School choice for me, but not for thee

School choice for me, but not for thee

In case you didn’t know, the House passed another spending bonanza. House Republicans apparently didn’t feel the need to take another stand against a pork-filled disaster, as sixteen Republicans voted for it… and twenty Democrats voted against it.

Nice. And we were all so proud of them… way to undo all of that goodwill you just garnered for yourselves, guys. Smart thinking. Did those sixteen not understand the reaction that Senators Snowe, Collins, and Specter got for their failure to vote against this kind of nonsense? In any case, Porkulus v1.0 was not good enough, as anyone with a brain stem could’ve told you, and now we are apparently going to get another $410 billion tacked on to the debt we taxpayers must pay off.

Best of all, buried in Porkulus v2.0 is a cancellation of the DC area school choice. Funny, because liberals are the ones that like to blather on about how important choice is, but I guess that’s only relevant to abortion, huh? When it comes to how you educate your children, liberals don’t want you to have any choice whatsoever.

Barack Obama sends his children, Sasha and Malia, to Sidwell Friends, a private institution. The bill for the 2008 – 2009 school year is around $30,000. Now, I’m not arguing that Barack Obama shouldn’t be able to send his children to whatever school he feels is best for them — only that he should give everyday parents the ability to do the same. If he wants to force DC parents into sending their children to public schools — after all, most of us cannot afford $60,000 a year in tuition — then why should he not send his daughters to public schools, too? The school voucher program lets parents exercise the same choice in education for their children that Obama so enjoys, yet Democrats want to deprive parents of that opportunity. Meanwhile, the American educational system gets worse every year.

But then again, Obama doesn’t have to worry about that, does he? His girls will never have to be stuck in abysmal DC public schools. That’s a fate he only wishes upon us everyday American taxpayers.

Hat Tip: Michelle Malkin

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  • Brandon says:

    As an educator the biggest problem with school vouchers is what they DON’T tell you about them. A voucher gives you credit to use towards a private or parochial education and a majority of the time it does not cover the amount of tuition let alone other fees and expenses. Additionally, transportation for students is not included, so the students who would benefit most (low income, single-parent, multiple job homes) could not get to the the better school that is all the way across town (private schools rarely set up shop in the low rent districts). Places with mass transit like Chicago and NY might have some advantage in this, but down south where everything is spread out, forget it. Also, these schools have limited enrollment, and are often very selective about whom they admit. So, a student who needs help or is behind will often not be admitted for fear of making the school look bad. Combine that with the fact that schools are funded based on enrollment and you have money being taken away from schools that are already woefully underequipped to meet the demands of today’s high tech, information saturated world. In the end, the only people this helps are the one’s who don’t really need help, ie. people already in private schools, the upper-middle and upper classes, or successful students with supportive home lives.

    We need to provide funding where it is needed and get more, better teachers to the places of sorest need. Also, holding parents and students responsible for education, not just teachers, would be a big step. It’s tough to teach a child who makes more money than I do by slinging crack on the corner, or a child who is so undernourished he can barely focus. And the list goes on and on and on…

    So, in reality, school vouchers only present the ILLUSION of choice, but offer no real change for students who need it most.

    Brandon – NC

  • Steve says:

    Brandon, your argument presupposes that the amount of funding a school requires is independent of enrollment. This is the favorite tactic of the anti-voucher crowd. For every student removed from the ineffective public school system, the school itself requires less money. Moving a child from the public to private school system using vouchers does not just remove tax dollars from the school system, it removes a consumer of the dollars from the system. Taking the point to the extreme, if 100% of public school children were able to attend charter or parochial schools, the amount of funding the public schools require is $0.

    Further, there has never been a single peer-reviewed study published which purports that higher per-pupil spending results in better schools. In fact, every study ever published shows just the opposite. This is because in the public school system, more than 50% of all money goes to fund the bureaucracy, not the students or classroom instruction. Contrast this with parochial schools which average in the high 80s.

    The biggest barrier to the success of the schools is the teachers union with their draconian rules as to who is allowed to become a teacher and their endless drain on the public school finances to fund their monopoly.

    There are plenty of stories about dot com millionaires who are experts at math and science wanting to teach those classes in high schools but are prevented by the union. I’d rather have any veteran teach American history, whether or not the vet had a college degree. People motivated by desire and pride…those are precisely the people that you want teaching the kids.

  • Mark says:

    Cassy, you’re the first person I ever heard speak of a catholic school upbringing without the usual blather about how messed up it made you.

  • Brandon says:

    Steve, your assuming a one-to-one correlation between tax revenue and per-pupil spending. There are certain costs which are fixed, regardless of enrollment. Utilities for schools, employee salaries, construction costs, etc. So, by diminishing this income it makes it that much harder to meet the schools’ needs. Also, I’m not suggesting that more money equals better students. I’m saying that in places like mine, where all schools are given money based on #’s of students rather than necessity, it results in an imbalance. Some places require more than others, ESL teachers, support staff, assistive technology, afterschool care, etc. Also, giving incentives to teachers to work at lower performing schools helps pull better teachers into them. What will happen with vouchers is that the better off students will leave… leaving behind the students that are in most need of support with less.

    Additionally, private schools have less overhead because they pay substantially less money to their faculty and do not provide benefits, especially at parochial schools where many times unpaid volunteers or church officials (nuns/priests/et al.) who do not require a salary. They frequently do not offer sports, clubs, or other activities that create well rounded students.

    Also, as someone who is a member and school representative of an association (we don’t have “unions” in NC), we do not discourage people from the private sector entering teaching, in fact we encourage it. Teachers must have certification and have a degree in the area in which they teach… that is a state requirement, not a union one. About 20% of the teachers at my school have come from the private sector. Also, unions are entirely funded by members. They protect the right of employees from unfair treatment, frivolous lawsuits, and other problems in the workplace.

    Also, teachers in non-union states have far less freedom in their jobs. We cannot negotiate our salaries unlike almost any other profession. We are forced to accept what the state offers, unlike union states who can negotiate their contracts. We can be forced to take on addtional non-instructional duties without pay or face termination. And since you may be buying in to the tired old argument that teacher’s unions only want to protect bad teachers, this is an outright LIE. As a representative, I can tell you I am the first person to want bad teachers GONE. Having said that, all teachers deserve representation when a disciplinary action is filed, just like all accused persons have the right to an attorney. Everyone gets a fair shake. And why is it that you always hear about bad teachers, but never seem to hear anything about those the hired them? Don’t administrators and Board of Education members bear responsibility for allowing underqualified/incompetent people into the classroom?

    But that’s what happens when you cut teachers’ salaries. They leave. Your left with underqualified people who are willing to accept such meager wages. Why do you think people at the drive through counters are rude or inconsiderate or plain stupid? They’re making $6/hr! Pay more and you can be selective about who you hire. Pay people what they’re worth and you’ll get someone worth keeping.

    Lastly, in what may be my longest online post ever, I have no control over what kinds of students walk through my door. Poor, hungry, emotionally disturbed, violent, poorly raised, ignorant, criminal, drug addled, etc. etc. etc. Sometimes they’re great, others they are the stuff of nightmares. I cannot turn them away. I am not allowed to. I have to take them all unquestioningly and try to create a ‘perfect’ pupil. And if I don’t… I get blamed. I work with broken students, broken equipment, few books, absentee parents, and superiors who only care about raising test scores at all costs. A winemaker gets bad grapes he throws them out… not me. I have to make wine out of sweet and sour grapes.

    I am trying to make a difference. I need a little help here.


  • Ron S. says:


    Let me respond to your longest online post with one of my shortest.

    1. There is no evidence to suggest education improvement is directly proprtional to the amount of money spent per pupil.
    2. The largest teacher union is the NEA. NEA stands for National Education Association A union is a union whether you call it one or not.
    3. If the only reason you are in education is for the money you are in education for the wrong reasons. Bad teachers are bad teachers no matter how much you pay them.

    Brandon, you are trying to make a difference and I am glad you are trying to do so. However, please don’t repeat the tired worn out failed idea that more money and bigger programs are the solution. The evidence is against it.


  • Matt says:

    I guess Brandon didn’t read today’s post…the one about the school(s) showing “Rent.” Apparently the school forces him to work with “broken students, broken equipment, few books, absentee parents, and superiors who only care about raising test scores at all costs” but it’s got enough money to put on some disgusting musical which promotes alternative lifestyles.

    Amusing. That’s all I can say.

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