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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    Default Our Public School System, a Government Monopoly...

    ---an intersting article---

    The key word on how our public school system is run is: Monopoly. Or more specifically, government run monopoly. If you want to send your kids to a different school. Too bad. If the school is performing poorly. Tough luck.

    Two damaging results of having a monopoly in any industry are: First, a lack of accountability and second, little incentive for improving the product. In our public school system tax money funds the schools regardless of the schools performance. Are kids performing poorly? Too bad you still send your kids and the feds still take your money.

    Would you continue to visit the same restaurant if the food was poor or the service lousy? Would you continue to purchase your next car from the same dealer that has sold you lemons in the past? Of course not. But you are expected to accept lousy service from your school. I’m not saying all public schools are lousy. That’s not the point. Some are excellent. Some of my most memorable teachers were public school teachers. The point is if you find yourself faced with a lousy school as a parent you have little choice.

    A common solution proposed at improving our pubic schools is to throw more money at the problem. But does that work? Of course our schools need a minimum amount to pay for computers, teachers and other materials but does throwing more money at our troubled public school fix the root problem?

    Well first, how much do we spend now?

    Data for the 1999-2000 school year puts revenues for public education (k-12) at $373 billion. Divide this number by total students attending k-12 education and this works out to an average of just under $7,000 spent per student per year. In a recent John Stossel program on 20/20 he put the figure closer to $10,000. That works out to about $100,000 education after completing high school. Are American students getting $100,000 worth of education out of our public schools?

    So, the question remains. Do we need to spend more money? Seems to me without competition or accountability throwing money at the problem will have little impact on student’s performance. John Stossel recently provided an excellent example of this in an article from January entitled "Myth: Schools Need more Money." John found an extreme example in Kansas City where a judge by the name of Russell Clark ordered the government to spend billions more on public education.

    John writes in his article, "Did the billions improve test scores? Did they hire better teachers, provide better books? Did the students learn anything?

    Well, they learned how to waste lots of money.

    The bureaucrats renovated school buildings, adding enormous gyms, an Olympic swimming pool, a robotics lab, TV studios, a zoo, a planetarium, and a wildlife sanctuary. They added intense instruction in foreign languages. They spent so much money that when they decided to bring more white kids to the city's schools, they didn't have to resort to busing. Instead, they paid for 120 taxis. Taxis!

    What did spending billions more accomplish? The schools got worse. In 2000, five years and $2 billion later, the Kansas City school district failed 11 performance standards and lost its academic accreditation for the first time in the district's history."

    Yes, they learned how to waste a lot of public money all while not improving student performance.

    Here is another argument against spending more money. If spending more money will help then how is it possible for other nations, which spend far less on their students, to routinely outperform American students?

    Furthermore, Jay Greene, author of "Education Myths" has this to say, "If money were the solution the problem would already be solved…We've doubled per pupil spending, adjusting for inflation over the last 30 years and yet schools aren't better."

    Here's the simple truth. Just like my government run grocery store idea would be inefficient at delivering quality products at reasonable prices to store shelves in our neighborhood, our current method of running public schools is not the most efficient way to educate our children. And I'm afraid it shows. Monopolies are not efficient. Competition is stifled and government agencies waste money. The laws of capitalism and free markets, the very engines that drive our current economy to the envy of the world, are squashed in favor of mediocrity.

    Ask yourself what does the government run efficiently? The IRS? Immigration? Or maybe the long lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles. We all know the government is excellent at wasting your money. Putting bureaucrats and large sums of your tax money in the same room is a sure fire formula for waste. Couple that with a monopoly which ensures lack of competition and death to innovation and what do you have? Our public schools.

    In America we have an abundance of choice on where we can live, what we eat, the type of job we want to do, where to vacation, what music we listen to, our healthcare, what car to drive, where to shop but when it comes to our children's education your choices can be very limiting.

    A possible solution to ease the problem might be to interject some market competition and free choice. Enter the school voucher.

    ‘Vouchers’ are a means of implementing school choice. That is, parents are given a ‘voucher’ by the school district, which entitles them to, say, $5,000 that can be applied to their school of choice. So, if you want to send your kid to a private school this voucher can be applied to the tuition. The value of the voucher is generally lower than the cost of one year of public education.

    But guess who stand in the way of you using your own tax money to send your kids to a school of choice?

    Yes, that was our good friend Hillary Clinton speaking in February 2006 about the dangers of parents sending their kids to a school of their choice. Clinton, uses scare tactics to give the impression that kids will be sent to “School of the Church of the White Supremacist” or the “School of the Jihad.”

    School vouchers would be used to send kids to accredited schools. Just like private schools operate today. There are no accredited private schools called “School of the Church of the White Supremacist” or the “School of the Jihad” operating in America. I think she is confusing America with Iran. The only difference with a voucher program is the parents get some tax money to help pay for the tuition. In many, many cases the government would be returning your own hard earned money. Remember, that $7000 per student is tax money collected from you – whether you send your kids to public schools or not. If you make the choice to send your kids to private schools – are you not entitled to have your own money returned?

    Anything that takes money away from the government pisses Democrats and liberals off. They hated Bush’s social security reform because it provided the option of choice by allowing you to take a lousy 2% of your own money from the pockets of politicians – placing back into your hands. They hate that. They harp about Bush’s tax cuts. And they dislike returning your money for sending your kids to a school of your choice.

    In a recent example in Florida, Republican Gov. Jeb Bush offered students whose public schools fail the state's grading system at least twice in four years the opportunity to take advantage of a voucher program called "Opportunity Scholarships". The students could use the money toward tuition at private schools, including religious ones.

    Palm Beach County Republican Party Chairman said, "School choice is the civil rights issue of the 21st century,"

    But opponents say the vouchers siphon state money from precisely the public schools that most need it, funneling it instead into private schools that don't have to meet state standards.

    Hillary Clinton makes the same case on her senatorial web site; “In addition, I strongly oppose voucher schemes that divert precious resources away from financially strapped public schools to private schools that are not subject to the same accountability standards."

    Florida ACLU director Howard Simon makes it clear that returning money to the people is not the right answer but, “to get about the difficult business of improving the public schools for everyone.”

    Translation: I don't want to erode the government monopoly or the power of the teachers union.

    Well ACLU and Hillary Clinton not everyone wants their kids sent to a school that performs poorly. Why should parents settle for a school that is failing them? Whose money are we spending anyway? The people’s!

    Furthermore why reward failing schools? In the business world a company severs the people and it must continue to serve the people better and better or else it will die. But in this case we reward poor schools by throwing more money at them. How much sense does that make?

    Well after a six-year legal fight, the FL state Supreme Court struck down the voucher program just last month. Bush and some influential Republican legislators have vowed to revive them. You can bet Democrats and the ACLU will be their to stop them.

    The message today is clear. When politicians discuss plans about reforming our public school system with vouchers or tax breaks listen to the democrats whine. The so-called party of choice does not want to empower you with choice. In their world the government knows best how to spend your money. Government knows best on where your kids should go to school.
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

  2. #2
    Atomic Punk
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    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk
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    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

  4. #4
    Baluchitherium loveevhsince79's Avatar
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    Default

    They need to take a look at the school's in Switzerland. The voucher's would provide the same benefit. And as far as Hillary saying the private schools don't have to meet the same standards, who is going to send their kid to a school that's worse than the one they currently attend? If I had a choice, I'd do a little research and find out which school's students have the best SAT scores for college and use that as a gauge. How's that for a standard test?

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    Atomic Punk MikeL's Avatar
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    The fire department would seem to be a government monopoly, too. I'd like the option of having my home served by a different fire department, and feel that I should have choice in the matter. Could I contract with a private fire department? Of course, but I don't want to pay for both. I would like a voucher.

  6. #6
    carpe damn diem billy007's Avatar
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    Default

    You have a point, but you rarely hear a complaint about the local fire departments.

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    Atomic Punk MikeL's Avatar
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    There's probably a reason for that. Expand the idea to your municipal water, streets, police, what have you. They're government functions, just as education is. Why? Because as a society they serve the collective good.

    The solution to fixing schools isn't found in stripping money from the system. It's found in parental and civic involvement. Electing the right school board candidates and being involved in what goes on in a school is a good first step. That can make a difference. The real difference is parental involvement with their kids. Schools are seen as a babysitter. They spend more and more time teaching manners rather than academics. Parents have forgotten their roles.

    How do we, as a society, fix that?

  8. #8
    Baluchitherium mistere's Avatar
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    Default Is our children learning?

    I think we are now reaping the manifestations of our educational crisis,
    if you will (hell, even if you won't). Years, decades of underfunding, gutting
    of essential programs, and what amounts to affirmative action in testing
    have played a large role in where we are socially and politically today.

    I leave it up to you guys to extrapolate just how much of this institutionalized
    idiocy is intentionally implemented in order to dumb down the electorate so
    they might keep consuming stupid products, voting against their interests,
    and become increasingly easy to scare and manipulate (homos! mushroom
    clouds! orange fucking alert! oh my!). Ford, you got yer ears on?
    Last edited by mistere; 05.18.06 at 12:12 PM.

  9. #9
    Damage your reputation seenbad's Avatar
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    12.15.17 @ 10:48 AM
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeL
    They spend more and more time teaching manners rather than academics. Parents have forgotten their roles.

    How do we, as a society, fix that?
    Fine, but unlike Fire/Water/Sewer/Police, childrens education has a direct and impacting effect on our future, their future, and Americas future. If my public School fucking sucks ass (and in our district, it actually doesn't), then I think it's in everybody's rights to demand choice. In fact, it's not just within rights, it's within our best interest to do so. This guy nails it perfectly. We are the best decision makers on where our money is best spent. If people feel they should have choice on where tax dollars are spent, then that's what they should have. It is not the govt's money or decision to make for us! How many generations of sociological tinkering would it take to make a drop in the bucket towards the ambiguous "root" problem your talking about? We have a working society where it's almost required to have both parents (if there are actually two) work to achieve a standard of life that is acceptable in the cities. Problems you're talking about stem from that probably first and foremost. These things aren't going to be just "fixed". You can make a call to arms for people to take ownership of these kinds of problems, but they won't. Society is changing and the gov't needs to also. People are being heard more and more on the voucher subject. It simply has to happen. Its the right thing to do. Why? Because we, with our tax money say so and that's all that needs to be said. That in itself requires a response from the government we control.
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    Baluchitherium Guitar Shark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seenbad
    Society is changing and the gov't needs to also. People are being heard more and more on the voucher subject. It simply has to happen. Its the right thing to do.
    Kinda like civil unions for gay people, right? No?

    In all seriousness that was a solid post seen. I actually agree with you on this issue.

  11. #11
    Atomic Punk MikeL's Avatar
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    Seen, you're talking about the desirability of local control, yet you're looking for a federal or state solution. There's a bit of a disconnect there, and you miss the very best way to use local control--the school board.

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    Damage your reputation seenbad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Shark
    Kinda like civil unions for gay people, right? No?

    In all seriousness that was a solid post seen. I actually agree with you on this issue.

    I have no problem with a civil union for gays. I have a problem with marriage for gays.
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    carpe damn diem billy007's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeL
    There's probably a reason for that. Expand the idea to your municipal water, streets, police, what have you. They're government functions, just as education is. Why? Because as a society they serve the collective good.

    The solution to fixing schools isn't found in stripping money from the system. It's found in parental and civic involvement. Electing the right school board candidates and being involved in what goes on in a school is a good first step. That can make a difference. The real difference is parental involvement with their kids. Schools are seen as a babysitter. They spend more and more time teaching manners rather than academics. Parents have forgotten their roles.

    How do we, as a society, fix that?
    But I don't have to get involved with my water, streets, police and fire departments, and yet they seem to do a fine job. While I agree there are parents (myself included sometimes) that could do a better job of being involved with their kids, I still don't think the way schools are operated right now is the best. They talk about class over crowding, yet I look at my old class photos and there were more people in my classes than are in my kids classes today. I drove by my old high school several years ago and was appalled to see portables out on the lawn. I look at the population of that school and it's barely more than what was there when I attended, possibly even less. Certainly not enough to require multiple portables on the lawn. My kids get out of school next Tuesday, but as far as I'm concerned they could be out already - this whole month seems as if it's been nothing but field trips and end of year parties. Send in $5 for this, $3 for that... Ridiculous. And we're not even talking field trips to musuems and such - my oldest went last Friday to Islands of Adventure - a damn amusement park. What was the lesson supposed to be there - how to overspend your parents' money on overpriced food? I can't even remember but 3 or 4 field trips the entire 13 years I went to school, the three of them have done that many each just this school year! And the first half of a year is basically spent getting them ready for a standardised test. It's all a big joke and I'll be glad when it's over in 11 years (or less).

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    Damage your reputation seenbad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeL
    Seen, you're talking about the desirability of local control, yet you're looking for a federal or state solution. There's a bit of a disconnect there, and you miss the very best way to use local control--the school board.
    Not sure I agree with you. I do see what it is you're saying, but most school boards representing schools that are AFU have succumbed to a system of waste and severe lack of accountability for reasons that the author of the article above articulates quite well. I see DOLLARS (in the form of vouchers) as the local control, redirecting money to alternative sources of education that are ready and willing to compete for parents money to teach their kids with excellence. Big brother can still be appeased by enforcing minimum standards be met just as they are doing now.

    I do see what you're saying but people want, desire and have a choice and a say on what's best for their kids and use of money for them though, and it's manifesting itself in this. I say yippee and don't waste another minute with the red tape.
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    Atomic Punk MikeL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seenbad
    I do see what you're saying but people want, desire and have a choice and a say on what's best for their kids and use of money for them though, and it's manifesting itself in this. I say yippee and don't waste another minute with the red tape.
    Which isn't too surprising, given that people vastly prefer quick and dirty solutions that don't actually address the problem. Everybody wants and feels entitled to someone else taking care of things.

    School boards, in my experience, are responsive to people when people actually engage them. There's a certain amount of minimum effort required. The character of the board is what people want it to be, as expressed through voting.

    Knee-jerk answers just don't cut it. You can't have a system remain viable when money is stripped from it at unpredictable times and rates. More than that, you can't build two systems for the price of one. There are alternatives available--more alternatives than ever--and if people want to use them they should. Otherwise... complaints without action are meaningless.

 

 

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