The Bush voucher plan
January 30, 2001 5:04 AM   Subscribe

The Bush voucher plan A British opinion on the Bush education voucher plan. Is it too bold or too timid? We have read pros and cons on vouchers but this tackles the issue from a different slant.
posted by Postroad (12 comments total)
Blah. So the plan is to funnel more money into schools that are doing well and decrease funding for schools that aren't.

Christie Whitman put the same plan into effect here in New Jersey a few years ago (minus vouchers). The problem, of course, is that most schools doing well are in mostly high-income neighborhoods. schools doing poorly are in lower-income neighborhoods. So while the white upper-class schools have plenty of funding from tremendous local taxes, those schools in lower income districts struggle against 1) higher populations of students 2) less local funding.

The deterioration of public schools is due more to lack of funding than anything else. What this plan does is target those "problem schools" and cause them to deteriorate further by funneling money out of them. When all too often it is these schools that lack the new books, course materials, computers and well-paid teaching professionals that schools in affluent neighborhoods can take for granted.

It's nice that our new president cares enough about education to do a photo with a cherubic symbol of learning. That little girl might be cute, but if W was really devoted to education, he'd be visiting schools in the ghetto and offering suggestions there instead of hiding in a white classroom promising to give schools with ample funding even more.
posted by rklawler at 6:43 AM on January 30, 2001

The great lie of the Eighties was: "money doesn't matter in education". Anybody remember that? This was generally said by middle-class types whose children were safely ensconced in suburban schools where, judging by the higher salaries and funding, money did matter.
posted by leo at 8:43 AM on January 30, 2001

The great lie of the Eighties was: "money doesn't matter in education".

No, the great lie of the past thirty years is that money does matter in education.
posted by dagnyscott at 11:36 AM on January 30, 2001

How do you reform education? National curriculum. Pay teachers competitive salaries to attract qualified people. Make students, school boards, superintendents, prinicpals accountable - screw up, face the repercussions. End inane concepts like social promotion. Create a certain performance level for schools, then adjust funding to reach that level in all schools.

This country should be ashamed of our educational system in its current form.
posted by owillis at 11:45 AM on January 30, 2001

No, the great lie of the past thirty years is that money does matter in education.

I disagree. Money is a key factor in education. I think the largest issue is that very intelligent, qualified people do not want to teach as a profession. Also, metal detectors, security guards, etc. must be paid for somehow by the school district.

Salary is one of the reasons why so few are interested in teaching, but another is the general environment of our educational institutions. I could never be a teacher in any area, this is due to many factors(in no particular order).

1. The general amount of distrust of students (& their parents) toward teachers.

2. The salary

3. I, personally, do not have the patience

4. Lack of support from the community (in general)

5. My career and reputation as a human being could be ruined on a whim by a student
posted by tj at 12:09 PM on January 30, 2001

If more money=better education, then explain why the three school districts in my local area that are at risk for being taken over by the state due to poor performance also rank in the top ten for money spent per student? They put cash in, throwing good moneyafter bad, with no appreciable increase in the quality of the education that they provide.

Meanwhile, many suburban schools are faced with never-ending troubles as teachers strike for more money while their starting salaries are higher than the median income for the community in which they serve. (If you don't believe that teaching is a service career, you don't know much about it.)

In any case, the long-term results in school districts around the country -- impoverished and wealthy alike -- show that there is no evidence to suggest that merely putting more money into the schools will guarantee improvement. Money isn't the answer -- standards and accountability are far more important.
posted by Dreama at 12:18 PM on January 30, 2001

I agree, to a certain point... Money is a factor, but far from being the only one. I think a large part has to do with parents getting involved (I know, easier said than done), as well as having an honest school board/administration
posted by tj at 12:37 PM on January 30, 2001

Lots of fine stuff posted here! But strikes? take the current year and tell me how many schools weere hit by strikes in the entire nation.
I pretty much agree with the poster who listed the difficulties a teacher faces, citing some 7 or so.
I think there needs to be more spcifics. It is fine to say there ought to be tests etc to determine how much money goes where etc but do you mean a nationwide standard or simply a statewide testing? Is what happens in one state ok for that state and with no regard for a national standard? States rights? I am not clear on what is meant by testing and standards unless I know what is meant when reference is made to tests and standards. For ex: our new president says he will hold school up to standards and if they are failing hand out vouchers. Does this mean a national standard or does he continue to believe in states' rights?
We will get many more new teachers if the economy goes south. Teaching then attracts people for imagined security and steady employment, the same way the army does. When things are economically ok, the those places have trouble attracting qualified people.
posted by Postroad at 2:22 PM on January 30, 2001

May I just add one other way in which money can play a crucial part in the success of a school or school system? Class size has an enormous effect on the amount of individual attention and feedback given to a student, and smaller classes have the additional benefit of being more easily adjusted to meet the needs of a higher percentage of the students; that is, it's much more feasible to optimize curriculum and class structure for twelve students than for thirty. It will always cost more money to have smaller classes--in addition to the costs of meeting the physical demands of running more classes concurrently, more teachers cost more money. "More money for teachers" doesn't only mean that higher salaries will attract different job candidates, it also means that more money in the pot can fund more teaching positions.
posted by redfoxtail at 2:49 PM on January 30, 2001

People who think our school's problems are solved by funding do not know how bad our schools are, pure and simple. They are a not only a failed system, they are repressive system.... our English teachers idea of great literature is whatever appears on Oprah's book club... my school's entire social studies department was football coaches or former football coaches, none of whom were motivated to teach, none of them cared... one of them showed many movies, one showed tapes from some tabloid tv show saying Asians are out to steal your organs... the sports team come before academics, always, and teach prejudice, and hatred. There is literally no seperation of church and state. There is no free speech. Anonymous tips get you interrogated in such a way to try to make you confess to a crime, even if you didn't commit it. "Are you sure you might not have..." Smaller class sizes don't help when you think your teacher is a pervert. Money is going to things like buying teachers laptops and sending the exploring tech teacher to Comdex.

I don't know if it's just the pay that's keeping talented people out of education. Maybe it's the fact that anyone with half a brain looks back with anger at the system.
posted by dagnyscott at 3:36 PM on January 30, 2001

For anyone who believes that our schools just need more money thrown at them...

Take a look at the statistics on education some time. By far, some of the highest performing schools are in rural areas... dirt poor rural areas. By contrast, being well-off does not automatically equal good schooling. The one thing that does seem to correlate very nicely is parental interest and involvement in education. The more parents care and are actively involved in their childs education, the better the child does. The less parents care and are involved, the worse the child does.

So, in summary, more money will not solve the problem. More parental involvement will.

Just like most govenment programs aimed at youth.
posted by gd779 at 5:21 PM on January 30, 2001

We never should have let the gov't be in charge of schooling, that's why it's a mess. Mass schooling is a failure. Bleagh.
posted by beth at 1:22 PM on January 31, 2001

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