Thursday, November 01, 2007

voucher dishonesty goes national

George Will, a conservative columnist for the Washington Post and talking head on ABC's "This Week," wrote yet another disingenuous column today about Utah's voucher referendum. I am sure it will show up in Utah papers today or tomorrow. Let's take it down one lie and smear at a time.
There [Utah], teachers unions, whose idea of progress is preservation of the status quo, are waging an expensive and meretricious campaign to overturn the right of parents to choose among competing schools, public and private, for the best education for their children.
My idea of progress is when things improve. So if vouchers will not improve our children's education--and a study by a conservative once pro-voucher think tank in Milwaukee shows they don't--then change for the sake of reform is not "progressive."

Will also conveniently forgets that this bill was pushed first by outside groups and is opposed by a solid 60 percent of Utahns--the only state that still gives Bush a positive job rating.
And every Utah voucher increases funds available for public education. Here is how:

Utah spends more than $7,500 per public school pupil ($3,000 more than the average private school tuition). The average voucher will be for less than $2,000. So every voucher that is used -- by parents willing to receive $2,000 rather than $7,500 of government support for the education of their child -- will save Utah taxpayers an average of $5,500. And because the vouchers are paid from general revenue, the departed pupil's $7,500 stays in the public school system.
So many lies in such a short space, that merits an award in rightwing shilling. First, he uses the highest public school spending number from Park City School District ($7,500) while simultaneously using the artificially low and cherry picked "average" private school tuition ($3,000). The real average private school tuition is nearly $8,000 according to the Deseret News. And the real public school spending is lower as well--the US Census places Utah again as the lowest in the nation this year with $5,257.

Again, Will "just so happens" to omit the fact that over time, the bill would raid public school money for vouchers, and the problem would get progressively worse. As others has better explained than I, schools have fixed costs that can't easily be reduced when a handful of students leave a private school for a public school.

But wait, there is still more inches to fill in his collumn, so Will manages to squeeze in a few more lies.
Utah's Office of Education reports that the state's private schools -- which are operating one-third below full enrollment -- have a higher percentage of nonwhites than do public schools.
Private schools in Utah are not at a third capacity, rather they are nearly full. From the Deseret News:
Of note, many private schools could not accommodate many more students if they wanted to take advantage of vouchers to enroll.

For example, the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Salt Lake, the largest private school system in the state with 5,407 students in 14 schools, estimates it has capacity to add only 317 more elementary/middle school students and 373 high school students.

Current capacity at its schools ranges from a high of 101 percent (at both the St. John the Baptist elementary and middle schools in Draper) to a low of 68 percent (at St. Olaf school in Bountiful,) according to data provided by the diocese.
I won't even bother with the diatribe against Teachers' Unions, only to say that he doesn't mention the out of state money coming in defense of vouchers from Amway founders etc. Oh and when you are calling someone else's arguments "threadbare," Mr. Will, you might want to make sure yours aren't full of crap themselves.


Jennifer Killpack-Knutsen said...

excellent work 3rd Ave!

Rob said...

Great Post!

B. Disraeli said...


Or, The Intellectual Dishonesty And Irrationality Of Voucher Opponents

First of all, parents have the primary responsibility for their children's education and it should be their choice where they spend their money to educate their children.

The compulsory public school system is a failed experiment of the progressive era of American history and it must be relegated to the trash bin of history. If public education continued on the path of the vision of founders like Horace Mann, then it may have provided an effective means of cost-effective and mass-education for the public. However, the driving vision of the modern American public education system has been the NEA's patron "anti-saint", John Dewey. Further, I am tired of the post-modern American attitude of entitlement infecting our thinking about government revenue and expenditure: We shouldn't have to beg to receive our money back from what is a supposedly voluntary contribution to the government when a failing assessment is made about government schools.

Children are spending an increasing amount of their day away from home and at school, but educational standards and exam results are in decline. Schools have become indoctrination camps for the forces of multiculturalism, diversity, and tolerance. However, we have been promised diversity and received perversity. Interestingly, this was the perverse vision of John Dewey.

Boston University Professor M. D. Aeschliman wrote in Permanent Revolution, "As Diane Ravitch and E. D. Hirsch have noted, the 80-year dominance of Dewey's "Progressive" ideas -- almost indelibly institutionalized in the world of teachers' colleges, teachers' unions, and certification procedures -- has been a gross failure in terms of the educational levels and competences of our public-school graduates. "Standards-based" education reforms at the state level and the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, whatever their defects or difficulties, are well-warranted responses by parents, citizens, and legislators to generations of scholastic decline that have left many of our children and young adults not only functionally incompetent and quasi-illiterate but also vulnerable to an unprecedented tide of polluted cultural effluvia. The "child-centered school" has helped give birth to an infantile culture -- one that threatens the very capacity of the American republic to retain and convey its economic accomplishments, social decencies, and civic self-understanding."

Read about the destructive legacy of John Dewey, state schools, and the so-called Progressive Era of American politics in this book: John Dewey & the Decline of American Education: How the Patron Saint of Schools Has Corrupted Teaching and Learning, by Henry T. Edmondson III (ISI, 147 pp., $15)