October 24, 2007

Referendum 1 (2007)

For the record, I'm in favor of referendum 1. I won't pretend to know all the facts, as do all the advertisements you see and hear (which, really...at least one side of the argument has to be lying about money saved or lost, since they say the exact opposite of each other), and I don't think I need to . I do know a few basic principles that are guiding my decision, and present them to you for your consideration.
1. "public schools" are not public. They are Government schools, and as far as money is concerned, Government schools act the same as any other private entity. For me, the whole argument about "public" schools losing badly needed money is moot because I consider them in this manner. If a system of private schools was run as poorly as the current government ones are run, who would support bailing them out? That's why you can't think of them as "public" schools anymore, the public has little to no control.
2. Opponents of the referendum argue that it doesn't set standards for the private schools who will be "benefitting" from the influx of new students. I argue that the government shouldn't do that anyway. If I as a parent feel that a private school that I send my kids to is sub-par, I have full control in being able to withdraw my child from that school and enter another. Who's got the power? The parents. Who's got the power in government school? To be honest, I don't know, but I do know that the government has had to come out with No-Child-Left-Behind to try and fix their crappy system, and even that is a sucky piece of legislation.
3. Legislation, what a great segue. There is not one single thing the government can do that the private sector cannot do better. Necessity is the mother of invention, not legislation. Legislation is the evil step-mother that killed Cinderella's dad and made her sign up for worthless healthcare so she could wait in line 3 years to see her dentist, or oncologist, or what-have-you.

Okay, so I need to refine my earlier comment. I understand that someone needs to be in control, but I think people forget that WE are that someone. We are the government of the people, by the people, and for the people - meaning that government shouldn't control us, we should control it. We're the ones in charge, or that should be in charge, but that's not happening with "public" schools. How many parents know about the high-priced luncheons that the school administrators have for themselves, or the exotic vacations they send themselves on, all on public money? You want money for public schools, then you worry about fixing public schools, but I'm not bailing out a sinking ship when people keep making the hole bigger.


Bob said...

Jim, I know that you feel strongly on this issue. I feel equally strongly, but I don't like mencing words with friends.

I do want to say that we are trying to do our very best job as teachers in the "public education" and we are held up to increasingly stringent standards. I went to school for most of my life to do what I do, and you "the public" pay me jack for it. I do understand that I choose to go into the field, but because I love working with the kids and helping them. Its difficult being in a profession where you get raises by public opinion instead of individual preformance. But what do you do. However, if you want to privitize all education, that's fine too. Until then lets not cut the funding for the education that's for the masses for the select few that will benefit from it.

Anyway, I hope that my commenting won't put a wedge in our friendship, I do agree with you on many issues, but this is my profession. I guess I could quit and go work in the medical field as a speech pathologist and get paid better, but I really like working with kids.

Anyway, congrats again on the baby thing. We need to get together sometime.

Jimbo said...

But Bob, that's just what I'm saying. There's plenty of money out there, but most of it gets siphoned off at the higher levels, a.k.a. the "administrators."
And surely you must agree that bad teachers do exist in more than fictional settings? Okay, even if they're not outright evil (and in this I refer to propaganda promoting leftist teachers who try to brainwash kids in public schools), shouldn't you, the taxpayer, as well as the parent, get to choose the quality of education you're paying for?
Bad teachers aside, and going back to bad administrators, I don't want my kids, nor my tax dollars, to go to a government school where the superintendent is wasting money on district luncheons instead of spending it on the kids!
Think of it this way, if your school actually is as good as you say it is, why would people ever leave? Or, if that school over there is as bad as people say it is, why should kids be forced to stay there? It doesn't happen in private schools, and it shouldn't happen with government ones either.
I understand your passion, and I think I understand your frustration with this situation, but I would say it's misdirected. I think some tough steps need to be taken in order to correct what is wrong with government schools, and unfortunately the kids as well as the teachers suffer for it. I also think that this referendum is a step in the right direction. Also unfortunately, due to all the misleading advertisements on both sides, only time will tell.

SalGal said...

The government is the devil and no child left behind is its baby. As the wife of a teacher, you know I'm qualified to say that!

I don't do discussions like this well online, but we can chew the fat anytime you want on this, bro.

Bob said...

I do agree that NCLB (no child left behind) is really bad. At least from the special education side of things. Yes, we want all children to exceed, but there are some children with disabilities that will never read at grade level. Teachers are being held accountable for their students grades and special ed students are taken out (I think there is a little bit of accomadation, but its pathetic!), so, then you get teachers who don't want special ed kids in their class because they bring down their average test scores.

Anyway, I do agree that I think administrators are over paid while teachers are under paid. I haven't seen this "brain washing" in my schools, but maybe its more at the high school level. I think you have a bunch of people trying to do their best, with a bad egg here and there. Probably the same at the private schools, except we are held to a lot more accountability. If the private schools are going to get money from the vouchers then they need to be held to the same accountability that we are (degrees, licencure, apraxis -"highly qualified teacher", etc). Another thing that I have a problem with (and I already know what you're going to say about this because its a classic leftwing arguement) is the fact that its only going to help a select few who can actually afford private schools. It won't help most Utahans, and if the opponents to referendum 1 are correct with their satistics then more utahans are going to lose out. Of course, like you said, we don't know who is right about the numbers.

It would be nice to have a neutral party do a study on it, so we know the real effect on public schools finicially.

I guess I just don't think public education is the "devil" and I don't think all the teachers are out to "brainwash" our children. Now at the University setting, that all changes. I had a professor at SLCC with a liberal agenda, which would be understandable if he taught politics, but he didn't, it was spanish!! So, I know that the attempt to "brainwash" does happen at college.

Wow, I've rambled, I'm sorry.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the public school system is that there are too many BAD teachers. When I was in jr. high and high school, I remember always being able to tell which teachers HATED their jobs. Then there were the sports coaches who brilliantly were hired on as science or math teachers and couldn't teach the subject.

The only way to fix this problem is to create competition among schools, because with the option of choice, the only way for schools to stay open is to provide quality education in order for parents to want to take their kids there.

People complain that private schools have no regulations on teachers they hire and blah blah, but if they don't provide a quality education, i can take my kids to a better school. So OF COURSE they are going to provide the best.

And what's with the teachers union and public schools not being able to reward QUALITY teachers with better pay??! That is ridiculous!

Referendum 1 will give parents the choice and lower class sizes so the public schools get more funding per student and kids get more individual attention. And if demand for teachers in public schools lowers because of this (Another big argument) and class sizes end up being the same, just with less teachers, AT LEAST we will be more likely to have quality teachers.

So all you who are against referendum 1, start caring about the education and future of our kids, not how much money the public schools are getting. You don't need money to be a good teacher or provide a quality education.

Bob said...

Don't get me wrong, I see the point to a lot of Referendum 1. There are a lot of crappy teachers out there, I had a few when I was in school myself. And I can see the point of giving parents the right to choose.

The arguement that referendum 1 is going to decrease class size is bull @#$@. It will initially, however, funding is based on head counts, and when funding decrease the school districts will either have to let teachers go or they won't be able to hire as many. Few teachers will be working, thus increasing class sizes in the end.

Come on people, the rest of the country puts more money into education than Utah. You pay for what you get, quit gripping about the "crappy education" that you aren't willing to do anything about.

I like the fact that people are realizing how important education is for their children, even if they don't care for public education. We have looked down on it for too long. In our country being a teacher means that you are just above the poverty line constantly, because we don't value our teachers. If we valued our teachers then more people would go into education and we would be able to weed out the idiots that hate what they do. As it is we are desperate for anyone who will teach math, science, special education, speech pathology, and technology. The good teachers are those who really care about the students and end up putting their own time and money into their job. Many of the teachers at my school stay after contract hours to do prep for their classes. Many spend money that they won't get reinbursed for for supplies. We don't value our teachers thus we don't value our children's education.

We aren't against referendum 1 because we don't like students or parents rights. But because we struggling as it is to survive. We don't want to see the funding decrease for the students who don't have parents that can afford to pay the difference after their vouchers to lose their quality of education (and I don't care what you say, this will not benefit schools, as previously mentioned above). Anyway, I'm not going off on you Jim, just the issue. It'll probably be voted in anyways, knowing Utah's track record.

SalGal said...

I have a theory that teachers aren't treated/paid like the professionals that they are because they don't come away from school with $100k in student debt like lawyers and doctors do. I truely believe that if they did, I'd be living in a nice starter home with enough bedrooms for my kids instead of an apartment where my oldest son sleeps in our closet so he can have some privacy.

I don't know what Referendum 1 is, I live in CA and we have our own busy-bodies to deal with here.

I don't like merit pay because there are just too many outside factors and there is too little responsibility placed where it belongs (on the students themselves and their parents!) for it to be attainable for even the best of teachers.

Vouchers don't solve the problem, they make it worse. How are schools supposed to get the equipment/supplies they need when money is being taken away? How are we supposed to find/attract/retain quality teachers when they have to work three jobs to support their families? What we need is an audit. And pay cuts for anyone making more than a veteran teacher does. (We need someone from Mitt's camp to come over and fix education. LOL!)

Lacey said...

I don't really wanna get in on the debate but I am for it, and I am a teacher. I may not be one currently but I worked in public schools the past couple of years. I see both sides but overall I like it. That is all I have to say...lol.

Bob said...

Well, now that I understand the bill a little more I'm still against it but for different reasons than before.


* Governor Huntsman signed this bill into law with the idea that one size does not fit all and a choice should be available. "Scholarships help children", it says. This comes into play particularly when a child is in a special situation and needs more specialized care than what is available in the public system.
* For every child that uses a scholarship, money is sent to the public school district where he/she would have attended.
So, the scholarship program pumps new money into education while reducing class size.
* The money for vouchers is coming from a source outside of those funds set aside for the education system.

Now here's the kicker:

* The voucher program is most likely going to help the priveledge few and promises to become a tool for cultural division. Not everyone can afford to send their kids to a private shcool. The rich kids will get help in getting out of the public schools and those less affluent will remain.
* Public school funding would be cut in future years to make up for decreased enrollment.
* The money for vouchers is coming from a source outside of those funds set aside for the education system--funds that woule have been designated for health care, public safety and roads.
* Vouchers are more about subsidies and less about choice. The issue is about whether or not taxpayers should subsidize existing private schools that are not held to standards. (Any private school can be used.)
* And my favorite: It just is not right to give people money to not use the public schools. It's kind of like giving them some of their tax back--they pay taxes that go to support the public schools but if they are not going to use those schools then they should get some money back. What about those families who pay taxes that never used the public school system themselves nor do they have children in the schools. What about "vouchers" or tax breaks for them? If people taking their kids out of public schools should get monetary compensation, then those families who never put their kids there in the first place should also get monetary compensation.

This is taken from the following website: http://saltlakecity.about.com/od/politicalandlocalissues/a/2007referendum1.htm

So, there's a few more details that I didn't know about the whole issue. Hope that helps with your choice in voting. Have a nice day.

Your Mom said...

I'm neither a teacher nor a student. I'm the widow of a teacher who always proof-read his papers before he turned them in. I now edit talks, books, etc., for General Authorities of the Church. I find it interesting that after reading all of the comments posted, all I want to say is, "Have any of you ever heard of Spell Check?"

I find myself reading not for content but to fix all the mistakes in spelling and punctuation I'm finding in comments from teachers, teachers' wives, and students. For me, Referendum 1 is a moot point.

Bob said...

lol, these fingers just get a typing I guess. I don't know about moot point, but you're right, if this wasn't just a blog I would worry about it.