School Vouchers and Catholic Schools


#21

School vouchers would help the poor the most. Failing schools in my city are located in the poor sections of the city, and poor parents are FORCED to send their children to these "public" schools.

If we go to universal vouchers with no strings attached, we will need many more new schools. The Catholic schools in my area are filled up. The parents pay for one half the tuition, and the church pays for the other half of tuition.


#22

My district tries new constuction constantly. The voters finally shot down the last bond election, being fed up with the district always wanting more. Yes, if prublic schools had a modicum of competition, they would not be able to build bigger and better constantly. Now practically speaking, you have a valid point and I think to keep public schools from avoiding a crisis vouchers would do best if phased in over a five year period, allowing schools to adapt to lower enrollment, including perhaps selling facilities to private institutions.


#23

[quote="tafan, post:20, topic:201020"]
1) My point is simple, the idea that all funding for education should only come directly from the parents of the child is an extremely bad idea. Please do NOT read this as any type of endorsement for out current public education system.

[/quote]

I am not reading it that way. :)

I like the idea of vouchers and let parents decide what to do.

Except that #1 - the effect of that will nullify itself when everyone discovers that there are easily 10-15 times more demand for private schools than the number of privates available for those families - vouchers or not. #2 - The voucher will additionally nullify itself when families discover that the previous behavioral history of their children, and the poor performance of many of those children, makes their children inadmissible for almost all private schools.

(Lots of perfectly fine children will want admission to privates, but additionally many, many quite unfine, unsuitable children will seek admission. So for the latter group, the voucher will mean nothing.)


#24

Brendan. Excellent points. This was the reason the principal of the school where I worked did not want vouchers. She is a religious, and believes if the gov gets involved, they will start telling her what discipline she can impose, what curriculum she must include, etc.

Vouchers do not address children with special needs. My son has HFA Aspergers Syndrome…(not discovered until age 14). When he was in Catholic School grades K-4, it was a struggle for him (at the time we didn’t know what it was)…the school hired a part-time teacher to work with students who needed extra help…but in the end…it wasn’t really helpful. I have also been told, that Catholic schools do not have the resources to work with special needs children.


#25

Let me propose a hypothetical system to you. Make the public schools funded by the same vouchers and let parents decide where to send kids. They could be organized as non-profit entities with no direct money coming from the government. It all comes through vouchers.

I am pretty sure competition and the will to survive would force many public schools to shape up. The children would start performing better. And there would be more private and catholic schools open up, since there would be more demand. The market works that way.

One does not adopt a radical new program on a wide scale, such as vouchers, with the idea that the status quo will be maintained. The disruption is what you want.


#26

Very good! Research is showing that even the threat of school vouchers causes public schools to perform better.

Parents with school vouchers can continue going to their present public school, or they could switch schools. The parents, not the state or local government, decide where to send the children to school.

SCHOOL CHOICE FOR ALL! edchoice.org/schoolchoice/


#27

tafan, I don’t think you’re reading very critically. It’s obvious that I’m all for disruption of the status quo. Why are you preaching to the choir? What I am telling you, as a lifelong educator and a parent whose children have completed their K-12 education, is that a massive new plan for vouchers-only is unworkable, given the scarcity of available private schools. Demand far exceeds supply even now, without vouchers, and you seem not to understand that. Further, the “non-profit entities” idea you introduced would not be large enough to accommodate millions of schoolage children. That has nothing to do with whether the system will be "disrupted.’ We’re just talking available funding (if you take the gov’t out of it) and available seats in private schools. Under any system, vouchers or not, far, far more families want to send their kids to privates, but not enough private schools exist. It makes no sense to provide a family with a voucher for an education that doesn’t exist. It also takes time to develop new private schools. Despite not being public, a certain amount of bureaucracy is involved (site locations, permissions, approvals, staffing, and more).


#28

[quote=Elizabeth502]tafan, I don’t think you’re reading very critically. It’s obvious that I’m all for disruption of the status quo
[/quote]

I was responding only to your statement that there will not be enough private schools available if vouchers are made available to all. Your statement assumes the current mix of education facilities will persist, ie the status quo will persist. I understand you don’t want that. I was simply pointing out a simple solution for your stated problem.

As to the time it takes things to change, well you would be surprised what the market place can achieve. If all public schools were made to be funded by vouchers only, you would see immidiate changes to those schools. When the administrators and teachers started fearing for their jobs (the threat of a closing school or no students would instill that fear), they would change for the better very quickly.


#29

I could offer an anecdote regarding our local district that was much more complicated than that regarding finances and building maintenance. I won’t share it, though, as it’s one anecdote and you can’t make national policy on anecdotes. I offered it as a counterpoint to the posters who seem to think that waving a magic wand, or blowing away unions, will restore our schools to perfection. As with any complex system, nothing is that easy…

I agree!


#30

[quote="tafan, post:28, topic:201020"]
I was responding only to your statement that there will not be enough private schools available if vouchers are made available to all. Your statement assumes the current mix of education facilities will persist, ie the status quo will persist. I understand you don't want that. I was simply pointing out a simple solution for your stated problem.

[/quote]

Thanks for the explanation. :)

As to the time it takes things to change, well you would be surprised what the market place can achieve.

Again, you'll find me a passionate supporter of wresting control of education from government entities. This is why I've been a big supporter of the charter movement in my State. Those are the best combination of public funds + private control. (IOW, though it's not called vouchering, it functions quite similarly, except that you're not choosing from a variety of schools or school sites; you're choosing to create your own school as a community, with your own goals/priorities/mandates. The gov't is giving you a certain amount of money to achieve that. The only problem is, it's a tiny amount -- insufficient to do the job with adequate resources. You don't have the site resources that traditionally funded schools get.)

I've worked ini charter site schools as well as charter homeschools. Those who warn, though, about the overlap of public/private are correct: one charter school I worked in, and still associate with professionally (because I'm required to) is, for all practical purposes, a Muslim school, though publicly funded with taxpayer dollars. They take off for all the Muslim holidays, and close down Friday at noon for the same reason. Almost the entire staff is Muslim as well. (The students are a mixture of Arabs, Persians, Pakistanis.)

I've also worked in public charter homeschools which use religiously flavored curriculum (I don't mean the history of religion, or textbooks which include religious history). I made no objection but some of my families did object, especially those who were Jewish. I cite these examples of charters, even though they're not the pan-voucher system you propose, to show how even a simpler form of funding, which even already exists within the public system, is not that straightforward in its results, is compromised in its resources, and creates controversy.

(Continued below).....


#31

If all public schools were made to be funded by vouchers only, you would see immidiate changes to those schools. When the administrators and teachers started fearing for their jobs (the threat of a closing school or no students would instill that fear), they would change for the better very quickly.

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Since I do work within the current system, I'm in a position to see what motivates change and what does not. Administrators, for example, might get motivated to quantify goals and check up on those goals; they also might be motivated to inspect teacher quality (hiring & performance reviews) more often. However, what they cannot do, and (as I said in my first 2 posts) what teachers also cannot do is avoid the cultural expectations and family circumstances which are major factors in student achievement & lack thereof.

It is a culture of laziness out there, a culture of entitlement (especially entitlement to ease of results, and entitlement to recreation & entertainment as priorities). This current generation is not being raised with a work ethic. Everything is way too convenient for them, but learning involves work. Nor are they being raised, for the most part, with traditional households wherein Mom is really forming her children in the early years, and where both Mom and Dad stay connected to their children in the growing-up process. It's ships passing each other through the night. Adolescents are wedded to their media as practically a 24/7 addiction. (If you happened to listen to Fr. Wade Menezes' homily today for the EWTN Mass.) The parents are usually dual-professionals who are exhausted when they get home and are not providing oversight to their children. I practically demand now a weekly family reading hour, because I get so tired of parental excuses. It's a culture of get, get, get, not learn, learn, learn. Students, and parents, want all the shortcuts imaginable. What that yields is a lack of learning, because ultimately learning is a deep and thorough process. They don't want to be bothered with the fundamentals and essentials which support the learning, such as outside reading, new vocabulary, repetition of basic facts, and perfection of skill. Nor is this impatient society interested in the slow task of writing. Without a sea-change in family attitudes and behaviors, the most miraculous teachers will be limited in their results. My students who are not achieving are not necessarily from the economically poor; they are instead from dysfunctional but reasonably well-off households; or they are from materially and behaviorally indulgent households; or they are from households where the parents really are not speaking a sufficient amount of English, and reading enough English, to be role models and helpers to their children. Again, the latter is not necessarily due to economics. Many well-off immigrants feel no particular need to immerse their children in English First, assuming incorrectly "they will just pick it up from their peers." No they won't. Not academic English. Not the high-level English necessary to succeed in society.

There's also an epidemic of permissiveness out there, among parents. Many, many parents actually believe (they tell me this) that they need their children's permission to enforce a rule, enforce attendance, enforce homework completion, etc. Laughable, truly.

I think I should stop now :D I'll wear myself out and many of you. ;) The point is that motivation has serious limits. We're not talking about an automaker's job or the speed with which a restaurant worker or salesperson works. Resuls in education are a team effort: school (primarily, teacher), student, home. Success is not possible with only one of those elements signed on.

Thanks for the dialogue. :)


#32

Gosh, I hate multiple postings. :blush: It always comes across like hogging a thread, but I wanted to finish clarifying, especially for tafan, who has taken the trouble to dialogue about this.

Like you, tafan, I'm in favor of the virtual privatization of schools, through some system. (And I'm not too concerned about how that's funded.) In the latter regard, what I would favor, probably, is a baseline universal voucher to guarantee basic education, with more premium educational choices for those who wanted to contribute more into a higher level of funding. (Almost like elective private insurance.) What I was debating with you is this: you have to separate the issues. One issue is the quality of available education. Much of that is controllable, especially with heightened standards, better hiring and materials, a more rigorous format for schooling (longer school day in many cases; a 5-hr. day for highschoolers is absurd). That would, however, have to be paired with behavioral expectations and consequences which now do not exist in publics. All those things combined would improve quality. But results are something else entirely; it is results which depend on student + home response and compliance. That's what I was referring to previously. Hope that's more clear now. :)


#33

Higher funding of government schools (K-12) will be met with lower production.

Problem #1: Government schools (K-12) have a monopoly on schools. How does any private school compete with "free" education? Monopolies have higher prices (taxes) and lower services.

Problem #2: Government schools do not have internal control like a private business. The end result is that teachers, administrators, etc. waste a lot of time justifying everything that they do. Most money for government schools never reaches the classroom. Government schools are inefficient and ineffective.


#34

The privatization argument is applicable at times, but I think it gets over-rated.

Do you want a police department that is privatized? That means, that like private companies, they could go bankrupt. What happens when a company goes bankrupt? They stop answering the phones and providing service. Do you want a police or fire department that just shuts its door someday? What if the Army went bankrupt?

To avoid that potential, they must inherently NOT run themselves according to the same business model. They don’t answer to private investors and shareholders, for example. Thus more conservative business practices, lower pay for top management than you’d see in the private sector, etc.

This is not to say that the public sector is perfect… they absolutely could incorporate some elements of private industry into their practice. Having said that, I also wouldn’t mind seeing more companies (BP comes to mind) using more conservative practices…!


#35

#36

No, public safety has always worked best and has been for millenia, a governmental enterprise. That is not the topic here and has little to do with it.


#37

I am also very torn on the issue; the issues are many, and they are all interwoven, so I don’t think that there is a “silver bullet”.

The idea presented by many here is that vouchers will allow kids to migrate to private schools, which are inherently better run. However, one of the reasons that they have success seems to be (to me) that they have parents that are much more involved in their lives and education. This means that one of the biggest challenges to the entire system is children who have inactive or indifferent parents.

Now if this grand voucher plan is enacted… what will happpen to them? They will still have indifferent parents, who will likely keep them in their local school, or the school where most of their friends are. One huge challenge will still remain in this post-voucher world. Reaching those kids, and mobilizing those parents.


#38

[quote="pnewton, post:36, topic:201020"]
That is not the topic here and has little to do with it.

[/quote]

I disagree. The tone of many posters here is that the government is a buffoon that wouldn't know it's a-..... well, you get the idea. A counterpoint to that point is simply that the government is not utterly incompetent, and can actually can do something competently for the public good.


#39

In that context I understand and agree. However, I would like to add that the more political a job is made (police or military), the more government-influenced it becomes, the more like it is to snafu.


#40

[quote="Major_Tom, post:37, topic:201020"]
I am also very torn on the issue; the issues are many, and they are all interwoven, so I don't think that there is a "silver bullet".
...............................

Now if this grand voucher plan is enacted... what will happpen to them? They will still have indifferent parents, who will likely keep them in their local school, or the school where most of their friends are. One huge challenge will still remain in this post-voucher world. Reaching those kids, and mobilizing those parents.

[/quote]

Thoughtful reply.

My response would be (regarding the last portion of your post) is (I think you would agree) we cannot control outcomes, only conditions -- where there's a will to change the conditions of the school environment. It used to be that authority was assumed. No longer so. That change has migrated into explicit school policy, so that now, especially with HIPPA, FERPA, and a whole host of other individual protections -- some legitimate, some not -- a school's options are sometimes limited with respect to student behavior. In other cases, a school's options are simply not utilized by weak-willed administrators, because of the administrator's choice to submit to political pressures (litigious parents, poltiically correct community, socially-conscious school boards & superintendents, etc.)

Explicit and implicit restraints on authority are often extreme and serpentine now, in some regions. If and when voters and parents are willing to rise up to reclaim they own legitimate adult authority, conditions in the school sites can change. Sort of....;)

What also has to change is the school's agenda: Are we an academy or are we a branch of the Social Security Administration and the Social Welfare branch of county gov't? And are we also a branch of local law enforcement (doing their work for them, or commenting on their work, interfering with their work)? And are we also a child psychiatric ward, mainstreaming untreated PTSD students, as well as those on the autism spectrum that are not well-served by full-day mainstreaming, and whose presence dominates the agenda of the classroom? Public schools need to decide whether they can realistically be a Treatment Facility simultaneously with being an effective/efficient academy. So far, this has proved unworkable, and I will tell you that in my region, Treatment Facility is winning. Normal students are losing, and losing big-time.

Thirdly, we need to re-prioritize curriculum, back to traditional academics (updated to assimilate modern life/technology), and away from touchy/feely inappropriate curriculum, such as full classes for children in Anger Management, Crisis Intervention, personal values (often a cover for political agendas, btw, and I don't mean Catholic or other religious ones), and individual psychological journeys. Children in most public school districts are way behind in critical reading skills (not literal reading skills, as much), in writing, in historical knowledge, in math facility, and overall in functional literacy. We just don't have the luxury of psych-trips within the school day.

So, let's fast forward in tafan's fashion ;), and assume optimistically that we can narrow/limit agenda, and that there is a majority of parents willing to re-empower adult authority, and that curriculum is once again suitable, while modern. That will change the conditions of the classroom for everyone. Teaching will be far more efficient than it is now. And I think (Major) that's all we can expect. If schools provide those optimum conditions, we cannot control what parents do and do not contribute. Some students will continue to underachieve by personal choice, or because of compromised home conditions (including ineffective parenting or compromised parental literacy), some will be lost and maybe turned around later.


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