Thursday, August 30, 2007

School Vouchers

I support the concept of school vouchers because I believe they may help to bring accountability to a monopolistic system that has long been out of touch with traditional values.

In the turf battles of our current culture war, much of the media and educational establishment were captured early on by the Left. The backlash to its subsequent abuse of these institutions is found in the development of such things as conservative media and school vouchers. If the Left does not like these things — and there are many reasons why it should not — it has only itself to blame.

Diversity and freedom of speech is sacrosanct to the Left, as long as diversity means “different than traditional values” and freedom of speech means “speaking against traditional values.” But, the Extreme Left shows its true colors with its visceral opposition to diversity in educational options and freedom of speech by those opposed to their counter-culture agenda. This, I believe, is the textbook definition of hypocrisy.

I wish that such unworthy behavior were limited to the Left, but, sadly, such is not the case. The Right frequently disappoints me with the stunts pulled by its extremists as well. The key, I guess, is for each of us to learn how to think clearly for ourselves, to not just go along with the lemmings running on either side of us, and to not merely regurgitate the talking points handed down by the most extreme voices on either side.

In that spirit, I repeat that I support school vouchers in concept. There may be problems with Utah's current attempt to implement them, but the experiment is appropriate, and such problems can be addressed over time by corrective adjustments as needed.

Despite claims to the contrary, the Earth is not going to end if Utah pursues its limited trial of vouchers. Let's give them a fair shot, see what happens, and then go from there. Let's not let the fear mongers dissuade us from perusing this reasonable course.



At Thursday, August 30, 2007 7:05:00 PM, Blogger Part of the Plan said...

Diversity = vouchers?

I don't think so, my little right-wing friend.

Wrong argument to use. Vouchers will inevitably result in more homogeneity (as if we needed more in this state).

That's a fact. You can look it up.

At Thursday, August 30, 2007 7:21:00 PM, Blogger The Spyglass said...


"Wrong argument to use. Vouchers will inevitably result in more homogeneity (as if we needed more in this state)."


At Thursday, August 30, 2007 7:26:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Hi PotP,

Thanks for dropping-in, buddy.

I disagree with you. In this case, vouchers is precisely the way to bring greater diversity to education. It's just not the kind of diversity the Left likes.

Vouchers would make it possible for a poor inner city family to send their kids to a private school that they would not otherwise be able to afford.

Vouchers would make it possible for a child subjected to a constant barrage of secular humanistic dogma to choose another school that subscribes to another doctrine.

Vouchers would break the one-size-fits-all monopoly currently seeking to socialize our children according to the values of the Left.

Yes, in this case, diversity = vouchers, my friend.


At Thursday, August 30, 2007 7:27:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Thanks for the visit, Mark. Please come back to the Grand Old Party, bud. We need you.

At Thursday, August 30, 2007 9:43:00 PM, Blogger Tyler Farrer said...

part of the plan,

"That's a fact. You can look it up."

Where did you find this particular "fact"?

Cite your source.

At Thursday, August 30, 2007 10:20:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...


Unfortunately the right-wingers are right. Vouchers will bring diversity.

Instead of being concerned only about the diverse and sometimes foolish ideas the public schools may be teaching our kids we have to be concerned that our tax dollars are supporting schools that teach FLDS beliefs on diverse family concepts. We will have to wonder what diverse ideas the KKK schools are using our tax dollars to instill in Utah's youth. We also have to be concerned about the many new science students our state will turn out who have diverse ideas about how our universe was created in seven 24 hour days and how the unicorns were all killed in Noah's flood.

Vouchers will bring diversity...oh yes.

At Thursday, August 30, 2007 11:15:00 PM, Blogger Davis Didjeridu said...

Tyler, AW: Check out the official report about the DC voucher program. It, like all other voucher programs, found no improvement between students in public and private schools. The main problem there will be the main problem here: public and private schools are so different makes an apples and oranges comparison.

At Friday, August 31, 2007 8:31:00 AM, Blogger Part of the Plan said...

You got me, Tyler. The only source I have is Yogi Berra.

For the record, I don't oppose choice in education, nor do I oppose private schools. Both exist today. Just don't expect me to fund them. Vouchers are just another subsidy for a select few. I thought all you rock-ribbed Republicans hate public subsidies and entitlement programs?

Mark: homogeneity means lack of diversity. Don't let your imagination run wild.

At Friday, August 31, 2007 9:24:00 AM, Blogger rmwarnick said...

Of course, for some people private schools are more about protecting the little ones from the diversity of opinions encountered in public schools than about quality education.

How about this argument? Vouchers = tax increases.

"Coupled with financial assistance from private schools themselves and private organizations, vouchers will be sufficient to cover tuition. If not, then the Legislature will simply increase the voucher amount. Easy fix."

A classic bait and switch.

At Friday, August 31, 2007 10:17:00 AM, Blogger theorris said...

Would you mind defining what you mean by traditional values? (I'm not being facetious or mean-spirited with this question, by the way. I really want to know.)

At Friday, August 31, 2007 10:44:00 AM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Theorris, I don't time to give your question the response it deserves. But, by traditional values, I am basically referring to the Judeo-Christian values upon which Western Culture was built -- particularly as it manifested itself in the formation of the United States. Thanks, my friend.

What arguments have you heard against the voucher constitutional issues that you have presented so well? Have you heard of anything with merit?


At Friday, August 31, 2007 11:43:00 AM, Blogger theorris said...

I haven't heard any argument around the constitutionality issue. This is probably because not many people are aware of the anti-sectarian clause in our constitution.

So to continue on with the discussion, how do you think public schools are corrupting "traditional values." I give you, as an example of how they are not, the relevant portion of Utah Code which regulates sex education in the public schools:

"R277-474-3. General Provisions.

A. The following may not be taught in Utah public school courses through the use of instructional materials or live instruction:

(1) the intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation or erotic behavior;

(2) the advocacy of homosexuality;

(3) the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices; or

(4) the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage.

B. Educators are responsible to teach the values and information identified under Section 53A-13- 101(4).

C. Utah educators shall follow all provisions of state law including parent/guardian notification and prior written parental consent requirements under Sections 76-7-322 and 76-7-323 in teaching any aspect of human sexuality.

D. Course materials and instruction shall be free from religious, racial, ethnic, and gender bias."

How is this corrupting traditional values? It seems to sustain them. People like to get all-fired up when they here of a few liberal teachers (gasp!) The curriculum established in Utah is in no way liberal nor representing a liberal agenda, unless you happen to think that a particular field represents some hidden liberal agenda. I understand that many people feel this way about science in general and evolutionary science in particular. I don't know what the answer is to the dilemma between religion and science. I don't think it is fair to kids, however, to deny them access to the point of view.

I absolutely do not, however, want anyone indoctrinating my kids into his or her favored religion and disguising that as "teaching values." America was built on religious freedom. Now that is my idea of a traditional value.

Anyway--interesting discussion.

At Friday, August 31, 2007 11:53:00 AM, Blogger Frank Staheli said...

Theorris and AW,

I don't think "traditional values" is very high on my list for why vouchers are important.

My most important reason is that parents/families will have more educational choices. The next most important reason is that choice engenders higher quality.

It's interesting that many anti-voucher people use as an excuse that no-one will use the vouchers anyway. Okay...fine. Let's implement them then, and see whether that is the case. What can it hurt?

At Friday, August 31, 2007 1:47:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...


The argument isn't that no one will use them. We know there will be people who use them. The primary group which will take advantage of vouchers are the parents who already send their kids to private schools. We'll be subsidizing them with our tax money. This voucher plan is welfare for the middle and upper class. It isn't about adding choices.

At Friday, August 31, 2007 2:16:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Theorris & Frank,

With regard to my previous post endorsing vouchers, please understand that just because I resent educational practices which undermine "traditional values" does not mean that I therefore want public schools to do a 180 degree turn and begin teaching Christian doctrine. That is not my position at all. I just want Secular Humanists to stop trying to impose their faith and their social agenda upon society by way of the public school system.

Please allow me to supply some examples so you can better understand where I am coming from:

While I attended public schools outside of Utah, I was forced to take numerous classes on Evolution where the ideas taught were presented as being fact instead of theory. Questioning this dogma was not tolerated, even though today many of the claims behind those theories have been revised or abandoned. So, do I now object to the teaching of the various theories of evolution? No, I just want them to be clearly taught as theories and no more.

Also, while growing up, I was forced to take more than one class on Sex Education. My personal experience was that the material covered, and the way it was presented, actually caused me more confusion and anxiety. Do I therefore object to educating children about sex? No, I just believe that parents need to play the primary role in deciding how that is to be done and what values are going to be shared during that instruction.

So, how does this relate to Utah schools?

Well, just within the past few weeks I have read a column by Rebecca Walsh in the Tribune, a column by Holly Mullen in City Weekly, a blog entry by Holly Mullen on Mullentown, a blog entry by Holly Mullen on City Weekly's website, an editorial by Planned Parenthood in the Tribune, and an editorial by the Salt Lake Tribune, itself, all calling for more sex education in Utah and/or its schools. I suspect such a call resonates with many other left leaning individuals within our state and its school system.

But, I am concerned that these individuals are so eager to instruct my children, because I have found that their beliefs are sometimes diametrically opposed to my own. I love my children more than I do my own life. I want what is best for them more than any of these good people could even come close to approaching. Thus, I want to be the one teaching my children about sex, not Planned Parenthood or its allies. As long as I am alive, I will strive to ensure that my parental rights are preserved so that I am free to raise my children in the best way I know how to do. I see my support of vouchers as being a way of creating options for me as a parent -- options which empower me as I perform my responsibilities.

I hope this makes sense.

Thanks for stopping by, Frank. I tend to like the things you have to say.


At Friday, August 31, 2007 2:22:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...


I think you are correct as to who will be the earliest beneficiaries of the voucher program. But, don't you think that these people who are currently sending their children to private school have been paying taxes all along?

How is allowing them to actually benefit from their education tax dollars welfare? I am not trying to make a cheap shot. I really want to try and understand your reasoning.


At Friday, August 31, 2007 2:46:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...


I'm glad you asked. In answer to your question I'm going to quote Utah conservative icon and radio talkshow host Bob Lonsberry:

"Some people say that inasmuch as their children are not going to public school – and using resources there – that they should be able to transfer those resources to a private school of their choice. They argue that, as school-tax payers who are not using that school tax, they should be able to move it to where they can use it.

That argument betrays a fundamental lack of understanding about public education in America. Using that rationale, people whose children have graduated, or people with no children, shouldn’t have to pay school tax.

But they do.

Because the return on our school tax is not the education of our children, it is the education of society.

The belief is that we are better off as a society and as individuals if a basic education is available to all children. Even the childless are benefited by the education of their neighbors’ children.

Public education makes better voters, better citizens, better employees, better leaders, a more prosperous community, more capable taxpayers and a more stable and law-abiding society. Every member of society benefits from that, even those who have no direct contact with public schools themselves.

And if you get the benefit, you ought to pay for it.

That’s the reasoning the nation’s founders used as they argued for communitywide taxes to support public schools. School taxes are not tuition, they are your share of the costs for the educated society that sustains and protects you.

So those who pay school taxes and claim that they go unused because their children are in private school are mistaken. Taking money out of the public school budget and taking it to a private school is to make you a welcher on your share of the cost of public education." END QUOTE

You are fundamentally misunderstanding the purpose of our public education funds as is anyone who thinks it isn't an undeserved subsidy for someone to "benefit from their education tax dollars" in the way you advocate. It is a subsidy for the wealthy that constitutes welfare for those who neither need nor deserve it.

Besides that...the way this bill is written there is no correlation between the portion of your taxes that go to pay for schools and the source or amount of voucher money paid under the plan. The whole scheme is very clearly a welfare plan for the wealthy paid directly out of the general fund.

At Friday, August 31, 2007 3:10:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Jeremy,

Thank you for sharing the Bob Lonsberry quote. I think he makes some good points.

However, I believe that society still receives the same kinds of benefits with students graduating from private schools as it does from public schools. So, there is no diminishing of that purpose of public education with vouchers. And, when that is taken into account with all the other benefits of school choice, I cannot see why I should be opposed to them.

Thanks bud,

At Friday, August 31, 2007 3:28:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...


I agree that society benefits from kids who attend private schools just as we benefit from children attending public schools. The problem is that you're asking that I be forced to foot the bill for the kids in private school and the kids in public school. I would understand if our public schools were failing. They're not and you're advocating welfare for those who need it least.

Thanks to you too AW! Great discussion you have going on here.

At Friday, August 31, 2007 3:39:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Thank you, Jeremy!

Please comment more often.


At Saturday, September 01, 2007 9:10:00 AM, Blogger Extreme Wisdom said...

To Defeat the Education Monopoly, you must defeat their lies.

The first lie in this comment section is that vouchers will make school more homogenous.

That is NOT a fact, it is (as usual for the supporters of "bureaucracy-based" education) a misrepresentation.

First, we have to stop using the selective stats from narrow experiments and look to what a truly "choice-based" system would offer. If the entire nation went to a system that funded children instead of funding bureauracies, the idea that it would be more homogenous is laughable on its face.

That would take a bit of theorizing, so let's just look at the advent of Charter Schools (another good idea that the liars club at Bureaucracy Central despise).

Charters and Parochial schools promote diversity in two ways. First, studies indicate that their populations are as, or more "diverse" than public schools in the same locale.

Second, there is another kind of DIVERSITY that the monopolists can't abide, and that is the diversity of schools, curricula, methods, etc. etc. By funding children over bureaucracies you will get an education system as diverse as the people making the choices. The one-size-fits-all public ed. monopoly can not abide such diversity.

The detractors of choice, when they are not busy using meaningless tags like "right-winger", support a system that basically creates educational apartheid (property tax/district based).

It is anti-diversity in curricula...

[1000s of districts, 2-3 text book companies, one imposed 'progressive' (contentless) curricullum, and a district system that makes every district a "franchise" with less local control than McDonalds.]

as it is in color...

[District based education promotes segregation more than ANY choice plan EVER could].

Just watch how they will attack you in the coming battle. They will call you "right wing" elitists, as they surreptitiously appeal to the parochialism and fears of the soccer mom and "her district." (you don't want a black or brown child to use a voucher to come to "your school.")

You are in for the fight of your lives, as an illegitimate monopolyfights for their hold on $500,000,000,000 of taxpayer dollars. This essay will provide you with the framework necessary to fight them. But if you are too afraid to "go negative" on one of the most negative forces in the US, don't bother.

In closing, I wish Utah citizens the best in this fight. For all the back up you will ever need in arguing the efficacy of school choice, get this book

At Saturday, September 01, 2007 10:46:00 AM, Blogger Extreme Wisdom said...

Jeremy wrote: We know there will be people who use them. The primary group which will take advantage of vouchers are the parents who already send their kids to private schools. We'll be subsidizing them with our tax money. This voucher plan is welfare for the middle and upper class. It isn't about adding choices.

While I don't have the exact details on Utah's plan (WHERE CAN ONE FIND A BALANCED DESCRIPTION), the fact is that vouchers are actually REMOVING A SUBSIDY that homeschoolers and private schoolers are confering on the education monopoly.

In Theory;

1. We all pay into a pot for the ostensible purpose of creating an "educated populace." (not working out very well if you look at escalating costs v. flat/declining results)

2. Home and Private schoolers pay this tax as well as everyone else, yet "pay twice" when they decide (wisely) to choose another option.

3. By leaving the system while still paying for it, their children are not using system resources, yet the system still gets their money.

4. Ergo, it is the private schooler and home schooler who is doing the "subsidizing".

Vouchers are merely a rational, moral, and effective return of this subsidy, which benefits society far more the monopoly wants to admit.

In Philedelphia, the research wing of the monopoly (think "Tobacco Co. researchers) crowed that the improvement in Phil. schools "proved" that all the new charters and privately contracted schools weren't necessary.

DOH!! Just WHY did the schools improve? The time frame alone shows that the public schools reacted to the competition.

Allow vouchers in Utah, and even the public schools will get better.

At Saturday, September 01, 2007 12:30:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Extreme Wisdom,

Thank you very much for posting your comments! You are always welcome here. Please drop in more often.


At Saturday, September 01, 2007 4:35:00 PM, Blogger Extreme Wisdom said...


As an Illinois Resident who has followed, read, researched and debated education policy since my early 20s, I have a strong interest in seeing vouchers succeed in as many places possible.

Utah is the next big battlefield, and a win for choice will accelerate positive changes elsewhere, while a loss will sow yet more fear on the part of reformers already too afraid to take the Monopoly on in the way they deserve.

I'll do all I can to help, and may even set up a Utah Voucher Page on my site. As for the canard that I'm an "outsider," it is in the interests of every person in the US to see Big Ed take all the hits it can get.

At Saturday, September 01, 2007 7:48:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Extreme Wisdom,

We are all Americans here -- you are no outsider. Welcome, friend.


At Sunday, September 02, 2007 9:08:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...


Save it for your mindless listeners.

Utah's public schools aren't failing. Vouchers will be a phenomenal waste of resources here.

"1. We all pay into a pot for the ostensible purpose of creating an 'educated populace.'"

In Utah this system is working. We have fewer students per capita enrolled in private schools than nearly any other state in the country for a reason. Our public schools work.

"2. Home and Private schoolers pay this tax as well as everyone else, yet 'pay twice' when they decide (wisely) to choose another option."

Home and private schoolers are still getting the full benefit of the money from their taxes that goes to public schools. They benefit from a well educated populace. Your line of reasoning leads to people without any kids or people whose kids have grown having a right to opt out of taxes for schools too. The benefit of those dollars isn't that your kids get educated it is that all kids in the state have access to a free and excellent public schooling system.

"3. By leaving the system while still paying for it, their children are not using system resources, yet the system still gets their money."

Um...aren't 2 and 3 exactly the same? Moving on...

"4. Ergo, it is the private schooler and home schooler who is doing the 'subsidizing'."

Nope. They're getting the same benefit for their tax dollars going to public education that my childless adult sister is getting. They get to live in a place where everyone has a chance at a basic level of education.

Vouchers are a special entitlement that primarily benefits those who don't want or need to use the system that has to be there for everyone. Everyone should always be free to home school their kids or put their kids in private school if they choose...they just shouldn't be doing it on my dime. This plan is welfare for the wealthy...nothing more.


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