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Free Public Education; Why We Should Have it, Why the Cons Hate it

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WhiteTara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-14-06 10:54 PM
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Free Public Education; Why We Should Have it, Why the Cons Hate it
Thom Hartman book excerpt. Important reading

A study in 2003 by a researcher at Yale University revealed that more than 50 percent of first-year college students couldn't produce papers free of grammatical errors--in simple language, they can't write. Eighty percent of graduating high school seniors say they will never again voluntarily read another book. Only one-third of U.S. students are proficient readers; two-thirds lack sufficient reading ability to comprehend novels, textbooks, and other forms of "complicated writing."

Democracy requires an educated middle class for its survival. At its most simple level, alone among political systems, democracy requires citizens to vote for the country's leaders and policies. If you can't read the ballot, if you don't know enough math to understand the economic argument a politician is making, if you don't know the history of the country and our laws, how can you decide how to vote?

Alexis de Tocqueville came to America in 1834 to figure out how Americans were making democracy work. Along the way he met with a pig farmer, just a simple country bumpkin by de Tocqueville's reasoning, and asked him about international politics. And this farmer went into an insightful, knowledgeable rant about French politics. De Tocqueville's conclusion was that a well-educated populace was essential to democracy--and that, unlike France in that era, we had one here.
Governor Ronald Reagan ended free enrollment at the last state university system to offer it, the University of California, in 1966. Today government funding for higher education is at minimal levels, particularly compared with Europe and Japan, where in most cases university educations are free or nearly free. Although there are still some educational benefits for GIs, they're hard to accumulate, track, and qualify for (and must be paid for in most cases). Under George W. Bush, even the student loan program has been cut significantly, and eligibility for grants to low-income students-- called Pell Grants--has decreased dramatically; in 2004 alone, for example, Bush cut eighty thousand students off the eligibility list for Pell Grants.

Now the Bush administration wants to privatize K�"12 education, as well. Bush advocates replacing free public education with "tuition vouchers" good at private schools, including parochial schools and for-profit schools. His No Child Left Behind Act set up thirty-seven ways public schools could fail. A failing school is sanctioned under the act with a loss of funds--so that schools that need the most help get the least. By September 2004, 36 percent of California's schools had already been put on that list. Instead of being a program to improve public education, No Child Left Behind was designed to kill the public school system.

from his book "Screwed"
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Dinger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-14-06 10:56 PM
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1. Here Here! Kicked & Recommended! Thanks! (nt)
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baldguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-14-06 11:03 PM
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2. An informed electorate will never vote for their own slavery.
An ill-informed electorate is happy to do so, eagerly & repeatedly.
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ProgressiveEconomist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-14-06 11:37 PM
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3. IMO privatization would bring "consumer sovereignty"--one dollar, one vote
--to education, even outside exclusionary-zoned suburban enclaves, just the way that ideal controls most of health care, or any other market good in the US. Wealthy people would be assured of excellent education for their children, subsidized with tax dollars, while poor children would get the lowest common denominator of education, to an extent even much greater than the inequality education exhibits today.

What the "virtue of selfishness" Wall-Street wing of Dubya's party hates most is the idea that wealthy people's tax dollars are supporting poor children's education, while wealthy people themselves get no benefit from those expenditures. They tend to send their children to exclusive private schools where they won't be exposed to association with commoners. "Vouchers" would cap the tax outlay for poor people, and the real value of the cap could be allowed to decline toward zero, with diminished government accountability for the quality of education for poor children.

Poor families would not be able to afford to supplement inadequate vouchers with their own money, but wealthy people would.

In addition, the "social issues" wing of Dubya's party loves vouchers because 80 percent of "private" schools are religious schools, many of them segregation academies founded during the civil rights era. Not only would Jerry Falwell et al get big payoffs, but children could be freely indoctrinated with Creationism, be taught what a raw deal Nixon got, and so on.

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WhiteTara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-15-06 10:37 AM
Response to Reply #3
11. thanks for that reasoned reply
I have known for a long time intuitively that vouchers were not anything that we want. You explained it very well. The one dollar one vote means we don't have many votes, eh?
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originalpckelly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-14-06 11:58 PM
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4. Can I ask some questions...
Edited on Fri Sep-15-06 12:00 AM by originalpckelly
I saw some dorks, one named Doolittle and the other was a type-a puke. (Well they both were Representatives, it was C-Span.)

They were talking about this very thing, and it got me thinking, why is it that I should be against it? I think the idea of public schools is to provide for education, and to provide an equal opportunity for people of all classes (haha) to receive an education. That way if people are from a poor family they have a chance to change their own economic condition.

What about vouchers would stop that? Wouldn't everyone get the same amount of funding? On top of that, parents could know directly how much money is spent on the education of their children, and whether a politician is playing a shell game (as they would receive a lower amount of money if a politician fucks up and lowers the amount of money spent on education.)

I don't think the rich will have very much impact upon the system. If they want to, they may pull their children out of public school right now and send them to private schools. (The only difference is that they would receive a few thousand dollars back instead of none. If this significantly reduces the amount of funding in the system, a limit could be placed on eligibility for people earning a certain amount of money per year.)

I think the only real problem would be for-profit education companies. But they would have to compete against each other for a set amount of money, and if they don't charge less or the same as the alloted money, they simply wouldn't be able to conduct business.

Quite frankly, considering the 50/50 dropout/graduation rate in my own district, I think some kind of major change is needed. It isn't as if Denver doesn't spend enough money on education, it just doesn't seem to be very efficiently used.

I know that the crap set up under no child's behind left, is completely ineffective.

Maybe vouchers would work. I don't know, maybe I haven't thought of everything, I would appreciate the help if you know of some big issue that I missed.
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rman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-15-06 03:07 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. Impact of the rich on the system:
Same as political lobbying by the rich is having an impact on politics, on what legislation is created.

Schools to have a governing body: school boards. People who have a strong interest in pushing their agenda, and who have the resources to do so (money, influence) get their people on school boards, just as they get their people in government. That's how some schools manage to get creationism to be taught in science class.
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ProgressiveEconomist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-15-06 08:43 AM
Response to Reply #4
7. There's absolutely no credible evidence vouchers get any better results
Edited on Fri Sep-15-06 08:44 AM by ProgressiveEconomist
than funding only public schools. Since Milton Friedman suggested them in 1955, there have been several major tests of the idea, from Alum Rock CA (1972) to Milwaukee WI (1995). But vouchers failed every serious test.

People for the American Way have some great links. Their timeline (at ) notes,"1995 to 1998: Five year evaluation of the Milwaukee voucher program shows no student achievement gains; legislators stop funding evaluation component and instead, expand program to include religious schools."

And their "History of Failed Vouchers and Tax Credits" (at ) adds,"Overall, voters in eight states have voted by a cumulative 68 to 32 percent margin against vouchers and tax credits on 12 ballot initiatives from 1970 to 2000.

Those programs which have been enacted, such as Milwaukee's voucher program or Arizona's tuition tax credit provision, were approved by the legislatures of those states and not by the general electorate through a ballot process."

Don't you think that, if there were any smidgeon of credible evidence vouchers work, the extreme right and Wall Street would have been blanketing the media with it?
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WhiteTara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-15-06 10:39 AM
Response to Reply #7
12. I know people who used vouchers to send
their kids to a 7th Day Adventist school. All lessons were based on the bible...If the tree had three apples and Eve ate one, who goes to hell?...those kinds of lessons. Yikes
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ProgressiveEconomist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-15-06 11:09 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. IMO if madrasas like the one you're describing became widespread,
funded with tax dollars, so would the kind of civil turmoil we see in the Middle East today.
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WhiteTara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-15-06 04:59 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. I agree
and that is just what I call those kind of schools, too. Madrassas.
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Fierce Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-15-06 09:24 AM
Response to Reply #4
10. Vouchers work if...
...every private school must take every student who applies. But they don't.
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-15-06 11:34 AM
Response to Reply #4
15. Vouchers will work...
when hell freezes over.

Here's an idea: start paying teachers what they're worth, stop calling them terrorists, buy proper books for the classrooms, end segregation, and get rid of this standardized testing shit.
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Art_from_Ark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-15-06 02:10 AM
Response to Original message
5. I've got some news from Japan
Edited on Fri Sep-15-06 02:12 AM by Art_from_Ark
Universities here (Japan) aren't "free or nearly free". I have heard that was the case about 20 years ago, but today, unless you're a guest of the state or an extremely talented student, you'll have to pay big yen to make it through, or get Mama-san and Papa-san to do it. And there doesn't seem to be a well-developed scholarship system here, either. In most cases, "shogakukin", which is often translated as "scholarship money", is actually a loan that has to be paid back.

And don't get me started on the high school system here.
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AnnInLa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-15-06 09:19 AM
Response to Original message
8. Public Schools are the great equalizer
and that is exactly why repukes don't like public schools. Their little darlings should have to sit next to a (gasp) person of color??? Yikes! Their little darlings should have to learn to get along with all cultures/races/religions? If repukes believe that their culture/race/religion is superior, then why have their kids associate with kids who are "different?" Might the "different" rub off on their little darlings? Double gasp. Whether you are talking about charters or schools-of-choice, when the schools are SEPARATE, THEY ARE NOT EQUAL.

I can remember when the public schools were integrated. The fear of the whites was that the black students would bring the educational standards down for generations. These same people are still afraid of the same thing....that schools that are melting-pots will bring down educational standards for THEIR OWN kids. They want their kids to associate with other kids who are exactly like them.

It is further delineation of the classes. Even the poor classes who vote repuke, identify with the repuke agenda and therefore want separation of their kids from "different" kids.
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Commie Pinko Dirtbag Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-15-06 09:22 AM
Response to Original message
9. This anti-knowledge ideology will one day be the end of the US empire.
I seriously doubt Europeans and Chinese have such attitude in the numbers Americans have.
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ieoeja Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-15-06 11:25 AM
Response to Original message
14. And this fight pre-dates the United States.

One of the King George III early appointments in North America was a new judge for the supreme British court in North America. Liberal colonists were inflamed by this selection because the man advocated the elimination of public education in the colonies on the grounds that a well educated populace was less easy to control.

Something to also remember the next time some RW idiot repeats the lie that there was no public education in the early United States.

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