Barack Obama: Stealth School-Choice Supporter?

Mother Jones has a letter from a Washington, D.C. resident pleading with President-Elect Barack Obama that he "seriously consider sending your kids to DC public schools—and not a charter school, either, but a full-on traditional neighborhood public school."

Stephanie Mencimer notes in passing (and with strange forgiveness) that Obama's kids attend private school in Chicago, and she grants that D.C.'s public schools are "crappy" and complains about lack of resources without mentioning that the schools spend more money per pupil than just about anywhere else in the country. "I understand," she writes, "that choosing a school is fraught with anxiety and it's the most private of decisions."

In an update, she says:

At Barack Obama's first press conference as president-elect, Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet asked whether Obama would be sending his children to private or public schools in Washington. He replied that no decision has yet been made and that he and Michelle would be "scouting out schools."

More here. Which is another way of saying, Hello Sidwell Friends! or one of the other ultra-exclusive and ultra-expensive D.C.-area private schools.

Which is to say that Obama (as he has already demonstrated via his own kids) is in favor of school choice, at least when it comes to his family (he has said a variety of phoney-baloney platitudes about not "walking away" from public schools and creating more charters, etc.)

With that in mind, and as a parent with two kids in public schools, I'd like to write a letter to Obama too:

I understand that choosing a school is fraught with anxiety and it's the most private of decisions. Please extend and expand the same educational choice you and your family exercise with ease by giving school-age children more and better options. Making every school voluntary by giving vouchers equal to the current average spending per pupil that can be cashed at any educational institution you would be willing to send your own kids to.

This is, of course, not going to happen. Indeed, look for the Obama administration to follow in the footsteps of the Bush administration and further centralize and federalize control of the K-12 system. In fact, Obama has spoken repeatedly about the need for universal, taxpayer-funded preschool, which will have the added bonus of straitjacketing a thriving and decentralized and choice-driven industry. For more on that, watch below:

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  • Neu Mejican||

    Education is not really a federal issue, it is a local issue. DC schools may be a special case due to the relationship of DC to the federal government.

    I will point out that school vouchers are straight up wealth redistribution and may not be the most efficient solution for many communities. Once you have public funding of education you are arguing about how the government will deliver that service (e.g., itself or through private contractors).

  • ||

    The relative cost to the taxpayer of securing a public school for the First Cuties to attend would far outstrip any worth of pointing out the obvious fact that DC schools suck.

    Maybe if the entire staff of Mother Jones gave up publishing their commie rag and volunteered in DC public schools all day, every day maybe they could have the impact in improvement they are seeking.

  • ||

    I will point out that school vouchers are straight up wealth redistribution

    Didn't you get the memo, Neu? America's all for wealth redistribution now. Unless it impacts the teacher's unions, that is...

  • Syd Henderson||

    Mr. President, please send your kids to whatever school you think would be best for them and don't worry about the politics of it.

  • ||

    Where we are headed in not a voucher system, but one where there are very low-grade minimalist public schools, along with an array of better private options, without vouchers. Charter schools and the like make these options increasingly affordable.

    I can live with that. The voucher concept is redistributionary, and the minimalist public schools may end up not costing much. I suggest encouraging public schools to try to raise money from private charities, thus further reducing the tax burden. They could also do pledge drives like public radio. Push them off in that direction and we could end up with a system that is de-facto privatized, with a minimal safety net public school system left behind.

  • ||

    Chances are 0.0% that Obama sends the girls to a DC neighborhood school. Contemplating such a notion is just silly. However vouchers or tax credits might not help K-12. Government subsidized customers are wreaking tuition havok at the university level.

  • Anonymous||

    I will point out that school vouchers are straight up wealth redistribution and may not be the most efficient solution for many communities.


    As opposed to the school taxes themselves, of course.

  • ||

    I will point out that school vouchers are straight up wealth redistribution...

    No more or less so than public education is currently, assuming you take the approximate dollar amount that would be "dedicated" to that student and allow it instead to be used a school of the parents' choice.

    There is no change in the actual dollar distribution (in fact it may reduce it if there is a provision that any unused voucher amount is returned to the treasury), other than the potential to not be used to grow the NEA.

  • Sean Scallon||

    According to the logic of your letter, beacuse wealthy, successful people have the means to send their kids to exclusive private schools, everyone else should as well. How eglatarian of you!

    Let's re-write your letter and instead of schools, let's replace it with the term "cars."

    "I understand that choosing a car is fraught with anxiety and it's the most private of decisions. Please extend and expand the same mode of transportation choice you and your family exercise with ease by giving families more and better options of transportation other than the subway or the bus. Allow people to have cars by giving vouchers equal to the current average spending per vehicle that can be cashed at any auto dealer you would be willing to purchase a vehice at.

    Vouchers are welfare by any other name. "Private" schools are "private" for a reason and if the left weren't so enslaved by teacher's unions, they would be backing this proposal too so they could desegreate all the "Chrisitian Academies" in the South and multiculturalize Groton and Choate.

    Then again I heard Nick was supporting the "liquidity" of the bailout according to Lew Rockwell.com so I shouldn't be suprised to see Reason moving to the left when it comes to school vouchers. I suspect you'll change the masthead to "Social Reason" any day now.

  • ||

    I will point out that school vouchers are straight up wealth redistribution

    If you take the amount now spent per pupil, and allocate it through vouchers rather than through the school district budgeting process, I don't see how its any more redistributive than the current process. Maybe less, since the families who now go to private schools will now get some help from the government school fund, where before their taxes were "redistributed" entirely to others.

    and may not be the most efficient solution for many communities.

    Well, then let those communities opt out.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Sugarfree,

    Teacher's unions?

    Why is everyone so afraid of teacher's unions?

    Is it because teachers make up the largest vocational category in the country with the exception of secretaries?

    Man I hope the secretaries don't unionize.

    Collective bargaining is not antithetical to liberty.

  • Warty||

    I suspect you'll change the masthead to "Social Reason" any day now.

    Do we drink now?



    ...Please?

  • JLE||

    Didn't you hear? They're getting rid of schools due to budget cuts.

    Bailouts for big business take precedence. But soon there won't be any Wall Street billionaires because no one will be able to read or add.

  • ||

    Neu, collective bargaining is antithetical to individualism, and thus antithetical to liberty.

  • Neu Mejican||

    RC Dean,

    Well, then let those communities opt out.

    Opt out?
    Why not opt in?

    The feds should stay far far away from vouchers as it would increase their role in education. It would decrease competition for educational solutions by standardizing an approach across all 50 states.

  • ||

    If Obama sends his kids to Sidwell or St Albans then please consider joining the facebook group to get ready to build support against Obama.

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=13200515790

    if we had more popular support groups in preparation for Bushes criminal acts back when he was frist elected, maybe we would have been able to damage his power a little earlier...this time we should be more prepared...we know he is goign to keep imprisoning people in his racist drug wars and killing innocent foreignors in his wars of aggression...so we might as well get the dissent infrastructure in place now.

  • Neu Mejican||

    James Ard,

    Freedom of association is one of the most important aspects of liberty. Collective bargaining is one of the results of free association: associations with a common purpose.

  • Mother Jones writer||

    Maybe if the entire staff of Mother Jones gave up publishing their commie rag and volunteered in DC public schools all day, every day maybe they could have the impact in improvement they are seeking.

    Gasp! But then I would have to associate with those people!

  • ||

    I guess freedom of association doesn't apply to employers, because There's no way I'd associate with a union without government mandating it.

  • ||

    NG to BHO: "Please extend and expand the same educational choice you and your family exercise with ease by giving school-age children more and better options. Making every school voluntary by giving vouchers equal to the current average spending per pupil that can be cashed at any educational institution you would be willing to send your own kids to."

    Now, Nick! If you told him that, he'd have to explain to you, uncomfortably, that the reason he is willing to send his children to a particular school is because NOT JUST ANYONE can get in there.

  • Sam Grove||

    Homeschool.

  • Elemenope||

    Collective bargaining is not antithetical to liberty.

    I agree, but card check seems to be. I mean, if elections are good enough for everyone else...

    Hey, does anyone have an inkling on where Obama stands on Union card check? RCD was making a whole lotta noise about how the dems were going to destroy all things holy with card check, but I don't recall anyone ever posting a link to an actual stance...

  • libertarian democrat||

    I guess freedom of association doesn't apply to employers, because There's no way I'd associate with a union without government mandating it.

    Which is unrelated to your first point. Collective bargaining forced and supported by government is bad. The same chosen by individuals is free association. Maybe teachers unions are bad, but all collective bargaining?

    I am not a fan personally, but it is an option that a free society has to leave open.

  • ||

    Neu,

    Teacher's unions aren't against school vouchers? Did I wake up in opposite land today?

    The current system doesn't work. Teachers are against a way that might work to fix it. Their solution is to throw more money into the same broken system. They express this politically through the teacher's union.

    Should I leave the union alone and just say "Teachers are part of the problem," instead? I'm fine with that.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Collective bargaining forced and supported by government is bad.

    And not really collective bargaining nor freedom of association.

    So are people thinking that government employees should be restricted from being in unions?

    If so, what is the argument?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Sugarfree,

    Yes, teacher's unions often oppose vouchers.
    It would be unfair to include all teachers in your statement since a minority of teachers are union members in most districts.

    But...how is it a problem that a group of workers forms a collective bargaining union and holds positions that they feel benefit their members? If their ideas are wrong, form a bigger union with the right opinion and sway the public.

    Are libertarians afraid of teachers unions because their association is so much larger than the Libertarian Party (a political union, of sorts)?

  • Abdul||

    look for the Obama administration to follow in the footsteps of the Bush administration and further centralize and federalize control of the K-12 system

    If only! NCLB, one of Bush's most-touted achievements, increased opportunities for school choice within public schools. Obama seemed inclined to roll back the school choice provisions of NCLB. If school choice is a virtue in your mind, this is one area in which Obama is worse than President Bush.

  • ||

    If I'm a private school and all of the sudden I have hoards of students trying to get in, what do I do? I raise the tuition. Eventually more providors will get into the mix to increase the supply. But knowing that the public schools won't lose a penny, I don't think vouchers will get the bang for the buck we need. Better to immediatly make public K-12 two tiered and quit wasting resources teaching Plato to dunces.

  • ||

    Neu,

    Besides the general impossibility of a union being compatible with libertarianism, I don't have any specific complaints with teacher's unions. They are only the symptom of the problem. A piss poor and expensive public education system is the real problem. I disagree with anyone who either says that it's fine as is or the problem is just not enough money. I believe that people act in their own self-interest about 99.9% of the time; therefore teachers opposed to vouchers must think that they have a downside for those invested in the current broken system.

    They can advocate for whatever they want, and I can call them corrupt if I want to.

  • ||

    James, While I agree that there are many problems with vouchers. The thing you point out is not a problem as long as barriers to entry are not erected preventing new schools from forming. The increased profits going to those school that raise prices will attract competitors seeking to do the same...we obviously cannot cram all public school kids into the current private school infrastructure, the idea is to have lots of new schools forming that seek to work as efficiently as many of todays private schools operate.

  • ||

    So are people thinking that government employees should be restricted from being in unions?

    Of course they should be allowed unions as long as they don't force others to join their union. On the other hand, I also fully support my right as a co-owner of the organization that employs them to fire their asses and ensure they never again have a government job should they strike.

  • Boston||

    NCLB, one of Bush's most-touted achievements, increased opportunities for school choice within public schools

    Using the federal government, which has no place in education policy. I, for one, do not see this as a libertarian win.

  • Orange Line Special||

    Nick writes: This is, of course, not going to happen. Indeed, look for the Obama administration to follow in the footsteps of the Bush administration and further centralize and federalize control of the K-12 system

    This is pretty sad. BHO has had a 14-page plan on his site for months. Did Nick ever read it? Did anyone else?

    It looks like I'm one of the few who's actually read BHO's edu plan. I'm sure those who specialize in that area could provide much more, but here's one wonderful gem.

    Why did Reason support BHO again?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Sugarfree,

    Besides the general impossibility of a union being compatible with libertarianism,

    Please expand on this point.

    How is freedom of association not compatible with libertarianism again?

    Seriously.

  • ||

    Gabe, are you doubting that government would impose rigorous, burdonsome certification requirements for anywhere a voucher could be spent?

  • ||

    Neu Mejican asks:

    Teacher's unions?

    Why is everyone so afraid of teacher's unions?

    We homeschool our kids. The teacher's unions are on record as wanting to outlaw homeschooling, regardless of the results.
    Why are teacher's unions afraid of me?

  • libertarian democrat||

    I don't know NM. I wonder the same thing.

    Now, you can think they are negative (much like I think many businesses are negative) but that does not mean the freedom to form them should be infringed in any way.

  • ||

    Vouchers are no more welfare than the current system.

    Look, folks, here are the three choices:

    1. Advocate for the abolishment of all public schools
    2. Do nothing
    3. Advocate for choice within the system we have.

    Hm. So tough...sooooo tough...what in the world should we do?

    I shouldn't be suprised to see Reason moving to the left when it comes to school vouchers.

    Why do people believe any of the vicious half-truths published at LRC? Seriously.

    And I'd hardly call advocacy of vouchers a "leftward" move, Mr. Scallon.

    On a different note, do you just show up and act like a hostile asshole in real life? Or do you just play a tough guy on the internet?

  • ||

    I think the Obama kids should go to the most crime-ridden school in D.C. Under Secret Service lockdown for the next four years, all the kids there would probably have a shot at getting a decent education.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Watery Tart,

    Re: homeschooling.

    They are not afraid of you.

    They just want to shore up market share.

    A different motivation than fear, methinks.

  • ||

    Lib Dem, many businesses are negative? Name some. Dropping the first part of your monniker would be appropriate about now.

  • ||

    Gabe, are you doubting that government would impose rigorous, burdonsome certification requirements for anywhere a voucher could be spent?

    As opposed to rigorous, burdensome requirements for public schools AND the added bonus that we all have to pay for them?

    Does anybody have a positive idea to breaking the public school model? Or are we just going to tear down vouchers with no alternative?

  • ||

    Just to further highlight the lunacy of calling vouchers "leftist", a gold star goes to the first person who can name the famous economist who put forth the voucher idea.

  • Neu Mejican||

    TAO,

    3. Advocate for choice within the system we have.

    This does not, btw, limit you to vouchers.
    There are many ways to implement school choice that do not involve vouchers. The feds should stay away from it to avoid limiting innovation at the local level with a standardized approach.

    Libertarians should be fighting to keep the feds from further encroaching on education policy, not advocating for the federal government to impose a solution.

  • ||

    Better to immediatly make public K-12 two tiered and quit wasting resources teaching Plato to dunces.

    James Ard, you're nuts. I like that. A standard (moron) level school for those whos greatest achievment will be not dropping out of school, and a real school for those who might actually want learn to do something useful? Sounds good, but I'm not so sure the Plato should be taught in the learners school.

  • libertarian democrat||

    James Ard,

    Of course some are. I can think businesses treat their workers or locales poorly without wanting to change them. I can think that the free market will make things better overall, even if some players are negative (as of yet unweeded out, perhaps? or only temporarily bad?)

    Loving all business isn't libertarianism. Freedom of association (and supporting free markets, which may allow some bad businesses) is.

  • ||

    Neu,

    Freedom of association is compatible with libertarianism, but a union is not merely a free associating group of people.

    Unions wouldn't be outlawed in a libertarian state, just pointless.

    Libertarian state*: Unions are free to form; employers are free to fire them down to a (wo)man. There is, therefore, no incentive to create a union in the first place. A union with no guarantees backed by the force of a government is a toothless tiger.

    Now, this might not apply in skill sets difficult to obtain or where geography artificially restricts the supply of labor. Collective bargaining is possible, but their demands always have to be below the cost of training or importing new workers. Or the cost of bringing in rogues who have not joined the "union." In fact, in order not to alienate rogues, the collective bargaining apparatus would have to appeal to everyone so non-controversially, it would probably be toothless yet again.

    *No force can be used, private or public, to side with an economic actor.

  • Boston||

    Libertarians should be fighting to keep the feds from further encroaching on education policy, not advocating for the federal government to impose a solution.


    Now i can get behind this. The odds, i would say, are minimal at best though.

  • libertarian democrat||

    Or, I should say, loving all businesses isn't necessary to libertarianism. Certainly some libertarians can love all of them.

  • libertarian democrat||

    SugarFree,

    Do you really think that? I think the threat of unions in a libertarian society would certainly be smaller, but I would wager that in many circumstances they would have enough pull to help increase the workers rewards, especially in, as you mentioned, non-metropolitan areas or extremely specialized fields.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Sugarfree,

    A union with no guarantees backed by the force of a government is a toothless tiger.

    That's just crazy talk.

    Seriously, the libertarians state doesn't allow for contracts to be enforceable?

    Huh?

  • ||

    libdem, It didn't take me long to think of some negative businesses. Producers of life extending drugs for one. Also gambling entities that don't pay anything close to even odds. Finally, businesses that leech off the less intelligent, like high fashion.

  • ||

    Opt out?
    Why not opt in?

    The feds should stay far far away from vouchers as it would increase their role in education.


    I'll go along with that.

    So are people thinking that government employees should be restricted from being in unions?

    There's a good argument for it.

    RCD was making a whole lotta noise about how the dems were going to destroy all things holy with card check

    I think what I said was that it would increase unionization at the margins.

    But knowing that the public schools won't lose a penny,

    Under "real" vouchers, they would get paid only through vouchers, and would lose every penny that goes to another school.

    Guaranteeing current levels of public school funding, while subsidizing private schools, is not competition, and is not really what vouchers are supposed to be.

  • ||

    So are people thinking that government employees should be restricted from being in unions?

    When I worked for the government (20 years and 4 days) I was prohibited from joining a union. I was also prohibited from wearing my work clothes to political rallies.

    Who thinks the military should be permitted to organize and collectively bargain over wages, benefits and work conditions?

    Full disclosure, when Reagan gave his go back to work or get fired ultimatim to PATCO members and then followed through, he secured a place in my heart.

  • ||

    Neu and libertarian democrat,

    How does a union get what it wants? (Neu's enforceable contract, for example.)

    There are three avenues for union power.

    1. Artificially restrict labor supply (i.e. everyone qualified for the job is in the union.)

    2. Restrict physical access to a worksite.

    3. Strike.

    I've already covered 1. 2 is useless without a modicum of force to back it up. And 3 only works as blackmail if you can't fire everyone and hire fresh, and a lib-gov wouldn't restrict that.

    Unions wouldn't get off the ground.

    (If there's a fourth, I'm not wedded to only three... I will also accept arguments the 2 and 3 are the same thing.)

  • highnumber||

    ...a gold star goes to the first person who can name the famous economist who put forth the voucher idea.

    Uncle Miltie!

    Precious, precious gold!

  • ||

    I can tolerate some unions, but I can't tolerate a unions who's mission is to only semi-educate their charges. I say this because of the marraige between the NEA and the Democratic party. With a fully educated population, the Democratic party couldn't exist.

  • ||

    Where'd that darn s come from?

  • ||

    Where'd that darn s come from?

    From other people who had more "s"es. Socialist.

  • libertarian democrat||

    SugarFree,

    I think 3 is a viable option, at least for moderate gains. As I mentioned before, I think this would be especially useful in extreme specializations, and in areas where getting a new work force is a real barrier (travel and moving expenses foremost).

    I also think this would not be nearly as powerful as strong unions are now. And probably a rarity for them to actually act.

  • ||

    libdem,

    That's all I was really getting at.

    Interventionist government or lawlessness are necessary conditions for extensive unionization.

    (Lawlessness because you could bust heads to force union concessions.)

  • perilisk||

    I don't think people are afraid of unions working with their employer to secure better deals, they're worried about unions working with the government to unjustly harm the union's competition, whether non-union labor, alternative products/services, or people who opt out of consumption altogether. I'm all for protecting the freedom of unions, but only if they respect the freedoms of others.

    Police officer's union is a different matter altogether -- most union (private or public) issues are a question of civil law, while police fuckups are more likely to involve criminal offenses and official corruption -- thus, the police officer's union has an inherent susceptibility to descending into some sort of racketeering organization.

  • libertarian democrat||

    SugarFree, maybe I am really agreeing with you but the details weren't specified quite enough. Things are a bit clearer now.

  • ||

    libdem,

    It appears that we might only be disagreeing about magnitude, not existence of the effect.

  • LarryA||

    According to the logic of your letter, because wealthy, successful people have the means to send their kids to exclusive private schools, everyone else should as well. How egalitarian of you!

    The only reason private schools are "exclusive" is because most people can't afford to pay taxes and tuition. If all schools were private they wouldn't be any more exclusive than the public school system. They'd just be a lot more efficiently run, a lot better academically, and a lot less expensive.

    Collective bargaining is not antithetical to liberty.

    Collective bargaining would work where the teachers were bargaining with the parents who were hiring them and paying the bills. When teachers (or other public service employees) bargain with governments who aren't investing either their own children or their own dollars in the negotiation, it doesn't work very well at all.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Sugarfree,

    Unions wouldn't get off the ground.

    I think you are confused on this point.

    Labor unions arose during an era when unions were not only not sanctioned by the state, but actively suppressed by the state in concert with employers. Indeed they may be seen as a reaction against the cooperation between the bosses and the state. (Violence was met with violence on both sides, of course).

    In the Libertopia you describe, the balance of power would be more equal between unions and employers. I see no practical reason that they would not thrive in many industries, particularly in labor intensive industries.

  • ||

    Neu,

    I think you are confused on this point.

    Nope, just building a hypothetical on a clean state.

    But I still contend that if we all woke up in Libertopia tomorrow, unions would eventually sublimate under the lack of government support and their inability to guarantee a job. The current contracts would continue, but a level playing field the next time around would destroy them.

    The blackmail of a strike only works when supported by the state or greased with blood. One condition wouldn't exist in Libertopia, and the other wouldn't be tolerated. The modern union, either threatening economic blackmail through a strike with the government backing up the owners inability to fire the striking workers or with the application of private force to ensure equivalent outcomes, would not exist in a free state.

    Might there be other forms of collective bargaining and mass negotiations? Maybe, but it sure wouldn't look like what we call unions now.

  • ||

    In the Washington Post education reporter Jay Mathews speculates that the Obama family will choose Georgetown Day, a private school most similar to their private Chicago Lab School.

    Over at the Fordham Foundation's, education blog, Flypaper, Mike Petrilli says:
    Please please, pretty please, pick Georgetown Day! He says:

    I'm pulling for GDS for one simple reason: it participates in the D.C. voucher program, unlike Maret. And its selection by the Obamas, I believe, will ensure the future livelihood of said program. It's one thing for Candidate Obama to oppose publicly funded vouchers on principle. It's quite another thing for a President Obama to eliminate an existing program and kick his daughters' classmates out of their beloved school.

    http://www.edexcellence.net/flypaper/index.php/2008/11/please-please-pretty-please-pick-georgetown-day/

    I'm with Nick and Mike--Obama and Michelle should put their girls in a good school of their choice and then extend the offer to everyone else.

  • ||

    Interesting discussion. Here in Canada (Alberta) we have a variety of options within regular public education, along with charter schools and private schools (with funding traveling with students from government). There are public schools focused on language immersion (french, spanish, german, cantonese), science school, sports school, arts school, in each quadrant of my city, along with various charter schools (usually ethnic based) and private schools (often religious). It all seems to work well, aside from transportation issues.

  • ||

    I don't think people are afraid of unions working with their employer to secure better deals,

    As a pedantic/semantic note, unions don't "work with" employers. They are adverse to one another. Unions extract concessions from employers via the threat of force (just what do you think a real picket line is during a strike, anyway?, or a closed shop rule enforced by the state?).

  • Mike Laursen||

    Why is everyone so afraid of teacher's unions?

    It would be unfair to include all teachers in your statement since a minority of teachers are union members in most districts.

    Neu, things must be really different in New Mexico, or wherever you're from, than they are in California. Here, the teacher's union is extremely powerful, effectively controlling the entire state's budget and curriculum. And the educational budget is half of California's entire budget. Even the few public school teachers who don't belong to the union still have to pay dues.

  • New World Dan||

    highnumber,

    Sorry, try again. Milt was for school vouchers, but Adam Smith had him beat by a couple hundread years. Gold star == not yours.

    And as many have pointed out here, any government social program is redistribution of wealth. Some ways of redistributing are better than others. And vouchers are a better method than assigning kids to a school based on their address.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Whoops, I meant "controlling the entire state educational budget".

  • ||

    Not a voucher, a tax credit. For reasons of both political viability and policy efficacy, tax credits are superior.

  • ||

    Not so fast, CK. Tax credits for people already using private schools look to most like a tax break for the wealthy. How would that be more politically viable than selling vouchers as a tool to help a historically underserved segment of society. The summary page of the report doesn't explain this.

  • ||

    Unions in libertopia--This, perhaps, has some chicken/egg problems, but how about something like this:

    A group of employees voluntarily start a union. The union is able to supply some sort of "perk" that the company currently provides. The union negotiates on behalf of the union members, offering to "take over" the providing of the perk from the company in exchange for a nominal raise in salary/wages. Overall, let's say that the off-loading of the perk versus the raise in compensation is a finincial positive for the company. So the company voluntarily decides to negotiate with the union. Any employee can choose to be, or not be, part of the union. If they aren't, then they bargain individually with the company. No laws would exist forcing the company to *only* negotiate with the union; nor would any laws exist forcing employees to join the union.

    I would say that if something like that could occur--where everything is voluntary association--then unions could be comptatible with libertarian thought.

  • ||

    Not a voucher, a tax credit. For reasons of both political viability and policy efficacy, tax credits are superior.

    The tax system should be used only for collecting revenue. Anything else adds complexity and obfuscates what's really going on.

    Vouchers are not the collection of revenue, they are the expenditure of it. Ergo, they should not be converted to tax credits.

  • ||

    James Ard,

    As long as the tax credit amounts to less than the government currently spends per pupil, per annum--and it should, since the public schools are remarkably expensive and inefficient--each person who uses a tax credit actually consumes less from government coffers. Furthermore, no one cares about other people's tax breaks. Want proof? Everyone from car manufacturers to farmers get tax credits; no one minds. People DO mind when there's a hand-out: which is what a voucher is.


    RC Dean,

    An education tax credit means that there is less revenue collected. Essentially, it's diverting tax liability to have people do for themselves something that has traditionally been government-provided. People getting the education of their choice in the marketplace is superior to both (a) mandatory pre-payment for a government monopoly service and (b) the managed competition and inevitable politicization of a "market" in which government is heavily involved. (Vouchers interpose the government directly in matters that should be between parents and schools.)

  • Neu Mejican||

    Mike L,

    Neu, things must be really different in New Mexico, or wherever you're from, than they are in California.

    Yes, NM has weaker unions than you deal with in California, but I bet membership in California is below 50%. Feel free to correct me with a source and some numbers, but having worked in education in NYC and Washington as well as NM, I feel comfortable saying that most districts deal with unions that have less than 50% of teachers as members.

    In NM the numbers are much much lower than 50%.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I found this.

    In 2006, more than half of all elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers belonged to unions-mainly the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association-that bargain with school systems over salaries, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. Fewer preschool and kindergarten teachers were union members-about 17 percent in 2006.

    http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos069.htm#emply

    Anyone got better numbers.

    How much does NY and California contribute to that "over 50%" estimate?

  • Mike Laursen||

    Neu, from the California Teachers Association website: "CTA and its chapters represent nearly 95 percent of the state's public school teachers and other non-supervisory, certificated personnel."

    http://www.cta.org/about/who/CTA+Today.htm

  • Sean Scallon||

    Angry Optimist? Are you the voice in the Ren and Stimpy song "Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!" that's going to teach us to happy?

    There are many ways to go outside the system without picking my and other taxpayer pockets to do so (while the same system continues to get the same amount of money). There's homeschooling, there's internet education, there's private schools, community schools, etc.

    Oh by the way, you take so much as dime of federal money and you're subject to every federal regulation under the sun, every civil rights law and every commerce clause too.

    Tough guy? Naah, I'm just a softie. It's my internet alter ego that's my Enforcer of Doctrine.

    Now that's an Orwellian title.

  • Sean Scallon||

    The only reason private schools are "exclusive" is because most people can't afford to pay taxes and tuition.

    Then the same thing would be true for country clubs as well. Most people can't afford the dues so they can't join. Should we have vouchers for those too so poor people can play golf?

  • zoltan||

    Hey guys, go to conservativetimes.org and click the tab on the left that says "Science". Then scroll down to evolution-related posts.

    Then laugh.

  • zoltan||

    Also, I think if I have them I'll homeschool my kids, maybe get some other edgy Austin parents in on the mix so they can socialize with others and set up a rational and rigorous curriculum. One can dream.

  • Daniel Reeves||

    Why is everyone so afraid of teacher's unions?

    [...] Collective bargaining is not antithetical to liberty.



    Because the last thing students need are teachers with total market control teaching them. No less, a monopoly bargaining with the government over a much sought out resource.

    I mean, sure, I'm all for unions in a lot of situations-- and in nearly all cases, it certainly makes sense from a self-interest point of view to join any union*-- but teachers unions are just.... evil. They lie, screw over their students, try to screw over charter and home schooled children, mislead the public, mislead politicians, wheedle everyone with "for the kids" rhetoric... I can go on and on. In my opinion, teachers unions are among the most corrupt groups in America today.

    *My friend's union got pissed because of a stupid change to their health care that would add about $30 a year for each employee, and they were also getting pretty riled up over outsourcing. Well what do you know? The strike ended with every worker getting a huge salary increase and a $5,000 bonus. And this was like, a month ago. I shit you not!

  • Neu Mejican||

    Mike L,

    Thanks for taking the time to look that up.

    "CTA and its chapters represent nearly 95 percent of the state's public school teachers and other non-supervisory, certificated personnel."


    I am not sure this means that 95% are members. The Union is usually designated as "representing" all the teachers and other school employees in the district when they negotiate whether or not they are members.

    I do find claims for 340,000 members...given that there are about 308K teachers, the 95% of education employees may be a membership claim.

    That is clearly not representative of the rest of the country given that California accounts for more than 12% of NEA's numbers.

  • ||

    Safety first!

    but President Elect Obama please
    read Daring to Dream: Toward a Pedagogy of the Unfinished by Paulo Freire and have you
    Education point person visit Reggio, Emilia.

    I beg you no preschool policies that take play away from 3 year olds so that can sit in a circle for 30 minutes to learn the
    difference between a soft C in my name
    and a hard c in cat.

    Grazie,

    C.

  • Marshall||

    A WHISTLEBLOWER'S ACCOUNT

    Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, former Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Department of Education, blew the whistle in the `80s on government activities withheld from the public. Her inside knowledge will help you protect your children from controversial methods and programs. In this book you will discover:

    -how good teachers across America have been forced to use controversial, non-academic me

    -how "school choice" is being used to further dangerous reform goals, and how home schooling and private education are especially vulnerable.

    -how workforce training (school-to-work) is an essential part of an overall plan for a global economy, and how this plan will shortcircuit your child's future career plans and opportunities.

    -how the international, national, regional, state and local agendas for education reform are all interconnected and have been for decades.


    "That a "new age of collectivism" has emerged and is being implemented right now under our very noses in the The Noxious Nineties", with little or no outrage from the public or our elected officials, can only be attributed to the "deliberate dumbing down" of Americans, who haven't been taught the difference between free enterprise and planned economies (socialism); between "group thinking" and individual freedom and responsibility." [Page 265]
    http://www.deliberatedumbingdown.com/index.html

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