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LLR

How do liberal politicians explain sending their own children to the finest schools available, while the children of their neighbors must attend schools they themselves would never consider for their own children?
They don’t have to explain. That’s the crazy thing. All they do is smile and tell the poor that the evil Republican’s won’t allow them to spend any more money on education and that they are sorry about their situation.

As in some communities, the children stuck in poor neighborhoods and equally poor schools are children of color - is this not racism of another sort?
I don’t know if I would call it racism as much as limo liberalism. They send their kids to private schools while talking about how much they “support public schools”
Like I said earlier today, the only thing worse than politicians that send their kids to private schools is public school teachers that send their kids to private schools. It’s like the employee at the restaurant that knows not to eat there because of the way that food is handled. They will warn their family and friends not to eat there but they will serve it to the public all day long!

Too bad so much attention is being devoted to Imus's ugly statements of the other day - and so little to this far more important issue.
Oh Imus is good news. You get to drag out a guy for making a stupid comment and you get to get some good press at the same time. This is just normal Sharpton and Jackson tactics. If they were really concerned about black women being called names they would call for the firing of every DJ that play music that says far worse things than Imus said.

Peg I have been posting all day to this very post. I also weighted in another post on Booker Rising by Ken Blackwell.

I don’t know if I can say anything that I haven’t already posted in my 15 posts on this blog entry.

I can sum it up by saying this:
I don’t understand why liberals won’t support school choice because poor people get the same thing that rich people can get and that’s a good education. Then there are the teacher unions that give a ton of money to politicians on the left. As a result poor/working class kids have to sit and take the underperforming education that some public schools give out.

Think about it like this. A lot of people want socialized healthcare where the gov’t pays for all healthcare. Let’s say that it happens. Well it all depends on where you live.
If you are poor and can’t afford to go to a private hospital you HAVE TO go the district hospital that only has general practitioners a couple of nurses, and no specialists. Most of their equipment is outdated and you have to kcick it to start working. If you have a broken bone or need a heart transplant, you still see the same doctor.

Now if you’re in a nice middle class/upper middle class neighborhood you have a nicer hospital in your district that has better doctors and equipment. You might even be able to afford a decent private hospital outside of your district.

Then there’s the rich people that also have a district hospital that is top of the line. They have all kinds of doctors, nurses, and equipment. If you just want to throw away your money you can always go to the private hospital a few minutes away but there really isn’t a need to.

Then imagine that the poor are not allowed to go to the rich people’s hospital at all. The same thing goes for middle class hospital. It’s off limits.

Sorry about the long rant. This issue is close to my heart!


Greg

I have thought long and hard about school vouchers and I am not completely sold in the issue as of now. On the one hand it sounds good, I do not deny that. I personally, cannot effectively speak to the aspect of inner city schools, or of public schools in personal terms. My sister and I attended catholic schools from the grade of 4 till we graduated high school. I spent 6 years working in an after school program, and my mother spent most of her working life in the public school system. The fact that she worked in the public school system as a counselor and social worker, yet sent her children to a private schools, does somewhat back the need for changes in the school system and their shortcomings. I am not in denial of this fact, I am just not sure if school vouchers are the answer. In my personal life I know several teachers who really care about their kids, and who work extremely hard to do the best for the kids they teach so I am not one to throw them out just to fix or make a new system. So now that I have stated that there are problems with the public school system, there are also reasons why I have yet to be sold on school vouchers.

The problem I have with the debate on school vouchers is how people use the argument for school vouchers as a way to improve the life of African American youth, minority youth, and poor youth. This new and overwhelming concern for the poor and the minorities does leaves me sort of impressed. Yeah right. As Bill O'Reilly would say "I'm not buying it". Problem is I question the motives of those that are pushing for school vouchers the hardest. I am just not sure of the intention of others behind school vouchers.

My concern about the intention of others comes from the money and profit side of this issue. To me it just gives me an eerie feeling as people are trying to make a buck off of children and turning education into a money making, and eventually a profit based situation. The whole ideal from many of those who are pushing for school vouchers are to diverting tax payers dollars into their pockets. This whole Republican notion to privatize schools, as well as prisons, or national security sort of disturbs me. Am I saying that everyone involved is out to no good? No I am not saying that. Am I saying that there will be no success in some areas? Again that is not what I am saying. It just always strikes me as kind of strange how the people who are always preaching personal responsibility are now looking at taking what is the responsibility of the government, and abdicating their responsibility to someone else. Along with the abdicating this responsibility, they are also looking to make a quick buck too.

This reminds me of the book Miracle in East Harlem. Sean Hannity highlighted in one of his insane rants for school vouchers. To those who do not know, The Miracle of East Harlem highlighted a success story in a very troubled school district in Harlem. What happened in East Harlem was that a handful of teachers and principals reorganized their district into small independent alternative public schools in which the parents had the ability to choose to where they sent their kids. What happened was the test scores of the children dramatically improved. Only problem was that the Miracle in East Harlem used no school vouchers. Not a one, nobody got a voucher.

To me the debate about school vouchers is not a debate over school choice. That is a debate that is mutually exclusive of one another. It is a debate whether to divert money from public schools where it can fund programs like this, or to turn the money over to private companies so they can do whatever they care to do with it. It is the whole argument for privatization, that the private section can do a better job than the government sector. And on that issue I am not totally convinced that a big corporate interest will have it best intentions on those they intend to serve. Does that mean that government is doing a great job? In some places yes, but at this time it is not true in all areas dealing with education. But what the Miracle in East Harlem shows us, is that innovation and success can be found in public schools and the proven benefits of reducing the size of large schools. There was a program called the Federal Smaller Learning Communities Program that aimed to repeat these results nationwide. But in 2003, President Bush found a need to terminate it.

Now if we want to discuss the topic of school choice, then I am all for it. But I repeat myself when I say I find it interesting how Republicans and Conservatives, the one's that always speak about personal responsibility now want to shift the responsibility of the Federal Government (that is to provide education for our youth) to someone else. Does this not contradict a major part of their philosophy? Plus this call to privatize everything is not the answer all. How well did it work for Walter Reed?

The truth of the matter is that we put little more than words when we talk about how we care about schools and our kids. We pay our teachers very little and we really have no respect for teachers in general. In societies of the past the teachers were held up with high esteem, but is that the case today? On our college campuses who earns the most money? Is it the biology professor, or the philosophy professor? Or is it the football or basketball coach? I am not sure if the answer is as simple as vouchers, because I think the issue of school choice and school vouchers are two different issues. And in my eyes I am not all that sure that turning education over to private enterprise will work as well as I think our schools are failing in many instances.

LLR

But I repeat myself when I say I find it interesting how Republicans and Conservatives, the one's that always speak about personal responsibility now want to shift the responsibility of the Federal Government (that is to provide education for our youth) to someone else. Does this not contradict a major part of their philosophy? Plus this call to privatize everything is not the answer all. How well did it work for Walter Reed?
I’ll try and answer this one for you. Sure I am all about some personal responsibility, but there are roles of government. While I don’t think that providing an education (K-12) is a constitutional right, I do think that it’s a good idea.
I support vouchers because I think that a lot of schools are failing students and they have been doing it for years. If you have students that aren’t getting the education that they need, then something needs to be done. The sad part is that nothing is being done and some people have suggested another way of fixing the problem rather than raising property taxes to dump more money into the failing school systems.

Accountability is the key thing here and unfortunately there is very little accountability in the government or public schools.

Schools failing your kids and you don’t like it? Oh Well! Send them to a private school. What’s that? You say you can’t afford it? Suck it up and take it.

That’s basically what the government is saying when 12th graders can’t read on a 6th grade level.

As far as schools making a profit, that is what drives a lot of private schools to educate kids. Let’s say that the gov’t allows me to open a school, take 100 kids, and educate them. I will also have to keep my “customers” (parents and students) happy. If I am successful I will get a $100,000 check. If I don’t, I get nothing for my time and effort. You better believe I will be doing everything that I can to make sure that those are the smartest kids in the city. I would be holding teachers accountable. I would be firing teachers and staff that aren’t doing their job. I would be hiring the best and the brightest that money can get. I would be taking input from parents and allowing them to become part of the educational process. There’s nothing wrong with making a profit from education.

Greg

I hear your concerns, and as I have stated, I have mixed feelings on the issue. I went to private school, so I cannot speak from my own perspective of what public schools are like. The only perspective I can speak of is the experiences my mother had with 25 years in the public school sector, what I have done as a mentor in after school programs, and from the stories my friends that are teachers can relate.

My question to you, how much would these vouchers you would like to see amount to? Because if everyone gets a voucher, what prevents schools from raising their tuition to an amount of that voucher, that will still allow them to keep the students they want. The private high school that I went has a tuition of just little under $11,000 a year. Throwing in the cost of books, food, and transportation that is still a pretty penny to pay. So if people get a voucher or tax write off of let's say $5000 a year. What is to prevent that school from raising it's tuition $5000? The school would still get the same students it had before, and poor children would still be locked out. It could be a way to keep their status quo. In this case they would still keep the students they had before. And those with lesser income, even with their vouchers would still be economically locked out. Just as there was and at times red-lining and white flight in housing, what makes you believe that this would not be the case in education? I am not saying that this is a going to happen, but if I was running a school, and wanted to keep the same sort of students as I had before, that is what I would do.

Your argument in which you speak about competition is a valid one. I cannot reasonably disagree with it. It is the same point Sean Hannity made, except he never researched the case he highlighted. In that case no vouchers were used, and test score and education improved. In my opinion (and hey it is only my opinion) privatization is not the end all answer to this or anything. We have seen many examples how in some circumstances privatize things have failed (again look at what happened at Walter Reed).

My major concern over the profit motive of education is that everyone I know that is a teacher, or went into teaching did so out of a longing to make a difference. My only fear is that those that will be running and managing these schools interests are the same. I question motives, because I see sinister motives behind a lot of those that are pushing this issue. It is like how Barbara Bush donated money to the Katrina Relief fund, but she earmarked it to be used only for educational products for schools. Problem is, the company she earmarked it for, was the one that her son Neil owns (and I believe she has some interests in this company too). So that is where my concerns come from, stuff like this give me a bad taste in my stomach.

Finally the Federal Smaller Learning Communities Program, showed real promise. Yet it is, and continues to be on the Bush Administration chopping block. No Child Left Behind is a great ideal in concept, I think it could be better if the Bush Administration funded it like it was intended to be. Once again I do not have the answers, but privatizing schools concerns me.

LLR

My question to you, how much would these vouchers you would like to see amount to? Because if everyone gets a voucher, what prevents schools from raising their tuition to an amount of that voucher, that will still allow them to keep the students they want. The private high school that I went has a tuition of just little under $11,000 a year. Throwing in the cost of books, food, and transportation that is still a pretty penny to pay. So if people get a voucher or tax write off of let's say $5000 a year. What is to prevent that school from raising it's tuition $5000?

I remember reading an article on WIC (you know the gov’t program that helps feed poor pregnant women and kids) and the program. It varies by state. In my state you go to the WIC office and they let you pick from the items and you go home. In other states you take your WIC voucher to the grocery store and pick up the items that are WIC eligible. I believe that Louisiana operates like that. In one particular state all of these “WIC stores.” started popping up all over. They were unusually close to the office that gave out the vouchers. Well the vouchers have a certain reimbursement rate. Let’s say $3 a box for cereal;$4 for milk so on and so on. Well if you go to Wal-Mart the milk is only $3 and the cereal is only $2 so that’s what the state give WM. Well that the WIC stores they were charging the max (or real close to it) and because there were several in that particular city, they had to start competing for the vouchers. Stores were offering drawings or other prizes for bringing your voucher to their store.

It’s kind of like Field of Dreams. If you build it, they will come. If you give out vouchers, schools will start popping up and offer education. And because the money is attached to the child, if the schools aren’t doing a good job, then you can just move your child to the next one.

Peg

Greg, vouchers have been tried - and been successful - in some communities. I heard the Superintendent of Schools from Milwaukee discuss at great length about the success - and how he believes it to be immoral to not have more trials with school choice in other communities.

Bottom line: if the politicians making the laws and keeping those of modest means away from choice REFUSE to send THEIR children to public schools ... why shouldn't others have the same freedoms??

Greg

Does anyone read what I have written, or do people have comprehension problems? I have stated what I believe is 3 times, that there are some valid issues with school vouchers. The concern I have is with the motives behind those that are pushing the issue, and the reasons why they are pushing for it. I have these concerns because of the big money that can be made off of this. Just like there were tons of smoke, mirrors, and lies that were given when Bush was pushing for privatizing Social Security, I have the same concerns on this issue.

Now once again there are some valid points with school vouchers, I still do not see how one equates school choice with school vouchers. The two proposition are mutually exclusive. I find it funny how I have consistently address every point you have all written, yet nobody has once address any of the concerns I have. I spoke about motives, I have even illustrated how in the case of Barbara Bush, things can get somewhat jaded. Yet everyone just chosen to ignore these concerns.

Peg, you spoke write about a case in Milwaukee, yet you have no comment on the the case of East Harlem? The program I spoke about worked, offered not a single voucher, and yet still found itself on the Bush Administration cutting board. My question is why do you believe that is so? Was it the fact that it worked and showed promise, or was it the fact that no one could make money off of it? In the Federal Smaller Learning Communities Program there were no no-bid contracts, or education software companies to profit off it, so could that be a reason why it is being cut?

Peg, you asked the question

"if the politicians making the laws and keeping those of modest means away from choice REFUSE to send THEIR children to public schools ... why shouldn't others have the same freedoms??

I ask you who is denying people the right to choose a school of their choice? I do not recall seeing anyone out in front deny people entrance to any private school. My parents made many sacrifices to send me and my sister to private schools. I do not deny the benefit, but I cannot recall anyone putting road blocks up to deny our entrance into them.

One last question. Why is it when you speak about poor schools, and school choice you automatically bring up black children? Are there not poor white or Latino kids that perhaps could benefit from this too? It is strange that every time the issue of the poor, and school choice come up, people automatically think black children?

Peg

Greg - I have no bone to pick about who runs schools and who does not. If things were going great in most places with public schools - I personally would see no reason to consider more involvement from private sources.

The fact remains, however, that many of our schools are not doing a great job of educating kids ... for whatever reasons. And there is evidence that when parents have more choice with where their child attends school, results can improve. That is why I support at least more experimentation with vouchers and magnet schools.

I also don't think that making a profit is evil. Just ask those running the teacher's unions if they do! :)

Who is denying parents the right to send their kids to the school of their choice? Politicians. And hypocritcal ones at that.

It was great of your parents to make sacrifices to send you to a better school than what you would have attended without that sacrifice. Some parents, however, are not able to reach that even with sacrifice. I think that the kids of THESE parents still deserve to attend a better school than where they are now going. And if politicians think that the public schools are so great - let them send their own children there.

Finally - I got my original link from the blog Booker Rising. Shay (the lady who runs it) had a post that related to black kids.

I neither believe that the majority of black kids are poor ('cause it's not true) nor do I believe that the majority of poor are black; that's not true, either. My beliefs about vouchers and schools are for all kids, irrespective of race.

The fact remains, however, that SOME poor kids are black. And some people do think that latent racism relates to why more people do not take vouchers seriously.

Greg

Have you seriously looked at the Milwaukee School System you spoke about. In Milwaukee, many private schools that accept vouchers charge voucher students significantly more than non-voucher students. In fact, one third of Milwaukee's private voucher schools' charge voucher students between 200 and 400 percent of the tuition charged to non-voucher students. The total overcharge of voucher students (and the public schools) is equivalent to 40% of the overall expense of the city's voucher program. In Cleveland, moreover, one third of vouchers go to students already attending private schools.

Also existing research supporting the relationship between student achievement and vouchers has been somewhat problematic. Research on privately financed voucher programs has shown no consistent pattern of improvement in achievement across subject, grade, and the length of time. In a comprehensive study of a large-scale private school voucher program in New York City during the 1990s, a leading think-tank Mathematica Policy Research found at best a weak relationship between vouchers and improved school performance for students receiving vouchers. "On standardized tests," Mathematica found, "students offered a scholarship generally performed at about the same level as students in the [non-voucher] control group."

Research on publicly financed voucher programs hasn't bared much better. A research team that came from the Wisconsin state legislature, analyze the Milwaukee voucher program. They concluded that voucher students performed no differently on standardized tests than Milwaukee Public School students. Students who received vouchers did no better than those who applied but didn't receive them. Research on the Cleveland voucher program found that there may have been improvements in science and language, but there was no improvement in other subject areas.

Finally there was the non-partisan federal Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO concluded recently that research on the academic benefits of public voucher programs is inconclusive. "None of the findings" made so far by academic researchers, the GAO concluded, "can be considered definitive."

In the end public schools fail poor and minority students for a number of reasons. These reasons include the nation's inadequate and savagely unequal structure for allocating public school resources between and among schools and school districts. Voucher programs will worsen that structural inequity, draining money from the poorest public schools and providing public subsidies to private schools that tend to privilege middle- and upper-class students over children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

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