That's what the title of Teresa Hislop's column, "A vote for vouchers put students ahead of the union," would have you believe. And it is a window of sorts into many Utahn's "reasoning" in the voucher debate.
As a UEA/NEA member, I attended meetings and even made phone calls encouraging citizens to vote for candidates labeled "education-friendly" by the union. In my experience, union members always chose teachers over students. When teacher and student needs paralleled, the students benefited. However when union wants conflicted with students' best interests, the union's desires always won out. NEA, the national teachers' union that donated $1.5 million to defeat vouchers, also spends money to promote condoms in schools, abortion on demand, gun control and non-traditional values.Unions trying to get candidates elected under a banner of common interests shouldn't surprise anyone. What is surprising is the news Hislop "breaks" in her column: These rogue, unchecked unions go out lobbying all willy-nilly with no regard for what people actually want. Gasp! And "...when union wants conflicted with students' best interests, the union's desires always won out." So I'm curious. Are there examples to cite? Anything to back that statement up? Or is Hislop just not a fan of unions personally, finding fault anytime a union has successfully campaigned for an issue? And of course, let's not forget to tack on that condom/abortion/gun control line for good measure (Damn PCE already used that Ted Kennedy idea). But questions remain.
UEA/NEA puts union needs first. Parents put children's needs first.
Even if Hislop is -- by shear luck -- onto something, how exactly do comdoms, abortion, and gun control benefit a union against the wishes of the people? The implication is that a union (or interest group, or lobbying endeavor of any kind that might be at odds with Hislop's personal politics) is not representing people, only the elusive and mythical "union."
Vouchers will return a measure of accountability to the educational system. Under the current educational monopoly, there is no need for schools to respond to parental concerns. Parents anxious about class size, track assignment (in year-round schools), choice of classroom teacher or curriculum that promotes nontraditional values have little recourse under the current system.One could have let the condom/abortion/gun control/illegal immigrants/terrorist/high taxes/gays/tree-hugging-hippies argument above go, but that was the high point of Hislop's reasoning. Vouchers, she says, by not holding private schools accountable for accredidation or teacher certification, are returning a measure of accountability to the educational system, as parents will then have the option to place children in schools where there is not a single condom within 100 yards (unless those schools are anywhere near a convenience store, grocery store...etc). Also, vouchers are creating choice for parents.
They can live with the decisions that are made without their input or home school their children. Vouchers give parents a choice; they introduce accountability to the consumer into the educational system.
What a pleasant surprise. I thought the voucher proposition was to further fund the choice parents already have through open enrollment and private schools, with the opposition arguing it is a waste of tax payers dollars, and harmful to our public schools. If you thought we were debating state funding for privatized schooling, you (and I) were wrong. Hislop, thankfully, reminds us we are, as always, debating the age old "good vs. evil," the eternal battle between Conservatives and Dirty Pinko Hippies.
Though some claim that vouchers benefit only the rich, the opposite is true. Wealthy people already have school choice. Because they have the funds, they can choose private schools should they so desire.Even if I accept the evilness of condoms and gun-control and hippies in this voucher debate (huh? Exactly), being one of the afore mentioned "some," I must check her math a bit.
According to the Sutherland Institute the average cost of a private school is $4,500 per student. The maximum voucher (given to the lowest income bracket) is $3,000. So how many households making $43,290 or less a year can make up the difference and send their kids to a private school. And that's per student, so if you have three kids, you'll be looking at $4,500, in tuition (I won't even get into the additional costs like transportation).
Looking at the numbers it seems unlikely that many low income families will be utilizing vouchers to send their children to private schools. On the other end of the spectrum, those in the $120,000 + range ($119,048 to be exact) are eligible for a $500 per child voucher. The math breaks down to about the same relative amount of tuition not covered by the voucher (it looks like about 3%, sans calculator) for those around $40,000 and those around $120,000. When you compare someone making $30,000 with someone making $160,000 (the portion of income needed to fund the remainder of tuition not covered by vouchers is 5% and 2.5% respectivly at those levels, again, per student) the variation is more extreme.
Assuming an average of three kids (I literally just pulled that number out of the air) that's 15% ($4,500) of the $30k family's income. Yes, in a bottom-line family budget it will be cheaper for the $30k family to send their three kids to private school, but that doesn't mean it will be any more realistic, as anyone with 3 actual kids would be able to tell you; the bottom line rarely exists in the family budget. A $200k family with three kids would be more likely to spend $12,000 of their own money, and $1,500 of Utah's taxpayers at large.
But back to those Messengers of Darkness, the Union leaders. Unions don't loose anything unless they loose union members. If public schools are losing teachers because they have lost students to private schools due to vouchers, it won't be because low income families are trying to hold the school accountable, it will be because high income families are taking advantage of a government handout.
Those Dirty Fucking Hippies.