Saturday, October 6, 2007

Beyond "dirty tricks"

The "dirty tricks" in the Utah voucher campaign have really had me steamed. As you can tell. And, I intend to keep an eye out and continue investigating when these things happen. But, there also is a point, I guess, where these things get turned over to appropriate folks who deal with campaign finance enforcement and/or damages.

So I want to focus the false notions being foisted on us from the other side.

Take Sutherland for example (PLEASE take them).

One of the press releases they cranked out this week, as a part of their PR machine worked up for the pro-voucher side (and, they are a 501(c)3 organization, with IRS limitations on their "advocacy" activities - but that's another story) claimed in the thinnest of veils that private schools are "accountable."

No they are not. And, as several folks have pointed out, that really is kind of the point - from THEIR perspective.

BUT you really can't have it both ways - if we are going to be called upon to spend the tax dollars everyone pays into the state on a whole other education system - the private system - then we should expect they will meet the same standards that the public schools meet.

Under HB 148, private schools do NOT have to hire teachers who meet state standards -- or even have a college degree, they do NOT have to give the SAME tests that public school kids take, they do NOT have to account for money the SAME way (public schools must report budgets every year), they do NOT have to have the same coursework that public schools have, and they do NOT have to even have attendance standards.

THEREFORE, under a private school voucher sytstem, tax dollars would go to private schools that are unaccountable to the PUBLIC.

Sigh. I am just venting here. What is fair is fair. If it is fair for public schools to meet standards, then private schools should have to meet those same standards if they are going to take public money.

Amazingly, the "father" of private school vouchers, the late Milton Friedman, agreed with this assumption, as you can see from Dan Liljenquist's guest editorial today here:

"In the context of the voucher referendum vote this fall, it is important to consider the following:

* Friedman expected governmental oversight of educational curriculum to ensure common, appropriate content.

* Friedman expected extensive financial oversight by government agencies to ensure proper use of funds, citing the possibility of a greater abuse.

* Friedman does not address what forms of education have the greatest social advantage and how much educational funding is appropriate, except to say that these are questions to be decided "by the judgment of the community through its accepted political channels."

House Bill 148 represents a clear departure from the voucher program envisioned by Milton Friedman. First, the bill does not establish curriculum oversight to ensure appropriate use of government funds; this is contrary to Friedman's approach."

Friedman wrote that even under a fully privatized education system, schools should meet agreed upon standards. So here we are in the throes of a bitter fight that even the "father" of vouchers probably wouldn't have waged.

Go figure.

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