Thursday, April 05, 2007


So, I'm moving to dangerous territory here. I'm discussing politics. Picture me, for a moment, as an ornery old man on a porch, swinging a cane.

All week as I've gone into work, there has been a few nice folks sitting at a table collecting signatures. While the folks are very nice, I don't think they realize they are being played. They are patsies for a cartel called the UEA.

The whole issue revolves around vouchers. The general idea is that if you don't want your kid in school, you can pull him out, and the state will give you a bit of cash to help pay for a private education. There has been many an argument put forth as to why vouchers are a bad idea, but after even a little bit of reasoning, you realize that every one of them is hollow. I've listened to these arguments as I've gone to work, and I'm almost ready to set up a table next to the signature collecting one so that people can hear the 'other side'.

I would ask a few questions. Why do we pour money into schools when test scores keep going down? If you get a fly in your soup every time you go to a restaurant, isn't there a point when you decide to eat somewhere else?

Why, after all the 'extra money', does the teacher/student ratio never seem to go down? We have highly paid administrators (who get paid more and more each year), and we over recent years we now have amassed a veritable army of 'other people' who have attached themselves to the public school system. We have reading specialists, speech specialists, reading aides, fluoride specialist, child psychologists, digestion monitors, spitting coaches, and flatulence police. The money is poured into other projects, and why? Because if we ever get the teacher/student ratio down to where it should, the legislature will stop giving the Utah Educators Association cartel money. If test scores ever go up, the money stops. So money is spent on other things, but the problems continues, and every year we see the UEA wring their hands, shed a few tears, and say, "This of the children."

I agree. Think of the children. Think of the children in one room schools who learned to read and write just fine. Think of the children who are home schooled, and learn just fine without eye patch specialists. Think of the cookie cutter mentality we have, no child left behind, but no child allowed to excel, either.

Vouchers scare the UEA cartel. If vouchers pass, then many parents will pull their kids out of school. Teacher/student ratio will drop, and The Cartel will have a harder time getting more money. Suddenly people will realize that private schools are doing better, with less, in a quicker amount of time. How will the The Cartel justify more money then?

UEA sees their sugar daddy suddenly eyeing another girl and they don't like it.

Education is important, too important to be left to an outdated, broken system. The people who work in public education are some of the best people on the planet, and they deserve to be given a system that works. The only way the system will work, is if parents have a choice.


Dave Hansen said...

Wow, well said!. Thank you for deciding to be an old man on the porch swinging his cane.

I hope you'll seriously consider setting up a table next to the petition pushers to present the "other side" because they won't know how to counter your arguments.

They've been trained to only say things like "Vouchers will increase our taxes." "Vouchers hurt our public schools." "Don't you think that people should be able to vote on vouchers?"

If you challenge any of these points, the gears in their brain will lock up and the petition pusher simply won't know what to say.

It's fun to watch happen.

Curt said...

Right Problem/Wrong Solution

You do a pretty good job of identifying many of the pressing problems in Public Education but, then, you advocate for exactly the wrong solution. Are you sure you don’t work for the Bush administration? It’s uncanny.

The President actually did a pretty good job of describing the issues and turmoil in public schools then decided that the best way to fix those problems was to demand perfection.

In a similar (and just as silly) way, you outline the mission creep that schools have been facing and the mess made by all the strong competing interests then declare that the best way to solve these problems is to abandon the public schools.

Will we ever gather in the strength and courage to simply fix these problems?

Matthew Buckley said...

"Are you sure you don’t work for the Bush administration?"

Come on, that was just low and uncalled for. :)

And I don't call for the abandoning of public schools. What I do call for is abandoning the idea that all of the money collected for educating our kids should go to one single entity entrusted to perform that job. I believe any school that can perform that function effectively and efficiently should be given a chance to receive public money.

Competition is a great check and balance. Giving parents a choice in where they send their children is a good first step. In our school we weren't even given the choice of which teacher our son got, let alone the option to choose a different school. If all schools had to perform well to get kids (and hence funding), then they will either do better, or close down and make room for schools that are doing better.

And almost without exception it won't be different teachers. The teachers stuck in the current system will simply move to a school where they can do their job. In the current public school system teachers are governed by too many restrictive policies and forced to use curriculum chosen by administrators who are picking for an entire district, not a single child.

The airline industry is a great example of deregulation. They faced a lot of problems the public school system currently faces. Scope creep, red tape, bloated bureaucracy. In the late 70s government stopped regulating and competition was introduced. Since that time prices have dropped while productivity and safety have increased. Why couldn't the same thing happen with education?

A free and public education should never go away. But I haven't seen any positive steps in the last several decades, and see no reason to hope for a change. The problem is not going to fix itself.

G. Parker said...

my hubby and I both work in the school system, and we've seen the reaction. Personally, I think vouchers are a good idea if it makes everyone panic. My hubby pretty much agrees with your perspective. Too bad all the educators managed to get the signatures...sigh. We're not finished yet though...