This Week in the News, Oct 24th 2007

In world news, Happy United Nations Day!   No kidding, it really is.  The 24th of October is when we celebrate all of the awesomeness that comes from the UN, and all of the great things that they’ve accomplished for the world, like, uh… well… hmm… that’s a tough one.  (scratches head).  They bring us great public speakers, like that one evil dictator, and that crazy psychopath, and that other evil dictator, yeah, that’s important.  And they’ve prevented wars, like, uh… well, I’ll think of one eventually.  And they’ve halted genocide and famine… Nope, must be something else. 


They do issue a bunch of resolutions, and then wet themselves in fear when somebody actually does something.  Yep, that’s good.  Plus, it is a valuable place for special committees, like the Human Rights Committee, made up of Syria, Libya, North Korea, COBRA, Mongo, and Belgium, to meet and issue resolutions about how America sucks.


The UN heads up valuable groups, like The Who.  And The Who totally rocks… oh, wait, you mean they’re a rock band from England?  What the hell is this WHO?  World Health Organization?  Wtf?  Screw that.  You mean the group that is totally cool with millions dying of malaria because DDT is politically incorrect?  Never mind. 


Nope, the UN exists chiefly to piss sane people off.  The only good thing there was John Bolton, and he’s gone, so I figure we should just bulldoze the place and send them to the Azores where FDR originally thought about putting them.  Except that really isn’t fair to my relatives over there either. 


So, Happy UN Day everybody!  Hip-hip-fricking-hoo-ray!


In other national news, Southern California is on fire.  This has nothing at all to do with the fact that we’re no longer allowed to do controlled burns, or clear underbrush, because it may in fact harm the Spotted Snail-Darter-Fish-Bird-Toad, but the fires are totally because of Global Warming (per Harry Reid) and because all the National Guard’s fire engines are in Iraq (per Barbara Boxer). 


In Utah news, we’re having a vote on Referendum 1 next week.  It is about whether we should have vouchers in school, which allows parents to take some of that education tax money per kid, and use it to send their kid to a school of their choosing.  This of course freaks out the teacher’s unions, because you know, competition is great in every other facet of life in the friggin’ universe, but is BAD in education.   I swear that I actually heard the following radio commercial from the teacher’s union.


Concerned Mother:  I hear Referendum 1 will cause vouchers, and those will hurt Utah kids.

Concerned Father;  Yes, because choice in education is BAD, and will hurt Utah kids.  I feel this with my strong emotions.

Concerned Mother:  Yes, because private, religious, and charter schools are allowed to beat Utah children with phonebooks.  This will take money from public schools, which will cause outbreaks of hoof and mouth disease.

Concerned Father:  And private schools teachers aren’t even required to be certified, or pay union dues!   This means that Donald Rumsfeld will come to school and actually water board your children.

Concerned Mother:  The governor is mad, insane, drunk with power, and must be stopped!

Concerned Child:  Mommy… Donald Rumsfeld touched me inappropriately…

Concerned Mother:  NOOOO!!!!

Concerned Announcer:  Vote no on Referendum 1.  Brought to you by the Utah Education Association, George Soros, and the Reptoids of the Hollow Earth.


Give me a break.  The stats that have been tossed around on the news (which is always suspect anyway) says that the public schools get about $7,000 per kid.  A voucher gives the parent $3,000 per kid, which they can pay to the school of their choosing.  Which, though I’m a product of the public schools (El Nido Elementary, where half of us could speak English, and almost half of the English speakers could read!) leads me to believe that there would be $4,000 left for the public school, but no kid.  Now, despite my public school education, (which really did suck) seems like you now get money, but don’t have the correlating expense…  Which in a regular business, is a good thing.


But it isn’t about money, it’s about a threat to a monopoly, but the UEA (Utah Education Association) can’t come out and say that. 


Plus, come on.  $7,000 per kid?  Give me a classroom with 30 kids, and I got $210,000 for the year, I could drive them to school on a rocket bus, do science with actual Plutonium, and bring in Orson Scott Card to teach creative writing every Friday.  I know my kid’s teacher’s aren’t getting paid that much, so where the heck does public education manage to squander all my tax money?  


My wife was called yesterday by one of those “surveys” which is basically a UEA scare tactic to freak people out about the evil of vouchers.  My wife told her that she was in favor of vouchers, and the “surveyor” tried to talk her out of it.  My wife was told that vouchers will cause more overcrowded classrooms… Huh?  Okay, if I have 30 kids in class, and 3 kids leave to go to a private school, let’s see… 30-3=27.  The surveyor got kind of upset and hung up when my wife started to question how good public school math education is going. 


In other local news, Larry Correia finally sent his book off for publication.  All concerned citizens should buy it, because it is good, Larry needs to get paid, and everyone likes to read about monsters and how to blow them up.   The UEA and UN doesn’t want you to buy Monster Hunter International because it may cause wildfires and global warming.

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14 thoughts on “This Week in the News, Oct 24th 2007”

  1. I’m having a hard time convincing my wife that Vouchers are good. Everyone has their perspective. And supposedly the average spending is only $5000 per student and not $7000. Really, it’s all about the money. The concern that some people won’t be able to go to private school makes me think the voucher should be $8000 instead of the expected average of $2000.

    As far as being a certified teacher, in the college system, I don’t believe any teachers are certified or licensed. We have “vouchers” in college in the form of Pell Grants and that money goes to public and private schools. I tried to use this analogy with my wife and she agrees with this part but somehow elementary and high school are different. It’s been informative looking at both sides of the argument but the capitalist in me says the vouchers are good. Let the free market reign.

  2. “I know my kid’s teacher’s aren’t getting paid that much, so where the heck does public education manage to squander all my tax money? ”

    Too many administrators, making too high of salaries.

  3. Happy UN Day! Let’s sign the LOST* and give up our sovereignty!

    *Law of the Sea Treaty: Look it up. The Senate is threatening to ratify it again. No joke.

  4. Good teachers aren’t worried about vouchers because the private schools will have to hire somebody to do the teaching. Besides, the dirty little secret no one wants to admit is that if competition were introduced, a lot of schools that aren’t currently failing but aren’t setting the world afire either would quickly make great strides in quality. Have you seen the cars coming out of GM and Ford lately? If the Japanese hadn’t kicked the tar out of them for years, would they be building stuff like that, or the modern equivalent of K-cars and Mustang II’s?

    Your question about funding assumes that all the money gets spent on student academics. It also assumes that all children are the same, more or less. They’re not.
    Some kids need occupational therapy, speech therapy, and/or physical therapy. Some have to be in smaller groups or have special accommodations made to be able to learn as much as possible. We don’t send these kids to institutions anymore like we did 40 years ago, and we also don’t just shrug when they drop out of the sixth grade like we did 80 years ago.
    Those funding numbers are averages, and I know an accountant doesn’t trust averages, right?
    They play the same games with student-to-teacher ratios; you can’t trust them. In my district, they claim a very low ratio, but every teacher you talk to has at least one class of 30 kids. How can this be? Because they average the number of kids per class, so they’re counting the special education “direct instruction” classes. Most of those classes are ten students or fewer, and they can’t be much bigger than that by law. There are DI classes with only one student! That’ll make your teacher:student ratio look good on average, but unless your child has severe learning disabilities, chances are he’ll never meet that teacher.

    Then you have things like bands, lunch and breakfast, and the big one–athletics. The middle school where I teach has a nicer all-weather track than the high school I attended, along with a beautiful field. Across town is the new high school, which was built three years ago and is already bursting at the seams. They’ll have no choice but to build additions because they didn’t put in enough classroom space to expand–they essentially looked at the 2004 enrollment numbers and built a building big enough to hold that many students. This in a town where the school population has been growing every year for over twenty years and shows no sign of stopping. What they did NOT neglect to build, though, was a great pool, fantastic weight room, and the kind of soccer and football fields you’d expect a small NCAA D1 program to have.

    Administrator salaries are pretty crazy in some places, but if you look at the number of employees a principal or a superintendent actually has to run and the kind of budgets they deal with, I doubt you could go a lot cheaper there. Their turnover is depressingly high, too, and they know it.
    I’ve taught in a district where one principal was expected to run the elementary, middle and high schools with one secretary.

    In Illinois, we have the added problem that we have about three to five times as many districts as we should. Tiny little places with neighbors a mile or two away refuse to consolidate. My own hometown struggles to survive, and so does the even smaller town five miles down the highway. It would be nothing at all to consolidate those two districts and run things much more efficiently. Teachers don’t want to do that, of course, because it might mean fewer teachers, but they couldn’t stop it if the people in the towns came to their senses. But they won’t; the two towns are fierce football rivals; they CAN’T join forces. This isn’t Roosevelt and Stalin we’re talking about, glossing over minor differences to get a job done. This is high school football . . . . serious business.

  5. Don, that makes sense. There’s probably a ton of things mandated by idiotic policies that just suck up money.

    Good teachers like you will always have work, and heck, wouldn’t it be nice to have a bidding war for your services? 🙂

  6. You’re actually oversimplifying how the whole “cost per student” thing works. They just take the entire school budget and divide it out by the number of kids to get that number. If you remove one child, most of those costs still remain the same. They still have to pay for the building, and utilities for the building, as well as the administrative staff.

    Even if you pull 30 kids out of your average city school, it still probably wouldn’t change things much, unless enough of them happened to be in the same grade. At least in that case, you could theoretically get rid of a teacher to save money. But that would never actually happen as long as the NEA is still around.

    Besides, why should parents get money back from the state just because they pulled their kids from public school. I already pay MORE in taxes than a parent with the same gross income, yet I don’t get any kind of tax credit for choosing to not create a larger burden on the school system by not h aving children.

    Lord knows that if I have one more parent driving some $60,000 SUV at work cry about how they want to send their kids to private school, but can’t afford it, I’ll have to smack someone.

  7. Hang in there, we will get school vouchers. It will happen in three and one half years.
    How do I know? Because that’s when my last and youngest will complete (private) high school.
    We put four children through private school. That’s 48 kid, school years.
    We have never bought a new car, and our property taxes have still supported public schools.

  8. Well said Don. I was going to say something similar, but you beat me to it…so +1.

    My property taxes go to pay for all sorts of services that I don’t use. Come to think of it, so do my income taxes, sales taxes, and other misc. taxes.

  9. You mean parents want to take some of THEIR OWN money to send their progeny to a school of THEIR choosing? Where the hell do they get the nerve?

    The anti-referendum 1 commercials on the radio are so full of misinformation that it isn’t even funny. “Vouchers don’t require that teachers be licensed (gasp!), and they don’t have to meet the same testing requirements as our public schools.” Someday there will be a license for everything, which will serve only to make more red tape, remove more money from struggling, overtaxed people like me, and accomplish absolutely nothing.

    And private schools have to undergo testing every year, as opposed to our wonderful public schools, which do testing every 3.

    “Shouldn’t maintaining quality PUBLIC schools be our goal here in Utah?” Well, apparently there are more people than just me who think that it’s f**king retarded to send good money after bad. Public school systems are unbelievably and hopelessly corrupt — especially in Tooele — so dumping more money into them is good… how?

    And I haven’t yet mentioned the fact that me, a well-behaved young man who has no children, still ends up somehow paying for our Public Indoctrination system.

    I’m sick of Communist/Statist bastards. Referendum 1 is a small step in the right direction — getting government the hell out of education.


  10. Brian: You bring up a good point.

    If parents get to have school vouchers for their kids, based on the idea that the property taxes they’re spending on public schools are their money in the first place, then, as a non-parent, I should be able to take a portion of my property taxes equivalent to a school voucher, and redirect it to the private school of my choice, too.

    Or, better yet, spend it on further job training for myself. Getting one’s CISSP or CCNA aren’t cheap. And heck, I’d love to take more classes in how to do just regular stuff.

  11. The interesting anti-voucher argument I’ve heard is that it will make private schools accountable to the government, since they would technically be accepting government funds. As a graduate of a private high school (where some of my best teachers were unlicensed, by the way), I wouldn’t want the government interfering in a private school’s operation; to do so would eliminate the whole advantage of private school.

  12. For an example…state college presidents get MAD money. Talking like 2.5 million a year.
    Wondering why college tuition costs an arm and a leg? There’s the reason. A guy gets paid 2.5 million a year to sit in a leather chair in a fancy office.

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