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  1. #1
    Carpe Chicken Chicken's Avatar
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    I thought with one day left, I'd start this topic so this issue can be discussed. It might not be up in your district/state yet, but sooner or later it will.

    The basics are, that as taxpayers you pay into many state run programs, one of which being public schools. The proposition for school vouchers (to sum it all up), offers parents of school age children, a $4,000 check (I believe per year, though now that I think of it, I'm not sure). Sounds pretty good eh?

    Well, if the problem was that public schools had too much money, and that the teachers weren't capable of teaching, then yes, this would be a grand idea. Yes, there isn't enough training for teachers, nor adequate classroom space, nor cooperation between schools (let alone districts), nor solid leadership at the district level. I won't b.s. you and tell you that there aren't problems and concerns with sending your children to public schools.

    Also, the scare tactics used (asking you to vote no on the propostion), aren't entirely accurate. Private schools do not have to hire teachers that are credentialed by the State of California, this is true. What you aren't told, is that there are many teachers working for the district that are not fully credentialed either. I am one of those teachers. We were hired due to overwhelming need for teachers (we get funds if we shift the classes to 20-1 where they used to be ???-1), and are obtaining our credential while we teach.

    This might be shocking to some people, but I assure you that the teachers that aren't fully credentialed are younger and more enthusiastic than many that are. They actually like to teach (due to the fact that they haven't done it for 20 years). My test scores and other rookie's scores were up with teachers who have been there much longer (in some cases surpassing their scores). What it comes down to is, you either can teach or you can't.

    These voucher propostions don't give more money to districts, though they do (in direct and indirect ways) take money from the districts. I taught for two months on the stage in the cafeteria (around lunch time I just stopped trying to get their attention, since there were hordes of loud children walking though with food). Two single lightbulbs illuminated the entire area. We have teachers that move from class to class every month. We have a class of 33 in our school library (hard to show them the merits of reading when we can't access our own library). This is a 15x30 foot room *with* shelves and shelves and shelves of books (remember it's a library).

    $4,000 isn't enough to enroll a child in many private schools. This means that only the more wealthy families will be able to take advantage of the decent private schools. I hate to see the look on a parent's face when they figure this out.

    It sounds like a good idea, but it really isn't. It doesn't address the problem. Just throwing money at parents isn NOT the solution, and that's all I'll say since this is already a novel.

    Please vote NO.
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  2. #2
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    I voted NO on it (yes I already voted since I had an absentee ballot) for 2 reasons.

    1. I don't think it'd solve any problems, ie "Force public schools to try harder" I think it'd take much needed funds away from public schools.

    2. Its unconsitutional. It'd be using government funds to, in some instances, fund religious education. And that is a violation of church and state IMO.

    Chris

    ps I'm from michigan.

  3. #3
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    NO NO NO it will take away presious money form public school will not be controled strickly and go to few while taking money away from many.
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  4. #4
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    I am voting YES on it. I feel parents should have a choice and those that have kids in private school should get access to the tax money they pay for.

    Where I live, the schools get $750 for every closet in every house built. It has been this way for the last 10 years. Well over 30,000 houses have been built with an average of 4 closets each in the last ten years. That is $900 million dollars. This is in an area where there is 400,000 people. That is $2,250 dollars per person that could have been spent on building schools, training teachers and educating children. This does not count the money ($5,250) the state pays for each kid to attend public school. If one out of four residents is a school age child that is another $525 million dollars. This doesn't take into account the generous donations given by landowners and developers (most of our schools are on donated land), funds from the lottery and donations from other sources. Yet the kids can't get new equipment for sports or music. The only reason the schools in our location have computers is because of generous donations from Boeing, Lockheed, Microsoft and Apple Computer.

    Now here is the kicker... $525 million dollars is a pretty sizeable budget for 100,000 students not all of which go to public school because there are large Catholic and Christian schools out here. Even with that money, every year there is a bond issue to build new schools ranging between $500 million and $1 billion dollars. If the schools are that over crowded let some go to private schools and let the state pay for it.

    Another reason vouchers should be approved is that the poor should have the same opportunity for an education as the rich do. While not all teachers are bad, very little education goes on in public schools today, they are too worried about weapons, gangs and drugs to teach properly, this can be evidenced by annual test scores, an average 8 grade reading level for the nation and the dumbing down of our society.

    My 4 year old daughter was refused entry into public Kindergarten this year because of her age, yet she helps her 8 year old brother with his 3rd grade homework. She is currently attending a private Kindergarten. Headstart has a two year waiting list here. When the time comes for her to enroll next year at the public school, I can demand that she be tested and promoted to the first grade. I plan on doing just that.

    When I was in school, if you lagged behind in one subject you got tutoring after school. My son had speech problems due to mouth surgery when he was two. So they took him out of reading so that he could go to speech therapy. Now they say he has a reading and comprehension problem and want to take him out of math so he can do extra reading. I guess next year he'll be behind in math since thay wanted him to miss it this year and the year after that science so he can make up the math. No wonder kids are dropping out and not passing their tests. I have heard teachers call their students idiots, morons and not worth teaching. This is wrong.

    The last point is the all to popular church and state debate. According to Christians, it is ok to have prayer and the ten commandments in school but it is not ok to allow taxes to pay for a child following an Alternate Religion's education. I will not have my kids taught a Christian agenda just because they feel they are right because they are in the Majority. When my children reach an age to decide they can choose for themselves whether to follow Christianity or another path. Until that time, they are exposed to people from all religions so that they learn tolerance is a good thing.

    Vouchers will not take away money from the public schools, it will only force them to use what they have more wisely. No more school superintendants making $150,000 while the teachers struggle along at $30,000.

    Again I am voting yes. Of course you can argue with me but it will be on deaf ears because I have already made up my mind.
    Wayne Luke
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  5. #5
    SitePoint Addict jamesglewisf's Avatar
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    I'll have to say as a homeowner and property tax payor, I don't like the idea of paying for your kids' educations. I have to pay for mine to send her to private school, plus extra to send yours to public school. If the public schools weren't so awful, I'd send my kid there and get my money's worth. I'm for vouchers.

    We can talk all we want about taking money away from public schools, but what the government really does is take money away from me in the form of taxes. I earned it; they take it.
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Enthusiast Sparklit's Avatar
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    Yes, absolutely. It will improve the quality of education by giving schools an incentive to preform.

  7. #7
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    Interesting.... As soon as I read an article on this topic in my local newspaper (in Australia) this topic comes up on SP. What a co-incidence

    I quite frankly haven't fully formed a view yet, but for those interested in the article (from a somewhat jaundiced point of view) : http://www.theage.com.au/news/200011...-2000Nov3.html
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  8. #8
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    I can't speak for big cities, because I'm not from one.

    I'm from a small rural farming community, religious, conservative, one of the poorest counties in my state.

    We currently have one public school, and 2 private religious schools. One is k-6 the other is k-8.

    Now I know that cost is a major reason why the private schools do not have much enrollment. The second vouchers are introduced alot of public funds will go into these religious schools, taken from a school district that is already struggling.

    In my little brothers classroom their are actually 2 classes of kids, two teachers, some 40 odd students in a room that was supposed to hold 25. One year back when I was in highschool they had to close our school a few weeks early because they ran of out money. It takes around $50,000 to run just our middle school for one day. Schools are expensive. Regardless of how many kids are in them you still have to pay the teachers, the cooks, the janitors, the secretaries, the heat, the water, the electricity. I don't see how taking money away from this school can be a good thing.

    Finally they managed to pass a millage this year, after years and years of trying, so the overcrowding will be cured. But our school is in no way financially sound.


    Private schools can also discriminate, on race, athletic ability, disability, whatever they like, if they recieve public funds they should not be allowed to do any of that.

    And whats more. I don't want to pay for your child to learn about god, or allah, or buddha. If you want to send your child to some new age christian school so he can learn how everyone is a sinner and all sinners go to hell then you can pay for it. And the consitution agrees with me. Public funds should not be used for religious education. And all it takes is one person to challenge it.


    What you need to do is increase school funding, united states is already one of the stupider western countries, taking money away from our schools is a step in the wrong direction, so is letting your kids watch MTV while I'm on the subject.

    Chris

  9. #9
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    I would also weigh in on the NO side, for a variety of reasons, most of which have already been voiced here by Chris, Chicken, and James.
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  10. #10
    Carpe Chicken Chicken's Avatar
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    Originally posted by W. Luke
    Another reason vouchers should be approved is that the poor should have the same opportunity for an education as the rich do.
    This is assuming that all private schools will cost $4,000 a year. Many cost more. What about those kids and parents? This effectively limits poor parents to a $4,000 private school.

    While not all teachers are bad, very little education goes on in public schools today, they are too worried about weapons, gangs and drugs to teach properly, this can be evidenced by annual test scores, an average 8 grade reading level for the nation and the dumbing down of our society.
    Well I'd diagree with this statement. In fact, the biggest problem I face is that ALL of the child's education happens at school. Not enough happens at home. In fact, in mant cases, nothing happens at home. These kids don't know their own address, phonenumber, nor birthdate. This isn't something I should have to teach my class, yet I am forced to.


    My 4 year old daughter was refused entry into public Kindergarten this year because of her age, yet she helps her 8 year old brother with his 3rd grade homework.
    We have to have minimums in place. Everyone tries to enroll their children early. This isn't a race, and just like driving a car, minimums have to be set. While it is great she helps her brother, I hope you are there *with* her helping both of them? Anyway, I'm sure you are helping them, but often my kids ONLY help at home is from other siblings. Little to no parental involvement. Also, girls tend to be better students than the boys so don't be surprised is she will always be able to help her brother even thgouhg she is younger. This is typical.

    When I was in school, if you lagged behind in one subject you got tutoring after school. My son had speech problems due to mouth surgery when he was two. So they took him out of reading so that he could go to speech therapy. Now they say he has a reading and comprehension problem and want to take him out of math so he can do extra reading. I guess next year he'll be behind in math since thay wanted him to miss it this year and the year after that science so he can make up the math.
    You'd think since not much education takes place, we'd have all sorts of time to fit in extra help during the day, but there isn't a magic block of time to give special help to children who need it. Specialists are sometimes spread to more than one school due to lack of funding, and yes, I have students who miss reading because they can't speak properly. I can also send two students to a reading specialist. Too bad I have about 5 who need it.

    This comes down to specific cases. One child has been retained already, we can't hold him back again until he reaches 4th grade. He basically missed 2nd grade two years in a row since he couldn't see the board. He needed glasses. I threatened his mother (something I could easily lose my job for), and told her not to send him to school without a eye examination document from a eye doc. She decided not to send him the next day, called the principal, and sent me a note begging me not to suspend her child. The next day, he came back with the doctor's examination and a week later with glasses. He can now read the board. NOW, I can start teaching him.

    He still can't read. Why, well he doesn't have ONE book in his house! Not one. I know this from another source (another child I had last year is his neighbor). Hmmmm... connection?

    I also make the children take a spelling pre-test at home the day before the test (on Friday). This child brings in a pre-test with all but 3 wrong! Parent's signature on the top. Wouldn't this give YOU a red flag that little jimmy needs to study a bit? You'd think eh?

    This is what I have to deal with every day. Children that live with their 5 brothers and sisters in ONE bedroom (that's 6 in total, ranging from 1st grade to highschool, in one room).

    Over 75% of my kid's parents and/or siblings are in gangs. Over 75% of my kid's parents either ARE in jail now, or have been in jail recently. Many of my kids either share their living space with two or more siblings, and in some cases, they live and sleep in the same room as their parent (these children live with their mothers for the most part). They are from violently abusive homes where dad drinks and beats their mothers (3rd graders don't know better than to tell you everything that happens at home). You'd think the other children would gasp, but they just nod, "Yep, my daddy threw my baby brother at my mommy".

    While this is a wonderful thing for people like you Wayne, just keep in mind that by voting yes, you are giving $4,000 to these people as well. The chilren with stable home lives and parents that work with them ontheir homework excel in school. The children who do not have this tend to have problems (beyond those caused by operation as with your case).

    Anyway, I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. I fear that this measure will leave public schools with less money (again this happens through indirect ways), and with only the poorer, less fortunate children.

    [Edited by Chicken on 11-04-2000 at 02:16 PM]
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  11. #11
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    I'll weigh in on the NO side as well, but for a totally different reason than what has been stated.

    In theory, I think that school vouchers sound great. My big fear is this - schools are already corrupt. I taught, I know. Although I know there are many great teachers and even good schools, I know that there are alot of practices going on in ALOT of areas, not just mine, that are so far from being ethical it's disgusting. If we add competition for money to the mix, God help us all!

    This is what I see happening - a widening chasm between the haves and have nots. I'm not talking about have and have nots in financial terms. I am talking about it in terms of kids who have involved, caring parents and those who don't. I look at the school where I taught and I think about some of those kids - kids in trouble, kids with parents who didn't care, kids with parents more interested in the appearance of success than in actually having their kids learn. If this was a widely available program, we would eventually (and not too far down the road) have schools where learing actually happened and then schools where the teachers didn't bother (apathetic parents would be sending their kids here because they wouldn't get hassled by teachers calling to request a meeting about Johnny's failing grades or horrible behavior) and schools where administrative/teacher sanctioned cheating on standardized test was even more rappant than it already is (if you think there aren't parents out there who would choose this type of school, you're naive). Increased competition would help to make some schools better, but it would also result in increased pockets of corruption. And some of our nations children would suffer even more than they are already.

    Why should you care if it won't be your child? Aside from the part about having compassion, we have public schools because we are a participatory government and as such our founding fathers thought it would be a good idea that those participating have an education - they didn't want a nation run by a citisenship of idiots. There are also issues of our nation's economic viability and the correlation between poor education and increased crime to consider. So whether or not they are your kids, their education effects you.

    Look, our school system needs a massive revamping. If it was feasible, I'd say shut the whole thing down for a few years until we can come up with something that works. But poor education is better that no education in most cases and we can't put kids in limbo for a few years. I might be more apt to look at school vouchers if I thought the nation would be able to control/prevent the corruption I see resulting, but as we are unable, or unwilling, to control the corruption that already exists . . . .

  12. #12
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    I reread my post and thought I'd add that I don't think that we should be content with the poor education that now exists. Real solutions to the problem should be one of our nations top priorities and we need to get everyone involved in the process - from the next president to the guy who runs the neighborhood gas station. I think, though, that the solutions that will actually work will be ones that in the beginning sound so radical that they will be dismissed as crazy and unrealistic. If you want better education, be prepared for some drastic changes and a total rethinking of the concept of education.

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    Originally posted by Chicken
    Originally posted by W. Luke
    Another reason vouchers should be approved is that the poor should have the same opportunity for an education as the rich do.
    This is assuming that all private schools will cost $4,000 a year. Many cost more. What about those kids and parents? This effectively limits poor parents to a $4,000 private school.
    I'm not old enough to vote, but if I was, I'd vote yes. And I'm really lazy, so honestly, I didn't read all of everyones posts - so excuse me if something I say has already been covered.

    My school costs appx. 8k/year. The 4k voucher would make a BIG difference on low income families. There is a big difference between paying 8k and 4k - a really really big difference. My school also has finacial assistance which would probably cover the additional 4k if the student qualified (IE...was smart enough).

    I also disagree with Aspen in saying that school vouchers are unconstitutional. I think that although religion is a factor in some peoples choice to go to a private school, often it is just for the education - and the religion is just a side benifit (in some cases...in my case, the religion is a piece of **** because I don't agree with 99% of what they say...but that's another story).

    So...I like the idea, and I think that it would take the strain of some families (like mine) to come up with the money to go to a private school.

    [Edited by jamesglewisf on 11-15-2000 at 06:21 PM]

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    What about discrimination in private schools?
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    SitePoint Addict jamesglewisf's Avatar
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    What discrimination? Discrimation against whom?
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    Two additional and related responses:

    As to the constitutionality of vouchers due to the Separation of Church and State standard, I believe that vouchers would have a good chance of passing the test in that the government is not supposed to support any ONE RELIGION OVER ANOTHER, thus leading to a defacto religious state. However, since the individual citizens themselves would decide where the money was spent, the government would really have no say in where the money went and thus would not be supporting one religion over another.

    On the other hand, the Sepapration of Church and State standard was developed to protect religious institutions as much as it was to protect the government. If vouchers were to be approved broadly, to qualify, a school would undoubtedly have to meet certain qualifications. Also, it is my understanding that institutions receiving public funding cannot discriminate on the grounds of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, nationality, etc. (I believe this was the reason certain traditionally all-male military schools have gone co-ed in recent years.) Thus, would the private schools accepting vouchers have to accept any student? Would all schools have to go co-ed? What about any qualified applicant for a teaching or staff position? Would a Muslim school have to accept a Christian applicant for Principle and vice versa? I assume that private schools would have the choice on whether or not they accept vouchers and thus be subject to these standards, but if not, I think that the constitutionality of the voucher program could certainly be questioned on grounds of Freedom of Association.

  17. #17
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    Isn't amazing how many people around the country and the world have thoughts which always seem to be moving in the same direction? My wife and I were just discussing this matter last night.

    She was a teacher at a private institution for three years (she now stays at home to take care of our 10 month old), and her opinion then was that vouchers were a bad thing. She felt that the voucher was not large enough to supplement a whole education and would not help those who need it the most. She also didn't necessarily feel the education was that much better than public school. How times have changed.

    She works in the evenings as a tutor for a corporation that specializes in getting kids caught up with where they should be. The things she sees in there gives both of us chills. Most of the kids that attend that institution are from one of two large school districts in our area (one of which our child would attend). These kids are unable to do the most simplistic skills, like reading and math. The common theme around here is if they hold a child back, they are more likely to drop out later in life(my wife lost a job with this district only because she said she would hold a child back if they couldn't do the work), so instead they set kids up for failure later in life by not having the skills needed to succeed in the higher grades. She has kids in HIGH SCHOOL who can not read at a level which a THIRD grader should be able to do, and some of these kids are at the top of their classes. What's wrong with this picture??

    She also knows of a school in our area which doesn't teach long division because there are only two questions on the State standard aptitude test. Number one, isn't long division a basic staple of math skills? Number two, why are schools only teaching to a test rather than what the kids need (a problem for a whole other topic)

    Our opinion is we are now for school vouchers because one way or the other, our child will not be attending the school district we live in. We will either be a)moving to another district, b) paying for him to go to a neighboring district which is phenomenal or c) paying for him to go to private school. I refuse to allow him to go to this school district. Vouchers are looking REAL good to me.
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    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    My family currently homeschools six children, with a seventh on the way. We pay plenty in taxes that go to a public school we do not use. Getting $4,000 a year is simply a refund of sorts because we do not use the "services" provided.

    Competition always works - give parents a choice. Public schools are horrible - and guess what? They get tons of funding. Money is not the problem, the problem is this:

    1 - Not spending money wisely, which happens often when it's not your own.
    2 - Teacher's unions that will not allow younger, cheaper teachers to ever be brought in.

    You want to know how odd some of the weird rules are around here? The Secretary of Education in our state cannot legally teach. Go figure.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Addict superbird's Avatar
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    I'd love to see a voucher system in my country if they could break it down and start again. I think the education system here stinks though and anything like vouchers is just a bandaid. No child of mine will ever go to a state school unless something is done though

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    As far as I have heard the proposal lost by a great feat.

    Although it would be nice to receive $4000/yr for education, this is not practical in some situations were stated above. I agree it is an enfringement on church and state. Although the people would have the choice on where to send their child, thus taking away forced religion from the state, the state still indirectly controls private schools by its funding. This being proven, in one point, by the fact that private schools would not be allowed to discriminate. This wouldn't effect me anyway, as I attend a co-ed school that claims not to discriminate. But it would violate the essence of other's rights, thus it is wrong.

    Private education, IMO, is not too expensive. And if it is, most private schools do offer ways to help. For instance, I attend a school that costs $10k/year. I make about $1500/year in the vocational program. I know somone who makes $4000/year in the program (different schools, same yearly price though). That leaves me $8500/year and my friend $6000/year. For students who can't afford this, the conference (local church organization) will give as much money as the student's local church gives. The total ammount that I could receive in my area is $1900/year. This leaves the price at $6600/year for me and $4100/year for my friend.

    Get this, those prices INCLUDE ROOM AND BOARD as well as educational costs. So we could say that about $1800/year is for food (the school handbook says it's more, but I'm counting it down $400, that way if anything, my total prices are higher than they should be than lower). That brings the price down to $4800/year for me and $2300/year for my friend.

    Is that really all that much? If it still is, then you can add scholarships (ranging from $300-$900/year) for exceptional students in academics and citizenship. Plus, I know a few people who get sponsors. These are people in the church or community who are willing to pay the left overs of the bill. Thus, some people I know, who honestly couldn't afford it, get it anyway for free.

    For those who are wondering, I live in Michigan and the school I attend has 250 students enrolled. The school is a co-ed 9-12 non-profit denominational boarding academy. The school, however, does have students of other denominations and even other religions.

    Richard

  21. #21
    Carpe Chicken Chicken's Avatar
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    The whole theory that people should be able to get $4,000 because they do not use the services is hardly practical. Yes, I understand you can home school or send your children to a private school, but rebates back if your child doesn't attend public school?

    Why stop there? I bet you also want a refund for the amount of your taxes you paid that goes towards public transportation? That could be gas money! Ohhh, and if you don't use the public library, Amazon.com vouchers? I could continue, but I think you get the point.

    You get to claim your children as dependants on your tax return. There's your rebate.
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  22. #22
    Destiny Manager Plebius's Avatar
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    bad.

  23. #23
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Absolutely, Chicken! I wouldn't take it to an extreme, but it's about time the government stopped trying to provide everything for everybody. We're entitled to life, liberty, and pursuit of hapiness, not necessarily public transportation, medicare, blah blah blah. People have to stop thinking of these things as rights.

    I think we'll all be better off is people are given tax breaks with this money instead - in one way or another. Most businessess fail anyway - it's not made any easier when the person trying to start one loses almost half of their income to the government.

    Not only that, but let's not forget that despite all these high taxes, things are a mess. We can't expect these people to take things seriously - by nature it's much easier to be flippant with other people's money. We're throwing all this money into public schools - where is it going? Kids are getting dumber.

    Bottom line: the current system does not work.

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    SitePoint Guru
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    Do you really think kids are getting dumber? I don't know..I don't have kids in schools any more, but educational demands seem different today. When I was a kid, (when dinosaurs roamed the earth) kids and educators didn't see a problem with a kid not being "college bound" and that kid might be tracked very differently. When I was watching my kids grow up, I saw kids struggling to try to get up to speed to attend, at least, community college, because they were, naturally enough, afraid that they wouldn't find decent employment without college. Some of them just couldn't do it, though. So, they did badly in tests that they never would have been taking at all a generation or so ago. They would have been doing a vocational program from the start.

    I don't have the answers, but free, public education should be a right in this country. And vouchers bother me for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that they don't cover the whole cost, which means that not everyone will be able to benefit from them.

  25. #25
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    fyi, my state rejected vouchers 3 to 1


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