Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Voucher Smoucher

I love a good controversy. And the Utah State Voucher War is a good one!

I think a little description of the rabidrunner political orientation is in order. I’m not a Republican. I’m not a Democrat. We all know I’m a registered Pervertarian but that has nothing to do with politics. If I had to choose (and the way things are looking, I might have to one day), I’d be a Libertarian. Why you ask? It’s simple. Don’t tell me what to do - AND - I don’t mind a little taxation here and there, but please let me keep as much of my hard earned money as possible.

To save you the agony of deciphering where I stand on this whole Voucher issue, I'll state it clearly: I want vouchers. I want a choice in my child’s education.

As it stands now, you pay income tax, you pay property tax, you pay sales tax. Then your child gets to go to the assigned school and your child gets to have the assigned teacher. It’s not a bad system, really, when it works out. Lucky for us it is currently working out. But if it doesn’t? What do you do? You pay income tax, you pay property tax, you pay sales tax and you pay for private school.

So here are some thoughts to munch on:

All income tax gathered in the state of Utah is used for education. This means 10-30% of all of the money earned legally in the state of Utah is used to educate our children publicly.

The voucher is based on the federal eligibility guideline. Which means if you qualify for free school lunch, you qualify for the full $3,000 voucher. For example, if you are a family of 4 (2 parents, 2 kids), your income must be under $38,203 to get $3,000 for each student you have in a private school. For every 25% increase in household income above the eligibility guideline, the voucher payment goes down $250. In the same family scenario mentioned above, suppose the household income is roughly $96,000 a year. That would give our 4 figured family a whopping $500 (per child in private school, a max of $1000 per year). Look at the voucher make the rich richer.

I know a few people in the 80 – 120k per year situation. Most of them are unable to cough up enough cash to send their kids to the private school of their choosing. I’m sure the $500 a year will send them in droves. Because private school is that cheap. If you’ve done the research, you will find that most private school tuition is roughly the same as our local colleges. Right Vera?

Another argument I’ve heard is that all of the “dumb” kids will end up in public school. That is already happening - only it’s among certain schools within the system. When you don’t like the school you’re assigned to, you move. If you get enough snooty people moving out of the slums, the slums will become slummier (or more slummy?) Anyway, my point is - we’re social classed beings and we’ll do all that crap the educators are so afraid of without the help of the vouchers. Just take a gander at Southern California. They buy their houses based on the schools in the area or they go to a private school. They don’t have vouchers (but they DID have a voucher war similar to ours a few years back).

There’s also the “don’t take any more money away from our teachers” argument. To this I answer, how many times have we given the school districts more money for teachers and of those many times, WHEN have teacher’s received a pay increase for it? (Maybe the Winder would care to comment on this one.) If each school district loses $100,000 (but is still receiving $700,000 for kids that aren’t even attending their schools), maybe they’ll be forced to manage their funds more sensibly. Just a thought. For example, don’t spend $600,000 on a new cafeteria at Orem High School when they’re going to tear the whole school down in two years and rebuild it (that’s a true story by the way).

I’m not anti education. I’m not anti public education. I just want a choice. And a slight lift in the financial burden might help.

Here are my sources (I'm too busy researching to make it fancy and marked up):

17 comments:

XANA-DIVA-DELUX said...

Fantastic, great opening, and great logistics and information Rabid. Here is what I think. My thing...I think the government is making it harder for teachers in public school to do their job. They are micromanaging them, and really the world is cruel, and the most important aspect of a student's education is not the school or the teacher...it is the parent. Unfortuantely the whole problem is that we are saying that a teacher can do everything and get them at a certain level. I as a parent want the choice, not because I think any thing bad about any learning institution, but because I get to choose where I buy gas, where I live, how I practice religion, I would also like the choice of where I send my children to school, and get a little of that tax money to do so. Really, I have witnessed the differences between private educated kids, and publicly educated kids. The only thing I can see that makes a huge difference, is the parents, their attitude about learning, and how they nurture the responsible human being to "deal" with rejection and failure. No one is going to learn when parents shelter that process. I believe that the government is stripping this from teachers. They too have to learn with their kids. What works for one set of 5 year old's may not work the following year. I went to a great school for music education, one of the best in the nation actually, after seeing what people in education degree programs learn, I would never tell someone who is educating my children how to do so. That is the problem with our Government right now, they think they have the skills to tell, parents, and teachers how to do their job. Maybe we should tell them that we trust the parents and the teachers and clear the vouchers so that we have more control over this.

The McMillans said...

Here is the research that I have done and my reason for being "for" the Voucher program.

The voucher program, I believe is really taking into account the unusual social aspects of Utah's unique and wonderful culture. Utah county and Salt Lake county had the first and second highest birthrates last year in the nation. 26% of Utah's population is school-aged children, and the average family size is well above the national level. Utah has the highest pupil-teacher ratio in America, and are 48th on the chart for funding and teacher payment...second from the bottom with the MOST children in classrooms!!!! How is this possible? Well, Rabid you will understand this, after your year with Yahoo number 1 and all the time you put into kindergarten. Along with Utah's soaring birth's the culture of Utah donates it's time to teachers and schools and has therefore been able to avoid the strain that would otherwise occure from such an imbalance. With 70% of Utah being Mormons who believe in service, this has kept Utah capable of keeping good test scores, with the help of the community, and it's strong belief in families and children. The teachers happen to be some of the best in the nation, and are drawn here because of this strong belief system, but are severly underpaid. In other places, it would simply fail, statistics have proven this. (Three cheers for Mormons!!!)

For me, it boils down to one simple thing. The financial climate in utah has been changing rapidly and is going to keep changing. More women are going to have to work to afford our housing and living exspenses. Therefore, fewer mothers are going to be able to donate time, and teachers will not be able to live on the income they are being paid. I think it is wise to anticipate this, and create a solution that offers funding to well established private schools that would otherwise be overlooked because of the financial strains and changing times. Whether children attend a private school or a public school, it will be advantagious either way.

Great topic.

Mandee said...

Thanks for the education. I know I should be more up to date on what the debate is all about, but I don't have time. I'm too busy PTA-ing at the the jr. high. Thanks for the nutshell speech.

Anonymous said...

The teachers keep saying this is about loosing money and that some of those teaching in private schools don't have the proper "credentials". The truth is is that this is all about power and loosing control. When have educators ever listened to parents. The new math is a great example. Credentials? From the looks of student scores today, those with the credentials aren't do to well. I think there is truth in the adage that those who can, do. Those who can't teach.

PhishTako said...

My Mother was a school teacher, my wife was a school teacher, my sisters are school teachers, my aunts are school teachers, my mother-in-law was a school teacher. Therefore, I would suggest that "Those who can, do. Those who can and who care more about educating children than earning tons of money, teach".

Obviously this does not apply to every teacher but for the vast majority of teachers that I know personally it holds true.

Winder said...

WOW!!! I love the blog and most of the comments. Whoever wrote the anonymous comment I think you should avoid rash generalizations. I am a teacher and my class test averages have remained high no matter what math program is being used.

I am pro voucher. I know as a public educator this sounds odd. I believe that parents should have a choice. The system needs help and competition is almost always a good thing. I am unhappy with the way the district manages funds and how things trickle down to the lowly teacher. Don't get me started on the teacher's association. I am aware that my salary will most likely remain low that is not why I teach. I teach because I care. Not because if I teach at the school my kids can go free. There is my own rash generalization.

rabidrunner said...

Hehehehehe! I knew this would be a good one. Just remember kids to keep your comments "Comedy Central." If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch the Daily Show with John Stewart and the Colbert Report (pronounced Colebare Repore) back to back.

I'm not trying to tell someone how to vote on this issue. MY biggest request of the public is to READ THE FACTS NOT THE PROPAGANDA (my post would most definitely be considered propaganda). That is why I have so generously provided you with two of the links to the factual stuff (look at the humility I display by calling myself generous!) Read up on it and make your very own and unique and what you want decision.

By my own pull-it-out-from- the-seat-of-my-pants research, I've found that the majority of those AGAINST the voucher do not pay taxes (if you rent and have 8 kids that pretty much says you don't pay taxes). Education to them is in fact "FREE." So once again, they're saying "you pay all the money and we'll take the benefits" (That would make a great t-shirt!) Some of us aren't calling it free because we are paying handsomely for it (uh, that would be propaganda again).

On a final note, I just returned from one hell fire and damnation trip to Wal-Mart. THAT, my friends is where those who "can't do" have gone. No offense against WalMart, but I just stood in line for 30 minutes to buy ricotta cheese (yum!) and white makeup for my Halloween costume. There were only 4 people ahead of me and not a one of them had a remotely full basket. Total Qualude Junkies!

rabidrunner said...

OH AND I FORGOT THE KICKER COMMENT!!!! I'm pretty sure those who "can do" were taught by someone.

Biker Babe said...

Whew! I was all fired up for a good 'ol thrashing against mr. anonymous...but you pretty much summed it all up! I think he came to the wrong place to throw out his cliches.

As for the voucher issue, I truly think it'll be the only way for the public school system to get their act together. If people want to go to better schools, then public education will have to step up to provide the education that parents are looking for. They will have to create REAL solutions instead of trying put a bandaid on them.

Biker Babe said...

Oh, and don't even get me started on Wal-Mart. :) Why do I keep going back? WHY?!?!

rabidrunner said...

I go back because I enjoy the smell of napalm in the morning. I also enjoy the fit throwing and the surprised responses when you smile at someone and and say hello (even perfect strangers). That and they have the largest selection of ricotta cheese.

The McMillans said...

You know our parents, and friends parents that had a lot of kids? Well, they are now having a lot of kids. Isn't that amazing? The whole act of procreation keeps continuing. I think they failed to educate everyone about that in health class. I think the big focus was on STD's and maxi pads versus tampons, and just say no! As if you were asked straight forward to participate in sexual relations. (I found those facts in the Salt Lake Tribune. And from my own personal experience growing up here.) I forgot that once the act of pleasing occurred there would likely be a fertilized egg and that once that egg was gestated and turned 5 years old, we had to educate them. HE HE! (Was that humor based enough Rabid?) Our economy cannot afford to build public schools at the rate people are having children. If you take that into perspective you will understand that it really has nothing to do with who is more credible to teach our children. We don't have enough public schools here. But, there are private schools who have room, but not enough people with expendable money. So our Governor actually passed referendum 1 feeling it to be a logical solution. It is my belief that he has enough information and logic to look at other solutions besides raising taxes. In the school district I currently live in there are close to 29 children in classrooms. (The actual statistic is 28.369.) {West Jordan Times} Because of GOVERNMENT regulations we are going to have to build more schools, the entire east side of the Valley wants to drop us off from their district because they think we are too expensive to educate. You know us HOODIE'S from the west side. I think they should just ship everyone they don't want to educate into our neighborhood, then we can send them to date their daughters. HE HE HA!

Winder said...

I have a plan for one of the "Comedy Central" shows. I think that anonymous, and others like this person, should be placed in a class room for a short time. Let's say two weeks. These people will have to write their own curriculum using the state core and manuals haded out from the district. There will be no substitute plans from the regular teacher. There would be a camera rolling at all times. It would be great!

Winder said...

Rabid you have really outdone yourself this time!

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

I think those who can, can and those that can't can't. I can't do the cancan, but I can do the cha cha! The tango is a little too advanced for me so I think I'll take a few lessons and learn it, then I'll teach it.

A wise person once said..."those that have the humility to fail at something, and still persevere, are the true teachers of their craft. For they are the only ones who have enough self concept to understand the learning process."

Learning is a process, those who are willing, will fail and usually do succeed.

rabidrunner said...

I think we should collaboratively write a book. The title can be:

"How Education is like Ballroom Dancing." or

"The Education Dance: It's all about the Cha Cha and the Can Can and maybe the MOMbo"

Vera said...

Wholly Hell!!!! I leave for 3 days and everything falls apart!
Since I’m in a particularly pissy mood (being the piss queen and all) I feel the need to comment on something I know little about.

I did pay all those taxes, I still paid approx. 10K for my little darling to attend private school; while someone who didn’t pay taxes got free lunch on my dime. Private school did have 2 big positives --
1- The classroom size is smaller, so any teacher –even Winder – would be much more affective in the classroom with or without proper credentials (I don’t really know what anonymous means but you did have a typo).
2- My little darling did not have to worry about what she was wearing. She sore the same thing everyday and while everyone can make a look their own, much of that pressure to wear the right clothes was gone. Rabid and I would of course know who fit into our social class by their shoes!
After 2 years I transferred her back to public school—apparently because she was one of the “dumb” kids, or I was sick of paying for something I really didn’t need.

I agree with anonymous’ statement—It’s all about power and control. People (rich and poor) have kids, do their 5-year duty and send them to school expecting the teacher to baby-sit them. But the teacher has 35 other little darlings to baby-sit. And God forbid one of these little darlings act up, the teacher calls a parent who can not believe their little “precious” would do something like that and tells the baby-sitter to handle it (Winder knows I’m right). Oh, yeah…I would guess these teachers/babsitters get paid less than the rabid runners yahoo sitter!

It is all down to power and control—I am the parent and I have the power and control dammit! Ask my little princesses what happened when they thought they had the power…who did they fear? I bet it wasn’t Stu (who isn’t scared of me at all but better say he is). Now days Kids and the “MAN” have the power and control…we parents gave it to them. Some are to busy, have to many kids and assume things will all work out in the end because someone is going to pay for it. Somebody is going to pay for prison also, and there will be teacher there too!

When I was young and stepped out of line, my parents “educated” my thinking and I don’t mean with a time out. The Jena 6 “victim” told the press he didn’t even know what a noose was; I say his redneck, ignorant parent didn’t teach him that lying and hate are wrong!

I’m not a teacher because I love money and stuff. I’m not very tolerant, and don’t know that I have ever been mistaken for caring. But Stu and I raised 2 darlings that are caring, educated and know right from wrong.

I say, “Those who can parent, do. Those who can’t bitch and moan about every thing, and actually love WalMart!

Hail to thee, Winder!!