He’s not heavy, he’s my brother: community and public education

The Utah legislature has recently passed a broad-based school voucher bill that may or may not be constitutional and may or may not be subjected to direct public vote. This has been something of a shock to me, given my longstanding roots in the Northeast where, at least perceptually, this was not even on the horizon.

Rather than play my reactionary card aggressively, I’ve been trying to understand more about what motivates this kind of a proposal. I focus on my perceptions of those in favor of vouchers because I have not historically been able to understand them. Certainly I see some anger at government (and teacher’s unions, though this is harder to say out loud for many people), an ethos that rejects legal and administrative solutions to public problems. I see some clear benefit for “entrepreneurs” eager to open new schools and receive government support for their new business (though in light of the first point, I’m left a little confused). I also see frustration with the current state of education, a perception that public schools expose children to morally dubious influences and deliver poor training. I also see, though this will be controversial, some racism, a perception that Latino/Hispanic or Afro-American students are associated with violence, illiteracy, unacceptable sexual practices. The terms used to express this complex racism are “gangs” and “teen pregnancy” and “gun violence” (though Utah has a complex relationship to guns), but in many cases this seems to be a racism born of great fear and anxiety about the fate of one’s children rather than the stereotyped malevolence that we on the Left are sometimes prone to impute to those who express these ideas. As horrible as racism can be, I think that ignoring the fear that underlies it would be equally disastrous, and people have a right to attempt to care for their children as they see fit within certain basic norms.

I also hear language about just deserts and a strong aversion to free riders, people hoping to scam a system. I struggle to understand how language like that, expression of these ideas about personal responsibility and just deserts could possibly apply to children, even if you allow them to inform your social policy toward adults. Surely children should not be cursed to punish their parents.

Note, though, that most of these are arguments in favor of private (ie socioeconomically segregated) schools, not in favor of vouchers (a public subsidy of a private venture) per se. Though I prefer (and attended until college) public schools, I certainly can see reasons that people would want to send their children there or attend them personally.

In favor of vouchers per se, I think I detect a frustration that people are double-paying, that through their property taxes they are funding both private school for their own children and the public school which their children do not attend, like the checkout counter charging you for all your groceries but holding back half of them. Here I find myself much less able to listen sympathetically for moral and religious reasons, in addition to practical considerations.

A voucher proposal says in essence, “I contribute to the education system exclusively (or primarily) so that they will educate my child.” An anti-voucher proposal responds, “We all are responsible for the children of our community, whether we are childless or single, working or retired, have one child or ten. Our commitment to each other and our society requires that every child have a quality education.” It seems to me to boil down to this central dispute, and I have trouble understanding how to reconcile this solution with a Christian moral philosophy (this issue is often tied to the Religious Right, which has funneled a great deal of resources according to prevalent rumors into Utah).

(Incidentally, a voucher system which provided sufficient funding for any desirous person to attend the school of their choice would still be public education, and if properly regulated to avoid fraud, “cherry-picking” and low educational standards, arguably is morally quite different from standard voucher proposals. It would likely be more expensive than the alternatives and would potentially disrupt teachers’ ability to make a living, but it would not be morally suspect in the same way.)


  1. “A voucher proposal says in essence, ‘I contribute to the education system exclusively (or primarily) so that they will educate my child.'” Could you fill in how you derive this from a proposal that doesn’t change how people are taxed, but only how the taxes are spent?

  2. JM, remember that I refer to voucher systems that do not guarantee full access to all. Voucher systems amount to tax rebates or credits to individuals opting to leave public education. The clear implication is if your child is not in public education, you should be receiving back the tax money you spent in support of public education. These are not general grants to charter schools to encourage innovation in education, they are “vouchers” given to specific private individuals hoping to depart the public school system.

    I’m hoping to be open to other people’s arguments on this issue, but this seems quite clear to me.

  3. I don’t see racism. I see classism.

  4. Sam MB,
    The Atlantic had an interesting article a couple months ago about rebuilding the school system in New Orleans, post-Katrina. It spoke favorably of some sort of voucher system, IIRC (maybe it was a charter school–I admit to not completely understanding the difference).

    Essentially, the article says, Katrina broke the stranglehold that a corrupt teachers’ union (note that I’m not suggesting that teachers’ unions are all corrupt, or even that the New Orleans one was, although the article comes out and says it was) and is allowing significant experimentation, and it talks about three or four educational innovators who are trying to fix education there, especially for the poor kids who lived in the 9th ward.

    I was especially interested because my wife and I went there for a week with a group from NYU; my wife helped lead a conference for dance teachers, and I nannied our daughter.

    Although I’m wary of vouchers, and also went to public schools until college, the article offered some situations in which they may be a good thing. (And I’m sorry to be so vague, but it’s been months since I read it, and I’m at work now.)

  5. Putting Utah aside and discussing say Milwaukee’s succesful voucher program I see an attempt to help poor minority students get a better education rather then trapping them in a failing system.

    Most white upper class children are in Public schools in the suburbs. Very few of them will use vouchers to escape a well run local HS. Why would they?

    I would bet that very few Utah parents use the vouchers.

  6. Sam B, the implication is clear to you, but not to me. All of us, whether we have children or not, had them decades ago or never will, finance the education of all children through our taxes. Take school financing in Michigan: Two-thirds of each districts funding is a per capita allotment from the state budget. If a child moves from Lansing to Grand Rapids, so does the state allotment. That doesn’t mean that the legislature or the taxpayers only care about Grand Rapids and don’t love Lansing.

  7. The above should have been addressed to Sam MB rather than Sam B.

  8. I believe that the Church doesn’t really support school vouchers so I agree that it will be interesting to see if Utah parents really go for this.

    Sam, I’m not sure I’m following you on the idea that people who don’t use the vouchers should get tax money back. Their tax money is being used to pay for the public schools that their children are staying in.

  9. Ryan Bell says:

    “The clear implication is if your child is not in public education, you should be receiving back the money you spent in support of public education.”

    Sam, I understand that there are a few who make this point, but only a few. First of all, no one is arguing that the childless couple should not be taxed to support public education, so the idea you’re stating is clearly not so broad as you make it. Second of all, most of those who support voucher systems would phrase the concern differently: “If I am paying money into public education for my child, I should have some say in how and where that education is given.”

    As for your pondering above about what could possibly motivate those who have voted for this program, I can give a limited answer. I am close to one legislator who supported it, and he was motivated by a belief (which I share) that competition and private enterprise in education are likely to solve more problems than they cause.
    Literally, in this legislator’s view, and that of many others I am aware of, the motivation has nothing to do with helping parents of private schools avoid double-paying or any other parochial interest. It is the belief that this might work, and the schools might improve as a result, helping everyone across the board. At least for many legislators (as opposed to the more vehement interest groups on each side) this is a good faith program, intended to bring about improvement. The search for hidden motives is unproductive in my view.

  10. Sam, sometimes when people are worried about gangs and teen pregnancy, they are really worried about gangs and teen pregnancy, not using those terms as code words for racist sentiment.

    Also, my impression from people who tout school vouchers is that they think that it is a solution for poor families in areas with bad public schools. Your racist argument fails precisely because if minorities are living in such areas, the theory is that they stand to benefit as much as white people living in those areas from a school voucher program.

  11. Sam, your post makes it seem like you think that the school voucher proposal is something for the rich parents of kids who are already attending private schools to help them avoid double-paying. That seems an extraordinarily cynical view. I had never thought of a school voucher system in this way. Rather, I thought that the purpose of school vouchers was so that the less economically well off parents could choose to send their children to some other school than the failing public school in their neighborhood, i.e., parents who couldn’t normally afford a private, parhocial, or charter school would be able to have that as an option, whereas it has always been an option for rich people.

  12. greenfrog says:

    Are there any reasonably good studies on those areas with vouchers to indicate one way or the other the extent to which those opting for voucher-paid private schools fit a particular economic or racial demographic?

    I know that some of the private schools that accept vouchers also entail tuition costs substantially in excess of the amount of the vouchers. If such practices (prices) predominate (and I haven’t any idea whether they do or not), then you’d expect that participation in the private schools, even with vouchers, would tend to exclude those in lower economic brackets.

  13. john f.,
    Although I’m not the Sam you’re talking to, to counter anecdotal with anecdotal, I do know people (not rich, but comfortably middle-class) who support vouchers because that would prevent them from having to double-pay for private school. I don’t know if that’s a common motivation, but I know it exists.

    The putative purpose is so that kids in failing schools can go to other schools, but I’m not sure whether that will work in practice, especially if the good schools can put up barriers (like, we only have 150 slots, and so you have to test in) to the entrance of kids in failing schools who could benefit from better schools.

    Like I said, it appears that at least one school in New Orleans is succeeding at helping poor children; the anecdotal evidence shows up on both sides, however. I’m sure the results are neither completely good nor completely bad, but I’m not sure, on balance, whether the vouchers help or hurt, on balance (and especially if they help or hurt those for whom private school/moving to a better school district is not an option).

  14. I was addressing smb. I haven’t ever met any rich or middle class people who send their kids to private schools and who say they want to get school vouchers because its like getting their property tax money back since their kids aren’t attending public schools. I am sure that many such people exist — as you’ve pointed out, you know some.

  15. john f,

    Rather, I thought that the purpose of school vouchers was so that the less economically well off parents could choose to send their children to some other school than the failing public school in their neighborhood, i.e., parents who couldn’t normally afford a private, parhocial, or charter school would be able to have that as an option, whereas it has always been an option for rich people.

    I thought I’ve seen evidence that those who are taking advantage of the voucher tend not to be the poor but rather those in the middle class, but I cannot, at this point think of where I saw this.

    Ah, here’s one reference:

    Both Pennsylvania and Florida sold their corporate tuition tax credit programs as a way to help low-income families.9 However, much like other tuition tax credit programs in Arizona and Illinois,10 the corporate tuition tax credit programs mainly serve to subsidize middle-income and wealthier parents. According to an analysis conducted by the Allentown, Pennsylvania Morning Call, many of the state’s private schools accepting tuition tax credit vouchers are situated primarily in middle -class and affluent areas, rather than in the neighborhoods accessible to the most needy children. 11 Similarly, the Business Leaders Organized for Catholic Schools expects that Pennsylvania’s corporate tuition tax credit program will benefit “a broad range of families” including suburban, middle class students already enrolled in Catholic schools.12

    Under Florida’s tuition tax credit legislation, eligibility for a tuition voucher is based on the federal free-and reduced-priced lunch criteria. Under this criterion, half of all Florida elementary school (52.3 percent) and middle school (45.9 percent) students are eligible for a voucher. The legislation also grants vouchers to first time kindergartners and first-graders. One of the state’s largest scholarship funding organizations, Florida Child, states that 41 percent of students

    receiving vouchers (through them) in 2003 are enrolled in either kindergarten or first grade. An analysis by the Palm Beach Post shows that 36 percent of students receiving vouchers would have attended private school regardless of being subsidized. That amounts to more than 5,100 students at a cost of $18.2 million. But because Florida does not collect information on which students receive vouchers,13 the state has no way of knowing how many students currently using vouchers would have attended private school even without the benefit of a state subsidy.

    Additionally, a voucher under Florida’s corporate tuition tax credit program amounts to only $3,500. Parents have to make up the tuition difference at more expensive private schools.14 The annual tuition at the state’s private and religious schools can, and often does, far exceed $3,500. Three years ago, the tuition for private schools accredited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools ranged as high as $21,350. In 2001, tuition at South Florida’s leading private schools ranged from $9,000 to $15,000 each year—books, uniforms, registration fees and other costs can push the total price above $20,000. 15

    At this point, I lean on the idea that vouchers are not really meant for the lower class, but rather for middle class families that would rather not have their children mixed in with the poor class, who tend to be of a different race or ethnic group.

  16. The next section of the research has the following about religious and private schools:

    Federal and state constitutions prohibit, to varying degrees, government funding from subsidizing or advancing religion. Some state constitutions include explicit bans on taxpayer funding for religious schools. But even before last year’s Supreme Court ruling (Zelman v. Simmons-Harris) which opened the door to funding voucher programs that primarily benefit religious schools, policymakers had begun to see tuition tax credits as an indirect alternative means to reaching the same goal—diverting public education funds to religious and other private schools.

    In fact, much of the public tax funding being funneled to private schools through corporate tuition tax credit programs benefits religious schools. According to the executive director of the Pennsylvania School Reform Network, a group that opposes vouchers, the state’s corporate tuition tax credit scheme is “flatout, a subsidy for religious instruction.” The analysis by the Morning Call found that of the 20 scholarship organizations in Pennsylvania receiving the most corporate donations, 16 provided students with vouchers primarily benefiting religious schools (see Appendix C for more information). In the first year of Pennsylvania’s tuition tax credit voucher program, almost three-fourths of all corporate contributions —or $13.6 million—was donated to scholarship organizations which in turn provided vouchers that directly supported religious schools.16

    The Morning Call analysis also found that most of the vouchers were being given to students already enrolled in private and religious schools. For example, according to the Allentown Diocese, only 30 percent of all students receiving vouchers were new students. This means that 70 of all vouchers distributed by the scholarship organization were received by students already enrolled in private Catholic schools. Since private schools are not required to track student information, 17 there is no way to tell how many students statewide were already enrolled in private school, but now receive a voucher to continue their private school education. The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh estimates that corporate tuition tax credits will allow one in four students to attend a parochial school. 18 And, Megan Campbell, the administrator for Business Leaders Organized for Catholic Schools explains that the “[corporate tuition tax credit] program is great because it targets all of our students in Catholic schools.”19

    In Pennsylvania, companies are also able to specify the schools that benefit from their tax contribution. 20 In 2002, Hamill Manufacturing contributed $111,000 (for the maximum credit of $100,000) to the Scholastic Opportunity Scholarship Fund—a scholarship organization formed by the Diocese of Pittsburgh—and asked that the contribution be used to benefit students at the company president’s alma mater, Serra Catholic High School. Similarly, the Pittsburgh Jewish Educational Improvement Foundation—founded by the United Jewish Foundation—received $631,122 in corporate contributions in 2002. This money was parlayed into vouchers benefiting four Jewish schools.21

  17. Dan,

    I would suggest that you use sources for your arguments other then “People for the American Way”

    You can go out and find pro-voucher organizations who will have exact opposite conclusions.

    Hence the problem of using advocacy organizations as sources.

  18. Dan wrote At this point, I lean on the idea that vouchers are not really meant for the lower class, but rather for middle class families that would rather not have their children mixed in with the poor class, who tend to be of a different race or ethnic group.

    I strongly disagree with this but don’t have any People for the American Way brochures to quote.

  19. bbell,

    Are their arguments factually incorrect? I’m fine with you trotting out pro-voucher conclusions and we get down to the nitty gritty details and see where the truth lies. Don’t discount the source because you don’t like them. Let’s see the facts.

  20. Ryan Bell says:

    “At this point, I lean on the idea that vouchers are not really meant for the lower class, but for middle class families that would rather not have their children mixed in with the poor class, who tend to be a different race or ethnic group.”

    Seriously, do you really think that’s what is motivating the majority of people who support this? I don’t want my kids to go to school with Mexicans? Yeah, there’s racism out there, but given the existence of obvious and legitimate alternative motives here, I just can’t understand why people want to act like racism is the big driver. Do you disagree that generally people want their kids to go to “good” schools? Do you disagree that “good” for most people will comprise a host of factors, including teachers, facilities, location, community support, etc? Given the clear incentive parents have to supply a quality education to their kids, it’s amazing to me that the critics completely dismiss that as a motivating factor, in favor of shady aspersions of just-below-the-surface racial bigotry.

  21. I’ve enjoyed the feedback.

    I had in mind the middle class primarily in terms of double-payment. They are the ones with just enough resources that inadequate vouchers would allow them to go to private schools. I think this is supported by more powerful people because it binds the middle class into their system, makes them identify with groups that do not have their best interests at heart.

    The problem with john f’s Horatio Alger model of vouchers is that these voucher systems do not provide adequate funding to allow the poor to “opt out” of their system. As I noted in the original post, it would be a different ethical problem if the voucher system were truly universal.

    I think the Horatio Alger model is being invoked to distract people from the actual core of the system.

  22. Sam,

    Vouchers are the K-12 equivalent of Pell Grants. Pell Grants are federal subsidies (vouchers) students can redeem at the university of their choice, whether public, private or parochial.

    Competition among American universities has made the American college system the envy of the world, and reformers want to further weaken the government monopoly on K-12 education to be more like the university system, and believe the best way to foster that competition is by allowing government money to follow K-12 students like it does college students.

  23. I’m neither invoking Horation Alger, trying to distract people from anything, nor advocating school vouchers. I’m surprised at you smb!

  24. Ryan Bell,

    it’s amazing to me that the critics completely dismiss that as a motivating factor, in favor of shady aspersions of just-below-the-surface racial bigotry.

    And it is equally amazing that some completely dismiss the possibility of that being a motivating factor. I said that I’m leaning in that direction, not that the evidence is clearly one way or the other. I really do think that Anglo-Americans still have a “just-below-the-surface racial bigotry.” And it is clear that some have a hard time accepting even the mere possibility of this phenomenon.

  25. regarding the “market” vs “government” motivation, which I believe is present for many who support vouchers, it’s worth a pause.

    Private tends to mean a) lower salaries for teachers, b) more fluid credentialing of teachers, c) greater likelihood that teacher’s unions will be non-existent or powerless, d) extremely strong motivation to avoid or shortchange difficult or expensive students.

    Private also tends to mean greater fluidity of purpose, administration, methodology, and could potentially bear fruit.

    In the Utah case, the voucher system strikes me as a form of industry welfare that seems to me similar to the much-maligned funds diverted to fallow tobacco fields and the like, the use of tax revenue to subsidize private enterprises, though in this case it is diverted through private families (though the money is given to the private schools).

  26. My second paragraph was confusing. Here’s another try:

    Competition among American universities has made the American college system the envy of the world. The American K-12 system, which is almost a government monopoly, is among the worst of industrialized nations. K-12 reformers want to weaken the government monopoly on K-12 education, want to force government schools to compete with private schools, like they do at the university level, and believe the best way to foster that competition is to have government money to follow K-12 students to the school of their choice, like it does college students.

  27. re: racism, it’s a hard issue to sort through. I agree that classism is a strong undercurrent here. I agree that gangs do exist. I am sympathetic to people who worry over the fate of their children. I also feel, with Dan, that it is a demon we still struggle with, and I do worry that at some level this mixture of racism and classism is affecting our thinking about public schools and needs to be addressed as we consider solutions.

  28. Matt #26, you may have a point. The trick is in the implementation, and I believe that the current voucher approaches are a sufficiently wrongheaded implementation that they are immoral.

    If you required private schools to accept all students regardless of how expensive they are to teach (the case with public schools now), you would have a point. The problem is that the strict free market refuses to do so. You see the exact same thing in private medical care, insurance companies dumping people who are difficult to treat any time the government allows them to do so.

  29. That all caucasion Americans are racists “just below the surface” simply because of the color of our skin is a premise I don’t think should be countenanced no matter how sincerely you want school vouchers to be ditched.

  30. john f.

    I don’t know who said “all Caucasian Americans are racists” but there certainly is still a “tendency,” far different than applying that to “all.”

  31. Competition among American universities has made the American college system the envy of the world.

    I think the US graduate school system, to be more precise, Matt.

  32. I agree with SMB (#28). The problem with the criticisms of public education is that those who criticize tend to not want to talk about the elephant in the room. The real problem with the education system is not the education system, nor the teachers, nor the teachers’ union. The problem is the parents. Where are the parents? Why do those who criticize the system say nothing at all about the parents? Perhaps because parents are voters…

    The schools and, more importantly, the students that do the best in their education are the ones where the parents are strongly involved in their children’s educational lives.

  33. I just read Utah’s new voucher law. A couple of features: 1) Only current public school students, children who move into the state, and poor children are eligible for the vouchers. Current private school students in Utah don’t qualify. 2) The amount of the voucher starts at $3,000 per child for the poorest families (household income under $43,290 for a family of five), about 40 per cent of the public school budget per child. The subsidy reduces linearly with increasing family income until reaching the minimum level where a family of five earning $119,048 receives $500 per child.

    An anti-voucher web site complains “Surprisingly, families with six- and seven-figure incomes will be eligible for vouchers of $500 per child!” If it’s a problem that a rich family is reducing state educational expenses by over $7,000 and getting $500 back while putting up thousands of dollars of their own money, then there’s not much basis for reasoned debate.


    Click to access 2007HB0148HB0174VoucherBillText.pdf

  34. Dan, you said it. Nice back-peddling though.

  35. oh, john, now you’re inflamed. i don’t limit racism to caucasians, and i believe it’s something we all struggle with (even on the left), and it’s so closely associated with issues of classism that it’s difficult to disentangle entirely.

    part of my reason for including race in the initial post was the comments that I hear when i listen to people in Utah talk about the public schools. although i am attuned to these issues and probably hear them better than others, i often hear people worry about the hispanicization of the public school system, the people who speak accented or poor English, who don’t care about education, who get pregnant and don’t aspire to college.

    I suspect you would answer that a morally upright, high-performing student born in Mexico who seeks the most out of her education would be welcome at any private school, and that is correct. But that is not evidence of a lack of racism, merely that people who assimilate are treated better than those who don’t. (Again, class is hugely influential in the current American struggle with racism).

  36. Dan wrote The problem is the parents. Where are the parents? Why do those who criticize the system say nothing at all about the parents? Perhaps because parents are voters.

    How can you say something so racist? I am assuming that by this you mean that the parents of kids in failing schools deserve some or most of the blame. Based on previous comments you have made on this thread, you believe that low-income areas in which there are failing schools are often populated by people of ethnicities other than white American. Thus, you are criticizing parents belonging to other ethnicities here.

  37. JM: $3000 is inadequate for actually poor people to participate in private schools, which often involve long commutes and higher tuitions.
    Your response to the $500 for the wealthy doesn’t make much sense. This would appear to be a tax rebate to people who don’t need it. (Remember that the rich are the ones who benefit disproportionately by our rule of law, the court system, most legislation, etc., so invoking the amount paid by the wealthy as a reason it’s okay to siphon off funds from the education system seems ill-advised at best.)

    Incidentally, I will confess that I am wealthy (though rather embarrassed about it), and should I ever, for whatever complex reason, decide to send my children to private school, I would refuse a voucher on ethical grounds.

  38. Dan,

    I am not really a pro-voucher partisan. I send my kids to public schools and I went Big 10 for college. But then again I have the resources to live where I want so I chose a good school district.

    I guess then that would be my argument in favor of vouchers. It would help poor students in large failing school districts essentially attend the local catholic schools whose students in my opinion are getting a much better education for a lot less money.

    I will tell you that good catholic schools in Chicago (where I grew up) are the only reason that middle class catholic families have remained in the city at all. Supporting this alternative school system seems a good thing to do for the future liveablility of the city.

    As far as Utah and white suburban kids I cannot really find a good reason to get rabidly in favor of vouchers for them. Their schools are usually adequate.

    As far as the data I am just pointing out a general point that partisan orgs are not good sources for data.

  39. Sam MB, I did not invoke the amount paid into public education by the rich. I invoked the amount paid by the state to fund education. If a student withdraws from public school, then that’s a reduction of expense to the state, regardless of whether the student comes from a rich or poor family.

    From what you’re writing, it seems to would be more favorable to a $7,000 voucher than a $3,000 voucher. Correct?

  40. john f.,


    come now, let’s reason about this like adults. I criticize parents wherever they may be, if those parents are abrogating their responsibilities as parents. If they tend to be minorities, then so be it, but my criticism has nothing to do with race; you know it, but you’re inflamed now, as SMB stated.

  41. bbell,


    my own personal feelings are neutral on the topic. I come across rather partisan about this because I hate how the right has politicized education and, being a weak man, I choose to hit back.

    I am a librarian and my wife is a teacher. My children, irrespective of where we live, WILL have an excellent education. I have access to all the resources in the world, and my wife knows how to use them properly to educate. Though in some eyes, my wife being a middle school public school teacher, she might be of the devil. My wife taught in the Bronx and she did more with those children than they could have imagined. Last year (her last year teaching there because we had a baby), she had her students create a video documentary of jazz musicians, a documentary that then aired at Carnegie Hall. Yes, a low income public middle school teamed up with Carnegie Hall to give children an experience they would not normally have gotten.

    I think a lot of those children would do far better in their schooling if their parents were more in their lives. But because of their socio-economic situation, poor, with both parents usually working long hours, they are not there for their children.

  42. Actually, I think john f. has a valid point.

    And this might be one of the most entertaining things I’ve read all day:

    “I nannied our daughter”

  43. I haven’t read the comments, this is just a drive by because I have to go. But the voucher research (the good stuff) shows that they have very little impact on the outcomes (test scores and graduation rates) for good schools. The relatively undisputed improvements come from helping urban blacks do somewhat better. Basically, rich people tend to get good public schools anyway.

    Given that fact, I find it hard to oppose them. The same, I think, goes for charter schools.

    By and large, past research on poor kids is of students moving into Catholic schools. It is not clear whether non-Catholic schools would have the same effects.

  44. From my experience…
    We went through A LOT of money to send one of our sons to a private school because the public school simply was not working for him. Finally, we couldn’t afford to keep him there and returned him to the public school system. He found some good things (choir, theater), but he preferred the private school. I feel we avoided the most trying years and that the private school gave him a sense of security he would not have found in the public system. I suspect that his success in public school was based on what he had gotten from the private school.
    Now son #2. Age 15. Loves classic rock and plays the guitar like a young Eric Clapton. Algebra is like an incomprehensible dream to him. He MAY be ADHD, but all ADHD meds we’ve tried have put him to sleep, so we are drugless. My husband and I have sometimes spent three hours a night with this child on homework, and have hired tutors for subjects we couldn’t help with. I started years ago to supplement what he was getting in class with visually-geared material so that he could pass his tests. If I were to compile all of my supplements, they would comprise a pretty good-sized book.
    PUBLIC SCHOOL IS NOT WORKING FOR US. Utah now has charter schools based on some of the best educational philosophy I know–Parker Palmer being one of my favorite theorists. My favorite is Walden Charter School (though I am not yet speaking from experience, just from what I’ve seen during two visits). Students self-direct, and class size is kept very small. Learning style is taken into consideration.
    So I have my son on a waiting list for Walden. As it happens, charter schools do not require vouchers.
    I am no longer willing to keep my son in the public school system. I see my options as the charter school, home schooling, or a voucher system which would let me put him in the private school we used for our other son.
    Public school worked fine for one of our children. But we as a family NEED options. Economic questions aside, we just need options.

  45. Scott G says:

    John M. #39 makes a good point. Even if it’s only the qualifying six figure families that use the vouchers, the exit of those students from the public system will free up resources for those that remain. The yearly cost to educate a student is much greater than $500, even in Utah. As the number of students opting out of public education rises through voucher programs, the per-student spending rises for those that remain. Everyone wins, except for the teaching unions that will no longer have a monopoly on providing publically funded education.

  46. re # 44, I believe that proponents of school voucher systems usually say that choice is what it’s all about.

  47. My wife teaches junior high math here in the northwest, and the anecdotal evidence cited by her and her colleagues is that kids with two parents who are actively involved in their children’s educations do better than others. Unfortunately, this is backed up by much research that my wife has shown me.

    Other research also shows that poor (as in ability) students do better when mixed with better performing students, and that being mixed with students of lower ability does not impact the performance of better achieving kids. Hence, in my view, any initiative that takes better achieving kids out of the public schools tends to lower the effectiveness of those schools.

    I also wonder if the Utah voucher law could be struck down as unconstitutional because it does exclude students currently attending private schools.

  48. Brothers and sisters, please, this is an LDS-related website, and yet we are avoiding the elephant in the room (or to be politically correct, shall I say donkey, or a half-elephant/half donkey).

    The big issue being overlooked is, “Are vouchers titheable?” If a family of 7 children receives $21,000 of vouchers, should they tithe on that amount? (That amount would likely far exceed the taxes paid by the eligible family.) More importantly, should that family tithe on the “potential” $21,000 if the 7 children stay in the public school?

    Carry on.

  49. I’ve taught in an urban public school, a suburban charter school, and an independent school (e.g. a private school with no religious affiliation). I’ve also served as a YW leader in an urban ward where the local high school was THE most violent in the state (and that’s saying something). Reflections:

    1) I like public school because, well, it’s great that we are committed to provideing education to all our citizens. That said, the system by and large is woefully mismanaged, over-legislated (read No Child Left Behind), and over-unionized. After working in charter and private, I would not readily teach in a “regular” public school again.

    2) I love the concept of charter schools — a public school which incorporates private-school principles (e.g. site-based management, no unions/teacher tenure — at least in some states — and greater autonomy). I helped run one for five years and many students came to us in the middle school years because they were struggling socially or academically at their neighborhood school. I frequently had parents in tears in my office because we were a fresh start, because their child liked school again, because they had an option that was free ($) and local. Some states have been to free with handing out charters, but that’s no reason to discontinue this grand expirement. . . .

    3) I love working in the independent school sector. Again, all decisions are made on-site by the teachers, head of school, and board of trustees. No red tape, lots of autonomy, great learning communities — most of my collegues are not “certified” but are highly educated. I thought I had a pretty good public education in Utah. What my students are getting? Wow. Down-side = less socio-economic diversity (though every independent school I know makes scholarship funds a strong priority, and I have a number of students who come at a substantially reduced rate). Perhaps surprisingly, my school has much greater racial diversity than the neighborood schools in the area — because were people live tends to fall along racial lines, but we have no geographic boundaries. My classroom is an ethnic melting pot.

    4) In my former young women’s group, all the girls attended the local public high school. They told me harrowing stories. They hated it, and they received no college guidance. One girl’s parents worked double-time to send her to a local Catholic school. She is now a freshman at a leading liberal arts college on full scholarship. Vouchers would have made a HUGE difference for her family, financially, and may have given incentives to other ward families to get their kids out of that hell-hole of a high school (I would have run info sessions for them on it . . .).

    I believes in school choice.

  50. I BELIEVE in it. So does my third-person persona. Sheesh.

  51. To second Ronan, it is not “competition” that has made American universities world class. There has been competition at least since the Land Grant Act of 1862, probably earlier than that.

    American universities only started to become world class during the late 1920s.

    The reason is that Americans finance higher education better than any other nation. Most of that money comes from the tax payer in the form of state subsidies, financial aid, and federal grants to students and researchers.

    Funding levels for primary and secondary education, on the other hand, are not sufficient. We are not investing enough into children and the results show it. According to the Gates foundation, one third of our children do not graduate from high school, another third does not have the skills to hold a twenty-first century job.

    Quality private schools in the DC area are spending about 80% more per pupil than the public schools.

    Vouchers will not help poor parents because they do not provide enough money to make private school affordable. It’s a subsidy for middle and upper class families.

  52. All our children have attended inner city public schools (our youngest graduates in two months), in which white anglo students constitute less than 20% of the student body, and most students are from middle or lower economic homes. We have been very pleased with the education our children received. We have never been concerned about their safety or about gangs, because the schools take security very seriously. While there are no metal detectors, there is an on campus police officer and several school staff are assigned for security.

    Of course, our experience is inconsistent with the view most local white LDS have of these schools. Their view is that the inner city public schools are like the ones that Deborah describes. As a consequence of this, as well as ongoing “Mormon flight” to the exurbs, the early morning seminary classes have dropped dramatically in size, and now are predominantly Latino LDS.

  53. Hellmut,
    Two questions: First, controlling for the students’ socio-economic background, does that 80% higher spending lead to any educational gains? Or would the rich kids who go there perform just as well in public schools?

    Second, where does that extra money go? I know NY private schools tend to be in the $25,000/year range. Some amount of the kids’ tuition goes toward scholarships for low-income students. Class sizes are probably smaller, and there are probably newer computers. But teachers are paid less. Overall, what part of the 80% improves outcomes?

    I’m ambivalent at best toward vouchers, but I think education reform needs something far more basic than extra money (although extra money would be nice). The problem, as Dan stated, is that education has become politicized, so proferred solutions tend to come through one’s political lens of choice.

  54. I seriously doubt that private schools spend more per pupil then public schools. There may be some high end schools that do but those are rare. Most private schools are seriously underfunded and constantly having fundraisers

    In fact the US department of education says otherwise.


    relevant quote from Wiki

    “In addition, a recent publication by the United States Department of Education has admitted that the average cost of public education per pupil is slightly more than double the cost per pupil of a private education, even though public schools have more students per teacher. Thus, there was no economy of scale as the per pupil cost should theoretically decline the more students there are per teacher.”

  55. Jordan F. says:

    Personally, I think we should all be willing to contribute our tax dollars to the schools (and other infrastructure) for the areas we live in. Even if we choose not to send our children to public school, our communities benefit greatly from public schooling.

    I think it is not very community-minded to grumble about having to pay some percentage of taxes for public education just because you choose for your children to be educated elsewhere. I am happy for my tax dollars to help foot the bill for public, community schools.

    I would support vouchers under certain circumstances, like SMB, such as when they are universally available (meaning that they actually grant MEANINGFUL access to all classes), and focused towards getting kids out of failing public schools, rather than on providing a tax rebate for public education the parent chooses not to avail him/herself of.

    As members of a larger community, we should not grumble about shouldering a portion of the costs for educating citizens of that community beyond our own household. My two cents.

  56. Jordan F. says:

    I also agree that public education needs some serious reforms, not a hokey “No Child Left Behind” act. Public education needs to become more (financially) efficient, less politicized, and more family centered (meaning more inclusive of parents, and meaning that parents should take more responsibility for helping their children obtain their education).

  57. Jordan F., no one writing here today is grumbling about paying taxes. Some prefer additional options for how those taxes are spent. The Utah law is focused in a way you should like. If a child was not in public school on January 1, 2007, then that child is not eligible for the subsidy. No one will get state money for a pre-2007 choice to attend a private school.

  58. Melinda says:

    Interesting discussion. The only Utah parents I know personally who have pulled their kid out of public elementary school did so not because the school was failing, but because the kid was. Minor learning disabilities made it difficult for the kid to learn in a large group setting. Private schools mean smaller classes, and the kiddo with the disability gets extra attention. Suddenly, it turns out the kid is bright after all.

    They are a middle class family. They pulled their child out of school due to the child’s poor performance and individual issues, not because they hated the school. The other two siblings are in public school and doing fine.

    Just one anecdote.

    Your discussion is missing the possibility that vouchers may mean that the most expensive kids to teach, i.e., the ones who need the most individual attention, will go somewhere else and free up teacher time.

  59. Jordan F. says:

    Sorry if I missed the point, John M. Still, I like to throw my two cents into the hat as well… :)

  60. Yeah, me too, Jordan.

  61. It seems the Utah bill takes great pains to help the poor more than the rich, if that’s your concern:

    “They just passed the largest subsidy in the nation,” President Kim Campbell said. “This was never about private vs. public schools. This was about who pays for private schools.”

    Dubbed the Parent Choice in Education Act, HB148 would give families a private school tuition voucher that would range from $500 to $3,000 per student, scaled to income based on who qualifies for federal reduced-price school lunch. The larger would go to families of four, for example, earning less than about $37,000 a year; the smaller, to a family of the same size earning more than $92,500.

    (Deseret News article.)

  62. Michael Homan, a blogging guy on the theology faculty of a historically Black, Catholic university in New Orleans, has four posts on the front page of his blog about his experiences trying to get his neighborhood school chartered.

    Here’s a link to the first:

    Charter Schools and New Orleans

    Start there and read up for the rest. The politics involved is pretty impressive (insert eyeroll here).

  63. I’m a teacher in a public high school, and I’ve been in favor of vouchers since the 1970s.

    Politically governed bureaucracy tend to be so mindless–it’s like working for someone with Alzheimer’s. People addled by egalitarian fantasies imagine public schools are serving everyone, but they aren’t. If educators were free to respond to clients intelligently, schools would vary much more than they do as various strategies were tried to pick up market segments. Parents and students would like this, but some idealogues wouldn’t. They would prefer that we all stay in one big room unable to act decisively until we all agree, which we will never do.

    Vouchers are no more immoral in education than they are in medicine, where Medicare patients routinely take federal dollars and spend it at private businesses.

    My worse fear about vouchers is that, as with Medicare, it creates political pressure to endlessly increase government spending on education–another entitlement.

  64. Ann,

    Thanks for the link to Michael Homan’s blog. I found these two articles particularly instructive on charter schools, something which I’ve seen too at charter schools I’ve investigated. The second one says it best:

    The principal at my local Recovery School District (RSD) school told me that over the past two weeks before the LEAP test (a standardized test in Louisiana), he had a dozen students who all told a sad but similar story. They were enrolled at various charter schools, and had behavioral problems and/or learning difficulties. The charter school told the parent(s) their children would be expelled, and they would not be able to attend school until the following Fall. But if the parents withdrew the student voluntarily, an RSD school would have to take them. That way the charter school wouldn’t be brought down by the poor LEAP test scores, and the disruptions in class would be eliminated. This is illegal, let alone immoral. Now there are some classes at my local RSD school with 33 kids, one teacher, and several students with behavioral and learning problems. Not a very good learning environment to put it mildly. The gap between the haves and have nots in New Orleans is widening.

    Later note: the principal just informed me that the number of students with this story was lower than he first thought, and that “a dozen” in the above post should more accurately say “a few.” I heard from people in Washington D.C., which has the second highest number of charter schools (New Orleans is first), that this withdraw or face expulsion ploy, is common in DC also. Moreover, the charter schools keep the funding for the rest of the year for the student who withdrew.

    In the former post, he cites the New York Times article from 2004 that showed lower test scores in charter schools. That New York Times article cited by Mr. Homan states:

    The first national comparison of test scores among children in charter schools and regular public schools shows charter school students often doing worse than comparable students in regular public schools.

    The findings, buried in mountains of data the Education Department released without public announcement, dealt a blow to supporters of the charter school movement, including the Bush administration.

    The data shows fourth graders attending charter schools performing about half a year behind students in other public schools in both reading and math. Put another way, only 25 percent of the fourth graders attending charters were proficient in reading and math, against 30 percent who were proficient in reading, and 32 percent in math, at traditional public schools.

    Because charter schools are concentrated in cities, often in poor neighborhoods, the researchers also compared urban charters to traditional schools in cities. They looked at low-income children in both settings, and broke down the results by race and ethnicity as well. In virtually all instances, the charter students did worse than their counterparts in regular public schools.

    It was released without notice of course because it was a damning report to proponents of charter schools and “choices.” The article continues:

    Once hailed as a kind of free-market solution offering parents an escape from moribund public schools, elements of the charter school movement have prompted growing concern in recent years. Around the country, more than 80 charter schools were forced to close, largely because of questionable financial dealings and poor performance, said Luis Huerta, a professor at Columbia University Teachers College. In California, the state’s largest charter school operator has just announced the closing of at least 60 campuses, The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday, stranding 10,000 children just weeks before the start of the school year.

    The math and reading tests were given to a nationally representative sample of about 6,000 fourth graders at 167 charter schools in February 2003. Some 3,200 eighth graders at charter schools also took the exams, an insufficient number to make national comparisons.

    The results are not out of line with earlier local and state studies of charter school performance, which generally have shown charters doing no better than traditional public schools. But they offered the first nationally representative comparison of children attending both types of schools, and are expected influence public debate.

    Amy Stuart Wells, a sociology professor at Columbia University Teachers College, called the new data “really, really important.”

    “It confirms what a lot of people who study charter schools have been worried about,” she said. “There is a lack of accountability. They’re really uneven in terms of quality.”

    I remember, I think it was in 2003, sometime in August or early September, reading in the Los Angeles Times about a set of charter schools in the LA area closing because of a loss of corporate funding, and that thousands of students were now left stranded, forced into the public schools because, well, they had to go somewhere. I love how public schools are still the safety net.

  65. Vouchers are a mechanism to allow students to leave their public schools and take some money with them. Think about who is left behind.

    We are creating a class of untouchables because charter schools and religious schools and private schools don’t HAVE to take everyone: they can choose not to take on ESL students (it’s an expenisive program, students are frequently poor, they don’t “test” well); they can choose not to take any specail needs chilrdren they don’t want to service (or don’t want to pay to service); they can choose not to admit anyone who can’t get themselves there, they can leave all the kids with issues out.

    EVERY public school teacher has had students who left for greener pastures (charter/private, whatever) and later came back. Often, they had been expelled (a common way to get rid of problem students in the private education world); sometimes their parents decided the school just wasn’t any better.

    Our university system IS great but not everyone is involved. Are we willing to give up our “education for all” and say: some are just too expenisive to educate, some are just too hard at the K-12 level? I am not. K-12 cannot be like our university system because no one is competeing to be able to educate that underclass. Sure, everyone wants the bright ones, but leave the hard ones in public school.

    As has been mentioned, most underachieving students benefit from exposure to harder-working or more successful students–that it probably an obvious point. Not so obvious is that the more successful students also benefit from working with less proficient students.

    I can’t figure out why anyone thinks education would or should function more like a business.

    You might have guessed that the education world is ripe with conspiracy theorists and some (many?) believe not only that NCLB is destroying pulic education, but that that is the purpose of it. Once public educators are tied up enough with testing and preparing for testing and practicing for testing, etc., they have lost enough instructional time to ensure failing test scores, hastening the flight to other school forms. Far fetched? Maybe, but hey, teachers actually care about teaching well and NCLB has been such a crisis in our world, it does not surprise me that people are looking for a place to lay the blame.

  66. Sterling says:

    Sam MB raised some important points that have been dismissed too easily. Do you all know that one out of every four people in Salt Lake City is Hispanic/Latino? In North Salt Lake and Bountiful, which are only a few miles north, only 2%-6% of the population are Hispanic/Latino. It would be interesting to know how segregation patterns play into this issue. Are the private schools mostly located in northern, white neighborhoods? Why is nobody talking about busing? Is it just assumed that every family, regardless of race and class, has the time and resources for transporting their child to a voucher school?

  67. a spectator,

    nice comments. I want to add to your point about higher education. There is no comparison between K-12 and higher education because on the one, students willingly go, while on the other, students are forced to go. People can talk about “choice” all they want, but the fact of the matter is that in K12, students don’t have a choice—they HAVE to go to school. At the collegiate level, students choose for themselves to attend and partake. As such, of course their education will be at a higher level.

  68. NB about my prvious comment (65)

    NCLB is not a crisis in the educational world because of the additional “accountability;” it is a crisis because of the time we now devote to standardized testing (and test prep) which we (teachers) know is bad for education.

    For those of you with children in public schools (and thereby subject to NCLB testing), I urge you to inquire from your child’s teacher what preperations are made for the testing. If you happen to work in a school, I encourage you to actually calculate how many hours and days are wasted on this rather than instruction. It is VERY alarming.

  69. Within any given state, minorities are more likely to go to charter schools than white people. Thus, it is probably wrong to try to dress charter schools up as an elitist program designed to help segregation. Similarly, the one group shown to benefit in school outcomes from private schools are poor urban black kids. And yes, vouchers are typically enough for them to attend (non-ritzy) private schools. The one elementary charter school I know of in Provo has half its students qualifying for free or reduced price lunch.

    On the other hand, cost comparisons between public and private are foten thrown off by the fact that public schools spend huge wads of cash on special programs for just a few students. Private schools typically do not. Personally, I have not seen much research on how effective said special programs are per dollar.

    Lastly, states with lots of minorities (which tend to be Democratic) tend to heavily restrict charter schools, presumably due to pressure from teacher’s unions. Thus individuals in minority groups tend to want charter schools, but they have trouble getting them thanks to all the liberals worrying about community and helping one’s brother. :)

  70. Sterling says:

    Frank McIntyre,

    Interesting analysis. Can we make a distinction between private/charter schools that are non-profit and those that operate for a profit? Do minorities attend non-profit and profit private/charter schools at the same rate? My estimation would be that more minorities attend the profit schools and more whites attend the non-profit schools. I have seen statistics that verify this trend in higher education, but I have no sources at hand to back up this claim for elementary and secondary education. The charter schools I have seen in Utah (and my exposure has been limited) attract few minorities.

  71. Mark IV says:

    In regards to private schools in Utah and the rest of the Mormon corridor (Arizona, Idaho), it is incorrect to assume that the rich, white kids ditch public schools in favor of private schools, leaving the public schools to deal with racial minorities, ESL, etc.

    Many of the private schools in Utah, Idaho, and Arizona are Catholic schools. Their student bodies are more racially diverse than the public school down the street, and they do a great job of educating young people whose primary language is not English.

  72. Sterling,

    I’ve never seen any analysis of the issue at the elementary school level. The 800 pound gorilla of private schools are the Catholic ones. They are cheap and have better outcomes than public schools — controlling for student quality which is often below public school average. I know of nothing at the elementary school level comparable in size to the for-profit college market. I know they exist, but I guess I am doubtful that they are on the same scale. It would be interesting to look at, though.

    “The charter schools I have seen in Utah (and my exposure has been limited) attract few minorities.”

    We had someone come through the department recently with a paper on charter school demographics, which is why I know. It was not Utah specific, and so Utah may be an aberration (though the local Provo charter school is not). But I would guess that if you look at the Utah charter schools close to Hispanic populations, you will find quite a few Hispanic students (the relevant minority group in Utah). Now that you mention it, though, the paper I saw may have been focusing on black students (who are over-represented in charter schools, in reference to their state). I am less sure about whether the same held true for Hispanics.

  73. Sterling says:

    I went to this web site and obtained a list of, and statistics on, most of the high schools in Salt Lake City:

    Academy for Mathematics, Engineering & Science (Ames) 0% Free & reduced-price lunch, 96% score on CRT grade 10 language arts test, 71% of Student Body is White

    Alternative Safe School-High School 0% Free & reduced-price lunch, 27% of Student Body is White

    Central High School 0% Free & reduced-price lunch, 55% score on CRT grade 10 language arts test, 80% of Student Body is White

    City Academy 48% Free & reduced-price lunch, 71% score on CRT grade 10 language arts test, 75% of Student Body is White

    Cottonwood High School 26% Free & reduced-price lunch, 82% score on CRT grade 10 language arts test, 81% of Student Body is White

    Dream Charter School 0% Free & reduced-price lunch, 10% score on CRT grade 10 language arts test, 55% of Student Body is White

    East High School 46% Free & reduced-price lunch, 69% score on CRT grade 10 language arts test, 58% of Student Body is White

    Granite High School 60% Free & reduced-price lunch, 49% score on CRT grade 10 language arts test, 59% of Student Body is White

    Highland High School 50% Free & reduced-price lunch, 68% score on CRT grade 10 language arts test, 59% of Student Body is White

    Horizonte Instr & TRN Center 0% Free & reduced-price lunch, 20% score on CRT grade 10 language arts test, 38% of Student Body is White

    Mountain View Learn Center 0% Free & reduced-price lunch, 30% of Student Body is White

    Observation & Assessment Center 0% Free & reduced-price lunch, 33% score on CRT grade 10 language arts test, 50% of Student Body is White

    Odyssey Academy (YIC) 0% Free & reduced-price lunch, 86% of Student Body is White

    Olympus High School 9% Free & reduced-price lunch, 91% score on CRT grade 10 language arts test, 93% of Student Body is White

    Skyline High School 6% Free & reduced-price lunch, 95% score on CRT grade 10 language arts test, 92% of Student Body is White

    Wasatch Youth Center 0% Free & reduced-price lunch, 59% of Student Body is White

    West High School 0% Free & reduced-price lunch, 68% score on CRT grade 10 language arts test, 53% of Student Body is White

    Does anyone know which of these schools are non-profits and whether any of them operate for profit? I would be interesting to correlate this with the above statistics.

  74. Those are interesting numbers, Sterling.

    A caveat– some charter/private schools don’t participate in the federal lunch program because they have no cafeteria, just a gym, thus the “0% free or reduced…” numbers for them are almost certainly because they are not reporting anything, rather than because they have no poor among them.

  75. The four whitest schools are Olympus, Skyline, Central and Cottonwood. I assume these are all regular public schools.

  76. Carol F. says:

    Olympus, Skyline, and Cottonwood are all high schools along the East Bench of Salt Lake City. Don’t know about Central.

  77. Carol F. says:

    Central High School is just west of those three high schools. My husband thinks Central is the old Granite High around 7th East and 39th South.

  78. Frank,


    Lastly, states with lots of minorities (which tend to be Democratic) tend to heavily restrict charter schools, presumably due to pressure from teacher’s unions. Thus individuals in minority groups tend to want charter schools, but they have trouble getting them thanks to all the liberals worrying about community and helping one’s brother.

    Can you show evidence of this? I believe that Washington DC (which voted like 90% for Kerry in 2004) has the most charter schools per capita. I know Massachusetts, Rhode Island and California have a bunch as well.

  79. Actually, I found some statistics. US Charter Schools has a PDF which shows the number of charter schools by state.

    California has the most, of course: 625
    Arizona 466 (this is the state that has really jumped on charter schools.

    Massachusetts has 59
    New York has 98
    Texas has 269
    Utah has 54

    So generally speaking, “liberal” states seem to be allowing charter schools (with New York lagging). The most interesting numbers are from traditionally conservative states like Mississippi, Virginia, Wyoming, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

    Mississippi has 1
    Virginia has 4
    Wyoming has 3
    Tennessee has 12
    Oklahoma has 15


    Iowa has 7

    What “liberal” state has the fewest? It seems Rhode Island does, with a mere 11 (though in comparison to Tennessee (12), Rhode Island has far more per capita.

    Basically what I’m saying is, can we stop taking swipes at liberals for supposedly being against charter schools?

  80. Carol F. says:

    From my experience (30 years observation in Arizona), charter schools are started because someone doesn’t like what, how or with whom things are being taught at the public schools. So, no, I think the numbers Dan quoted actually hold up the theory that liberals are more against charter schools. I think possibly the people in the conservative states mentioned don’t start charters because what is being taught in the public schools is adequately close to what they want.

  81. Central High School is the “alternative” high school for Granite School District, which cuts an east-west swath across the Salt Lake Valley from Magna and Kearns to the east bench.

  82. Matt #26, you may have a point. The trick is in the implementation, and I believe that the current voucher approaches are a sufficiently wrongheaded implementation that they are immoral.

    If you required private schools to accept all students regardless of how expensive they are to teach (the case with public schools now), you would have a point.

    Sam, this doesn’t make any sense. My point was that vouchers function like Pell Grants. Pell Grants don’t cover tuition at most universities; at most schools it’s only a minor subsidy. Furthermore, Pell Grants and government loans are accepted at schools that *reject a majority of applicants.*

    If you accept the morality of Pell Grants and government aid, even at universities that deny “expensive” students, is there any basis for opposing grants at the K-12 level?

    Several commenters have said that it’s the compulsory nature of K-10 education that’s different (students can drop out at 16), but that’s just a blanket anti-private and anti-home schooling argument. (Why let kids opt out of the public system when they’re rich and dumb, but not when they’re poor and smart?)

  83. The four whitest schools are Olympus, Skyline, Central and Cottonwood. I assume these are all regular public schools.

    Why do we care which schools are the “whitest?” As an Olympus alum, I think I’m offended. Who you callin’ “white” homey?

    And you’re wrong, Central is not a regular public school.

    Central High School is just west of those three high schools. My husband thinks Central is the old Granite High around 7th East and 39th South.

    Wrong, and um, so’s your old man, twice.

    Vouchers will not help poor parents because they do not provide enough money to make private school affordable. It’s a subsidy for middle and upper class families.

    That is correct, but I would add that even middle class families will find it difficult to afford most private school tuition on the voucher amount provided in this bill.

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