November 8, 2000
8:33 AM   Subscribe

My God! California has both a heart and a brain! [more]
posted by Steven Den Beste (16 comments total)
HEART: Prop 36: Requires probation and drug treatment, not incarceration, for possession, use, transportation of controlled substances and similar parole violations, except sale or manufacture. YES: 61%BRAIN: Prop 38: Authorizes annual state payments of at least $4000 per pupil for private/religious schools. (In other words, vouchers.) NO: 71%
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:37 AM on November 8, 2000

The wizard told me I'd always had them. I'm glad my votes on those propositions played a part in making you happy. :o)
posted by aprilgem at 8:54 AM on November 8, 2000

I actually did surprisingly well in this election (president-in-the-balance notwithstanding). Normally, I find myself decidedly in the voting minority, but there was only one measure that went opposite of the way I voted, and it was so obfuscated I still don't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. If only I had some money on the state measures...
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 9:03 AM on November 8, 2000

Steven, note that this was at least the second time Californian's had to vote against school vouchers (I could have sworn it's come up more than once before).

I don't understand why they keep trying to bring this issue back up on the ballot. Public funds shouldn't go to religious schools, period. Is that even constitutional if it passed?
posted by mathowie at 9:27 AM on November 8, 2000

I believe that the Supreme Court has ruled that vouchers can be used with parochial schools (and thus presumably with other religious schools).

But not in California! hee hee hee hee.....

The thing about prop measures is that if they're initiatives, it takes a majority to pass (sometimes a super-majority) but only takes 5% (I think) of the population to get put on the ballot. 29% voted yes; it's not too hard to get 5% to sign a petition.

Oregon goes through that with a sales tax (which they don't have); nearly every election, theres's an initiative to institute one, and it always goes down in serious flames (typically at least 2:1 against).

You'd think they'd give up, wouldn't you? But fanatics never give up.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:58 AM on November 8, 2000

At least the local news is good.

Interesting point of fact: Both Gore and Bush favor school voucher programs.

posted by fraying at 10:01 AM on November 8, 2000

Public funds shouldn't go to religious schools, period.

Regardless of my position on vouchers, if they were part of state law, I don't personally see why they shouldn't be able to be spent at religious schools. It's not exactly the same as "public money going to religious schools" because the parents are deciding where to spend that money.

I'm assuming that Medicare is payable to religious hospitals, federal higher education grants and loans can go to religious colleges, and Social Security income can be donated to churches or religious causes. What's the difference, especially with regards to federal grants being spent at religious colleges? If I'm wrong about the above assumptions, let me know.
posted by daveadams at 10:21 AM on November 8, 2000

I'm pretty happy with the initiative votes, too, with the glaring exception of Prop 34. So campaign finance reform has suffered a set back. Next year, baby.

But I got one person to go out and register and vote for the first time. Granted, I had to bribe her with dinner and a footrub, but it worked. She's pretty excited, too; "Look! See that 0.5% in Ventura County that voted for Hagelin? I'm one of them!"

And another voter is born.

posted by RakDaddy at 11:23 AM on November 8, 2000

Dave, I guess I'm thinking about how cash-strapped the current public school system in California is. None of my young cousins get to take home textbooks at night, there are "classroom" books that they share in class.

And somehow I think parents funneling a bunch of money into local private schools isn't going to help matters any.
posted by mathowie at 11:35 AM on November 8, 2000

I'm delighted to see school vouchers go down in flames in California and Michigan. This issue is nothing but a political scam. Fix the public schools already!!!This is going to sound paranoid, but I really think that the powers that be don't want good schools. After all, an ignorant electorate is an easily led electorate isn't it?
posted by Mr. skullhead at 11:42 AM on November 8, 2000

I don't understand why they keep trying to bring this issue back up on the ballot.

Because it's supported by the Christian conservatives. No issue involving the Religious Right ever goes away. They just keep coming back for more, again and again and again, until they all get too old to campaign against it.

This is why we are stuck with the abortion debates for another twenty years or so.

posted by Mars Saxman at 12:08 PM on November 8, 2000

[mathowie] Dave, I guess I'm thinking about how cash-strapped the current public school system in California is

Oh yeah, I wasn't trying to make a statement regarding vouchers one way or the other. Obviously if the biggest problem is that schools aren't properly funded, the solution isn't to allow parents to choose to take money away from them.

But if vouchers were implemented I don't see any reason they shouldn't go to religious schools as well as to secular private schools or public schools.

As for my opinion on vouchers, I guess it depends on the situation. I obviously don't know anything about the situation in California, and it's not really an issue around here so I haven't spent much time looking into it or thinking about it. That's why I was trying to avoid making a statement on whether vouchers are good or evil. I hope I'm making myself clearer this time.

Summary position: I have no idea whether vouchers are a good idea or not.

[Mr.skullhead] Fix the public schools already!!!

All right, how do you propose to do that? Would more money suffice, or are there other problems besides lack of funds? I don't know what the solution is, but your statement makes me think you do. I'm interested to know what you think should be done. Really.

posted by daveadams at 12:20 PM on November 8, 2000

School vouchers are, to me, a fairly complex issue.

They have a positive effect, because they do allow a wider group of students into private schools. If I have a voucher I can use against tuition in one for my (hypothetical :-) child, that means I have to pay $2000 (random, out of the hat number) less per year for that level of education, which is kind of nifty.

Also, I grew up in the Canadian Seperate School system, a government-approved Catholic system (d'you guys have such a thing in the states?) and my parents' taxes went towards funding that school system. I have a choice, when filling out my income taxes, which system I want to support. Public or Seperate.

This was important, because the Seperate school system isn't privately funded. We were, in fact, often poorer than our Public system counterparts. We also had significantly lower attendance, so it made sense.

If the voucher system can be used to fund a seperate-but-still-public system (ie, not tuition based) then parents have a wider choice of where they want to send their children. Perhaps a publically funded school for highly gifted children can use these vouchers - from rich parents or poor ones - to cover their operations costs. That way everyone, regardless of background, can go to a school where the dreaded Lowest Common Denominator is significantly higher than elsewhere.

Of course, that brings up entire discourse on a tiered, classed society, and whether or not that's beneficial.

It's a sticky knot of knotty stickiness. Of course, my take on it (as overly-detailed above) is probably vastly different than what's looking to be implemented, since one of the Canadian Parties is talking about vouchers (I think Canadian Alliance, but don't have easy-access proof), and the vouchers they're talking about only favours those already sending their children to private schools.
posted by cCranium at 12:21 PM on November 8, 2000

As far as I can tell, cC, the closest thing we have to what you're talking about is the charter school system, in which there are "island schools" within the public school system with much-increased autonomy. No religious schools due to the establishment clause, but people have set up, for example, science-specialized schools and schools focusing on educating African-American children.
posted by snarkout at 12:46 PM on November 8, 2000

In Kansas City there are charter schools emphasizing arts, foreign language (specifically Spanish), and some more generic, privately-run schools (most of which are run by the same company that does Channel One).

They're relatively new, but competition to get in these schools is tough because their standards are very high. For the most part though, the KC school district is in really bad shape. Once the federal court released it from the desegregation-case court-control (just last year!!!), it immediately lost state accreditation because its overall standards had gone way downhill.
posted by daveadams at 1:30 PM on November 8, 2000

Actually, the Supreme Court hasn't yet ruled whether or not vouchers are constitutional. According to the CNN article, the issue could appear before the court as early as next term.
posted by Aaaugh! at 2:21 PM on November 8, 2000

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