05 November 2007

We Like Oreos and Vouchers

A recent ad by the pro-voucherers uses oreos to illustrate a basic fact about Referendum 1: the state of Utah spends roughly $7500 per student, per year. The largest voucher is $3000. Even assuming that every student received the largest voucher possible (the average voucher is estimated to be just $2000), that would still leave $4500 in the system. That's $4500 dollars for fewer students.

Let's also assume, as one friend who opposes vouchers suggested, that 30-50% of the $7500 paid per student went to some fixed cost like utilities or facilities. In fact, let's use the larger number--50% of the original $7500. Halving our $7500 leaves us with $3750. Even if every student took the largest voucher amount possible--$3000--that still leaves public schools with an additional $750 after allowing for fixed costs. But all of this is a waste of time in debunking the deliberate deception of teacher's unions. They know that for at least the first 5 years, the money for vouchers will come from the general fund, and not from monies allotted for education in the state of Utah. So when students leave their public schools, they aren't taking any of the $7500. Every last cent stays behind to fund a behemoth monopoly which has no incentive to change or improve and, as we cited in our last post, educates Utah's children worse than any other state with similar demographics.

We suspect that the real reason teachers oppose vouchers--you know, besides the fact that it threatens their monopoly--is because after 5 years, when the results of Utah's vouchers begin to be known, parents of children will wonder how it is that private schools, operating with far fewer dollars per student, far out performed the still failing Utah public schools. They'll wonder why they're still paying in excess of $7500 per student, only to see the same old poor test results and the same grad rates for minority students. Remember the minority students? The ones who really want this measure to pass? And why do they want it to pass? Because 43% of their children don't graduate from high school. And that's just completely unacceptable.

The time has come for Utah voters to say with one voice to their failing public schools: You've had your chance and you failed our students. It's time to give vouchers a chance.

*Additional reading: Professor Clayne L. Pope - Educate, don't brainwash
**Even more reading: The Wall Street Journal - The Union Libel (subscription required)

***Update: Cougarboard discussion thread.


If you have tips, questions, comments, suggestions, or requests for subscription only articles, email us at lybberty@gmail.com.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Hey Jake,

Good meeting you again at the debate. Figured I better check in on the blog and see what you really thought...

I take issue with only one paragraph. Your wrote "We suspect that the real reason teachers oppose vouchers--you know, besides the fact that it threatens their monopoly--is because after 5 years, when the results of Utah's vouchers begin to be known, parents of children will wonder how it is that private schools, operating with far fewer dollars per student, far out performed the still failing Utah public schools. They'll wonder why they're still paying in excess of $7500 per student, only to see the same old poor test results and the same grad rates for minority students. Remember the minority students? The ones who really want this measure to pass? And why do they want it to pass? Because 43% of their children don't graduate from high school. And that's just completely unacceptable."

Sounds like we have ourselves a new Paul Mero fan... Do you have any research that backs these claims up? I don't buy it, but perhaps there is some research that suggest otherwise? Research that doesn't come from Sutherland Institute? I'll be honest, I'm not a Mero/Byrne fan at all, and think they come off as elitist and condescending.

You're claims that the Utah public schools are failing smacks of propaganda and fear mongering. The public schools aren't doing poorly. Average? Perhaps. But poorly? Nope, not even close. They are only doing poorly when you believe that if you aren't first, you're last.

Mero and Byrne love to point out how the minorities are being left behind. They fail to mention that about 10 percent of the students are minority, and 43 percent of those 10 percent are being "failed" by the system. That is only 4.3 percent of all the entire population we are talking about. You and I both know it isn't the "system" that is failing those children. It is a combination of many factors, the public education system which is the least of them.

StatCounter