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View Diary: The Bush Administration Works Through the Stages of Grief (126 comments)

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    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

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    •  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

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