November 1st, 2007

True Competition in the Educational System

I’ve been intrigued recently to hear people say that our current educational system does have competition. Private and charter schools abound, and many parents homeschool their children as well. Truly, some argue, there is plenty of competition in the system, allowing parents to choose what’s best for their children.

But is this accurate? Is there true competition in our educational system?

Allow me to give an example to clarify why I think that true competition does not currently exist. Imagine two major competitors vying for your business. They desire to make the best product to earn your money, and grow their business. For this example, let’s use Coca-Cola and Pepsi as our two competitors.

Now, left alone, these two companies might compete fairly, and consumers would be allowed to choose whichever they prefer. But imagine if the government mandated that all citizens fund the operations of Pepsi through taxes. As a taxpayer, a portion of my wages would be reserved to be sent to Pepsi. That amount may be equal to or greater than the amount I would have otherwise spent on the product of either of the companies.

Now, with a reduced paycheck, I am still free to choose between the two products. Since I am one of their sponsors, Pepsi offers me a greatly discounted product. I am enticed to side with them because they already have my money. It would be too cost-prohibitive for me to fund Pepsi while also paying full price for Coke.

The choice here is obvious. Many would choose to patronize Pepsi since their money has already been appropriated, and because they are afforded a significant discount as a result.

Thus, in this example, there is no true competition. An economic handicap is created by forcing the taxpayer to subsidize a certain group. Only through economic liberty (letting the taxpayer retain the money to use as he/she sees fit) does true competition exist.

Such is the case in our current educational system. Parents are forced through taxation to fund the operations of public schools. Sure, they are free to send their kids to private school or homeschool them… but in doing so, they are paying far more than they should.

True competition in education will only exist when parents are refunded all of their money (not a measly voucher) used by public schools, so that they may choose how best to educate their child.

75 Responses to “True Competition in the Educational System”

  1. Jeff
    November 1, 2007 at 12:55 pm #

    Exactly, which is why everyone should vote against vouchers and work for true reform.

  2. dstoker
    November 1, 2007 at 1:29 pm #

    Do you see certain public goods as not being best handled by the market? What would you put in that category?

  3. Dan
    November 1, 2007 at 1:39 pm #

    An economic handicap is created by forcing the taxpayer to subsidize a certain group. Only through economic liberty (letting the taxpayer retain the money to use as he/she sees fit) does true competition exist.

    Ah, because we’re “forced” to pay taxes against our will. It isn’t like we can’t choose to elect representatives who will remove taxes. No. Here in America, there is no such thing.

    Maybe, Connor, Americans accept out of their own free will that the system, the way it is, fits their needs best, and thusly they are not “forced” into it at all. Can you possibly perceive that?

    Besides which, the problems in education are not because of the schools. They stem from the parents not being involved at home with their children. Why would that be? Because parents these days are too busy trying to make money in our capitalistic system to spend time with children.

  4. Connor
    November 1, 2007 at 1:52 pm #

    dstoker,

    Do you see certain public goods as not being best handled by the market?

    No, not really. Even the things the government needs must be produced by somebody. Government is not a producer—it is a consumer. Only individuals can produce. Therefore, when the government wants a missile, they go to a private company to produce it through a contract.

    Things get messy when the government interferes with the market, whether it’s a sanctioned quasi-monopoly (like public education, a fiat monetary system, or Federal Reserve interest rates) or legislation demanding that money be used a certain way.

    So no, I’d leave it up to the free market to determine, and let government return to its proper role as protector of life, liberty, and property.

    Dan,

    Maybe, Connor, Americans accept out of their own free will that the system, the way it is, fits their needs best, and thusly they are not “forced” into it at all. Can you possibly perceive that?

    I don’t doubt that there are people who feel this way. But that’s the essence of competition. Let people do what they want. I’m fine with people wanting to send their kids to a public school. That’s their choice. But I shouldn’t be required to subsidize their childrens’ education while funding that of my children as well.

    Besides which, the problems in education are not because of the schools. They stem from the parents not being involved at home with their children.

    Here we go again. As a family involved in public schooling, I can see why you’re hesitant to believe that public schooling has any faults. But to categorically state that schools are in no way problematic regarding education is a bit naïve, in my opinion. It’s not a perfect system.

    I’ll absolutely agree that parents are a large part of the problem. The delegation of parental responsibility and activity has created numerous problems.

    But don’t be so quick to blame capitalism for parental lethargy. A few decades ago, before excessive inflation and market manipulation, it was quite possible and economically feasible for mom to stay at home while dad worked and provided a comfortable lifestyle. Today, through government intervention and skyrocketing deficit spending, mom and dad both have to work if they want to keep up with the Joneses and maintain a standard of living their parents once enjoyed.

  5. Dan
    November 1, 2007 at 2:22 pm #

    Connor,

    Government is not a producer—it is a consumer.

    Actually the government, being a corporation in itself, is a producer as well.

    But I shouldn’t be required to subsidize their childrens’ education while funding that of my children as well.

    Then vote for representatives who will represent you. But don’t go around saying that your way is right and everybody else is wrong. That is what you are basically saying here.

    As a family involved in public schooling, I can see why you’re hesitant to believe that public schooling has any faults.

    Hold on a second. I have never said that public schooling doesn’t have any faults. I merely say that the reason our children are not learning as well as they should be is because their parents are not involved.

    Look, our nation is losing ground to the very kinds of systems you decry. What kind of schooling do you think kids get in Japan? Is it not in fact, public education? Yet those kids are masters compared to our children. What kind of education do you think they get in Europe? Is it not public education? Indeed it is. It is NOT THE SYSTEM that is at fault for American children not learning enough. It is the parents. It always will be.

    A few decades ago, before excessive inflation and market manipulation, it was quite possible and economically feasible for mom to stay at home while dad worked and provided a comfortable lifestyle. Today, through government intervention and skyrocketing deficit spending, mom and dad both have to work if they want to keep up with the Joneses and maintain a standard of living their parents once enjoyed.

    Hold on there, Connor. In today’s world, you can actually live just fine on one salary. No, it is not the government’s fault that today’s society lives on debt. It is capitalism’s fault. Who do you think persuades individuals and families to run up their debt on credit cards? Certainly not the government. Who convinces people to buy the latest television, or the hottest car? certainly not the government. No, it is capitalistic corporations! It is the small business you keep lauding! The very institutions you love are creating the situation that forces families to work even more. NOT the government.

  6. Connor
    November 1, 2007 at 2:47 pm #

    Actually the government, being a corporation in itself, is a producer as well.

    What products does the government produce…?

    But don’t go around saying that your way is right and everybody else is wrong. That is what you are basically saying here.

    So whatever our elected representatives have done is right?

    Hold on a second. I have never said that public schooling doesn’t have any faults.

    You’re right, I phrased my statement incorrectly. I meant to comment on the fact that you feel none of our society’s educational problems stem from the public schools.

    It is NOT THE SYSTEM that is at fault for American children not learning enough.

    I disagree. While there are surely “public education” systems in other countries, you’re comparing apples to oranges if you think that simply because they’re all public, that they’re similar in structure, curriculum, administration, etc.

    In today’s world, you can actually live just fine on one salary.

    I absolutely agree. But if you want an Explorer, six bedroom house, and iPods for the kids, you can’t. This is largely why both parents are seeking work. They’d rather sacrifice parental interaction to luxury.

    No, it is not the government’s fault that today’s society lives on debt. It is capitalism’s fault.

    You’re blaming an economic system for individual decision and action? Hmmm… not sure that holds water.

    Who do you think persuades individuals and families to run up their debt on credit cards? Certainly not the government.

    Why would families be enticed by additional credit, were it not for the government debasing the currency, setting a bad example themselves, and instituting policies that drive inflation and deficit spending? Government is absolutely a culprit. Were it not for their faulty fiscal policies through recent decades, we’d have no need for excessive credit. Maybe with sound money, we wouldn’t have a negative savings rate.

    Who convinces people to buy the latest television, or the hottest car?

    Again, you’re placing the blame on external factors. Individuals are responsible for their own actions, regardless of any advertising or propaganda.

    The very institutions you love are creating the situation that forces families to work even more. NOT the government.

    Incorrect. Government creates, maintains, and enforces fiscal policy and interest rates. Only within that system can corporations function. When government subsidizes corn, diary, and meat industries, competitors have to raise/lower prices accordingly in order to compete. When government awards contracts to defense contractors, competitors must adjust their tactics and adjust R&D to make themselves more enticing.

    Corporations must change their behavior based on fiscal and legislative policies established by the government. Their actions are secondary, and directly affected by what the government does. So Uncle Sam absolutely plays a hand in what the corporations do.

    This is the root problem of outsourcing as well. Through immigration policy, tariffs, etc., many companies are finding it easier to simply hire foreigners to do what Americans normally have. It becomes economically feasible and enticing to do so, because of what the government has done to the market through their intervention.

    So yes, through policies and economic manipulation, government creates situations in which corporations are left to act. Were it not for the debasing of our currency, our savings would be worth more, and our wealth would be higher, thus allowing more parents to maintain their current standard of living on one income.

    But I digress.

  7. dstoker
    November 1, 2007 at 5:58 pm #

    Re: public goods vs. the free market

    Using your reference of a missile contract– In the case of making a missile (for the protection of life, liberty, and property I presume, and not to be the aggressor and instigator of war) the people demand protection, entrust the federal government to handle the issue (we assume because it better achieved at a national instead of an individual state or community level) and the government turns it back to the private sector and companies compete (we assume on a fair playing field) for the contract. The most cost efficient/highest quality producer emerges and wins the contract and the companies not awarded the contract go into producing something else, dissolve or everyone goes and works for the company that got the contract.

    If this same story is applied to education–the people ask for public schooling and regulation (I would have to review the history of public schooling but I think it could have something to do with the same issue of across states and community lines, an individual wants to ensure that their educational training will be recognized from one community to the next, federal regulation and standardization was eventually requested to address the issue). The government collects money and then turn back to the private sector for competition (in part this is along the lines of the voucher program, we’re again assuming the playing field is fair) the most cost-efficient/high quality schools would rise to the top and the sub-par schools would disappear. Now in the free market system the best schools could start charging more, recruiting the better teachers, and have more resources. Those who can afford it (assuming all want the best for their children) would supplement the government alloted price of an education and send their kids to the best schools. Over time you would have a division into classes of schools and opportunities for eduction according to wealth (similar to the current functioning of private university education). How far does it go until the poor are in the majority and demand a more even playing field from elected representatives and there is a return to standardized opportunities. Of course the rich would not like this, nor the private schools.

    Is there a moral imperative to educate all to a more or less similar level? Isn’t part of the greatness of this country the fact that people can ,more or less, gain an education, develop their minds, and achieve success with hard work and determination being the deciding factor and not inherited wealth, superior opportunities for learning etc.

    There must be a balance.

  8. Alicia
    November 1, 2007 at 6:04 pm #

    Dan,
    I for one am with Connor on this. My children stay home, while I pay taxes for other people’s children to attend a public school with teachers who teach values I disagree with. Because of seniority in our school system, we can’t get rid of the teachers who are clearly not fit to be around children (we have a couple of drug users, an English teacher who constantly degrades the young women in his classroom with his sexist remarks and who goes against school policy by showing R rated movies in the classroom, and several teachers not qualified educationally to teach the subjects they are being paid to teach). You might say that we need to go before our school board, but this has been done countless times. We have also had drug raids on our school, but the teachers our Principal had hoped to ‘catch’ were amazingly out of the building on those days. (We also have a corrupt police force.) Our Public school system is a joke, but with only so much money allowed for new charter schools, there is little competition. So my children stay home and try to get the best education they can with the little resources and the training that I can provide. I know there are many other parents who would take their children out if they could afford to.

    I know that we also have many good and wonderful teachers, I have many in my own family, but their complaints are that they are having to ‘teach to the tests’ the government demands they give – that there just isn’t enough time to teach the things that really should be taught.

    Can’t you see that almost everything Government touches it ruins? Parents go before the schoolboard, but because of Government intervention, we can’t hire the teachers that would be best for our children. We can’t demand that the subjects that we would like our children to learn be taught. Because the government funding isn’t there, we now do not have many of the subjects taught in our school that used to be taught (Art, Home Ec, Woodshop, Drama, etc.) Instead the money is spent on government testing. Your school might be different. Good for your children. Our’s is a small town, and so far, there hasn’t been much that the parents have been able to do.

    I am NOT for the voucher system. That’s just Government trying to keep in control of our children’s education – something that is clearly not working judging by all the testing they demand. I don’t want to have to teach to any of THEIR tests.

    Some might counter that compared to many countries, our educational system is one of the best in the world. But judging by the education my children’s friends seem to be getting, it is a VERY SAD education, to say the least.

  9. Alicia
    November 1, 2007 at 6:22 pm #

    Dan, could you explain this? I still can’t figure out what it is the Government is producing.

    Actually the government, being a corporation in itself, is a producer as well.

  10. Josh Williams
    November 1, 2007 at 7:17 pm #

    Note that competition tends to make goods and services, first and foremost cheaper, not necessarily better; (since money is the greatest pressure that most corporations face.) Hence, there is some weight to the argument that public schools enable those with limited means to receive a better education than they could otherwise afford.

    Any government ought to consider investing in education to be a top priority. It makes everyone happy, and in turn, the collecting authority is sure to reap many times it’s original investment, in tax revenue.

    But this creates a nasty catch-22; the act of providing moneys to schools, (or any organization) gives them that much of an incentive to not be competitive. By establishing careful regulation and oversight measures, governments can (sometimes) reduce wasteful bureaucracy, though they can never be as effective dollar-for-dollar as private institutions. This is why it is so fiendishly difficult to compromise, between government investment and preserving the positive effects of a free market.

    ………………………..

    A few decades ago, before excessive inflation and market manipulation, it was quite possible and economically feasible for mom to stay at home while dad worked and provided a comfortable lifestyle. Today, through government intervention and skyrocketing deficit spending………..

    I disagree. The government issues and partially regulates currency, but it is far from controlling it. There are larger forces at work here, than just irresponsible government policy. A few small examples, wage stagnation, growth overseas, rising energy costs, etc. ad infinitum. Disentangling the causes and the effects of inflation is almost impossible; By singling out the “fed” you may be making the error of Misleading Vividness.

  11. Travis
    November 2, 2007 at 6:59 am #

    While I agree that for true competition we need the same amount going to public education and private education (through something like vouchers). However, we need to start somewhere. This bill has been call the most comprehensive voucher bill in history. So, it is a pretty big step in the right direction. We should vote it in, and get the ball rolling to a system where the money follows the student no mater where she goes.

  12. Trent
    November 2, 2007 at 1:42 pm #

    I have yet to have anyone address the problem with small towns in the U.S. In Utah, more than half the counties don’t even have a private school. It is the same thing with high speed Internet, corporations don’t have a reason or means to build out in these areas. Our entire neighborhood has been trying to get Comcast to build out here and they still have no plans. This voucher system will not all of sudden make a bunch of private schools open in rural farming communities. In fact, this voucher bill is just redistributing income from those areas without private schools to those with them.

    Notice the voucher bill gives 3k to those under the 43k a year bracket. Guess what, those earning 43k a year or less are paying under 1k a year in Utah income tax. So, the argument that they are just giving people their tax money back is wrong. It is no different than the earned income credit. They are taking tax money from the rich all across the state and giving it to others. Additionally, the average private school costs 8k. So really, would someone earning 50k a year with four kids be able to foot the extra 24k from the kids they have in school? I fail to see what group of people this will even help other than the 100k+ bracket who will just get a nice 500 a kid perk every year. And in the process a large number of people in the state can never use vouchers for the pure reason that they live in a small town.

    Why do we have the government build out/subsidize infrastructure, roads, power, water for rural communities? Because private companies would never do it if it didn’t help their bottom line. the government has to basically bribe cell phone companies and Internet providers to move out of metropolitan areas. It is why the U.S. is so behind in those areas. There are too few companies that will do things for the love of the community. Public schools are vital to allowing people all over to receive a decent education. I am all for expanding private schools all over, but thinking that making the entire school system private ignores so many groups of people.

    Are we advocating that everyone moves into big cities so we don’t have to worry about it?

  13. Dan
    November 2, 2007 at 3:41 pm #

    There are too few companies that will do things for the love of the community.

    That’s because it is so communistic and socialistic. Capitalism is all about the individual. It is selfish in nature.

  14. Mark N.
    November 2, 2007 at 4:05 pm #

    A couple of interesting links to check on as a part of the whole public vs. private education debate:

    The Theory of Education in the United States

    The Best One-Shot Investment on Earth

  15. Connor
    November 2, 2007 at 4:06 pm #

    Capitalism is all about the individual. It is selfish in nature.

    No, it isn’t. You misunderstand capitalism if you think it is selfish. It deals with self-interest, yes, but it is not inherently selfish. Should you believe otherwise, may I recommend reading some of Ayn Rand’s words on the subject.

    Why are people entitled to anything? Are we entitled to fast internet speeds, nice restaurants, and a good education? Far from it. If you want those things, then live somewhere where they are provided, or start your own business. But to think that citizens everywhere are entitled to something shows how pervasive the entitlement mentality has become in this nation.

    You are not entitled to any services or products provided by another person.

  16. Trent
    November 2, 2007 at 4:20 pm #

    Are we entitled to fast internet speeds, nice restaurants, and a good education?

    Ok, I was expecting this. I never said we are entitled to fast Internet. I was just stating that fast Internet is not available in a lot of areas as an example of how the private sector does not service these areas. But Internet, restaurants, etc are completely different than education, because it involves children. In fact, schooling for kids is basically the only thing I think people are entitled to. Not for the parents, but for the kids. Your attitude is amazing to me and shows little compassion for children in less than ideal circumstances. Kids are innocent and are at the mercy of their parents. Public schools allow there to be some chance for kids of parents that are either in a rural community or do not have the financial means to send their kids to school. Great food, good clothes, movies, whatever do not make or break a child’s future. Lack of education will. My father grew up in a town of 100 where they had a decent public school. A private school would NEVER build there in a million years. They were farmers and never had anything of value nor any time to “start a business”. My father graduated in microbiology and is now a pharmacist. That would never have been possible for him otherwise. Is there no compromise?

    You basically just said move if you want good schools. Farmers in very small towns feed you every day, we need them. Congestion is also not what we want. Public schools in those areas are vital. I just can’t see how you are so rigid on ideals Connor that you can’t budge. I detest how far we have come from the real capitalist ideals we were founded on, but here you are just flat out wrong.

  17. Trent
    November 2, 2007 at 4:27 pm #

    I meant to add that I see that a compromise might be allowing private and charter schools to move toward filling the needs of students in areas with a student population high enough, and public schools to provide schools for those in areas where the private sector won’t go. I am all for the private school system growing and even replacing public when possible, I’m just not gonna doom millions of kids to failure through no fault of their own.

  18. Connor
    November 2, 2007 at 4:34 pm #

    In fact, schooling for kids is basically the only thing I think people are entitled to.

    Is access to taxpayer-funded education one of our unalienable rights? Is it proper for government to intervene in the educational sphere? If so, why was it not done for many, many years after the birth of our nation? Why did the Constitution not grant power to the federal government to do what they do anyways, in our day?

    Your attitude is amazing to me and shows little compassion for children in less than ideal circumstances.

    Sadly, socialism is seen by many as “charitable” and “compassionate”. And those who defend liberty, self governance, and individual responsibility are seen as “show[ing] little compassion”.

    My father grew up in a town of 100 where they had a decent public school. A private school would NEVER build there in a million years.

    What about homeschooling? Or a community effort? Why do you need the government to swoop in and set up its establishment? Do you not realize that this is a recent occurrence in our nation’s history? Do you distrust parents to have the proper initiative and ability to administer education—individually or collectively—to their own children?

    I just can’t see how you are so rigid on ideals Connor that you can’t budge.

    May I recommend this great talk by Howard W. Hunter.

  19. Mark N.
    November 2, 2007 at 4:35 pm #

    Here is a link to the entire contents of Mr. Nock’s “The Theory of Education in the United States”:

    http://www.mises.org/books/education-nock.pdf

  20. Dan
    November 2, 2007 at 4:48 pm #

    You are not entitled to any services or products provided by another person.

    Any?

    So I guess we’re not entitled to the protection of firemen. After all that is a service or product provided by another person. Why don’t we protect ourselves and stop relying on the services of others for protection?

    One of the weirdest beliefs of libertarians is that it is anathema that governments provide health care for people, but it is perfectly fine to provide protection from fires. Look carefully at what that prioritizes. Health care would be the protection of the human being. Firefighting would be the protection of materialistic items (such as a house, car, bed, etc).

    In the grand scheme of things, which is more important to save? A human being or a home? Personally I lean towards the human being.

  21. Mark N.
    November 2, 2007 at 4:49 pm #

    Great food, good clothes, movies, whatever do not make or break a child’s future. Lack of education will. My father grew up in a town of 100 where they had a decent public school. A private school would NEVER build there in a million years. They were farmers and never had anything of value nor any time to “start a business”. My father graduated in microbiology and is now a pharmacist. That would never have been possible for him otherwise.

    Ah, but does that count as an “education”? Mr. Nock, as referenced above, says “No”:

    “A few months ago, an Italian nobleman, one of the most accomplished men in Europe, told me that he had had a curious experience in our country 3 he wondered whether I had made anything like the same observation, and if so, how I accounted for it. He said he had been in America several times, and had met some very well-educated men, as an Italian would understand the term; but they were all in the neighbourhood of sixty years old. Under that age, he said, he had happened upon no one who impressed him as at all well-educated. I told him that he had been observing the remnant of a pre-revolutionary product, and coming from a country that had had the Sicilian Vespers and Rienzi and Massaniello and now Mussolini, he should easily understand what that meant; that our educational system had been thoroughly reorganised, both in spirit and structure, about thirty-five years ago, and that his well-educated men of sixty or so were merely holdovers from what we now put down, by general consent, as the times of ignorance—-holdovers from pre-Fascist days, if I might borrow the comparison. “But,” I went on, “our younger men are really very keen; they are men of parts, and our schools and universities do an immense deal for them. Just try to come round one of them about the merits of a bond-issue or a motor-car, the fine points of commercial cake-icing or retail shoemerchandising, or the problems of waste motion involved in bricklaying or in washing dishes for a hotel, and you are sure to find that he will give a first-rate account of himself, and that he reflects credit on the educational system that turned him out.” My friend looked at me a moment in a vacant kind of way, and presently said that proficiency in these pursuits was not precisely what he had in mind when he spoke of education. “Just so,” I replied, “but it is very much what we have in mind. We are all for being practical in education. Do you know, it would not surprise me in the least to find that our Russian friends had taken a leaf out of our book in designing their Five-Year Plan?” He looked at me again for a moment, and changed the subject. I thought of explaining myself, but saw it would be of no use; my little pleasantry had been dashed to pieces against the solid adamant of his patrician seriousness.”

    I haven’t read the whole thing yet (it’s not all that long, really), but I suspect that in section 2, Mr Nock gives the game away; apparently what has been determined to be wrong with education in America is that

    “Too much attention had been paid to the
    languages, literature and history of classical antiquity,
    which were all of far less than doubtful
    value to the youth of twentieth-century America.
    The thing now was to introduce the sciences, living
    languages and the useful arts, to make instruction
    vocational, to open all manner of opportunities
    for vocational study, and to induce youth into our
    institutions for pretty strictly vocational purposes.”

    If there’s no “vocational” purpose for something, it is determined to be of little or no value.

    Hmmm. Is this not the basis upon which many an educator has leaned upon for decided where the educational program must be cut so as to meet the budgetary requirements? A music program? How many students will be able to earn a living as a musician someday? Ah, I think we can safely do away with that. Drama and the other arts? Cut, cut, cut.

    And once those are gone, we have satisfied ourselves with the idea that what remains still, somehow, qualifies as an “education”.

  22. Connor
    November 2, 2007 at 4:54 pm #

    So I guess we’re not entitled to the protection of firemen. After all that is a service or product provided by another person. Why don’t we protect ourselves and stop relying on the services of others for protection?

    Pres. Benson explains this well in his “Proper Role of Government” talk. We can only delegate to other entities the powers we ourselves inherently have. We can protect our homes from fire, therefore we can delegate that task to another. We can educate our child, therefore we can hire a teacher to fulfill the same tasks.

    But the delegation of such authority does not create an entitlement. In the case of firemen, they can’t be everywhere at all times. To expect that because you fund their operations, they must show up at your door when you want, is silly. Sure, you have some claim on them for your protection, but there are plenty of homes and structures that are burned because firemen can’t always respond as an individual might like.

    This is the problem of delegating too much personal responsibility. When the other person falls through, that person cannot blame other people for their own problems, because they themselves are sovereign and responsible for their affairs, even when they’ve delegated that authority to others in their stead.

    So entitlements? No. Claim, yes.

  23. Mark N.
    November 2, 2007 at 4:55 pm #

    Take two: my education has obviously lacked learning the idea that one must re-read and edit before one posts:

    “Hmmm. Is this not the basis upon which many an educator has leaned for deciding where the educational program must be cut so as to meet the budgetary requirements? A music program? How many students will be able to earn a living as a musician someday? Ah, I think we can safely do away with that. Drama and the other arts? Cut, cut, cut.”

    That’s better.

  24. Trent
    November 2, 2007 at 5:36 pm #

    Is it proper for government to intervene in the educational sphere? If so, why was it not done for many, many years after the birth of our nation?

    Slavery was a part of our nation for many, many years after the birth of our nation. So why did they abolish it? Just because something was part of or not part of the nation when it was formed cannot be a basis for judging merit. Our founders were visionaries but not fortune tellers. Things change as they move on. Literacy rates in the United States were much lower before public education came along. The founders never forbid government from offering public education, but they forbid government from establishing a state religion. If it was so important to them that they keep government from offering public schools than why is it not included anywhere? Also, the Utah constitution was written in 1895 with the establishment of public schools in there. Sounds like it has been around plenty of time. And from a religious context, read the signers of the constitution at the bottom. Many of them you will recognize as leaders of the church. Were they not inspired then?

    Also Connor, regarding the link on Hunter’s talk, I understand all the principles. Some people read as much as you do. I also understand it is the parents responsibility to provide for their children. However, no education for a child is in my mind as bad as child abuse. We have a scriptural responsibility to protect children who have no choice on their own. We aren’t in the Millenium here, there are really bad parents out there who do not care if their child gets an education. If school suddenly cost each of them money to go you would see many not send them to school or else send them to the worst possible place they could find.

  25. Trent
    November 2, 2007 at 5:44 pm #

    I know this is going to be long, but here are the signers of the Utah constitution. Lorin Farr, my great, great, great, grandfather is on there (grandfather of George Albert Smith). Edward Partridge, Karl Maeser, and many other people you will recognize. They believed in public education, so do I.

    JOHN HENRY SMITH, President.
    PARLEY P. CHRISTENSEN, Secretary.
    Louis Bernhardt Adams
    Rufus Albern Allen
    Andrew Smith Anderson
    John Richard Barnes
    John Rutledge Bowdle
    John Sell Boyer
    Theodore Brandley
    Herbert Guion Button
    William Buys
    Chester Call
    George Mousley Cannon
    John Foy Chidester
    Parley Christiansen
    Thomas H. Clark, Jr
    Louis Laville Coray
    Elmer Ellsworth Corfman
    Charles Crane
    William Creer
    George Cunningham
    Arthur John Cushing
    William Driver
    Dennis Clay Eichnor
    Alma Eldredge
    George Rhodes Emery
    Andreas Engberg
    David Evans
    Abel John Evans
    Lorin Farr
    Samuel Francis
    William Henry Gibbs
    Charles Carroll Goodwin
    James Frederic Green
    Francis Asbury Hammond
    Charles Henry Hart
    Harry Haynes
    Samuel Hood Hill
    John Daniel Holladay
    William Howard
    Henry Hughes
    Joseph Alonzo Hyde
    Anthony Woodward Ivins
    Wm. F. James
    Lycurgus Johnson
    Joseph Loftus Joley
    Frederick John Keisel
    David Keith
    Thomas Kearns
    William Jasper Kerr
    Andrew Kimball
    James Nathaniel Kimball
    Richard G. Lambert
    Lauritz Larsen
    Christen Peter Larsen
    Hyrum Lemmon
    Theodore Belden Lewis
    William Lowe
    Peter Lowe
    James Paton Low
    Anthony Canute Lund
    Karl G. Maeser
    Richard Mackintosh
    Thomas Maloney
    William H. Maughan
    Robert McFarland
    George Parcust Miller
    Elias Morris
    Jacob Moritz
    John Riggs Murdock
    Joseph Royal Murdock
    James David Murdock
    Aquila Nebeker
    Jeremiah Day Page
    Edward Partridge
    John David Peters
    Mons Peterson
    James Christian Peterson
    Frank Pierce
    Wm. B. Preston
    Alonzo Hazelton Raleigh
    Franklyn Snyder Richards
    Joel Ricks
    Brigham Henry Roberts
    Jasper Robertson
    Joseph Eldredge Robinson
    Willis Eugene Robison
    George Ryan
    John Henry Smith
    George B. Squires
    Harrison Tuttle Shurtliff
    Edward Hunter Snow
    David Brainerd Stover
    Hiram Hupp Spencer
    Charles Nettleton Strevell
    Charles William Symons
    Moses Thatcher
    Daniel Thompson
    Ingwald Conrad Thoresen
    Joseph Ephraim Thorne
    Samuel R. Thurman
    William Grant Van Horne
    Charles Stetson Varian
    Heber M. Wells
    Noble Warrum, Jr.
    Orson Ferguson Whitney
    Joseph John Williams

  26. Connor
    November 2, 2007 at 5:57 pm #

    The founders never forbid government from offering public education, but they forbid government from establishing a state religion.

    They forbid the government to do everything not in the enumerated powers. Education was notably excluded.

    Literacy rates in the United States were much lower before public education came along.

    Source, please?

    We have a scriptural responsibility to protect children who have no choice on their own.

    No – we have a scriptural responsibility to protect our own children. Big difference.

    We aren’t in the Millenium here, there are really bad parents out there who do not care if their child gets an education.

    I’m sure there are. What authority, though, does the state have to intervene and override a parent’s role to raise their children as they see fit? This mentality has grown to absurd proportions, to include giving children vaccinations in school without parental consent or knowledge. To what extent may the government interfere with autonomous family life? The intrusion of the state into family affairs (i.e. the government thinking that I’m not properly educating my own child) has gone to an extreme that I believe infringes upon individual liberty and self-governance.

  27. Trent
    November 2, 2007 at 6:34 pm #

    I’m sure there are. What authority, though, does the state have to intervene and override a parent’s role to raise their children as they see fit?

    Where did I say ever in any of my comments we should force parents to send their kids to public schools? Please can we stay on topic? We are talking about the role of public schools in our state and why they exist. Parents should have every right to put their children in any school they wish, and I NEVER said otherwise. I showed you who signed the constitution and you haven’t said anything about it. There were many who like me believed that we should provide public schooling, including many general authorities from the beginning of our state. Were all these men wrong? I don’t care whether parents participate in it or not, I just want our government to provide it if it is needed and wanted by parents. Education is so important that it can’t be lumped in with everything else like you seem to do. President Hinckley’s comments on education underline what a vital part of a child’s life it is. I don’t understand where you got the idea I was advocating taking away choice or forcing it on anyone. Want to know a secret? I am probably sending my kids to private schools at different times and places. Does that shed any light on what I am saying?

    Also, I must understand the scriptures different then you, because I believe we have a responsibility to protect both children and widows from abuse. Why do we have child abuse laws? Because we protect them since they can’t protect themselves. Has the government taken it too far? Of course, but we are not talking about those things.

  28. Sam Hennis
    November 2, 2007 at 8:13 pm #

    Trent,

    I don’t care whether parents participate in it or not, I just want our government to provide it if it is needed and wanted by parents.

    So you believe the government should take money from me to finance another child’s education?

    I don’t understand where you got the idea I was advocating taking away choice or forcing it on anyone.

    Government sponsored education is FORCE. I am FORCED to pay for it and I have no CHOICE in the matter.

    I really enjoy helping other people who need it. I believe it is the right thing to do, and it’s what we all should do of our own free will, but I resent being FORCED to be charitable. That is Satan’s counterfeit plan — FORCE everyone to be charitable through socialized government programs.

  29. Dan
    November 2, 2007 at 9:20 pm #

    Sam,

    So you believe the government should take money from me to finance another child’s education?

    Yep.

    Government sponsored education is FORCE. I am FORCED to pay for it and I have no CHOICE in the matter.

    Actually you do have a choice, Sam. You can elect representatives who hold your view. Otherwise, no you don’t have a choice. That’s what sucks about living in a society, you have to live by the rules and standards that society has set.

    You could always move somewhere else if you don’t like what you’ve got here.

  30. Rob
    November 2, 2007 at 9:31 pm #

    Conner, here’s a paper I wrote about Vouchers when I was at BYU. Anyway, I like your blog. – Rob

  31. Dan
    November 2, 2007 at 10:33 pm #

    Rob,

    Nicely argued point. I might also add that another problem with non-public schools, or charter schools, is that they really don’t improve on the grades of their students. Here for example is one result from 2004 on how charter schools have done:

    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.

    Charters are expected to grow exponentially under the new federal education law, No Child Left Behind, which holds out conversion to charter schools as one solution for chronically failing traditional schools.

    ”The scores are low, dismayingly low,” said Chester E. Finn Jr., a supporter of charters and president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, who was among those who asked the administration to do the comparison.

    Not only that but it seems charter schools have a tendency to kick out troublesome students back into the public school system, so as to not have their numbers look bad by the bad apples.

    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.

    There is no oversight of these kinds of schools. They don’t improve on the scores of the children they take in, and some of them kick the bad apples out so their scores don’t get messed up. This comes from competition. This comes from attempts to make education a market-based system. There are just some things in life that are not compatible with a market system.

  32. Rob
    November 2, 2007 at 10:34 pm #

    Here is my conclusion from my Honor’s Thesis at BYU back in 1999:

    Education can be considered as one of the fundamental establishments of American democracy, society, and culture. The strength of the market in the United States and the simplicity of ideas such as efficiency, and choice makes the idea of education vouchers appealing on many levels. However, before a community, district, or state jumps on the voucher bandwagon completely, more complex issues surrounding concepts like equity and the role government and markets in public education need to be addressed in the community where reform is being considered.

    The issues of education vouchers and market reform in education are issues that carry with them not just the need to create an education policy reform that is in tune with not just the environment of education, but in tune with society as a whole. I began this paper looking at some of the economic factors affecting voucher reform in Utah. I finished it by examining the values that surround the voucher debate in the United States. Voucher reform has many potential problems that need to be addressed before it should be considered a viable education reform idea in the state of Utah. After briefly examining vouchers reform in Utah, it has become obvious that before vouchers, or any form of market reform is attempted in Utah, both economic AND normative evaluations need to show exactly how reform will benefit all of Utah and Utah’s children.

  33. Rob
    November 2, 2007 at 10:41 pm #

    Dan,

    Not to drop a big post on my page and then seem like a hypocrit, but I do send my kids to a Charter school in Arizona.

    For me, it comes down to class size, and choice. I do think at a macro-level we need to allow schools to fail and shut down if choice will work. But the costs savings aren’t really significant. Look at the post I did on “EVALUATING THE SUPPLY-SIDE MODEL FOR EDUCATION REFORM IN UTAH”

    Back when I did it, without taking into consideration the administrative costs at the state or district level, the cost savings was about $16 per student in Utah per $1000 voucher.

  34. Janet
    November 3, 2007 at 5:14 am #

    Connor,

    I love the header on your blog, “welcome to my brain. come, have a seat.” You are obviously a very intelligent person with a lot of important, meaningful things to say. I love visiting your brain. You are focused; your blog is serious especially for a 20+ young man…SO HOW WERE YOU EDUCATED? WHAT SCULPTED YOUR MIND? Was it the paradigm in which you were educated? Or, was it the educators who influenced you? Because I have seen incredible successes come out of public, private and home school situations, I am curious about the success named Connor.

    Because I have seen tragic failures come out of public, private and home school situations, I am curious about those who fail. On your blog you quote religious, educational and political leaders who are, or were, in favor of leaving all education decisions for children up to their parents. So I’m curious…

    What do you propose for poor kids with truly stupid parents who are totally incapable of educating their children?

    What do you propose for the unfortunate children with wicked parents who abuse their children?

    What do you propose for kids with radical parents who teach insurrection and tyranny to their children?

    What do you think would happen to these children and the society in which they live if everything were left up to the parent?

    Would we become a nation at war like the Lamanites and the Nephites?

    Pushing a voucher system is like throwing a rock in the water. It would cause a ripple that affects the entire lake. I agree that the UEA is throwing rocks of unrighteous dominion into the public education lake. Rocks that need removing. I agree that there are powerful groups of wicked individuals who are throwing rocks of deceit into the lake of public education. Also rocks that need to be removed.

    So, what happens to public education if good children with good parents are removed from the system instead of removing the problems? What happens to the good, poor, and unfortunate children who are left? What happens to the society in which they live?

    Have you seriously and realistically considered the ripples outside of a self-interested Utopian paradigm? Don’t get me wrong, I am not attacking your position. I would just like to hear a more developed argument that considers the consequences of the system that is being proposed.

    Come now, let us reason together. No man is an island…

  35. salth2o
    November 3, 2007 at 6:16 am #

    I find this whole voucher argument tiresome, and the amount of people bloging about it in Utah cumbersome because so few choose to bring original and creative thought to the table.

    However, I did enjoy this post- I love the Coke/Pepsi analogy and you’re spot on in your comments.

  36. Connor
    November 3, 2007 at 8:56 am #

    Janet,

    SO HOW WERE YOU EDUCATED? WHAT SCULPTED YOUR MIND?

    I frequently tell friends and family that everything important I’ve learned, I’ve learned after I graduated from college.

    You see, while school ended up teaching me how to learn (well, sort of…), I never had much of a chance—much less a desire— to actively learn.

    It wasn’t until I graduated college that I found myself free of busy work, assignments, and projects that teachers were mandating I complete. No longer did I have to study, memorize, or learn what another person told me to. I had complete volition to spend my time how I saw fit.

    That’s when I dove into books, voraciously consuming whatever I could get my hands on. I don’t credit my schooling with much, other than getting me a degree that doesn’t really serve a purpose. Even in my trade (web design/development) I’m 95% self taught, so school didn’t have much impact there.

    Because I have seen tragic failures come out of public, private and home school situations, I am curious about those who fail.

    Public school supporters love to amplify the problems that can exist in private education and alternative education methods. But I agree with you that such failures are evident in any educational system.

    What do you propose for poor kids with truly stupid parents who are totally incapable of educating their children?

    One problem I have with socialists/statists is that, as I mentioned above to Trent, they propose that the government have more control of a child than his/her own parent. I am against this. I think it defies all logic to have a state dictate to the parent what he/she should or should not do regarding their child.

    The simple fact of the matter is that God has allowed us to become parents and bring into this world children over whom we have a stewardship. Some will use that stewardship wisely; others will not.

    But it is dangerous, in my mind, to say that we are entitled as a government or society to swoop in “fix” a child for the parent. That removes accountability from the very person responsible for such an action.

    I am in favor, though, of using methods of persuasion, long-suffering, and enticement. So long as the parent is not being forced to comply (either through taxation, threat of losing their children to social services, etc.), we are free as a people to try to convince our neighbors of a better way.

    If we see a child getting a poor education, we are more than able to encourage the parent to try something new, or what we in our eyes think is better.

    But if the parent refuses, and would prefer his son to grow up as a farmer, who are we to say no? Are we morally justified in assuming that that child’s education will be insufficient, and therefore the government should intervene?

    What do you propose for the unfortunate children with wicked parents who abuse their children?

    This raises the bar to a new level. Abuse and all other physical action (against life, liberty, and property) should be dealt with by government, which is lawfully empowered to recompense that parent accordingly.

    What do you propose for kids with radical parents who teach insurrection and tyranny to their children?

    The same thing I propose for kids whose parents teach them secular humanism, or that Santa Claus is real, or that the Founding Fathers were all deists. Inasmuch as the parents and child refrain from injuring anybody else, they are free to act as they please, and teach/learn what they please. After all, we’ve got plenty of misinformation being taught in public schools, so I find it hypocritical of anybody being extremely concerned regarding what a parent teaches his/her child.

    What do you think would happen to these children and the society in which they live if everything were left up to the parent?

    The children, no doubt, would face a rude awakening once they learned the truth from another source. Perhaps that would distance them from their parents. Perhaps they would refuse to accept the truth and adhere to the teachings of their parents. All that is fine.

    Again, we as a society are not morally empowered to dictate the upbringing of a person’s child. Through persuasion we may seek to guide such an affair, but in no way can we dictate through force what should or should not be done.

    Would we become a nation at war like the Lamanites and the Nephites?

    Aren’t we already at war? :)

    So, what happens to public education if good children with good parents are removed from the system instead of removing the problems?

    I’m not convinced that this will be the situation. In addition to the good parents, I think we’d see plenty of “okay” parents who just want subsidized private education, and aren’t primarily concerned about the quality of that education.

    What happens to the good, poor, and unfortunate children who are left?

    Since the system has been established, we continue to maintain it. This is, as Trent pointed out, in the Utah Constitution. But I believe that private schooling institutions and homeschooling organizations should continue to promote their cause and expand their influence, helping parents to see the pros/cons of whatever educational choice they make.

    Have you seriously and realistically considered the ripples outside of a self-interested Utopian paradigm?

    Yes, I have. I believe decisions, when possible, should be made on principle, not practicality. In this specific case, the principle to be implemented is that parents should be free to choose the education their child will receive. Self-governance should be preserved, and individual accountability maintained. And so as a corollary to that, I feel that whatever steps being made in this direction—big or small—are beneficial to society overall and in the long run.

    Come now, let us reason together. No man is an island…

    No man is an island, but each man is an example. Were we all to “settle” for a happy medium of public education, where would the example be set? Instead, when people following principle choose to seek an alternative educational method, their friends and family begin asking questions. They begin to think. They begin to wonder if there is a better solution than the happy medium they were content to accept before. And as an example is set, through persuasion and long-suffering, others will be bound to follow.

    No man is an island, but each has a primary duty to take care of himself and his family. After that comes society. But we cannot help society unless we have made proper, principle-based decisions that put us in a position to help others and attract them to something better than they currently have.

  37. Dan
    November 3, 2007 at 9:32 am #

    Connor,

    You see, while school ended up teaching me how to learn (well, sort of…), I never had much of a chance—much less a desire— to actively learn.

    I will never forget the important lessons I learned in AP English in high school. Again, I still cannot fathom how drastically different our schooling was, Connor. You apparently grew up in a fairly well to do neighborhood in California, as I did. How did you go to a school that is apparently so far inferior to mine? Heck, even the Grammar English class I hated when I was a sophomore (in which I got a “D”) I still remember the important lessons I would never have learned on my own.

    I think you have a certain political philosophy that dictates to you that your schooling was inferior to what you actually needed, but in reality, the schooling you’ve had all your life has molded you into the person you are today. Rail on it all you like. I learned a very important lesson from this blog about someone who has turned against his faith. He may no longer participate in his faith, but he understands that his faith molded him into the person he is.

    You are the smart man you are today, Connor, because of the schooling you got.

    It wasn’t until I graduated college that I found myself free of busy work, assignments, and projects that teachers were mandating I complete. No longer did I have to study, memorize, or learn what another person told me to. I had complete volition to spend my time how I saw fit.

    It was never taken away from you in the first place, Connor. You always had full control of how you spent your own time, especially in college. Especially in college, no one could dictate to you how you spent your time. If you chose not to read or study on your own, that was always your choice. While at BYU, I probably read 500-600 pages per week in this or that, a book of my choice, or what my teachers wanted me to read. I chose to do it though, out of my own free will.

    You chose, Connor, out of your own free will to take those classes in college. Heck, you chose out of your own free will, to go to college in the first place. No one can force you, Connor. Sure there are societal pressures, but they are merely that: pressures. They cannot force you.

    That’s when I dove into books, voraciously consuming whatever I could get my hands on

    I found I read the most when I was in school, not out. I found I wasted more time when away from school (but maybe this is just a difference in our characters—I find I study and learn more when I am directed in a certain path—whether I go down that path, or another).

    Public school supporters love to amplify the problems that can exist in private education and alternative education methods.

    I think you have that opposite, Connor. Public school detractors love to amplifhy problems that can exist in public education. Public school supporters merely show that private schooling, or alternative education models don’t really improve scoring among children. To say so does not amplify the problems. They highlight them, because who else will? There’s no accountability in private or alternative education. Someone has to identify the elephant in the room.

    Again, we as a society are not morally empowered to dictate the upbringing of a person’s child. Through persuasion we may seek to guide such an affair, but in no way can we dictate through force what should or should not be done.

    Actually we are, Connor. Because people who grow up without education are a burden on society, and in the end we have to pay for their problems. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I’m sure you learned that in public school, but dismissed it as “misinformation.”

    It’s funny to hear you agree that “no man is an island” but be perfectly fine to let kids fail because their parents choose so. Are those kids “an island?” Do they not in the end detrimentally affect the society you live in? Of course they do. When is it better to fix the problem? Is it not easier to fix the problem from the beginning instead of waiting until they are criminals killing others? Or doing who knows what else.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I think that’s a better adage than “no man is an island.”

    But we cannot help society unless we have made proper, principle-based decisions that put us in a position to help others and attract them to something better than they currently have.

    Yeah, it’s called public education. :)

  38. Trent
    November 3, 2007 at 10:26 am #

    For some reason my comment last night wasn’t posted. Must have triggered some filter as I had quite a few links. Anyway, it is in response to Sam up above. If you see it Connor just remove it as I don’t want there to be duplicate content in here.

    I don’t care whether parents participate in it or not, I just want our government to provide it if it is needed and wanted by parents.

    The vouchers are doing the same thing. As I posted earlier, they are giving people earning 43k or less 3k per child. People earning that amount pay less than 1k into Utah income tax. If they have four kids, they are receiving 12k and only paying in 1k. Lets stop acting as if these vouchers are just giving your tax money back. People are still going to be paying for other peoples kids.

    I really enjoy helping other people who need it. I believe it is the right thing to do, and it’s what we all should do of our own free will, but I resent being FORCED to be charitable. That is Satan’s counterfeit plan — FORCE everyone to be charitable through socialized government programs.

    For this I simply want to point you again to who wrote and signed the Utah constitution. Look at this link to the proceedings of the constitution delegation in 1895.

    An excerpt –

    Mr. CRANE. At the request of a large number of the delegates who are here present, I have been requested to call this Convention to order. I will call upon President George Q. Cannon to ask the Divine blessing. The honor was accorded President Woodruff, to ask the Divine blessing on this assemblage here today, but unfortunately President Woodruff is indisposed. The committee therefore considered it but right that President Cannon should ask the Divine blessing.

    President Cannon then went on to nominate a temporary president of the body and was present at the proceedings. You can choose not to like your own public schools, but to call the program “Satan’s plan” is false. Are we saying these men were all signing off on an evil program? These were not a few. We probably need public school reform, but the program is justified. I truly want a response to this.

  39. Connor
    November 3, 2007 at 11:58 am #

    Dan,

    This comment serves to inform you that I am taking a break from you. While you are more than welcome to continue to comment, I find myself lacking the desire and the time to constantly reply to your contrarian comments. Perhaps others will continue to do so, but I’ve found little personal benefit in responding to and rebutting each of your remarks, and so it’s time I take a break. This is not permanent, and I may chime in now and then, but largely I’ll be glazing over any comments you leave since it’s been, thus far, a huge time suck for me.

    Who knows, maybe this action on my part will help you fulfill your goal. :)

  40. Dan
    November 3, 2007 at 12:30 pm #

    It’s alright Connor, I’ll leave your blog be. I wish you luck in life.

  41. Rob
    November 3, 2007 at 1:04 pm #

    I seek to build bridges between Mormon libertarians and Mormon democrats, what can I do to help you and Dan to communicate better. There appears to be some anger here.

    he he he!

    Just kidding. This issue is going to be hot and heavy for about another what…3 days…and then it’s relatively done for awhile. Rest and recoup.

    Dan and Conner, I tend to find myself between both of your poles on issues. I have strong libertarian leanings, but I also am fairly pragmatic. I think the market is fantastic at doing somethings, but that our own LDS/Christian values will invariably prevent a “true market” from being realized in education. It isn’t really schools that will fail, it is children in the schools.

    Like I told Dan awhile back on his blog (or mine or here even…I can’t hold my thoughts straight anymore), I send my kids to a charter school, I was educated at Waterford in Utah (a pretty elite private school), and I’m a big fan of public schools). That being said, there is a caveat…I think the public school system has become way way too top heavy. Part of that is the way we promote teachers (incentive to gain more pay by moving from teaching to administration, etc).

    We also have to realize the constraints that geography and demographics WILL play on the success of vouchers. The reality is, although this is politically very sexy right now, when I ran the numbers there wasn’t a high statistic of people that would actually utilize $1000 voucher. I admit my analysis was done 9 years ago, so it is a tad out of date, and the impulse for home schooling when there is no other option is a big issue. However, I have yet to see a real convincing argument that government should subsidize home schooling (other than fairness). What is the public good?

    – Rob

  42. Carissa
    November 3, 2007 at 1:08 pm #

    They believed in public education…

    Referring to the signers of the Utah Constitution, I would be careful about reading too much into what they “believed” in. After all, Utah’s constitution also states that “polygamous or plural marriages are forever prohibited”. Can we then say with surety that all those signers were against the very concept of plural marriage? How many of them had plural wives? A more accurate thing to say would be that they agreed to live by the new laws, possibly for the greater good (or inevitability) of statehood.

  43. Rob
    November 3, 2007 at 1:15 pm #

    Conner,

    I also find it interesting you would use the coke/pepsi photo as a metaphor for school choice.

    This is a famous example, cited on Wikipedia and written about by M. Gladwell in his book Blink of the built in problems with Pepsi’s taste test methodology:

    author Malcolm Gladwell ascribes the success of Pepsi over Coca-Cola in these tests to being a result of the nature of “sip tests”, which would fail to account for the cloying effect of excessive sweetness and the complementary but counter-intuitive long-term preference for an item that would consistently lose in a blind sip-test comparison.

    Intentional Conner or is it serendipity?

    Who is Coke and who is Pepsi in your metaphor again? I have to admit, I’m a diet Coke fan myself, thus giving you my own bias here in public.

  44. Trent
    November 3, 2007 at 1:18 pm #

    Referring to the signers of the Utah Constitution, I would be careful about reading too much into what they “believed” in.

    Carissa, you can read the proceedings of the constitutional committee on public schools for yourself below. I linked the specific day it was discussed. It is under the EDUCATION AND SCHOOL LANDS section. I am not “reading into something”. Read what Karl Maeser said as well as the others on the committee. In fact, there are no contrary opinions on the matter of whether or not there should be a free public school system. The only thing they disagreed on is how many grades would be included in the free public school system. First, having a public school system was not a prerequisite of statehood. Comparing it to polygamy isn’t a good argument as common public schools were available before this constitution and before they were even attempting statehood. I have said before I support private education. I think the two systems should both exist.

    Discussion on free public schools

  45. Carissa
    November 3, 2007 at 1:50 pm #

    Janet- I wanted to respond to your comment. I agree with Connor that decisions regarding the use of government intervention should be based on principles rather than outcomes. If the outcomes end up being undesirable due to poor personal choices, we should try to do all we can to help, support, or encourage others to seek a better way. People should be allowed to make mistakes, though, just as they should be allowed to succeed and flourish. It’s how we grow. It’s why we’re here.

    Imagine the council in heaven. Imagine the great plan of agency being introduced and the enormous risks it involved. Was our Father lacking compassion by allowing such freedom, knowing well that many of his children would not choose wisely and have to suffer the eternal consequences? Were there similar questions asked then… “what will happen to children born to wicked parents? What will happen to society if we allow…?”

    He made His choice based on principle, not on the potential outcomes. Now, that does not relieve us from the moral responsibility we have to reach out to others and try to help them. But as Connor said, it needs to be done with long suffering and persuasion and love. It is easy to forget, as George Washington said, that “Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence. It is force.”

  46. Carissa
    November 3, 2007 at 2:45 pm #

    Trent- thanks for the link. I can see now that you were not inferring anything. Karl Maeser, himself, said in the convention, “I am a strong advocate of free school systems.” Interesting how Brigham Young pretty much said the opposite, huh?

  47. Trent
    November 3, 2007 at 4:25 pm #

    No problem Carissa. Obviously there are different political philosophies among many leaders of the church now and in the past. People interpret responsibilities and role of government different. I just was frustrated with people inferring that the idea of public schools was without merit and basically evil, when these men were very much behind it. I believe sometimes we throw around the words that something is “evil” or state something is against gospel principles too easily. I also submit sometimes we are too slow to condemn that which is clearly wrong so it isn’t a one way street. In this case I believe both sides have merit, which is why I strongly believe in coming up with a system that mixes the availability of both private and public schools and allowing parents the freedom of choice. Regardless, it is a very difficult subject and the solutions are not clear cut, which is why you have very righteous, intelligent people on both sides going at it. Categorizing people in either camp as supporting an “evil” plan is one of the reasons this debate across the state has turned largely into a mud slinging fest with little real quality debate.

  48. Trent
    November 3, 2007 at 4:34 pm #

    To add one more thing, I found this amazing quote from David O McKay that kind of wraps both sides thoughts together. I think it is very balanced.

    “Students enter school primarily to gain economic or social advantage. But this aim is not always achieved, nor is it, nor should it be, the highest purpose of education. However, we must not underestimate the value of obtaining an education for a livelihood. Education for economic advancement is a good investment for the individual as well as for the State. The United States as a Nation is still young, but its brief history is replete with striking examples of the value of its free public school system even as a financial investment. . . .No, I do not in the least disparage this aim, nor criticize our public school system for planning to make possible its realization. But education for a livelihood is not the highest purpose of education. “The fallacious belief,” writes Dr. Robert M. Hutchins, Chancellor of the University of Chicago, “that education can in some way contribute to vocational and social success has done more than most things to disrupt American education. What education can do, and perhaps all it can do, is to produce a trained mind.” – David O. McKay

  49. Jeff
    November 3, 2007 at 5:54 pm #

    The same thing I propose for kids whose parents teach them secular humanism, or that Santa Claus is real, or that the Founding Fathers were all deists

    How about those who continue to perpetuate the myth that all the Founding Fathers were Christians who wanted to create a “Christian Nation”? I read most of Original Intent, and all Barton did was cherry-pick quotes from the founders to match his narrow interpretation (he actually suggested in the book that we should be prosecuted for blasphemy :( ). The truth is somewhere in the middle, but I don’t think you have much use for the middle, do you?

    I find myself lacking the desire and the time to constantly reply to your contrarian comments.

    Dan made a very good argument above, probably one of the best I’ve read of his. Could it just be that you couldn’t refute his logic? At least you notified him. When you couldn’t debate me, you just left the thread hanging. I find it interesting that you claim to be actively seeking the truth, but you ignore or seek to tear down any view that is contrary to your narrow, idealistic view of the world. So, I won’t be commenting anymore here. I might still read occasionally, but I, like you I guess, have decided that I have better ways to spend my time.

    Cheers,
    Jeff

  50. Mark N
    November 3, 2007 at 9:04 pm #

    Karl Maeser, himself, said in the convention, “I am a strong advocate of free school systems.”

    Was Dr. Maeser advocating that no teacher in said “free school system” get paid?

    If not, then it wasn’t a free school system.

    TANSTAAFL.

  51. Connor
    November 3, 2007 at 9:30 pm #

    Rob,

    …what can I do to help you and Dan to communicate better. There appears to be some anger here.

    This has very little to do with this specific thread/topic. Dan’s been around much longer. :)

    Intentional Conner or is it serendipity?

    Serendipity

    Who is Coke and who is Pepsi in your metaphor again?

    There’s no direct relation in my Coke/Pepsi example to any school institution or program – it was simply given as an example to illustrate how true competition does not exist.

    Jeff,

    How about those who continue to perpetuate the myth that all the Founding Fathers were Christians who wanted to create a “Christian Nation”?

    Myth? Not all were Christians, but this most certainly was established as a Christian nation. Not endorsed by the federal government, but highly encouraged and understood by most all involved in shaping the nation.

    Dan made a very good argument above, probably one of the best I’ve read of his. Could it just be that you couldn’t refute his logic?

    Rest assured, this most certainly not the case. I didn’t even read Dan’s comment before posting my own in response.

    When you couldn’t debate me, you just left the thread hanging.

    I didn’t intentionally ignore you on that thread because I couldn’t debate you. I moved on, posting new things, and forgot to respond. There are others who comment (both in agreement and disagreement) to whom I respond, whether it be that I didn’t have the time, or forgot to do so.

    I find it interesting that you claim to be actively seeking the truth, but you ignore or seek to tear down any view that is contrary to your narrow, idealistic view of the world.

    I’m not seeking to tear down any opposing view. I value principles, and whatever truth I find that is in harmony with other established truths, I’ll gladly accept it.

  52. Rob
    November 3, 2007 at 9:34 pm #

    Wow, all these years and I thought TANSTAFL was a Heinlein acronymn and maybe he just filtched it from Dr. Maeser. How do I grok that?

  53. Russell
    November 4, 2007 at 2:28 am #

    @ Rob

    After briefly examining vouchers reform in Utah, it has become obvious that before vouchers, or any form of market reform is attempted in Utah, both economic AND normative evaluations need to show exactly how reform will benefit all of Utah and Utah’s children.

    I couldn’t disagree more with this statement. The only thing reform needs to show is that it benefits individuals and personal liberty.

  54. Rob
    November 4, 2007 at 2:39 am #

    The only thing reform needs to show is that it benefits individuals and personal liberty.

    OK Russell, You can’t disagree more. That is a big statement. So show me the individual benefit. Real dollars, realistic expectations of use. When I ran the numbers, it came out to about $16 per kid in Utah. Obviously, I ran it for $1000 voucher back in 1998. What I’m saying is once you run the numbers you’ve got to use the assumption that not everyone will use it.

    I don’t build a McDonalds because of market liberty…I build a McDonalds because the market demands it. I don’t see the market demand. Show me the money. Again, I’m just being pragmatic here. But thanks for reading my stuff. IT was just gathering dust on my hard-drive.

  55. Russell
    November 4, 2007 at 3:03 am #

    @ Janet

    I will also answer your questions

    What do you propose for poor kids with truly stupid parents who are totally incapable of educating their children?

    The problem with this entire statement is that it a) Makes the assumption that you or someone else has superior knowledge of what it means to be a good parent, and b) That it grants you or someone else the right to act on that supposed superior knowledge. Society is not responsible for the upbringing of your child and you are not responsible for the upbringing of your neighbor’s child. This whole “it takes a village” garbage undermines individual accountability, which for religious persons, is at the very heart of eternal progression. This doesn’t mean you can’t (with that parent’s permission) do something to help see that the child is educated, but to force it or to force others to help through monetary donation undermines the basic rights of humanity.

    What do you propose for the unfortunate children with wicked parents who abuse their children?

    The constitution itself protects against this very behavior and grants the government the rights to protect the liberty of the individual. I propose what the constitution proposes, which is to allow the government to protect the child because his liberties are being removed.

    What do you propose for kids with radical parents who teach insurrection and tyranny to their children?

    What is wrong with teaching your child insurrection or tyranny? Thank goodness for those founding fathers who technically acted as an insurgency and fought against the crown in this land. Phew. Heaven forbid parents would teach their children such things. Tyranny? This merely means one who holds vast or absolute power. So long as that person does not use that power to remove the liberty of another it doesn’t matter.

    What do you think would happen to these children and the society in which they live if everything were left up to the parent?

    Since your next question refers to Lamanites and Nephites I will assume that you are Mormon and refer you The Family: A Proclamation to the World … “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. . . family is the fundamental unit of society.”

    Apparently, God says that it is up to the parent and that that relationship between parent and child (family) is the fundamental unit of society. God says this, so you could ask him this question, but he has given his answer. IT IS THE PARENT’S RESPONSIBILITY!

    Would we become a nation at war like the Lamanites and the Nephites?

    We are at war.

    Pushing a voucher system is like throwing a rock in the water. It would cause a ripple that affects the entire lake.

    Yes it would. Wouldn’t it be great to send ripples through a stagnant lake?

    So, what happens to public education if good children with good parents are removed from the system instead of removing the problems?

    Problems stem from what? People. You’re left with “bad children with bd parents,” and the system gets an overhaul when the system isn’t even the problem.

    What happens to the good, poor, and unfortunate children who are left? What happens to the society in which they live?

    Enough already with the “what about the children” speech. People like yourself step in and take care of it. What about the hungry? People always seem to step in and feed them. What about the homeless? People always step in and help. BUT, help only goes so far. A person must learn to also help himself.

  56. Russell
    November 4, 2007 at 3:28 am #

    OK Russell, You can’t disagree more. That is a big statement. So show me the individual benefit. Real dollars, realistic expectations of use. When I ran the numbers, it came out to about $16 per kid in Utah. Obviously, I ran it for $1000 voucher back in 1998. What I’m saying is once you run the numbers you’ve got to use the assumption that not everyone will use it.

    I don’t build a McDonalds because of market liberty…I build a McDonalds because the market demands it. I don’t see the market demand. Show me the money. Again, I’m just being pragmatic here. But thanks for reading my stuff. IT was just gathering dust on my hard-drive.

    With what I’m saying, numbers and use do not matter in this situation. My mom pulled this one on me. “Not everyone will use it. People still won’t be able to go to private school.” This does not matter. Let the people decide whether they will use it. Let them decide if they will pass up a new house or a new car or a family vacation each year to go to send their kid to private school. Can we not give them some of the money they would send to public schools to help them pay for their child to go to school somewhere else? They are paying the money out of their own pocket. Is it feasible that the parent could wish so deeply for their child to go to school somewhere else that the parent extends his or her own education to get a better job to help pay for that education? Use does not matter. Choice does.

    You’ve also got market demand backwards. You may not build a McDonald’s unless the market demands it, but you’re also not going to build a McDonald’s with public money. What the pro voucher folks are saying is they don’t want a McDonald’s. They want a KFC, and they don’t understand why they should have to pay to build your McDonald’s but can’t have any of that money (money they contributed) to build their KFC. Why… Opponents say “Because it will take money away from building and improving our McDonald’s.” Well, I don’t like McDonald’s. I (along with a whole group of other people) prefer KFC proponents say… Too bad. We’re using YOUR money to build OUR McDonald’s. If you want a KFC use your own money. Shouldn’t the McDonald’s builders do the same? Use their own money?

    Moral of the story is, they don’t need to prove to opponents that their is a demand at all. Public education is not the unique moral authority on how to educate. Personal liberty is the only thing that matters. Does referendum 1 support individual liberty?

  57. Russell
    November 4, 2007 at 3:36 am #

    @ Jeff

    Dare I say in response to your criticism of Connor’s ideals that truth is extremely narrow and very idealistic.

    I do dare because one thing you will notice is there is a theme to what Conner writes, and that theme is based on specific beliefs and ideals. He can near always tie his statements back to a principle of belief. And what good is truth if it does not paint a picture of the ultimate ideal for us?

  58. Rob
    November 4, 2007 at 6:11 am #

    Russell,

    No, you’ve got demand backwards. Or you simply misinterpret what I was asking. Do you agree “If the voters demand it, they will vote for it?” Well fine. But what I’m asking is a slightly different question. “Will the users of vouchers use it? And at what rate?”

    My “do I build an McDonalds question” is only saying I need to know how many consumers want a hamburger, not how many consumers want the freedom to eat.

    You pretend money doesn’t matter nut to your narrow self-interest ideology numbers DO INDEED matter, because they represent personal liberty?

    How about even simpler questions since you refuse to answer mine directly.

    1. What is your direct interest in the outcome?
    2. What is your bias?
    3. Are you paid for an outcome?
    4. Do you have a vested interest in the outcome?
    5. Are you paid to participate in the debate or is it strictly ann idealistic vision to you?

    Again, bias is important here in this debate. What is your bias? You speak as if the only outcome of voters decisions is personal liberty. You push hard that money doesn’t matter?

    Are you getting paid to say what you say, or are you typing for free? Sorry if I’m skeptical, you work for a PR firm…

  59. Rob
    November 4, 2007 at 6:13 am #

    Sorry about the spelling folks, I’m sooo tired and typing fast.

  60. Rob
    November 4, 2007 at 6:38 am #

    Also, I’ve NEVER said or implied on this forum or my paper that

    Public education [is] the unique moral authority on how to educate.

    , but I certainly DO reject your narrow framing of the debate to personal liberty. Believe me Russ baby, I love liberty, but even Kant recognized there are limits when we are not living alone. – Rob

  61. Michael L. McKee
    November 4, 2007 at 7:35 am #

    It is sometimes a very taxing burden upon a 60 year old uneducated brain to wade through the vast amount of information to be found on the internet when you are seeking after truth, and have a desire to better understand the crazy world in which you live.

    It has been over a year ago that I happened upon the LDSelect web site and discovered Connor Boyack. I recall a time in the beginning when I looked forward each new day to reading the new commentary, and seeing what new insight I might glean from a 20 something RM. I do not recall ever being disappointed with his devoted efforts to “warn his neighbor.” Of course there were times when I was not so interested in the subject at hand, but I generally read anyway just to add substance to my opinionated view of things.

    I really do not recall the first time I made the reluctant decision to participate by adding my two cents to the conversation, but I do know that I felt a sense of gratitude when I clicked on “submit.” I was finally involved in something I felt was generally very important, and I was thankful to Connor for giving me the opportunity to add what I hoped would be useful information from the perspective of someone who had seen way too much of the world before returning to full activity in the church. I was 20 something when I was baptized, but became inactive after only 6 months. I returned to activity in December of 2001 after 30 years of making really bad choices. Thankfully the Lord had enough faith in me to give me another chance at seeking after the truth. I will be eternally grateful to Him for the forgiving nature of the Atonement.

    There is much to be learned from the brain of Connor Boyack because I believe he learned well from the Lord about what it really means to serve. I have often been amazed at his abilities to do what he does even though I really do not understand what he does. I am not comfortable much of the time using this monstrosity, but I do know that I have learned a great deal from being involved. In fact, I am probably too involved, but I love my freedom very much and I cannot bear the thought of losing it due to my complacency. I refuse to stand by and let this land which I love be destroyed by those who do not fully understand what they possess.

    I know that Connor is also a devoted servant, and true patriot, and I am grateful to him for the many hours I have spent reading what he has offered up for consideration in spite of the efforts of some to demean and disparage his work.

    Thank you Connor for your service to the Lord and your fellow men. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and knowledge with an old man who needed to get involved. I know that our Constitution will not be lost because you are on the side of the Lord.

  62. Connor
    November 4, 2007 at 1:20 pm #

    Whoa, Michael… totally unnecessary! But thank you.

    Your check is in the mail. :-P

  63. Rob
    November 4, 2007 at 1:43 pm #

    Beware anonymous flattery and platatudes. B.E.W.A.R.E…….BEEEE WAAAAREEEE!

  64. Rob
    November 4, 2007 at 2:08 pm #

    Also beware those that can’t spell.

  65. Russell
    November 4, 2007 at 3:53 pm #

    @ Rob

    First, if you felt I attacked you personally, I apologize. That was not my intent.

    Do you agree “If the voters demand it, they will vote for it?” Well fine. But what I’m asking is a slightly different question. “Will the users of vouchers use it? And at what rate?”

    The second part of the question was what I was getting at before. Whether or not people use it doesn’t matter. What matters is that they can.

    You pretend money doesn’t matter nut to your narrow self-interest ideology numbers DO INDEED matter, because they represent personal liberty?

    Money and liberty are not related at all. This is a lie. You do not need money to have liberty. LIberty is a right. Money is not.

    How about even simpler questions since you refuse to answer mine directly.

    I’m not refusing to answer your questions, but I promise you I will skip loaded questions every time. I work in PR remember? I’m trained to recognize loaded questions to help people when the media comes along asking them.

    1. What is your direct interest in the outcome?

    Freedom to choose how my tax dollars are used.

    2. What is your bias?

    This question is loaded as it is because bias has a negative connotation, but if you are asking where my opinions lean, I lean in favor of vouchers because they allow people to choose how their tax dollars are used in education.

    3. Are you paid for an outcome?

    No. Are you?

    4. Do you have a vested interest in the outcome?

    Absolutely I do. I paid nearly $3000 in property taxes this year, much of which went to to fund public schools, and I don’t have a child of school age. But if I wanted to send my child to a different school and I had a child in school I still have to pay for the public school even if I never use it. I’ve paid for years as a property owner. You bet I have an interest in the outcome.

    5. Are you paid to participate in the debate or is it strictly ann idealistic vision to you?

    This doesn’t matter despite your connotation that it would, but I am not “paid” to participate in this debate. It’s also very sad and troubling to me to hear people talk about the ideal as though it isn’t what we should constantly seek for.

    Again, bias is important here in this debate. What is your bias? You speak as if the only outcome of voters decisions is personal liberty. You push hard that money doesn’t matter?

    Bias doesn’t matter to me. I could ask you all these same questions, but they don’t matter. You could be getting paid lots of money to write what you are writing, and it doesn’t matter to me. When you don’t really believe what you say, your arguments will surely fall. If you are choosing to express your opinions on the matter, and if for some reason you are being paid to do it and don’t agree with it… well… that’s your decision to go against what you believe. I won’t do that, and political groups don’t hire people like that either. Republican strategists are always republican and so on.

    I’m here because this is what I believe. And I stand by my stance that money doesn’t matter. I’ve made this point in previous Connor posts that if the public school system didn’t exist that I still would have had an eduation. If I would have been a child with bad parents and no education at all, I still would have been able to get an education. We praise people left and right when they come from circumstances like this and then exercise their LIBERTY, their choice, their agency to become something more than what they were given, yet we run at the chance to not allow people this chance by spoon feeding them when they are in need. Liberty yes. This debate is about the erosion of personal liberty and absolutely NOT about money despite the fact that it’s what most people talk about. Money is just what makes the news and the news becomes the center of the debate.

    Are you getting paid to say what you say, or are you typing for free? Sorry if I’m skeptical, you work for a PR firm…

    I own a PR firm. I push this because it’s what I believe is truth. You’re not skeptical of me, you just don’t agree, and you’re trying to make excuses by making horribly inaccurate assumptions about the integrity of my profession and my motives. None of it has to do with what we are discussing.

    People peddle the ideas that you are promoting all the time, but they do not truly believe them. When put to the wall, when placed in the positions of what we are talking about, they cave. Every time. They love to go to the movies and see Will Smith play the role of Chris Gardner in the Pursit of Happyness where a man loses everything but becomes wealthy. And they they do not believe they can do the same. The same goes for education. Other people can invent, inspire, become Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey, but they do not believe it themselves. All of these people, every one of them, knew something that that this whole “opposition debate” negates. Their education, their smarts, their job, career, character, future was all in their own hands and not in the hands of someone else (PUBLIC SCHOOLS and the PUBLIC INCLUDED!). Yet, here he go again fighting against a referendum because it seeks to change a system focused on making sure we take care of others but never teach them to take care of themselves.

    This is not a debate about being selfish, it’s about teaching people to be accountable, to choose, to recognize that liberty is choice, freedom, and most importantly personal accountability. It is not accountability for others. And what happens? The Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey’s of the world help anyway. They feel fortunate (even though they worked their butts off for what they have) and they recognize that above all the things that they have are not theirs. They recognize that they are stewards who have somehow acquired the ability and responsibility to care for a lot of stuff that belongs to God, stuff that will be gone someday. And what do they do? They use God’s stuff to help other people. But it would have never happened if someone would have removed those experiences from them by undermining their personal liberty.

  66. rob
    November 4, 2007 at 6:45 pm #

    First, you didn’t hurt my feeling, I’m just amused at people with extreme reactions to anything. Anytime someone says, “this is the worst, I can’t agree more, I’ve never been more…” it sends off warning bells in my head.

    I’m just asking, when you say this for you is ONLY about a principle, if you are indeed being straight with me. All I want to know if you are an owner in a PR firm involved in campaigning for #1? Pretty simple. You ack. on your page that there are clients not listed. I think it is a fair question if there are any other motives. Is there any form of compensation, result or otherwise you receive? Or is this a doctors without borders kind of a thing. You are using your PR skills pro bono for something you believe in. Are you “pro-bono”ing?

    IT isn’t a slight on your industry, per se, or an ad hominum attack on you. I’m just asking to see your cards before I debate you. You say that it doesn’t matter if the vouchers get used, however, I believe it is from an economic, governmental, and pragmatic approach.

    If your views on this issue are purely motivated based on ONE principle, then I would like to know if you actually have any OTHER motives. That’s it. You still, however, haven’t answered my direct question about bias. I’m sorry if it sounds negative. It is however a fairly regular social scientific term…

    As far as me. I have absolutely no dog in this show. Oh, I am interested in Vouchers from an intellectual standpoint and I’ve got an old paper I dusted off that I think contributes, somewhat, to th debate…but, I don’t even live in Utah anymore. Myself, I’ve gone to private and public schools in Utah and I send my kids to a charter school in Arizona.

    I sure wish someone would pay me to be a blow hard.

  67. Russell
    November 4, 2007 at 9:07 pm #

    @ Rob

    I don’t list my clients online right now, but I do list some of their accomplishments. I do not currently work “pro-bono” for vouchers other than I believe in them, so I promote them on my blog. The site you are referring to is not my company website.

    As for bias, like I said, in the realm of where my opinions stand, I stand for vouchers. If you still don’t feel like I’m answering your question about bias, you may have to expand a little more on what you’re looking for.

  68. Trent
    November 4, 2007 at 11:18 pm #

    I had one interesting thought that just came to my mind today. I am hearing often from the pro-voucher group that they want a choice in where their tax dollars go. Here is where I see a problem. Like I have pointed out before, a family of four children would have to earn well over 80k (didn’t want to do the exact math) to pay in 12k in Utah income and other taxes. So, like I stated before, the majority of vouchers are still going to be paid by other people rather than coming from their own tax dollars. With public schools you have some choice on how the entire organization runs (school boards, PTA etc) and can monitor in general where the money is going. With vouchers, the parents receiving the money get freedom on where to send the children. However, if a large number are using other people’s money then the people actually paying get even less choice in where their tax money goes. So less knowledge and freedom for one group and more freedom for the other. If people really want freedom in where their tax money goes then people should only get back what they paid in. Isn’t this in line with all the ideals I hear so often from the proponents of referendum 1? So, someone that earns only 43k per year would probably get like 1000-2000 in voucher money maximum.

  69. Russell
    November 5, 2007 at 10:23 am #

    @ Trent.

    I don’t believe income tax has anything to do with the education budget. Education funding is tied to property tax, which means it doesn’t matter how much you make, it matters what you own. Families with 12 children use more in terms of relative taxes, and folks like may pay but don’t use it at all because I don’t have kids in studio.

    With vouchers, the parents receiving the money get freedom on where to send the children. However, if a large number are using other people’s money then the people actually paying get even less choice in where their tax money goes

    This “using other people’s money” happens now with public schools, so you’re statement about less choice in use of tax dollars for education is interesting.

    Note: Someone who makes $43k a year (or less) qualifies for the full $3k voucher under the referendum. But if you’re using it as an example of what people would get back, remember that the major portion of what you pay for education isn’t tied to your income. It’s tied to your property tax. But, what you qualify for under a voucher is tied to your income and is based on federal “free lunch” guidelines.

  70. Trent
    November 5, 2007 at 11:05 am #

    Russell, I understand exactly how it works I just wanted to shorten my post without putting all the details. I guess I will have to write a novel every time. Anyway, I must not have explained myself well enough. With public education the majority of the money comes from property taxes within a region. Businesses and the wealthy with large homes and other property pay for the majority of this amount, especially with Utah’s large families. With this system your tax money is going to school’s only within your region, and you have choice in voting in school board members, you can be in the PTA and sit in on city council meetings. Overall you can check in on where your tax money is going.

    Now, with the voucher system it is coming from the general fund and is not tied to regions. So, take a wealthy person or business in 50% of the counties without private schools. Since they are now also paying taxes for vouchers that can be used anywhere in the state and at any school, the actual payer of these taxes has even less choice and freedom where his money goes than the public system. Now, the money isn’t even in the region he lives, and he has no say in who runs, teaches, and what curriculum is taught in the schools he is paying for. And even those in regions with private schools have no idea what proportion of their money is in what regions and in what schools. With this, a loaded Catholic in Logan could now be paying the vouchers for a kid to attend an all LDS private school in St. George.

    You have said it yourself that the vouchers give more choice for parents of school children, but it takes away choice from the people actually paying for these children. In the end it is probably just even and I don’t think this can be an argument for the pro-voucher side. I just read so often in here that we shouldn’t take choice and freedom from one person so we can give it to another, but this is exactly what it does. In this regard it isn’t any better than public schools and is in my opinion worse.

    Also Russell, my comments weren’t necessarily targeted at you. I have just seen ads and comments on blogs stating that this is about freedom to use THEIR tax dollars as they wish. However, the majority of people will be using OTHER businesses and wealthy peoples tax dollars. Many of these people are libertarian/constitutionalists who disagree with redistributing income. This voucher program redistributes income the same way other programs do. I mean it is tied to the free lunch scale! Didn’t I just see someone on here post TANSTAFL?

    For this reason I wonder why this group of people are supporting this voucher bill. It would make more sense that they would support a system that only gives you back what you paid in. Is this an extreme change? Of course, but passing this voucher bill would not be a change in that direction at all. In fact, it would just give more fuel to the fire of giving more voucher money in the future if the budget allowed. Connor and others on here have said they are supporting Ron Paul even though his ideas are pretty radical from what is going on in Washington right now. They also say they don’t care if he has a shot at winning, they vote for someone who holds their ideals in legislation whether or not they are a long shot for being passed or not. Make a revolution right here then, and get someone to offer a bill where people only get back what they pay in. It is their ideals, no free lunch.

  71. Rob
    November 5, 2007 at 9:12 pm #

    Trent,

    You are a beautiful person. Well argued. Also, since most of the private schools are along the wasatch front, and none are really hurting enrollment-wise, there is a fairly inelastic demand…which would be manifested by the cost of tuition in private schools increasing by nearly as much as the vouchers…

    Instead of vouchers, just blow the whole thing up and give everyone their money instead. That makes more economic/libertarian sense. Return the money and let me spend it on dietCoke, cookies, or whatever brings me the most marginal good.

    But…I don’t think that will pass.

    – Rob

  72. Jay
    November 5, 2007 at 10:33 pm #

    “Return the money and let me spend it on diet Coke, cookies, or whatever brings me the most marginal good.”

    Are you out of your bloomin’ mind? The idea of the people rather than their elected representatives deciding how they should spend their money. You’re starting to sound like Thomas Jefferson or worse yet . . . Ron Paul.

    I’m speechless . . .

    Jay

  73. Christian
    November 13, 2007 at 7:56 pm #

    Having read the recent comments on this blog, it looks like Dan can’t leave the blog alone. :)

    Can’t… resist… the temptation…

  74. Connor
    November 13, 2007 at 9:43 pm #

    Having read the recent comments on this blog, it looks like Dan can’t leave the blog alone.

    I wasn’t holding my breath. ;)

  75. Rob
    November 13, 2007 at 9:51 pm #

    I bet my libertarian views can go without breathng longer than your libertarian views…

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