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  •  oh baloney (5+ / 0-)

    it shows nothing of the kind.  What it shows is that when you control for things like family income, there is no significant difference in performance of public and private schools.

    The entire point of vouchers is not parental choice -  the entire point is deligitimizing public schools.  This goes back to Milton Friedman and company.  It goes to the framing of the testing requirements of NCLB which were designed to make all public schools -- you read that right - all public schools -seem to be failling by the end:  2014.  

    I will note that in every case where vouchers have been put to a vote of the people they have been defeated, despite in some cases pro-voucher forces outspending pro-public school forces better than 4-1.  You ahve had legislative bodies -- often brow-beaten or bought and paid for - impose vouchers.

    The sad thing is that in the Cleveland voucher case Sandra Day O'Connor relied upon non-peer-reviewed studies supposedly showing the benefits of vouchers when the same situations studied in peer-reviewed studies showed no significant difference.

    Vouchers are a philosophical argument that holds no weight.  If public funds are involved, then the schools receiving voucher students should be held to the same requirements as public schools -- no racial discrimination, no ability to exclude based on learning disabilities or limited English proficiency or handicapped status.  They should not be allowed to kick out students without applying the same due-process rights that apply in the public schools (which can lead to some real discispline problems that are often ignored).  

    There is NO reason whatsoever for Democrats to come up with a voucher plan.   The idea is offensive, because it represents a step towards abandoning commitment to public schools as a public good.  Dems should be in favor of PUBLIC school choice, of flexibility, rather than what is currently happening which is leading to removing of arts and music and phys ed and even civics/history at the lower grades in order to spend more time getting test scores up.   And who gets hit the worst?  The students coming to school without the advantages of family, of outside learning opportunities.

    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

    by teacherken on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 12:07:27 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you for this comment, (4+ / 0-)

      so I didn't have to write it. I'm a little busy today.

      But I embrace entirely your criticism of the arguments for vouchers. You're right, public schools are the public good. And they're more than that. They're where we deliver on the promise of equality of opportunity. God knows we deliver on that promise in a rough, imperfect way, and we should do better than we do. But the public schools are where we've delivered on the past, where we are delivering now, and where we will deliver in the future.

      •  I'm going to be nice... (0+ / 0-)

        ... and assume you don't know what you are talking about.

        Do you honestly believe that Sweden, Denmark, and New Zealand are not committed to the "public good" simply because they insist that PARENTS have a meaningful choice about where and how their children are educated?

        In the United States, only the wealthiest parents have any choice about where there kids go to school.  If you can't afford to move, you are stuck with the public school in your neighborhood.  Tell me, Representative Miller, what percentage of our public schools would you be happy sending your children to?  

        In Sweden and in Denmark (both well known for being against social justice and the public good) EVERY parent has a choice about where they send their kids.  

        And it's not just about "quality."  I'd be perfectly happy sending my kids to the local public school based on rough measures like ACT scores.  But what about other important matters.  If you want to learn a foreign language in elementary school here, you have to WIN the lottery.  How's that for excellence and fairness?

        Do you believe in phonics?  How much art, music, physical education, values education, etc... does your child need.  In the US, it's basically one size fits all.  Except kids are different, and what works for one is not so good for another.  Yet, you insist that for the poorest, one size fits all.

        The grass is greener where it's watered.

        by decon on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 12:39:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ok (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jules too, khereva

          Do you honestly believe that Sweden, Denmark, and New Zealand are not committed to the "public good" simply because they insist that PARENTS have a meaningful choice about where and how their children are educated?

          In the United States, only the wealthiest parents have any choice about where there kids go to school.  If you can't afford to move, you are stuck with the public school in your neighborhood.  Tell me, Representative Miller, what percentage of our public schools would you be happy sending your children to?  

          You asked for it.

          "In Sweden and in Denmark (both well known for being against social justice and the public good) EVERY parent has a choice about where they send their kids. "

          I'll trade you your school choice plan and private vouchers for the rest of the Scandinavian welfare state and their tax structure.  You up for that?

          "And it's not just about "quality."  I'd be perfectly happy sending my kids to the local public school based on rough measures like ACT scores.  But what about other important matters.  If you want to learn a foreign language in elementary school here, you have to WIN the lottery.  How's that for excellence and fairness?"

          I don't know where your kid is in school, but here in Wake County, multiple foreign languages are taught in the public schools, and there are more magnet progams being added each day.  Your point is well-taken in those small rurual or big city districts that are struggling for resources.  Will you join me in calling for public schools to be funded by something other than property taxes, which lock in the difference between moneyed and poor districts?  My hunch is no.  But hey, let the free market decide, right?  I just know that there are entrepreneurs lining up to build private schools in Hoke County, NC.  The Lumbees have so much largesse to spread around, ya know?

          "Do you believe in phonics?  How much art, music, physical education, values education, etc... does your child need.  In the US, it's basically one size fits all.  Except kids are different, and what works for one is not so good for another.  Yet, you insist that for the poorest, one size fits all."

          Believe in phonics?  What the hell is that supposed to mean?  Have you ever even been in a school?  Do you even know a teacher?

          There are legitimate criticisms to be leveled at school systems.  One is the increasing tendency to judge performance solely on the basis of scores on standardized tests.  Of course every student will not perform the same or learn the same.  That is a basic tenet of education and psychology.  So who are the people pushing most loudly for "accountability" and testing?  THE SAME JERKS TRYING TO DESTROY THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM WITH VOUCHERS.

          If you pass vouchers, the private schools will up their tuition to some multiple of the voucher, and the public schools will be left with the same kids they have now.  It's really that simple.

          And oh, by the way, public schools are competing just fine.  Of course, without Brad Miller's actions, as described above, we would never have known that.

          JRE 2008 "80% of republicans are democrats who don't know what's going on." - Bobby Kennedy, Jr.

          by DrFrankLives on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 12:54:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  bah (0+ / 0-)

            we need an edit function.

            JRE 2008 "80% of republicans are democrats who don't know what's going on." - Bobby Kennedy, Jr.

            by DrFrankLives on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 12:57:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  This is more like it. (0+ / 0-)
            1.  So you are for holding our kids hostage until you get what you want on other spending & tax issues?  That's bullshit.  But for what it's worth, I'm personally all for publicly funded universal healthcare and don't know why other conservatives aren't for it as well.  As a moral matter, its the right thing to do, and as a practical matter it's just a matter of time before companies like GM go broke and/or become uncompetitive in a world economy because of their healthcare obligations.  
            1.  The bit about phonics is simply my shorthand attempt to quickly allude to legitimate disagreements over pedagogy.  And yes I've been to school, as a student and as a teacher, for over 25 years.  Different things work for different kids.  Different parents want different things for their kids.  In the US system there is very little possibility to achieve excellence by meeting all these different needs and wants.  Whatever the local school board decides is what you are going to get.
            1. The voucher debate really isn't as simple as you want to make it.  Most proponents make their case clumsily.  Most opponents have an uninformed knee jerk reaction.  See the Swedish system for one real live working example (it's not just theory, but proven in action) of a very good case study of what we COULD have.

            The grass is greener where it's watered.

            by decon on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 01:16:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  i'm going to be impolite (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SecondComing, jules too

          and assume you're an ass.

          Have a bit more respect for a Congressman, for crying out loud.

          JRE 2008 "80% of republicans are democrats who don't know what's going on." - Bobby Kennedy, Jr.

          by DrFrankLives on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 12:58:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'll show respect... (0+ / 1-)
            Recommended by:
            Hidden by:
            DrFrankLives

            ... when some respect is shown for me.  It is extremely disrespectful to willfully mislead, and it is extremely disrespectful to suggest I don't care for the "public good" or the poorest amoung us simply because I believe our current system of educating children is FUBAR.

            Grovel if you want.  I'll have known of it whether it is a Republican or Democrat doing the lying, misleading, and slandering.

            The grass is greener where it's watered.

            by decon on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 01:05:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I live in Manhattan... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        decon

        ...where the public schools are very bad.  I cannot afford the private schools, which cost $25K per year.

        NYC spends about $12K per student.  Give me that money in cash, and I can scrape together the other $13K and put my daughter in private school.

        When the public schools are fixed, I'll bring her back.  But asking me to wait around while they "deliver on that promise in a rough, imperfect way" is simply not acceptable.

    •  Go tell that to the Swedes.... (0+ / 0-)

      That's right, those miserly Swedesalways looking to screw the poorest and most vulnerable.

      Do you have a problem with the Swedish system teacherken?  

      The grass is greener where it's watered.

      by decon on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 12:29:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  apparently you don't pay attention (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jules too, StrayCat, khereva

        in Sweden any school taking a single voucher student must be open to ALL students, cannot cherrypick.   You will never see any such plan here.

        I am quite well aware of voucher programs in other countries, most of whose educational systems are not comparable to ours for lots of reasons, which a casual citing of the fact that they have vouchers usually seems to ignore.

        Of course, if you want to cite Sweden why be selective?  Does that mean we should have a state church?  They do.   That we should have a king?  They do.  Oh, and they are officially neutral and have been since the 17th century.  Oh, and don't they also have a national pension plan much more generous than our social security which does not depend upon where they work?  Oh, and what about their tax rate, significantly higher than ours, which they use to fund complete medical care, and the pensions, and a whole lot of other social services that we don't.

        Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

        by teacherken on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 12:52:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually I do pay attention. (0+ / 0-)

          The swedish system does indeed prohibit cherry picking.  That's precisely why I asked you about it.  

          So again, do you have a problem with the Swedish system?  

          If not, then tell me why it, or something very much like it, will not work in the US.  

          The grass is greener where it's watered.

          by decon on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 01:01:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  you are not reading (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jules too, StrayCat

            the Swedish system is not transferable, because it is part of a much larger approach to things that as of now will not fly here.

            While there are many criticism I can offer of the Swedish total educational approach (you cannot look at vouchers separately) they are also not at all relevant to discussion about education in the US.  We do not have a national educational system to begin with, and I strongly suspect that anything that smacks of such will find as much opposition on the right as on the left -  we saw this when Utah was about to pull out of Title I funding because they didn't like NCLB and the White House had to lean heavily on then Gov Leavitt and people in Utah to keep a very red state from being the first locale to reject Bush's key domestic policy "achievement."  

            Do you or do you not believe that we as a society have an obligation to offer a free quality public education to every child in Americda? Unless and until you are willing to stand forthrightly behind that proposition, I refuse to discuss anything else, because it will be used as an indirect way of denying a quality education to those without access to the lever of power, ineherited wealth, class, connections, etc.  

            Having said that - I am on record for the widest possible public school choice, including being willing to allow schools to experiment -  call them charters if you want.   But as with vouchers, so with charters - I would NOT allow for-profit organizations to run public charter schools.  There is something contradictory about an organization with a fiduciary responsibility to maximize product and the the responsibility to go as far as necessary to meet the educational needs of children.

            I am actually more flexible than many voucher advocates.  I am willing to consider using tax dollars to subsidize continuing education of teachers in non-public schools provided (a) those teachers are subject to state licensing requirements, and (b) those schools are willing to be subject to state tests and publishing of their disaggregated scores.  BTW -- this would be only for those teachers of courses subject to state tests, or teachers of things like IB or AP courses -- outside validation seems so important to use by advocates of vouchers, I might note.

            I will not accept the argument that the voucher is like the GI Bill -  GI Bill, both ancient (WWII), older (Vietnam) and current (Montgomery) were a form of deferred compensation for service to the country, and rightly belonged to the former serviceperson.

            And since i am a firm believer in separation of church and state, there is a problem of using tax dollars even indirectly for teaching of religion -  and would the Christian right accept such money going to a Madrassa run on Wahhabi principles, or would they strongly object?  After all, if you open it up you cannot pick and choose between schools.  How about a school run that teaches the Judaism is a gutter religion, or that the white man is a devil?  

            My commitment is to public schools.  Please note -- I am a Quaker, I have served on the board of a Quaker elementary school to help get it started.  I have no trouble with people exercising their parental right to pursue an alteranative to public education for their children.  if so, use their own dollars.  The public responsibility is, for me, to guarantee a quality PUBLIC education for every child.  if we are not willing to commit to that, then in reality we are abandoning the very idea of a democracy.

            One can note that the real growth in the economy of this nation and in our success in WWII might well not have been possible had we not developed a massive public education system.  Our rapid advancement in science and technology came about to a large degree after we made the commitment to things like the NSF and similar things, just like our flexibility and mobility as a society would not have been possible without the development of the interstate highway system -- public goods.  

            I am sorry, I have no further time for discussion on this now.  Let me summarize, so my position is clear

            1. I will not waste time in dicussions without first a commitment to a free, quality public education available to all Americans.  For now i will settle for K-12, although ideally I believe it should be a right to at least 2 years (preferably 4) of subsidized post-secondary education [perhaps at the average cost of a community college] - i note most European nations offer free higher education.
            1. I believe in a variety of approaches - not every school situation works for every kid.  Thus I support the idea of broadening public school choice.
            1. For public school choice to be meaningful, there cannot be a one siaze fits all approach to school, in size, in instructional methods, in school structuer, in methods of assessment.

            That should do it for now.

            Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

            by teacherken on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 01:22:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

              The level of mistrust implied in your response is an unfortunate reflection of reality.   It's extremely annoying to be told I have to pass your litmus test before you'll waste your time talking to me.  How is that reasonable, and how does it contribute to an honest dialogue aimed at improving our educational system?  

              Oh well.... On the left, expanding school choice, and vouchers especially, are viewed as policy initiatives supported only by crazy home schooled conservatives who wish Tim McVeigh had bombed the Department of education into oblivion.  It is an unfortunate and unfair association.

              In regards to your litmus test: Of course I support making a fully funded high quality education available to every child in America.  Indeed, that's why I support school choice.  I already have several choices available for my children.  It is those who are geographically limited, and those who have less than 10k in discretionary income who have few choices.  I have not, and will not, accuse you of not caring about these students.  I ask that you extend the same courtesy to me.

              That said, I also strongly support seperating the funding of education from the delivery of education.  That is exactly what the Swedish system does.   Your idiosyncratic and ideological hangups about profit vs. not for proft, public vs. private, and parochial vs. non-parochial are just that.  And we already channel a great deal of public money toward religious institutions in the United States.  Catholic hospitals that accept medicare and medicaid payments are the most prominent examples. (And for what it's worth they offer some of the best care in some of the neediest places).

              Finally, it is a red herring to insist that we can't adopt the Swedish system in, say, Iowa, unless we also adopt the Swedish system in the other 49 states and DC.  Federalism means something in this rather large country, as it should.  What's your problem with allowing a particular state, or states, to try it?  And by all means feel free to compare and contrast the US and Swedish systems.  For that matter compare and contrast any state in this country to the Swedish system.  I'd be interested in seeing your analysis.  

              The grass is greener where it's watered.

              by decon on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 02:42:58 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Okey dokey smart ass... (0+ / 0-)

          ... you do deserve to be slapped around with the stupidity of your question: Why be selective? Because I care about public policy, and I seek excellence in everything. By your logic, I need to buy a Volvo before I can suggest we have a look at the merits of the Swedish Voucher system?  

          As for me, I believe the Swedish voucher system would greatly improve on the status quo in the United States.  Therefore, given the choice, I would prefer to have my state adopt something very much like the Swedish system.  

          And I don't see any need to package the Swedish king, the Lutheran Church, and a Volvo into the deal.

          The grass is greener where it's watered.

          by decon on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 03:14:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'm just looking at the statistics here (0+ / 0-)

      TeacherKen writes:

      What it shows is that when you control for things like family income, there is no significant difference in performance of public and private schools.

      Yes, that's true for the whole population of students.  But for any individual student, the reality is different.  Basically, the stats show that a random public school will be "better" than a random private school a little more than half the time.

      Parents who live in neighborhoods where the local public school is better will stay with the public school.  Parents who live where the local private school is better will switch to the better school.

      By adding vouchers, we put more money into the system, that can be used at more schools for more choices.

      •  we don't add vouchers (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gmhowell, StrayCat

        although that is the proposal to get the nose of the camel under the tents.  No meaningful voucher works as an add-on.   If you have money for education that you give to vouchers it is money that you could otherwise have given to public schools that you are not giving.

        Original Bush education proposal was to take part of Title I funds and use that for vouchers -- couldn't get it through Congress.

        Oh, and your reasoning is flawed.  Even if a parent wanted to go to the "better" private school, there is no guarantee that the school would take the child, because there is no requirement for a non-public school to take any child.

        There are other flaws of reasoning in your comment, but that's all i ahve time for.

        Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

        by teacherken on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 01:47:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We can add vouchers. We can do a lot of things. (0+ / 0-)

          No meaningful voucher works as an add-on.  

          That is why we must propose one that does work.

          Even if a parent wanted to go to the "better" private school, there is no guarantee that the school would take the child, because there is no requirement for a non-public school to take any child.

          We could put anti-cherrypick constraints on the voucher, couldn't we?  But even if we didn't, some kids would get accepted into the private school.  Saving some kids is better than saving none.

          Also, if the snooty private school won't take your kid then you (or church groups, or local colleges, or Wicca Circles) can start their own school.  You can use government money to do it.  This is a good thing.

          •  Of course... (0+ / 0-)

            We could require that private schools accepting vouchers not cherry pick.  Teacherken continues to pretend that voucher proposals, like the Swedish system, easily accomodate such rules.  

            Most proposal suggest that a lottery be used to select students in instances where the number of applicants exceeds the number of open spaces.  If private schools don't wish to play be these rules, they could do so, but they would not be eligible for voucher funding.  

            The grass is greener where it's watered.

            by decon on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 03:19:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  There is a legitimate case ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... to be made for preventing the add-ons or topping up of vouchers.  The crux of the case is whether or not the level of funding for the basic voucher is, and will remain, sufficient to provide a quality education for those who can't top it off.  Liberals are right to be suspicous of conservatives on this issue.

          I personally favor weighted vouchers based on family income.  I believe students from low income families, or those with special needs, should receive a voucher worth more money.  It costs more to educate them.  And schools would rather not take them.  The additional money will both compensate schools for taking these students and give them an incentive to do so.  Google "student weighted funding" to learn more.

          Manhattanman makes an excellent point which teacherken chooses to ignore. With add-ons, more money will be going into the system.  And of course this already takes place in the PUBLIC school system via aggressive fundraising by parents in wealthier public school districts.  

          The grass is greener where it's watered.

          by decon on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 03:35:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Weighted vouchers have another good side (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            decon

            They help us politically.

            The current Republican proposals give small amounts of money to poor people.

            Let's give large amounts to poor people, moderate amounts to middle class people and a token amount to the rich.

            This way, everybody gets something and it will make the measure easier to pass.

    •  Problems with Vouchers (0+ / 0-)

      Many people, myself included, believe that Conservatives plan to use Vouchers to accomplish some of their political goals, such as:

      1. Reducing the dollars spent on education
      1. Hurting the teachers' unions
      1. Reducing the scope of government
      1. Continuing their worship of free market principles
      1. Allowing religious people to control what their children learn

      Because many of the motives behind Vouchers are bad, it is easy to assume that no Voucher can ever be good.  This assumption is flawed.

      Democrats should see that a Federal Voucher program, properly constucted, will further liberal policy objectives such as:

      Transfer of Wealth: These vouchers are worth money. They go to working people only. Let's make them as large as possible.

      Helping Teachers Finally Get Paid: There are not enough private schools to handle all of the kids.  More will have to be started to absorb the Voucher funds.  Who is best positioned to start new, quality schools?  Today's motivated teachers.

      Increasing Diversity:  If you don't like the fact that your local school doesn't celebrate your religion, or has a corporate sponsor for the baseball team, you can start your own school.
       
      Getting Votes from Middle Class America:  The biggest expense for a middle class family is housing.  The biggest determinant of housing cost is the quality of the school system.  If we can get kids into good schools without making their parents buy expensive houses, we will have solved a big problem for for a big group of core voters.  We will have given the equivalent of a big fat raise to every family with kids.

      There should be safeguards to prevent too much cherrypicking, and we can't let Republicans use the increase in Voucher funding to reduce public school funding.  But we should put together a voucher proposal.

      The Representitive telling me that my daughter must settle for the "rough, imperfect way" is simply not acceptable.  

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