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In our opinion: School choice a valuable tool in achieving a worthy goal

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  • WestGranger West Valley City, Utah
    April 7, 2013 12:18 a.m.

    School choice is a big target of the powerful public education lobby. It is nice to read a story in a local newspaper that addresses the major problems with our school system that are usually glossed over. Competition in the marketplace is the American way and is what has lead to innovation and major improvements in so many industries. Scare tactics, a campaign of misinformation and fear of change from old traditions have forced us to accept mediocrity. We need to put the student first, not the politics of "group think" so often found in education.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    April 7, 2013 6:47 a.m.

    Could we at least be honest about this program and quit calling it school choice. Parents currently have choice, the government is not compelling anyone to go to any specific school. It also amazes me that republicans would favor a program where the government confiscates my money and gives it to an individual to spend as they choose. A better plan which would seem to match the republican philosophy of privatizing everything and having people show personal responsibility by paying their own way is to eliminate all public schools and all taxes to support them and let people choose where to send their children to school and then pay for it themselves.

    If we think vouchers are the answer to the problem we are only kidding ourselves. Those outside of traditional public education will find ways to abuse the system just like charter schools do now, when we see the mass exodus after the October 1st count goes to the state and the check comes back.

  • Government Man Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 7, 2013 8:19 a.m.

    You just have to remember that the voters in Utah overwhelmingly defeated the Voucher Movement a few years ago. Our all knowing Legislators are still trying to resurrect this insidious law. The voters have spoken, after spending millions defeating the Charter & Private School interests in our state. Properly fund the Public Schools, and things will start to improve. The track record of Private & Charter Schools in Utah is pretty dismal. The truth hurts, but we have to live with in anyway!!

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 7, 2013 9:26 a.m.

    In comparing the services and benefits to the general public there is not a single case where private or state or local government provides a better service than the federal government.

    The reason for insistence for local control over public education is rooted in the commercial needs of the local and the attitudes thereof. The changing world has decreased the need for “educated producers” but still needs “properly indoctrinated consumers”. And foreign labor seems ready and willing to fill the need for “educated producers” at less cost than Americans thus business no longer needs public education.

    The statement “ No two students – or two states – have identical needs”, is simply not true for America. Tailoring a persons education to a specific local denies that person the freedom to move about in America.

    However, there is still a universe of unanswered questions to be researched and investigated by educated people and while they may not be commercially important right now, they may hold our future.

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    April 7, 2013 9:31 a.m.

    Playing school hopscotch until little Johnny gets the A he deserves will not solve the problem. Try giving your kid books to read over the summer instead of video games to play. What will improve education the most? Parental involvement. The decline of parental involvement has accompanied the decline of education achievement. And being a helicopter parent or demanding a grade change is not parental involvement, it's parental stupidity.

  • gardenhome Lehi/Utah, UT
    April 7, 2013 9:41 a.m.

    Choice in schools is essential, however, this will be a moot point soon if Common/Utah Core is fully implemented. This federal curriculum is required in Charter and Public Schools due to the Utah School Board signing us up. The only way to avoid this universal program is to enroll in a private school or home school. There are currently efforts to "encourage" home schoolers to particpate as well. ACT and SAT tests are being rewritten to match Common Core standards. Utah CRT tests are being rewritten to align with Common Core. How can there be choice and options if a one-size fits all programs is implemented throughout the state and much of the nation? Utah should get out of Common Core and empower its excellent teachers to work collaboratively with parents to provide the best education possible.

  • Chuck E. Racer Lehi, UT
    April 7, 2013 10:00 a.m.

    The reason private schools seem to do better is because they are smaller and the parents some say in the governance. However if voucher legislation is passed, as in Indiana, these schools will be brought under the strong arm of the government - especially with Common Core, where eventually there will be NO variety as touted by the article. When the government gets through with funding and regulating the private schools, there will be NO choice!

    Why not have our public schools do what makes private schools successful instead of turning private schools into public schools with vouchers? Divide up the gigantic public schools and school districts and get rid of national interference like NCLB and CCSS (Common Core)!

    Vouchers will do just the opposite of what we need. Let's address the root problem, divide as we grow! Get them back to the size that works!

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    April 7, 2013 10:03 a.m.

    Monopolies always produce inferior products (educated children, in this case) at higher prices, as anyone who has taken Econ 101 will attest.

    If an (evil capitalist) voucher system is good enough for Sweden and France (Leftist "utopias") why is it not good enough for us?

    Teachers - please explain how our current system does anything other than protect their job... we're all ears.

  • tgurd Gonzales, LA
    April 7, 2013 10:07 a.m.

    What happened to our educational system? I guess that could be answered in several ways. (1)The doing away with history, government math reading writing and allowing college elitists or so they think to help write the text books for our nation. My wife is a 7th grade math teacher and it is appearant that the teachers spend more time babysitting and trying not to offened children then in teaching. The world of teaching changed when George Bushes education sec offered the no child left behind program. What this did was take those that really didn't care and some that had difficulity in school for teachers to teach and concentrate on them and putting those that liked school on a lesser plane because what was being taught was not challenging to them. I agree that children should have an even playing field, however it doesn't include dumbing down all for the sake of some. Parents need to take responsibility for much of this. To blame teachers for their childrens grades, mentioning how smart their child is and it must be the teacher whose causing the problem is not fair. Oh yes there are some teacher that should be removed.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    April 7, 2013 10:15 a.m.

    With Utah's extraordinarily tight financial situation and large number of school age children, we simply don't have a lot of maneuvering room to make foolish decisions on education, to chase the latest fads. Best to let the other states "pave the way" in determining what options work well, let them find out which approaches are effective, which are not. We just don't have the money to experiment a lot.

    What will be the voucher amounts in Indiana, and how does that compare to what Utah spends per pupil? That will be an important data point. My hunch is if Utah offered vouchers, it wouldn't come close to matching the costs of a competent private education.

    Based on our own, shall we say, "uneven" experience with charter schools, there is no panacea, no silver bullet that will improve education for our large population of kids.

    After all the different options are sifted and the experiments are complete, I suspect Utahns will find they really need to pony up more money to get kids into reasonable classroom sizes where the teachers can teach.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    April 7, 2013 11:06 a.m.

    The MYTH of CHOICE:

    1) I have a choice of where to educate my students. I have put my students in private, public and charter schools. I used that choice, the government didn't stop my choice. We even have a child in a public school outside our school district because it was the best fit for our child. We filled out the forms and exercised our CHOICE.

    2) On #1 we spent money to give our daughter a private school education in kindergarten. Again, it was a CHOICE we used. We aren't wealthy, but I suppose it can be done if one prioritizes. I didn't expect to receive money from the government or a voucher to assist me on this endeavor. Once we felt the private school didn't offer a better education for the money they asked, which seldom really happens in most cases, we exercised our choice to go to the public school. Then we found a charter school offering a quality music program and we investigated that CHOICE and did that.

    Bottom line, we already have a choice and for the Deseret News to say otherwise is RIDICULOUS!!!

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    April 7, 2013 11:11 a.m.

    In a previous post I talked about the myth of choice.

    I see too many parents that feel that they have no choice, again buying into the ridiculous notion that choice doesn't exist and vouchers are the answer.

    Why have we put in our children in different schools ranging from private, to public, to charter? Well, it's because we view each of children as unique with needs that are best met in different environments or schools. I think it's insane to send children to the same school (unless it's a really good one) just because that's where you live. Each child has their own unique talents and challenges. If it takes us getting up earlier and/or saving our pennies or whatever to make this happen, that's what a parent needs to do for his child.

    However, I'm not sure I want taxpayer money going to vouchers when the choice already exists for parents. Again, Utah has school choice, you are NOT a prisoner of your boundary school. You don't need to have a voucher. Exercise your CHOICe, as it EXISTS now, and look at your child and what they need.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    April 7, 2013 11:20 a.m.

    On private education vs. public education:

    We chose private education for both our son and daughter in kindergarten. It was wonderful for our daughter who had a class of 8 students. Then after kindergarten, the class size went up and the quality of education compared to the elementary school wasn't worth the cost, in fact the test scores, whatever they are worth, were about the same. The teachers in both schools generally competent. But with our son, because he had special needs, was ask to leave same private school after three weeks. Keep this in mind voucher supporters. You might have the money to get in the door (maybe), but if your child is a challenge, they are PRIVATE and that means they don't have to deal with your child.

    Also, I am not convinced say that Juan Diego with its high private school costs is any better a school than say Skyline. Individual programs may vary but overall no one could convince me that one gets a better overall education at Juan Diego vs. Skyline and certainly not for tens of thousands of dollars spent. Use your choice, save $$$, and just enroll at Skyline.

  • nwe Tooele, UT
    April 7, 2013 11:30 a.m.

    Fundamentally, choice may be the solution. However, private schools have the choice to accept or reject students. Even charter schools work with parents and weed out students who "don't fit in our specialized system". Public schools on the other hand must accept every student. Voucher systems have the egregious possibility of leaving a public school system of the dredges of educational motivation. Only those students whose parents, and hence their student, have no value for education attending. Public schools will then be at bottom of the scale in every educational measure perforce. We still haven't figured out a way to hold students accountable for their own education. I suggest we figure that out as we begin giving parents choices and accountability along with their students. Perhaps the best solution is total privatization, with no one responsible for "educating the masses" whether they want to be educated or not.

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    April 7, 2013 12:32 p.m.

    I agree with Claudio. If a choir sounds bad, the problem is likely not the seat arrangement. We need to look into our culture as a whole to improve student performance.
    On the other hand, there is more than academic knowledge that predicts economic prosperity. In the Soviet Union you could ask a random teenage girl to integrate something like x^2 from 1 to 3 and she'd be able to do it in her head. The country flew spaceships, but could not provide what Americans would have considered basic consumer goods. In America I've asked a college-educated adult to solve a math problem from Soviet 3rd grade curriculum a number of times and he had no clue. Americans have a gift for making the most of the little academic knowledge and aptitude they possess to actually make things happen.
    That said, more academic capacity is still a good idea, and the answer is to be found in the family, not in the school.

  • jparry Provo, UT
    April 7, 2013 12:31 p.m.

    Competition doesn't work when the job is to help all children succeed. School vouchers are fundamentally about creating, not just identifying, winner and loser schools, but that will simply lead to winners and losers among children. Schools need a cooperative, supportive environment, not a competitive one, to provide equal access to learning and opportunity for all children. In fact, the research shows this far more than the one study cited here.

  • FDRfan Sugar City, ID
    April 7, 2013 1:32 p.m.

    A goal should be to offer the same choices to the less affluent. How worthy is it if it leads to a situation that Mormon saw? Affordability should not be the issue.

  • metisophia Ogden, UT
    April 7, 2013 1:49 p.m.

    Real school choice can be a valuable tool for any parent - true. Utah parents ALREADY have all kinds of choices in the school they want to provide for their children. VOUCHERS are NOT synonymous with school choice. The Deseret News needs to change its tune and support a quality public education for all students. Only when our public schools are strengthened will ALL of Utah's students have access to quality education, no matter which school a parent chooses.

  • jotab Salt Lake City, UT
    April 7, 2013 2:24 p.m.

    School choice is an appropriate name because that is where the choice will be, with the school! When the Utah voucher law passed, before it was overturned by the public vote, there were private schools that said that they would turn down voucher students to avoid the entanglement of any governmental control that would come with the voucher. In addition, many private schools test students prior to acceptance and have strict rules for continued attendance.

    The public charter movement has mostly been a veiled privatization movement to get public dollars in to private company's hands. Vouchers, tax credits, and anything by any other name would be the same thing. It isn't about the student, it is about the movement of money.

    Utah has choice. Don't force taxpayers to fund private schools. They voted down already! Although some legislators are trying to do an end run by setting up programs via certain charter programs, online programs, and vendor arrangements.

  • UGradBYUfan Snowflake, AZ
    April 7, 2013 2:50 p.m.

    @gardenhome
    "This federal curriculum is required in Charter and Public Schools due to the Utah School Board signing us up"

    You are listening to too many radio talk shows. I doubt that you have even looked at the common core standards. I have, and I am learning how to implement them in the Arizona school that I teach at. Common core is a group of standards that does not require teachers to teach any particular curriculum. It doesn't tell teachers how to teach. It just gives students, teachers and schools clear benchmarks where each student should be when they finish each grade level.

    These standards are higher than they have been, and require students to be able to comprehend written language and express themselves at a higher level so that they will be prepared to enter college or the workplace being better prepared. These higher standards were requested by colleges, universities and industry leaders because they noticed that young people entering their schools and businesses without the skills needed to be successful. If the people of Utah believe that their students don't need to be better prepared to compete in the global economy, by all means withdraw!

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    April 7, 2013 3:01 p.m.

    Over $6,000.00 is spent per child. by the State. Can I get the $6,000.00 per child to home school. I know the answer. But it would be cool to have a stay at home Mom.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    April 7, 2013 3:01 p.m.

    Suggesting that school vouchers "rescue students from failing schools" is like saying the iceberg saved the Titanic.

    The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has repeatedly reported that public schools end up with less money per pupil under school voucher programs - not more. This only hurts an already underfunded system. Meanwhile most of those who benefit are students already destined for private schools. Those stuck in failing schools are still stuck there because they can't come up with the extra tuition beyond what the voucher provides, but now they have even fewer resources than before. That is why whenever this is put to a vote, vouchers are rejected by the people. It doesn't take long to figure out its only a choice for the very few.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    April 7, 2013 3:29 p.m.

    If our intent is to compete better with other countries, the logical question is, what are those countries doing that we are not? Specifically, what are those countries doing that are cited as improving quickly? Is school choice what they use?

    Reference private vs. public schools. My kids have attended both. What are the real differences?

    First, private schools can say "no thanks" to any child for any reason. If your child is troubled or significantly challenged, they can deny him or her a slot and effectively cherry pick their students. Also, as someone else mentioned, they can have admissions tests to only take high performers to begin with.

    Second, parents of private school students are typically more motivated and a bit better off than the average public school parent. Not to say there are not awesome (and well to do) public school parents, but the need to pay for school out of your own pocket guarantees a higher percentage of such parents with children in private education.

    In the areas where I have lived, public schools that have a strong base of motivated and reasonably middle class parents, the school results are very good.

  • utahmtnman Park City, UT
    April 7, 2013 4:35 p.m.

    Government Man is correct, the voters rejected "School Choice" when it was on the ballot. Why did the "News" oppose it then and is promoting it now?

  • Steve Cottrell Centerville, UT
    April 7, 2013 7:08 p.m.

    One seldom discussed issue with charter schools is that funding does not follow the student if the student leaves the charter school part way through the year. This is not uncommon because of the strict parental involvement requirements, discipline issues, and other reasons that pressure students to leave. They go back to the public schools where they must accept everyone.

    However the funding is assigned at the beginning of the year so the funding stays with the charter school. Most charter schools don't allow students to enroll in their programs part way through the year so this restriction on funding flow is a one- way problem.

    Perhaps we should wait on voucher and private school funding until Utah public school get we above the current 58% of average funding compared to other US states. Average funding would be a good goal since we are already getting average results.

  • The Hammer lehi, utah
    April 7, 2013 10:29 p.m.

    Common core will fail because it does not address the problems where we are failing to keep pace with the world. But even then, the whole premise that we are falling behind the world is pretty false.

    For years we have had a strategic advantage in our education. But because of technology that is all changing and now other countries can educate at a higher level. We are being forced to compete more, but still we produce MORE high level students than any other nation and our economy, our technological advances, patents and output far exceeds even the closest competitor. So are standards are problem? NO!

    Our problem is our families and our desire to cut corners in government financing of education. Single parents and two job families where mom and dad both work and don't have time or energy for their kids education. Often "problem children" are the ones with these type of households. Big school districts, big buildings and big classrooms are slightly cheaper then two smaller districts, buildings or classrooms so we cut corners to cut taxes and forget about the consequences of neglected children at home and at school. THAT IS OUR PROBLEM!

  • WestGranger West Valley City, Utah
    April 7, 2013 11:02 p.m.

    The money and power of decision-making is in the public education system. However, Utah does a much better job at school choice than most states. Charter schools are a great step forward. If my tax money is going to some other children in a traditional or a charter school, please tell me why shouldn't it follow my child to a private school? I, as a parent best know the special needs of my child and know where to sent them to school to maximize there potential. Why should a poor student be stuck in a poor performing local public school that may not meet his or er special needs?

  • RBB Sandy, UT
    April 7, 2013 11:37 p.m.

    It seems like too many people are living in denial. U.S. test scores are an embarrasment. A large percentage of our high school graduates have to take remedial classes before taking freshman level classes in college. We have many companies who cannot find qualified engineers, scientists and programmers. My childten go to public shools, but we were able to select those schools carefully. They also had the benefit of starting in private school where they were reading by the start of 1st grade. If we want to stick our heads in the sand that is fine. Just stop whining about our falling standard of living and your kids inability to get a job. France spends less on education than we do but consistently thumps us in test scores. More and more jobs will be heading oversees or out of Utah because too many parents do not care and the UEA will fight any real change in the public schools. On the bright side, we can start offerring call center management as a required course in high school so our kids can be ready for 40 years as customer service reps.

  • MRinLA Los Angeles, CA
    April 7, 2013 11:50 p.m.

    What a schizophrenic piece. You start citing numerous countries that are outperforming us educationally, then you start advocating for the privatization of public education through vouchers. Can Brazil point to their voucher program as the reason for their great gains? Has Chile made such great improvement due to students' unfettered choices? Perhaps they have...it would be good of you to say so. Or also good of you to cite the other reasons behind other countries' gains. Instead you expect your readers to accept this slapdash inference as editorial enlightenment. It's insulting!

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    April 8, 2013 9:09 a.m.

    @Henry Drummond – “The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has repeatedly reported that public schools end up with less money per pupil under school voucher programs - not more. This only hurts an already underfunded system.”

    This is like saying – if we break up the Standard Oil monopoly, Mr. Rockefeller will get less money per gallon, not more. This will hurt Standard Oil’s profit.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    April 8, 2013 11:18 a.m.

    Taxpayers should be able to send their tax money to the school of their choice.

  • JBQ Saint Louis, MO
    April 8, 2013 4:43 p.m.

    As a retired public school teacher who is also a Navy vet, I opine that the issue is one of discipline. It is all about a clash between Hyman Rickover, founder of the modern Navy, and John Dewey, liberal philosopher. Religious schools always score higher than public schools. That is why charter schools are such an attraction. There are some very fine public school districts which are all but religious in tone with a conservative school board. The Department of Education has a distinct agenda in line with John Dewey. The "Race to the Top" and "Common Core" have a barely hidden agenda of world socialism and a philosophical fulfillment to the detriment of math and science. Math and science instill discipline. The social sciences instill utopian equality. This is manifest of the continuing war between the philosophies of Rickover and Dewey.

  • Owen Heber City, UT
    April 9, 2013 6:58 a.m.

    The Hammer(?) "... but still we produce MORE high level students than any other nation and our economy, our technological advances, patents and output far exceeds even the closest competitor. So are standards are problem? NO!"

    Complete nonsense. China has more high school HONOR students (by our testing standards) than we have TOTAL students. How so? National standards.