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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Friday, January 06, 2006

No To Vouchers

The Florida Supreme Court have today passed down a possibly landmark decision in the realm of school choice.

They ruled school vouchers to be unconstitutional.

Our State constitution, it should be noted, not the wider federal constitution.

In a fairly decisive 5-2 ruling, the justices declared that school vouchers violated the right to an equitable public school education.

The article reads:


"Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality system of free public schools."

Note that since this is a state initiative, the particular brain child of very popular State governor, Jeb Bush, it cannot be appealed to the US Supreme Court, since no federal laws are in force.

For those of us who support school vouchers, which gives children the right to attend private school with a public voucher, should they qualify academically, this is a disastrous ruling.

Perhaps the very powerful teacher's union lobby are pleased as punch, but the many many children have been successful in their transition to private academies, will now have to return to public school, at the end of 2006.

It's curious to note that the NYT article I linked to, has mentioned that children displaced by Katrina (350,000 students), have been given vouchers to attend any school of their choice, whether private or public.

It would be interesting to see just how many of those poor, overstressed MINORITY parents opted for the lower class sizes, and more disclipined atmosphere of private academies.

I'm not here to argue the benefits of one educational system over the other.

I am the product of what we in England call independent schools, which are laws unto themselves.

(The moment any daughter of mine is born, I am placing her down in the waiting list, since acceptance to the school is weighted towards what Americans call "legacies")

I know private schools vary in quality and size, and not all are as good as many public schools in the United States, some of which have materials and subjects unthinkable in more modest private schools.

But I am of the FIRM belief that competition is good, and brings out the best in competing systems.

Already Home Schooling in the US has produced its first generation of High School graduates, as the children born in the mid-80s, whose parents opted for teaching their progeny at home, since they couldn't afford private, or religious schooling then, has eaten away into the hegemony of public schools.

(Wisconsin was the first state to grant school vouchers, back in 1990, starting in Milwaukee. There programme is very successful)

If teachers' and other champions of public school-only education think that this is beneficial because it puts children on an even footing again, especially minorities, they are sorely mistaken.

In Miami, we have a pilot "choice programme" charter school co-founded by Jeb Bush himself, which caters to Liberty City children.

They consistently do well in State exams, and their school is a model of cleanliness, and safety, in an otherwise depressed, and depressing part of this pristine city.

AND THAT IS JUST A CHARTER SCHOOL.

Imagine the benefits to all the children who have qualified for the burgeoning private schools here in South Florida.

Many of the more elite schools like Ransom-Everglades, Carollton, Gulliver Prep (where OJ Simpson's children went to), Belen, Lourdes, the two best-known Cuban-American schools, have seen a major rise in minority school attendance.

All of this due to the simple action which school vouchers gives one:

Choice.

This ruling simply doesn't make sense.

Who is harmed in the keeping of the school voucher programme?

The only response which some may advance is "public school attendance rosters". And public school administrator's pride.

But certainly not the children of Florida.

14 Comments:

  • The last I heard, Florida had in effect eliminated the twelfth grade due to budgetary reasons. How can they afford vouchers?

    Another matter-- rural areas. I don't know how densely populated rural Florida is but here in Arizona, vouchers were stopped, surprisingly, a few years ago by Republican legislators from rural areas. The reason why is that it can be an hour between schools, so 'choice' isn't a realistic option for most parents here, but the way the bill was written, the money taken out of the public schools for private school vouchers would have been somewhat spread around so rural schools would have gotten a cut regardless of what happened elsewhere. But when they tried to write it in a way that limited the cuts to urban and suburban schools, it was Republicans from Mesa and other 'boomburbs' who torpedoed it because they thought it would hurt them the most.

    True, right now we have a Democratic governor who would certainly veto a voucher bill anyway (meaning the GOP is now unified, because it's now only about making her veto it to embarrass her politically, not having to deal with the details), but the problems that paralyzed the Republicans (who almost always have controlled the legislature here by wide margins) occurred under Republican governors Fife Symington and Jane Hull, who would have signed a voucher bill if they'd gotten one.

    By Blogger Eli Blake, at Fri Jan 06, 02:37:00 am GMT-5  

  • Here is the case (unfortunately hardly reported on at all) that will determine a great deal about the future of home schooling and private schooling, especially with a religious basis:

    Creationists sue the University of California over the Universities' systematic exclusion of students who have used a curriculum that does not include evolution, citing deficiencies in the science (specifically the Biology) curriculum.

    The stakes could not be higher. If the University wins, then students who homeschool or go to private schools will have to still submit to the secular curriculum that universities require, or they will pay a significant penalty in terms of limiting their future career options.

    If the private schools win, then it could cost Universities millions of dollars to provide what amounts to high school remedial courses to teach students material that is assumed as prereq material before they enter the standard university curriculum.

    Myself, I can understand both sides but I favor the University of California. If parents want to teach their children creationism, go ahead but I don't believe that a state university should have to lower their standards because of it.

    By Blogger Eli Blake, at Fri Jan 06, 02:53:00 am GMT-5  

  • Vic: the decision is even worse than you think...

    By Blogger JSU, at Fri Jan 06, 03:11:00 am GMT-5  

  • Vouchers are a great thing! Competition needs time to work its magic, and public school teachers and incompetent administrators have been fighting vouchers from the beginning as many are terribly afraid they would "lose" most of their students if the students had a real choice. Now it's mostly about politics and the power of the teachers' union, etc. Our country pays the price in the long run as children graduate from our lousy public schools without the ability to speak and write properly in any language!

    By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Fri Jan 06, 12:23:00 pm GMT-5  

  • The last I heard, Florida had in effect eliminated the twelfth grade due to budgetary reasons. How can they afford vouchers?

    Say wha??

    Surely you meant Canada abolished Grade 13 (though too late for poor Renato). ;)

    Anyway, everyone knows 12th grade in Florida is good for only one thing:

    Grad Nite at Disney World.

    Bring your fancy costumes, else you won't go in!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Jan 06, 08:54:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Myself, I can understand both sides but I favor the University of California. If parents want to teach their children creationism, go ahead but I don't believe that a state university should have to lower their standards because of it.

    This way of thinking is insulting on so many levels, Eli, that I will just leave it alone.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Jan 06, 08:55:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Eli: "If parents want to teach their children creationism, go ahead but I don't believe that a state university should have to lower their standards because of it."

    But they have lowered their standards on so many fronts, at so many levels. Why is this the cut-off point?

    Victoria, I have mixed feelings on this ruling. I support vouchers. However, the ruling seems sound if the state constitution is to be followed. So we need to ammend the constitution if we want to allow vouchers. It might be useful to do so to also constitutionally allow home-schooling. That way we won't have some of the horror stories that have ocurred in other states with home-school parents arrested by police at the behest of the local school boards.

    By Anonymous benning, at Fri Jan 06, 08:55:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Just finished reading that link, JSU. Thanks!

    You could hear me groan at the range of opinions offered, some of whom I detested.

    This ranged from:

    Should government be involved in education at all?

    Let's say we just shut down the public schools. I'm not kidding. Close the public schools, and the state-sponsored universities. And free up the associated tax dollars.

    The evidence suggests that churches, philanthropists, and parents do a better job of educating children, especially those who are most disadvantaged.


    Which I disagree with, completely.

    To the one where the guy said he has no kids, why should he pay for the kids of others to go to public school.

    The idea of not looking out for the commonweal, whether or not it affects us, is why I am not a libertarian, and never will be.

    And government intervention in all spheres of modern-day citizen activity, to the detriment of the private sector, is why I am not a liberal.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Jan 06, 09:04:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Victoria, I have mixed feelings on this ruling. I support vouchers. However, the ruling seems sound if the state constitution is to be followed. So we need to ammend the constitution if we want to allow vouchers.

    This is the Terri Schiavo matter all over again, isn't it?

    I also was deeply for keeping her alive, but when the FSC handed down their verdict, I had to recognise it was correct -- if inhumane.

    However, if a lawyer wants to argue otherwise, knock yourself out.

    It might be useful to do so to also constitutionally allow home-schooling. That way we won't have some of the horror stories that have ocurred in other states with home-school parents arrested by police at the behest of the local school boards.

    Exactly! I was thinking much the same thing, when I was composing the post.

    Because you know that the public schools must be eating themselves raw, thinking of all these schoolkids having a much MORE varied education.

    Unlike what people think, private and home schooling offers a diversity of thought, which may not otherwise be given to your child in a classroom always geared towareds the LCD.

    It's as if Americans still had one-room schoolhouses, a la Laura Ingalls Wilder.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Jan 06, 09:09:00 pm GMT-5  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Eli Blake, at Fri Jan 06, 11:50:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Anyway, everyone knows 12th grade in Florida is good for only one thing:

    Grad Nite at Disney World.


    Maybe that's y'all's problem right there.

    My eldest daughter just finished twelfth grade and graduated last year and they made her (and all 33 of the rest of her graduating class) work really hard. Now I will grant that this little town out here probably has fewer distractions (if some of our seniors skipped class, well they could probably drive out to the badlands with a sandwich or something. An hour or two of watching the jackrabbits and lizards out there, and if they still wanted to find something to do, maybe they could pile onto a tractor and bale hay. Not too long, and they'd be right back in class, I guarantee it.) It helps education when school is the most exciting thing around for miles (if you're a kid).

    By Blogger Eli Blake, at Fri Jan 06, 11:53:00 pm GMT-5  

  • whoops, speaking of competition, I inadvertently put you into competition with me. I nominated you for best new blog at the bloggies awards, but then I went to Cold Hearted Truth (where I am registered as a member) and found out that C.H. nominated me in the same category. Oh, well-- maybe we can agree on one thing (and probably only one thing): I nominated Ann as blogger of the year, best podcast and best written.

    By Blogger Eli Blake, at Sat Jan 07, 03:39:00 am GMT-5  

  • Maybe that's y'all's problem right there.

    Disney World isn't the problem! It's the solution!

    My eldest daughter just
    finished twelfth grade


    Holy schnikey. Congrats to you and to her. :)

    and graduated last year and they made her (and all 33 of the rest of her graduating class) work really hard.

    33, I GUESS, isn't so bad. I've heard of 100 plus at a school here called Braddock...

    Now I will grant that this little town out here probably has fewer distractions (if some of our seniors skipped class, well they could probably drive out to the badlands with a sandwich or something. An hour or two of watching the jackrabbits and lizards out there,

    We have those too, but they're human.

    and if they still wanted to find something to do, maybe they could pile onto a tractor and bale hay.

    WTF.

    It'll be a cold day in Hades, when you get ME on a tractor baling hay, my friend.

    Although I did go cow-tipping in Michigan once!

    Blogpost to arise, obviously.

    Not too long, and they'd be right back in class, I guarantee it.) It helps education when school is the most exciting thing around for miles (if you're a kid).

    Good point, Eli.

    I'm guessing the drop-out rate for more rural areas is lower than those in cities, in the US?

    You've made me curious, so having a quiet moment right now, before I go out at night, I will Google.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Jan 07, 04:10:00 pm GMT-5  

  • whoops, speaking of competition, I inadvertently put you into competition with me.

    Put 'em up!

    I nominated you for best new blog at the bloggies awards,

    Aww, thank you, Eli.

    Aren't you sweet, and generous, my two favourite characteristics in a man. :)

    Goes to show, also, in this day of partisan cutthroatery, that two people who may not necessarily agree on "stuff" all the time, can appreciate the other for their individual qualities.

    At least you can. Now it's my turn to put up, or shut up. :)

    but then I went to Cold Hearted Truth (where I am registered as a member)

    I went! Looks good, although I cast only a peak.

    I did vote on that poll about the President and the NSA wiretapping, and to my (slight) suprise, since I presume it's a left-leaning blog, the "agree 100%" category was far out ahead of the two "impeach" type categories.

    I'll certainly go back to read it.

    and found out that C.H. nominated me in the same category.

    I saw that!

    Oh, well-- maybe we can agree on one thing (and probably only one thing): I nominated Ann as blogger of the year, best podcast and best written.

    That's the truth right there.

    Although, I may nominate the Anchoress (who is a sweetie-pie, and has had a very rough year, health-wise), as "Best Catholic Blogger" -- and don't give me guff about that not being a category!

    P.S.: It goes without saying that I shall return to that Bloggies site, and vote for you in the same category too. :)

    Then I'll log on the library comp, and vote for myself 100x!!!

    Hey, I've been to Chicago.

    Mwah, thanks Eli,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Jan 07, 04:16:00 pm GMT-5  

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