release any information about how the students are doing. the frre market doesn't work with education, that;s why public schools were created, otherwise poor people wouldn't have a chance at an education. the voucher system with the no child left behind act is a way of getting rid of the public school system. the walton and bradley foundation support it and they are against public schools. they are worshippers of milton friedman. the free market doesn't work. we need a fair market, and we need to stop treating education as a business. the test score in milwaukee haven't gotten any better, the schools are just using creative mathematics so that they don't lose their funding. you can't believe everything you read, i live in milwaukee know teachers and students and see the reality of what is going on. my kids go to public schools which happen to be language immersion schools and they are fluent in german by the time the graduate 5th grade. next year my son will be starting junior high and learning chinese and continuing with his german, but the schools are constantly facing budget cuts. i went to catholic school all my life and i couldn't take a foreign language until high school, but god was more important to them than actually communicating with other people. vouchers don't work.

  • Mike Volpe||

    The issue of school vouchers is rather ironic. If you think about both party's general philosophies, their positions should really be reversed. It is the Republicans that are against expanding more government programs. It is the Democrats that believe that more government programs are necessary to help the poor.

    On this issue, I believe special interests trump philosophy for Mr. Obama. The only reason that he opposes vouchers is because a main special interest group tells him to, the teacher's union...here is my view...

    http://theeprovocateur.blogspot.com/2008/07/school-vouchers-when-special-interests.html

  • brandon||

    the free market doesn't work. we need a fair market, and we need to stop treating education as a business.

    Welcome to reason.

  • Lajaw||

    I always appreciate how any discussion concerning schooling always turns into a bashing of those who believe in a Creator. I home school so that my children won't have to listen to your little heathens and their comrades in arms, the public school teachers.

  • ||

    Before discussing vouchers, let's make one thing clear: the government has no more business forming the minds of the citizenry by running the elementary and secondary education of children than it does operating churches, publishing companies or broadcasting outlets.

    soulrebel:

    Unless you are suffering from a crippling disease of the hands, I doubt you are a Catholic school graduate. If you were, I'd expect capitalization and punctuation to appear in your posts.

    I spent many years in Milwaukee, and am quite familiar with the voucher program. There have been amendments and adjustments to it over the years. At first, religious schools were not allowed to participate, but the EduBlob still was against it. A deal was cut with the current governor, a Democrat, that raised the cap on the number of participating students, while requiring that the schools obtain independent accreditation. That some publik skools, including the language immersion schools sr chose, do some good can't be denied. However, the real problem in big city districts like MKE is that the student population is drawn increasingly from families hit hard by poverty and fatherlessness, and many of these families don't speak English as a first language. The schools are overburdened with social work tasks, expected to feed the kids at least twice a day, provide medical help, and who knows what-all. The school boards and administration are slaves to the Multicult, unable to meet out any kind of discipline short of calling the cops, and forced by federal and state law to mainstream emotionally damaged and cognitively backward kids. I don't envy the job, but any parent who can't afford to bail out of the system is forced by the state to toss their kid into this maw of, at best, mediocrity.

    A voucher is a scholarship given by the state to a student. I'd rather those scholarship funds be privately raised, and restricted to those who qualify for them due to need, except when earned by merit. We don't prevent college students from spending state-provided funds at religious schools, and the Supreme Court hasn't struck down a student spending his El-Hi voucher at parochial schools.

    By at least one measure - parent satisfaction - the Milwaukee voucher program is a success.

    I had a thoroughgoing Catholic education and am now a perfect heathen. That being said, I would much rather trust the devout Moms and Dads with a voucher than the EduBlob with ~50% of state and local spending.

    Kevin

  • soulrebel||

    kevrob:

    i don't capitalize out of laziness, and my punctuation mistakes are from my lack of proofreading. if you are familiar with milwaukee i graduated from pius.

    public schools have to take on every kind of student where voucher schools don't, therefore there will be a lot of students with problems. the catholic schools i went would just kick out the kids with emotional problems so they wouldn't have to deal with them. the catholic grade school i went to is now dependent on voucher students because the parish moved out of the area (aka white flight) and turned their backs on the school and church. i have seen the education the student get and it's no better than a public school. the teachers are bad and can't identify with the students and the world they are coming from.

    if you ask me, charter schools are a hustle because they can be started by anyone, and one doesn't need to have a background in education. one lady here in milwaukee started a charter school because she got a vision from god to do so. thankfully, it was unsuccessful and lost its funding.

    i teach at the college level and i can tell you that the students i have who come from suburban schools are dumb. the only difference is that they grew up in a stable environment. they can't write a research paper and lack the ability to think critically. this country has been dumbed down, but the public schools of the city get all of the blame. rufus king here in milwaukee is an inner city public school and it's the best high school in the state. they offer an international baccalaureate and suburban parents fought the city to be able to send their kids there.

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