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Year 2 Day 44- That’s right my name is ‘Vouch

by admin on October 21st, 2004

It seems yesterday’s topic’s spurred debate. Good. Paco mentioned that I hadn’t worked with private school’s, or attended one, so I was inaccurate in parts of what I said.

I’m sure I am.

I was in part generalizing, just like most people do when they talk about education.
Not all Private schools are bad, actually most aren’t bad at all. My main point was they have the privilege of being selective in who they allow attend their school.

Paco mentioned competition,

iIt works that way with everything else, good airlines stay is business, good dentists have more patients, good brokers have more clients, etc…i

Let’s take airlines. I know there are good airlines out there, but some of them I can’t afford. Therefore, I am forced to fly a cheaper airline. Good airlines don’t’ always stay in business either, they go out of business too. I used to fly TWA, I liked them. Every time I flew with them I enjoyed my flight, to me that made them a “good” airline. They had problems, and unfortunately went down. A lot of businesses succeed because they have clients willing to pay their prices, no matter what they are.

Let’s Look at a good restaurant. We have a local steakhouse that’s practically an institution here, it does very well, the food is awesome, etc. They charge a pretty high (not outrageous, but above average) amount. They don’t have a lot of space for patrons, and they have a limited time for eating. (no breakfast and lunches) Let’s make a comparison to this steakhouse, and a private school w/ and without the voucher system.

This restaurant is filled with people who can afford the $50-$75 price tag necessary to feed two people. If you can’t part with that type of cash, you won’t eat there. Let’s say a private school charges 40K a year to attend. that’s 4,000 a month. The people who can afford to pay that price, obviously don’t have issue with paying. Let’s say the state, in order to make our steakhouse accessible to everyone, started giving out $40 vouchers every month, so folks could eat at some of these more expensive restaurants they normally couldn’t afford. How many of these people would go to the steakhouse knowing they might still have to shell out $10-25 for dinner? Some would sure, but most still wouldn’t. This would only lure in the people who were really close to being able to afford eating there anyway. The, ” Man, if we only had another $30 we’d eat there.” people. Due to this new influx of customers, the steakhouse will start getting even more crowded, because not only did these new people get vouchers, but their old customers who already paid the $50 a meal got them too. These people who are used to paying $50 a meal, will be going more often.

The Restaurant knows everyone has these coupons, and they know if they raise their prices, they’ll still have their same clientele as before, and get rid of some of the others, who maybe weren’t as desirable or didn’t fit in with what they expected. They were full before the vouchers, they’ll be full after they raise their prices. The people the vouchers were intended to help, would be forced to take their coupons, and go elsewhere–to a cheaper restaurant, which may, or may not be better than what they were used to.

Vouchers for schooling provides choice- YES

Vouchers provide competition- YES

In economic terms that’s usually good, but it’s usually saving you money, not costing you money. When businesses compete they lower prices, you save money. If schools have to start competing and lowering tuition costs to get kids to enroll, they’re losing money that needs to be used for things like supplies.

The voucher system would allow anyone to open a school if they met the minimum requirements, which are basically, provide standards based education, and comply with all state Ed. laws. It doesn’t discriminate against things like what kind of focus you have at your school. You could teach any kind of intolerance you wanted, and, as long as you had standards based classes, and the minimum required students, and parent support—OPEN FOR BUSINESS.

Voucher’s don’t specify how a school can decide who attends and who can’t.

Most religious schools are open to application by anyone, but they cater to a specific religion, and if you belong to that religion, fine, if not, you’re subjected to it by attending. I have no problem with that, but with vouchers it could be abused easily. You’ll have tons of students with these CASH coupons running around looking for acceptance at a private school. Successful private schools are already funded, and already have a student body, they don’t NEED new students. They may get a few kids, who were really close to being able to afford tuition registering.

A good example of kids at religious schools, who AREN’T of a particular religion are some of the Catholic Football powerhouses. These schools have dominant sports programs, and have a large majority of African American students participating on the teams. I’m not positive, but I’m fairly certain a lot of these kids are NOT Catholics. They are still forced to listen to Catholic doctrine though. It’s their choice to attend, and I know the school’s make it clear that, “THIS IS A CATHOLIC INSTITUTION…YOU WILL ATTEND CERTAIN CATHOLIC EVENTS” (I’m not sure what those are, but every religious school has the church portion of the day) Most religious schools are fine, they operate on one of the basic accepted religious beliefs.

I went to a Christian College for a year, when I went there they informed me that I was expected to act a certain way, and was expected to be Christian in all I did in and outside school. I had no problems with that, I’m a Christian, so prayer in the classroom didn’t bother me. I knew of Catholics, and some students of other faiths that attended school there with me in order to get their teaching credentials. This bugged them, but to partake of the schooling, they had to listen to things they may have not agreed with.

Any new school created could say, iHey this is a Hindu (Muslim, Atheist, Catholic, Christian, Satanist, Wiccan,) School, if you want to attend here, you’re going to have to go to seminary, or church time 10 hours a week, whatever. There’s nothing really stopping schools from opening up now, other than money. Obviously the government isn’t going to back a school for the study of Satan with any money, but they still have a constitutional right to form. IF people started HAVING money to spend on school, they could recruit people to join their school, and they’d have a budget–the voucher money.

When schools are all private enterprises, rules change. Take my school, let’s say that tomorrow voucher’s went into effect, and they put me in charge. I’ll tell you right now, I’m changing some stuff. I’d make drug tests mandatory each week. This would alienate a lot of our current clients. I could justify it easy. I want to prmote the best educational setting possible, drug use prohibits learning, and any and all references to drug use are distractive to the educational process. Right there I’d limit who ‘applied’ to my school. I could focus on one particular subject, and alienate some more potential students. I’d teach all the subjects required by the state, but I’d focus on Art… the day would be 2 hours longer, and 4 hours of every day would be art curriculum. As a Christian, I’d also like to make a required 30 minute worship service every morning. I love basketball too, so I’m going to offer basketball, at a competitive level. In setting the focus and rules of your school you can limit who comes in.

Not every school would use placement tests to regulate who attends.

No rules in the voucher system say how much a school can charge. Look at the restaurant again. If I’m a school and all of the sudden the people who are paying 4K a month tuition or 2K a month tuition are getting half of that paid for them by the state, I’m going to either
A) prepare for way more students enrolling, which requires more facilities, teachers, equipment, etc. (which costs a lot of money)

or

B) I’m going to raise the price by whatever the vouchers are for, keep everything as is, and push forward. If my current student parents want me to justify raising the prices, all I’d have to say is. Hey You used to pay $2,500 a month tuition, they gave you $2,500 a month to pay it, The school is getting over crowded, and we’re no longer able to provide the same quality education as we used to. We’re going to raise the tuition price to $5,000–you’ll still be spending the same $2,500 you were used to, we’ll have the same student body as we did before, plus a huge increase in new money we can spend on supplies (the voucher money).

The government isn’t going to give different people different amounts for their vouchers. They aren’t going iWell Johnny, you want to go to La Salle private school where the tuition is 25K a year, so You get $2,500 a month to pay for it… .and Sally you want to go to La Rica School for mending,, and that’s $2,000 a year tuition, so you only get $200 a month.i

That’s not fair. They’ll take an average, maybe adjusted bya particular city’s cost of living, and they’ll offer the same to everyone. I’ve seen it projected between $2,500 and $4,000.

If you look at schools like businesses, then think about how a business looks at its employees (only in this case employees would be students.) Good businesses want to make money… .Schools would start looking at education as a way to make money. The same people would be getting rich… they’d try and improve school programs, not as benefit for the kids, but so they could make more money.

If the government gave out grants based on test score, no employer (school) is going to want the kids with low test score, discipline problems, medical problems, learning disabilities, etc. They’re going to go for the kids who make their school the strongest. It’s simple. Its discriminatory, but The job market is like that all the time. There are issues all the time where people sue a company because they weren’t given a job based on perceived discrimination. As long as school ihiredi qualified kids, which they would be, they could get away with being selective. If they hung a religion, or a ‘focus’. like art on the school they could be even more selective.

There’s just something right about the public school system even with all of it’s flaws. Everyone has equal opportunity. Everyone will have some great and some bad teachers. Every teacher will have some good and some bad students. Each year will be different. Success is just as much about your own will and drive as it is about any of the other factors. You truly can get out what you put in. Would I like a class full of all good kids, endless supplies, raises every year, rewards for good things I do? HELL YES, and If I honestly thought vouchers would give that to me, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Like Chuck E. Cheese teen night, the negatives far outweigh the positives.

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