November 24, 2006
What is wrong with this picture?
It's time city politicians consider trying to exert authority over Seattle's much-maligned school district, Mayor Greg Nickels said Wednesday.
"I don't think it's any secret that many parents, when their children reach school age, move out of the city (and) take their kids to other school districts," Nickels said. "I don't think it's any secret that parents who can afford it often don't look at Seattle Public Schools but rather just put their kids into private schools.
"I think we have to change that."
I'm encouraged to see Nickels acknowledge that the Seattle School District is perceived to be so bad that it has difficulty giving away its service for free. But his attempt to address the problem misses the mark. Instead of shuffling control over schools among politicians, he should copy what is attractive about private schools and shift control to the students' parents.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at November 24, 2006
12:18 PM | Email This
Stefan, you said:
"Seattle schools are perceived to be so bad that they have difficulty giving away their service for free."
Don't mean to nitpick but the services are anything but free. They are overpriced if anything. The per capita student yearly spending in Seattle public schools is more than the annual tuition of one of the best private schools in the region 'Seattle Preparatory School'.
2. Michael, Of course I know Seattle schools are not free to the public, but overpriced. Only the tuition is "free" to each student.
The government solution.... Lets discourage people from using private schools and encourage them to use public schools. Here is how... lets tax each private school student. Say a $1,500 yearly tax on the school for every student they have. Yeah... that will work.
Nothing like using the tax code to change behavior I always say. Besides if you tax the private schools enough they will not be able to afford to educate children any better than the public schools. Competition through taxation.
Actually, If we tax them enough we might get enough to start building the tunnel.
But if they gave control to the parents, then they would not be able to enforce a left leaning socialist and politically correct curriculum as handed down by the WEA. And they wouldn't be able to continue to overpay teachers and administrators of the Olympia controlled teacher's unions.
Parental choices means more freedom for individuals, a free market for schools and a return to localized education. And we can't have that, because this is Socialist Progressive Statist Washington.
I really don't find it remarkable that Nickels admits the current problem with SPS and the migration away from it. It's all gas. This happens all the time and is just more of the same that will go nowhere. Not to say that changes won't be made but another goofy program to save public education, or to upgrade the quality or it will be instituted and in another 4 or 5 years things will have degenerated further. Another generation lost to those that can't escape. More money will be needed of course although it has be proven time and time again more moola has little or no effect. Same ol' same ol'. The problem is that public schools are a monopoly and monopolies don't care because they don't have to. Opps! Correction. This monopoly DOES care: About salaries, union dues, working hours and how to preserve the monopoly. Unfortunately the words "kids" and "education" don't enter into the equation. If the kids and their education were of importance, the problem would have been fixed two decades ago.
Vouchers is the cure and Nickels (and state Democrats) would be run out of town on a rail by the teachers union (their #1 $$ contributor) if that idea bore fruit. We -might- get some progress if we could get the WEA out of the hip pocket our Democrat party politicians but I kinda doubt it.
Unfortunately, although vouchers are inded the cure, they are also not going to work in the long run. I'll explain...
Florida is a lot more conservative that Seattle. Have you followed what happened down there when they started showing the positive impact of not only a voucher program, but also a total revamping of the public school system?
Read this: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-01-05-florida-school-vouchers_x.htm
Yeah, it ended up in the state Supreme Court and was ruled unconsitutional by the state's liberal judges. Although I agree and would love to see the same changes implimented here, I'm thinking that we would have to provide an environment it could survive in, or it would just be aborted on arrival.
7. This is totally scary, I find myself in agreement with the posts.
1. Vouchers alone will not work, because there is a question of capacity. Given the choice, a good portion of parents will exit public schools. There has to be some school available to move into. The citizens should give some sort of courage award to the Spady family, who attempted to get charters enacted into law. There needs to be increased capacity of good schools that are working so that parents can use vouchers. Vouchers are just the vehicle which allows school choice.
2. My cynical mind tells me that this "conference" is just putting lipstick on a pig and some sort of outcome which most here will not like has already been agreed upon.
8. Nickels graduated from Seattle Prep....
Peter at 6...
Based upon a very cursory review of the article you linked to, I kind of agree with the Florida Supreme Court. Apparently, the writers of the Florida state constitution were stupid enough to straight-jacket the children of Florida who are dependent on public education, by insisting that the state provided education be uniform. The constituion is not specific on whether that education be uniformly good, or uniformly bad. Hopefully, the amendment process in Florida is less stifling than it is in Washington State, and the citizens of that state will be able to break the stanglehold their government has on education. In both states, the only way to solve the problem of public education seems to be to ignore or amend the state constitutions.
The problem with the picture is Nickels appearance of circling the wagons and shouting "it's for the kids!" It's like an old Saturday matinee western B-movie with the hero stepping up to save the tattered pioneers.
The mayor and his allies are preparing for this coming February's required tri-annual vote to renew the regular Seattle Schools' operating and maintenance levy which must be renewed every three years.
After witnessing the defeat of Proposition 88 Nickels, the school board, and WEA are concerned about voter acceptance of how their tax dollars have been spent on schools in the past and will be in the future. So now it's Nickels rolling up his sleeves and handling a crisis - if only as a temporary crisis manager.
Nickels wants the voters of Seattle to see him as some sort of Bruce Willis movie character single-handedly pulling out all stops, seizing control, and saving humanity. Nickels wants this vision until the February vote, after which he'll return to his "Great Escape" movie role digging a tunnel to save his fellow prisoners. In Nickels' version of that movie the prisoners are users of the lethal viaduct.
11. I wonder if Nickells send his kids to private school(if he has any)?
WVH @ 7 wrote:
"This is totally scary, I find myself in agreement with the posts."
Don't be afraid, Dubya. If you hang around SP long enough, you will lose your fear of the truth.
13. Sorry for the length of this post, but the article by George Will shows what is at stake. I think the Florida decision was based not so much on legal reasoning, but the fact that a mjority of the justices wanted a result:
March 23, 2006
School Voucher Foolishness in Fla.
By George Will
MIAMI -- What Florida's teachers unions consider a menace, and what Florida's Supreme Court considers an affront to the state's Constitution, weighs 105 pounds, smiles shyly, speaks softly and wants to be a nurse. Octavia Lopez, 17, an 11th-grader at Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame High School in the heart of this polyglot city, was enabled to come to this school because of the smallest of three school-choice programs enacted under Gov. Jeb Bush.
The Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) currently serves just 733 children statewide, 62 of whom are at this school of 416 students. The OSP provides vouchers, redeemable at private as well as public schools, to students at schools the state says are failing. Archbishop Curley, which in 1960 -- just its seventh year -- became the first Florida secondary school to be racially integrated, has grades nine through 12 and sends more than 98 percent of its graduates to college.
But Florida's Supreme Court fulfilled the desires of the teachers unions, and disrupted the lives of the 733 children and their parents, by declaring, in a 5-2 ruling, that the voucher program is incompatible with the state Constitution. Specifically, and incredibly, the court held that the OSP violates the stipulation, which voters put into the Constitution in 1998, that the state shall provide a ``uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education.''
The court wielded the first adjective as a scythe to cut down the OSP. It argued that the word ``uniform'' means that the state must utilize only public schools in providing ``high quality education.''
This, even though many public schools are providing nothing of the sort; the public school that Octavia would have to attend were she not at Archbishop Curley has been rated by the state a failing school for three consecutive years. And even though the state can continue to utilize private schools for educating some disabled students. And even though, by the court's reasoning, it is unconstitutional for the state to use the OSP to help Octavia receive a fine education at Archbishop Curley, the constitutional mandate about ``high quality education'' requires consigning her to a failing school. And even though there is no evidence that the drafters of the Constitution's language or the public that ratified it thought it meant what the Supreme Court now says it means -- that in providing quality education, the state must enforce a public-school monopoly on state funds. Actually, the Legislature's committee that drafted the ``uniform'' language rejected a proposal to prohibit vouchers.
The court's ruling was a crashing non sequitur -- that the public duty to provide something (quality education) entails a prohibition against providing it in a particular way (utilizing successful private educational institutions). The court's ruling was neither constitutional law nor out of character, and it illustrates why the composition of courts has become such a contentious political issue.
This court last seized the nation's attention when, after the 2000 election, it acted legislatively, rewriting state election laws in ways helpful to Al Gore's attempt to erase George W. Bush's slender lead. Back then, all the court's seven members had been nominated by Democratic governors. Since then, the court has acquired two justices nominated by Gov. Bush. They were the two dissenters from the court's ``uniformity'' ruling. Elections can slowly turn tides.
All of Archbishop Curley's 43 Opportunity Scholarship children who are not graduating in June are going to stay in the school. The voucher is worth about $1,800 less than the school's $6,400 tuition, and about $3,400 less than the $8,000 cost of educating a pupil. But Brother Patrick Sean Moffett, the head of the school, says ``we're going to keep them all, somehow.''
It is stirring to see the quiet tenacity of persons whose lives are disrupted by other people's political struggles. When Octavia and her mother -- and David Hill, 14, a ninth-grader, and his parents, and several other parents and relatives of students -- recently gathered around a table at the school to discuss the end of the OSP, there was no rancor. The children and parents at the table were black. None were Republicans. The NAACP, as usual, is in lockstep with the Democratic Party, which is in lockstep with the teachers unions. But the people at that table spoke only words of gratitude for the school -- its small classes and respectfulness. All displayed the dignified patience that ordinary people often display when they are buffeted by the opaque storms of politics.
(c) 2006, Washington Post Writers Group
Page Printed from: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/03/school_voucher_foolishness_in.html at November
as long as mayor & others are talking, they are not DOING & TRYING different things & REAL reforms.
big bag 'o hot air--all of them. esp. the WEA. i'll believe it when i see it, and, like parents voting with their feet, we are not holding our breath. enough talk alreay. time to do. start with Evergreen Freedom FOund. ideas.
15. Well color me speechless, I actually agree with Jimmie.
Huckleberry...The state of Florida has a stranglehold on education? Between WEA and the liberal democrats, Florida can't possibly be as tough as Washington...at least they made the attempt. Washington is so strangled that we just keep throwing more and more money at a very broken system. Even Bill Gates pretty much admits it's hopeless here.
Go Jimmie...it's all hot air, will cost bunches of taxpayer dollars, and will improve education not at all. Yeah, democrats.
start at the top - get rid of Terry Bergeson (Superintendant of Public Instruction) and her failed ideas.
She's had 12 years now to fix this - it aint happening. Heads ought to start rolling; let's start with hers.
Maybe once that albatross of the WASL is finally put in its coffin (Bergeson's baby, by the way) we can get back to actually educating kids here.
But like the rest, I'm not holding my breath. We'll keep our seven year old in private school, which is about half of the public education tag.