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Monday, December 13, 2010

Voucher this!!

I don’t believe in the way the police do things. I want to get a voucher so I can hire my own protection and investigation team should I need one.

I appreciate the Fire Department, but since I never use them I want to roll the dice and opt out. Where can I get my voucher to provide my own fire safety?

You know, I don’t support the military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan either so I was wondering where I could get my voucher to provide for my own national defense.

Why I am thinking about feel free not to check my food in restaurants either. I’ll take another voucher please.

Why can’t I opt out of those things? How is that different from families opting out of public schools and the governemnt providing them vouchers so they can do so? I’ll tell you how and why, it’s because our leaders, most of who have very little experience in public schools, have decided to use their misinformed ideas and generalizations to impose their will on education and once again education will suffer for it. They continue to meddle to education's detriment (high stakes testing/one size fits all curriculum anyone) and education is forced to play by different rules not of its own making. Who sufferes because of this? Well it's children, teachers and society itself that pays the price.

I understand how the prospect of vouchers can be seductive and like many of you I think government is too big and taxes are too high but I also understand that we have them and even need them because taxes funds government and that allows us to do collectively what we can’t do individually. I also understand that when we start to take resources away from something we have deemed important, like education, it erodes our capabilities to do it effectively. How effective would the police or fire departments be if we slashed their resources? Not as, is my bet, yet the powers-that-be have no qualms suggesting we do the exact same thing public schools.

The latest prospect as if the lottery and unfunded mandates were not damaging enough is Rick Scott proposing the state of Florida give vouchers to every family with a school aged child regardless of where they live, the school options they have or the means of their families. Part of the proposal even states that they can spend the money on education related items like lap tops as well. Not only will this siphon away precious resources from our already cash strapped public schools but it will amount of welfare for the well off too. How is this proposal enabling all of society to do collectively what it can’t do individually?

What’s next, are we going to allow individuals or couples without children to stop paying taxes that support public education too? Why not, what do they gain from supporting public education? Well I’ll tell you, a good education system can influence economic growth, a civil society, national security and a low crime rate. Now are we getting our money’s worth? I think that is definitely debatable but I likewise think pulling the plug on our schools would have even more dire consequences and make no mistake vouchers for all is the next step towards doing so. The answer instead should be to provide public education with the resources and policies it needs to be successful, something that is not happening now, not to strip schools of the few resources they have.

Besides there is already an opt out program for public schools. Families can home school or send their kids to private or charter schools. Now is it fair that some of these options are available to only our most wealthy families? Definitely not but there are many things that they can provide their children that the average citizen can't provide theirs. Lets not tip things in the favor of the few at the expense of the many.

Do we really need to line the pockets of these citizens anymore because quite frankly for the most part they will be the only ones able to take advantage of a universal voucher system? The average family will still not be able to afford most private schools. The real change will be there their children are now going to public schools with fewer resources.

Again I understand how seductive and appealing vouchers might sound but the reality is private schools and charter schools play by different rules and there is no meaningful study to say they are doing any better than their public school counterparts. I get how a parent having a choice sounds appealing but the truth is, as members of a society working together supposedly for the common good often our choices are designed to benefit the many over the few. My childless friends and couples have no choice and for the most part only families that already have the real choices will benefit and do so disproportionately, from Rick Scotts enhanced voucher program. I understand all that but what the powers-that-be don’t understand and sadly probably do not want to understand is how this will injure public schools.

Or maybe they do know what havoc this will create and that is what this is all really about.

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