Getting it Done the Right Way

I am a firm believer that education dramatically shapes the adult life of a child.  Take two children from similar backgrounds and have one graduate high school and the other drop out–the graduate will see dramatic social and economic benefits.  Further, the society around him will be better off as well.  High school drop-outs cost us, all of us, millions of dollars a year in physical damage and management.

And so, of course, it makes sense to have a system of public education.  What I find interesting is how each side of the political spectrum would explain such an entitlement program.  For example:

  1. The Left.  This one is easy.  The Left clearly feels that wealth and accumulation is something that springs up from the ground and is obtained by the “lucky” or “greedy” by muscling and elbowing out the less fortune or the week.  The Left would gladly take from the rich and distribute to the poor so that everyone had an equal chance.  Predictably, this typically make me lose my belly whenever I think about it.
  2. The Right.  This one is harder.  The Right, you see, is against entitlement programs almost all of the time.  No government provided health insurance.  No government provided mass transit.  No government provided welfare.  All of it.  “Man is free; let him obtain that which he needs” is their mantra.  While acknowledging that the Right could use a marketing approach that vastly improves the tone of their message, I emphatically agree with this take.  It is one of Individual Liberty that necessarily acknowledges Individual Responsibility.  The subtle and yet critical distinction is that in almost ALL cases, children in our society are incapable of expressing their Individual Liberty.  They either are lacking the intellectual capacity to express that Liberty [they are children after all, incapable of crossing the street in many cases] or they lack the legal status to exert that Liberty.  As such, it becomes incumbent upon us to restore to that child a reasonable course of action, which, through no fault of their own, they have been prevented from following.  In other words, just because Johnny’s mommy and daddy are fools who don’t take care of their child by sending him to school, does not make it Johnny’s fault.

And so it is that I agree with both the Left and the Right.  But I feel that the path each takes to their respective positions is wrong and illogical.  Further, because I believe as I do as expressed in #2 above, I do NOT agree with the right that we Ought take public monies meant for Public Education and dispense it in the form of vouchers for private education.  The monies collected and spent is for the general public, not for the individual child or family.

The way to make sure that kids get the education they need?  By doing it the right way:

Durham, N.C. — Family income should not determine a child’s destiny. That’s the premise behind Union Independent School, a new private school that opened this year in Durham.

Thanks to private donations and contributions, including $2 million from Union Baptist Church, the school has 74 students in kindergarten through second grade. The students are chosen by lottery and attend for free.

Thanks to private donations and contributions, including $2 million from Union Baptist Church, the school has 74 students in kindergarten through second grade. The students are chosen by lottery and attend for free.

This, ladies and gentlegerms, is how things get done in the real world!

4 responses to “Getting it Done the Right Way

  1. Pino, I agree with you about the importance of education. I’m not sure I agree with you about school vouchers though. I live in NYC where there is a very strong teacher’s union that abhors accountability. We have a “rubber room” where we spend millions of dollars every year paying teachers that are not actually doing any work. Some of these are even accused of crimes but their union contracts protect them from getting fired until a lengthy review process (which can take years) takes place. I believe the turnover rate is extremely low, on the order of 1% or so. The best run companies in the world don’t have that sort of retention rate. I absolutely don’t believe that the teachers we hire are of such high caliber that 99% or so should keep their jobs every year. But there is no accountability and taxpayers (and children) suffer.

    You say no public monies should be used to fund vouchers? What if you want to send your child to private school? Should you be paying taxes to the public school system if you don’t use it? Doesn’t that effectively tax you twice (you pay for public schools you don’t use and you pay for private school you do use). If you pay taxes to fund education because you think it is a good thing for society, why should you care where it is spent if it gives a child a better education? Is a dollar of income paid to a public school teacher inherently better than a dollar of income paid to a private school teacher?

    The important thing is that a child gets a good education and I think the parents should be able to decide where they think that is best. If public monies should not be used for vouchers, then I think parents should be given the right to opt-out, keep their tax dollars, and use it to pay for private school. I don’t think it’s fair to parents or children to force them to pay into a failing system that they would rather not use.

  2. very strong teacher’s union that abhors accountability.

    I abhor Unions and agree with you that much of NYC’s educational problems can be directly attributed to the Union.

    Doesn’t that effectively tax you twice

    How do you respond to the folks that either don’t have kids or whose kids have moved out?

    I think parents should be given the right to opt-out, keep their tax dollars, and use it to pay for private school. I don’t think it’s fair to parents or children to force them to pay into a failing system that they would rather not use.

    Again, what we are paying for is an educated citizenry, not the education for your own child.

    For example, if there were no public education, would you pay for your child to attend private school?

    • pino, you are correct that single people do get screwed by the system and i don’t know if there is a truly equitable solution. but i don’t think double taxation is ideal either. and if we are paying for an educated citizenry, shouldn’t we care that we are getting a good return on our investment? if public schools can’t get the job done, why continue to throw good money after bad? why not redirect that valuable capital to vouchers for private schools which ARE accountable (unlike the unionized public teachers)? after all, as a parent, you are indifferent if teacher A or teacher B gets your dollar, as long as the teacher educates your child. if the goal is an educated citizenry, who cares if they went to public or private school as long as they went to school?

      i think that public schools which grant teachers tenure strictly according to seniority can’t be entrusted to be good stewards of our money. a private school, which faces the threat that you can take your child (and money) to another school can create a more accountable environment. i believe schools in belgium work that way. the money follows the child, not the school. therefore, schools have an incentive to do a good job else they lose their funding. public schools here currently don’t face that threat.

      if there were no public education, i would pay for private school for my children. i believe in the importance of education. but i would certainly hold any private school i use accountable. if they don’t do their job, i would find another school.

      • f public schools can’t get the job done, why continue to throw good money after bad? why not redirect that valuable capital to vouchers for private schools which ARE accountable (unlike the unionized public teachers)?

        This is more acceptable to me. Do away with the public schools completely and offer private vouchers to everybody.

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