I’m voting yes on Referendum 1 for school vouchers in the upcoming Utah elections. Yes, I actually have read and studied the full text of Referendum 1, or House Bill 148, unlike many other commenting on it, and that has only strengthened my support of it. Here are my reasons for voting yes:
1. The opposition is spreading outright lies about the referendum.
Not that I would vote for something just because the opposition lies, but it just throws fuel on the fire and nullifies any credibility they ever had with me, and yes, I was on top of the fence at one point with this and willing to consider both sides of it.
I feel the supporting side has exaggerated some things or put some spin out there, but compared to the opposition it’s night and day.
2. I know people in government who have worked on this issue for years. I’ve listened to their positions about why they support vouchers, I’ve listened to them tell me about the backroom shenanigans being pulled by those who oppose vouchers, and I’ve come away convinced that those opposing vouchers are in the pocket of interest groups while those who support vouchers are doing so because they truly believe it’s the best thing for the children.
3. It’s an inexpensive experiment with little or no downside risk.Let’s see, how much is this going to cost per year? Something like $10-12 million? Not chump change, to be sure, but when you’re talking about government spending it’s a drop in the bucket. The Utah education bucket is $3.5 billion. 3.5 BILLION!!! And these guys are complaining about us taking $10M to try out on something just to see if it works? When that $10M doesn’t even come out of the education fund but is funded by the general fund?! It irks me to no end to hear people say we should put that money into public schools because they’re underfunded. What would an extra $10M do for public schools? Nothing. Nothing whatsoever would change. But if the experiment works, then we’ve got something of value and maybe then we’ve got a shot at doing something that will really improve the situation. But I think that’s exactly what those in opposition to Ref 1 are afraid of.
4. Competition makes things better. I’d be willing to bet that those who are against Referendum 1 would also say that Microsoft is a monopoly and should be broken up. Well, if Microsoft is a monopoly then the public school system taught them the game. Monopolies are notorious for providing low quality products and services at high prices. Why? Because they can. Bring in competition and the entire mindset changes. In a competitive scenario people start getting creative about how they can provide more for less. Public schools are chock full of waste, inefficiency, bureaucracy, and bad policies. I think most teachers are good at what they do, but that they are held back by the system. I believe competition would force the system to improve. It would have to, or it would die. And if so, then so be it. Why should we continue to pay taxes for something that is high priced and low quality?
Of course a monopoly will fight laws that bring in more competition. We’ve seen it with Microsoft, and we’ve seen it with the cable companies. They’ve spent hundreds of millions fighting to not have to compete, and we’re seeing the same thing with those in opposition to vouchers.
5. The private sector is generally better at doing things than the government. Show me one thing the government has shown itself to be better at than the private sector. When has the government ever been able to do something better, at a lower cost, than a privately held company?
6. If the NEA is against it then I’m for it. The National Education Association (NEA) is the national teacher’s union. They are like the mafia, except the mafia does more for children. They strong-arm teachers into joining by threatening to not defend them if they’re the target of a lawsuit and by instigating peer-pressure. They are a completely liberal organization, openly supporting a socialist agenda in politics and openly endorsing the most liberal candidates, and they’re a union–what more do I need to say?
My mother was an elementary school teacher for about 15 years in Southern California. Every year the NEA would hold a membership drive, and they would make a big deal out of having a school be “100% NEA”. The only problem at my mother’s school was that she wouldn’t join. She was the only teacher who wouldn’t join and therefore year after year the school was one teacher away from being 100% NEA. As a result she was bullied, maligned, looked down on, and made fun of. The NEA used mafia-like tactics to try and get her to join, telling her that if she didn’t join then she wouldn’t have their “protection” if “something were to happen” and she got sued. As it happens, when she retired she was cheated out of about $20K in retirement pay her first year off the job. Did the NEA step in to help? Of course not. After all, my mom hadn’t paid for “protection”.
When my mother was teaching, she would bring home the NEA newspaper. This was around the time Clinton was running against Bush Sr. The paper just fawned over Clinton as though he were God’s greatest gift to teachers and children, and demonized Bush, saying that if he were elected again he would use the public school system as a means of fattening up children with unhealthy cafeteria food so that he could roast them on a spit and eat them.
I’m against unions in general. I think there once was a time and place for them about 100 years ago, but that they’ve long since outlived their purpose. Today I see unions as businesses that live only to keep themselves alive, and if they happen to help anyone out while achieving their primary goal of survival then it’s merely coincidental. Think about it, if you were working for the NEA making $150K per year, and you had no idea what you would do for a living if you weren’t working for the union, and you had no scruples, would you do anything that might endanger your livelihood? Would you support any political candidate that didn’t fully support pumping more money into public education? And here’s the kicker–would you want to solve any problems? Teachers without problems don’t see as much reason to join unions. After all, if there’s no problem, why pay all that money in union dues? The union has no interest in solving problems, they only have an interest in making it appear as though their solving problems, or at least working on them and fighting for teachers’ rights. But actually fixing anything would cause problems for the union.
Referendum 1′s Greatest Challenge
What if it passes? That’s when the real struggle begins. Do you think there’s a chance the NEA is going to say “Rats, they won, oh well” and walk away? Or would they purposely sabotage public schools and poison the minds of their members, just so that they could then claim “See! See! Look at all the problems vouchers are causing!” Even if vouchers pass, it won’t be a free ride. This is a very real war for the NEA. It threatens their very existence. If vouchers pass in Utah, they might pass somewhere else. If they work in Utah and actually help children, they might work somewhere else. If they work somewhere else, they might work everywhere else, and if they work everywhere, we might see a day when the entire process of education is provided by the private sector with no public schools in existence, and that would be the end of the NEA and some high-paid people would have to look for new jobs.
“No public schools?!” you say? Sure, why not? Hospitals are run privately. When is the last time you hear someone complaining about Medicare and Medicaid dollars going to privately run hospitals? When’s the last time you heard someone complain about food stamps being used at privately run grocery stores? Then why are we afraid of tax dollars paying for private schools?