Miscellaneous musings from the perspective of a lefty (both senses) atheist with a warped sense of humor.

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Location: Madison, WI, United States

I am a geek, but I do have some redeeming social skills. I love other people's dogs, cats, and kids. Snow sucks, but I'm willing to put up with it just to live in Madison.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

School Vouchers

Here's a nice union-bashing letter that was printed in the Salt Lake City Deseret News 2007 Sep. 5 (ironically – ? – the day after Labor Day):

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Give vouchers a chance 

The Utah Education Association and National Education Association are against vouchers because they fear accountability. Accountability weakens the power of elitists and self-serving bureaucrats. 

The voucher question is about control of our children and power for the union. The voucher system passed by our Legislature is by no means perfect but starts the process of wresting power from the UEA. The reason our students do so well, with less funding, is because of many caring parents and teachers, not the teachers union. Give vouchers a chance. Get rid of the playground bully — the UEA. 

Noel Thornley

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and here's what I zipped right off to them as soon as my blood pressure came back down:

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2007 Sep. 6

Letters to the Editor
Deseret News

Letter writer Noel Thornley complains that teachers' unions oppose vouchers because they fear accountability.

Backwards. Public schools are accountable directly to the public because it's the public -- the ENTIRE public, not just some subset of it -- that gets to elect the school boards. To whom are the operators of the private schools accountable? Stockholders? Religious zealots? Entrepreneurs driven by the profit motive?

There's a myth running around that, if private schools are allowed to compete on the open market, the cream will rise to the top, because competition will ensure that only the highest-quality schools will survive.

Oh, really? Do you really buy that idea? Do you really believe that consumers will make their educational decisions based on quality, and quality alone?

Because, if so, let me point you at a perfect example of where this idea has already been tried. It's a 100% free market, very aggressive busineses are free to offer any service they wish, consumers have a huge range of choices, and major national organizations track exactly who succeeds and who doesn't. The losers are culled ruthlessly. Has this resulted in a utopia of high quality? Judge for yourself. I'm talking about TV.

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The 5 greatest bargains in America:
(1) sunshine
(2) fresh air
(3) clean water
(4) public libraries
(5) public schools