Monday, September 17, 2007

KVNU: Vote for Vouchers or Bye, Bye, Green Jello!!

That's what armchair prophet Paul Mero thinks.

How do I know?

Because I listened to KVNU's FOR THE PEOPLE tonight.

The Sutherland Institution lead thinker is still regurgitating his doomsday revelation that our local public schools are devoid community values and we better vote for vouchers to stave of "cultural extinction", and that's just the beginning.

My favorite part of the show was when I listened to Paul try to explain how the LDS culture was basically extinguished by the federal government, and that public education was a player in that extinction.

You know what?

Maybe Paul is right about something.

Because the truth is our early LDS culture considered themselves overwhelminging democratic and liberal. Somehow, some of us, have lost our political way, like you Paul.

Paul, isn't it time for you to discover and embrace your true historical and culteral roots?

You might want to think about it bud.

Click here, to listen to Tom Grover's discussion with Paul Mero . It's alot better than what I heard on NIGHTSIDE tonight, I promise.

26 comments:

Paul Mero said...

Rob, maybe you have a point? That was a admittedly difficult interview...I wasn't really sure at what they were getting at. The cutural extinction comment in the essay has to do with the federal government's application of the Supreme Court's Mormon Church decision. And then, by extension, to say that LDS or not, whatever your faith or minority status, it's wise to hang on to educational alternatives.

The irony of the "history is not important" argument is that every liberal and Democrat on the planet (including the few who reside in Utah) wouldn't think of getting rid of Black History Month or choose to ignore the Mountain Meadow Massacre...simply because that is "old news" and not relevant to today.

I also find it somewhat amusing that the official line from the anti-voucher crowd is that Utah education history is akin to reviving a conversation about blood atonement, polygamy, and all sorts of horribles...extremely insulting to the LDS Church.

Lastly, I found it amusing to hear someone like Kim Burningham feel the need to preface his responses to the essay with "I'm a Mormon," as if that alone means anything to anyone. Oh, that's right..."I'm a Mormon who opposes vouchers"...that's the full thought.

They spin their PR web and get caught in it themselves.

BTW, I debate Kim down at UVSC on October 3. Can't wait!

I learn more and more each day from you guys, seriously. Thank you for that.

You and your colleagues might like to check out our "ABCs of Vouchers" web page on our web site. We're also accused of not addressing the facts of the bill...there you will find that and more.

Best always, PTM

CraigJ said...

I'm learning lots from you, too.

Paul, I was surprised that you haven't listed Sutherland Institute as a PIC. Your efforts have to be the most well-organized "non-campaign" I've ever seen. Talk about dishonest!

I think Kim's comments spoke to the issue perfectly. You're pitting the past against the present. You lose.

What's insulting to members of the LDS Church is that you are ignoring the current position which is supportive of public education and privately interpreting our shared history for your own political gain.

I found one line of reasoning in the interview particularly ironic. At once, you argue that vouchers are designed to protect minorities. In the other breath, you stated that predominantly LDS communities should publically fund LDS schools. For those "minorities" who may be affected (in this case, non-LDS children) - well, tough cookies - "it just happens." So, you are saying that voucher schools would and should encourage the separation of children based on "community" or religious values? You are saying that African-American students should have African-American schools and that Hispanic children should go to Hispanic schools and that LDS Hispanic children should go to LDS Hispanic schools? Let's be straight - when you talk about "parental choice" this is what you are talking about. Let's get it out there plain and simple.

You accuse the other side of advocating "social engineering." By that logic, I can and should and will now accuse you of "social dismantling."

If this is the philosophical battle you seek, let's have it because the numbers are not on your side and you're going to lose big. This is anti-democratic, anti-american, unpatriotic Xenophobic drivel that went out with civil rights.

So that "melting pot" stuff is simply liberal brainwashing. The Statue of liberty - just a symbol of godless ACLU cultural whitewashing. Like you said in your interview, there are only two choices. If you're going to oversimplify then I'm going to oversimplify because it further exposes the ridiculous nature of your arguments.

Good luck rallying your base because you're now running counter to Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Liberals, Conservatives, Whites, Blacks, Mormons, non-Mormons, Soccer moms, working moms, and every other American who believes in a *United* States. You might get some camouflaged folks in Northern Idaho to agree with you.

So far I have heard NO GROUP endorse your essay. You're alone in the hailstorm (except for the aforementioned folks in Northern Idaho). C'mon folks - if you think Paul's essay is great let's hear it!

PCE must be writhing to hear you. Please keep on talking, Paul.

Thanks...Craig.

Paul Mero said...

Ah, Craig...I appreciate the compliments. When you go unhinged, I know what I am saying is right on target.

Again, your "history is not important" argument is no argument.

And you need to re-read the Church's statement...it didn't stipulate to "selected" past statements...it said "Past statements" including those yesterday,last week, last month, last year, last decade, etc...as it said "for or against." You are so anxious to be right and "save" public education as you have romanticized it, that you are getting sloppy.

When we cut through all of the sophistry, HB 148 is about one thing: helping low-income, minority public school students get a leg up and out of a system that has failed them to the tune of over 40% not graduating with a diploma. In other words, this is a civil rights issue applied in an education setting.

What is your idea of a melting pot? A nation without autonomous cultural identities? A nation where we're all the same, except we celebrate Greek Days or Italian Days, or whatever ethinic days? That's the perversion of the liberal mind.

BTW, Utah's private schools are equally as diverse as our public schools, and in many cases more so. So why bother with all of the nonsense about segregation or what I want to see (which you obviously haven't the slightest clue about)?

If what has been done to minority populations in this country historically, and currently in many inner-cities, is what you call the "common good" and what you say I call "social engineering," then I accept your language that I am for the opposite. I am for empowering all parents to control the education of their own children...to have available to them a "seamless" education system that actually helps them (parents) with the education of their children...a "system" that serves them, not a "system" where they serve it.

Lastly, with all due respect to you good folks, to solicit the opinions of your blog colleagues on the value of the essay is specious. Holy cow, Craig. Take a deep breath my friend...we still have seven weeks to go!!

Best, PTM

CraigJ said...

Paul,

Deep breath taken :-)

Alright let's deconstruct your reply.

- I remain surprised you are not listed as a PIC. You're in this fight, man. So start disclosing!

- I asked about the essay because I have yet to find one person or group endorse it. I'd love to hear from these folks.

- The Church's statement is a devastating blow to the foundation of your document. The Church that we both belong to has officially not taken a position on the voucher question. I interpret that in the simplest possible terms - you or I should not use past statements to make a case either for or against private school subsidies. It really is that simple to me. You seem to be the only person on this planet trying to link the two.

- If you are producing historical arguments to support your position, then the ugly history of vouchers (racial segregationists trying to get public funding for their white-flight academies) should also be considered. You conveniently leave such facts out of your essay.

- HB 148 is not about "saving" low-income students. Otherwise they wouldn't be giving $500 vouchers to millionaires. The idealogues funding the pro-voucher camp are social darwinists. Read up.

- I reject your premise that our elected public officials, both in the legislature and on our school boards, as well as our teachers and the parents who volunteer in our schools, are the creators of a "failing system" that traps subserviant children. I already addressed this in your slavery analogy. I watch teachers teach - it's an amazing thing. The last thing teachers have on their minds is to enforce cultural domination on their hapless subjects. We need to work together to solve the problems you specify. This should be through the established democratic processes in which all are entitled to participate. The unaccountable HB148 proposal does not solve any of these problems.

- The proposal as it stands increases both the size and the reach of government. I find it quite surprising that someone like you who has always advocated for limited government would agitate so hard for a proposal such as HB148. We're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in net increase. The impartial analysis lays this out very clearly.

- The segregation comments are simply me trying to understand what you yourself said in the interview. I understand that when you're on the spot without a chance to clarify your statements that this can be a challenge. That is why I asked you what you actually meant. On the surface, though, it sounded remarkably like you believe that religious and/or culturally-isolated instruction should be funded by taxpayer dollars. For those minorities who might be on the margins - tough beans.

- Unless I've completely misunderstood who you are, it is spurious to suggest that you and other arch-conservatives who advocate for proposals such as English-only initiatives and for the preservation of "American culture" are now suddenly the champions of a diverse society. You don't want diversity - you want conformity to the "majority culture," whatever that may be. Public schools, on the other hand, take all students as they are and try to help them become better. Public schools cannot solve every problem in the home and neither can private schools. The voucher proposal at hand does not address these problems.

Have fun...Craig.

Paul Mero said...

Are you guys kidding me? I just spent the better part of an hour responding and my comments didn't register???

Maybe I need to be more patient with your system, but usually my comments are posted immediately.

PTM

CraigJ said...

Paul, this has happened to me before...I usually write my responses in notepad or Word and then copy it in. If you lose your Internet connection or if Blogger goes down for a minute when you try to submit it loses your comments. Sorry to hear that happened.

Paul Mero said...

How about I try again this evening?

Get ready...it's great stuff!! :)

PTM

Frank Staheli said...

Paul,

I've been the similarly unfortunate recipient of Blogger's antics before as well. ;-(

Craig,

I had a very long comment, so rather than drop it here, I wrote a rebuttal of sorts to this article on Simple Utah Mormon Politics.

Alienated Wannabe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alienated Wannabe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alienated Wannabe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Craig,

First, I want to say I think it is great that this debate is taking place here. And, I am leery about butting-in because both you and Paul are much more articulate spokespeople for your respective causes than I am, but I felt that I needed to do you the honor of responding to your request: "C'mon folks - if you think Paul's essay is great let's hear it!"

I have to admit that I have not read every word of Paul's report, but I did skim much of it and I was impressed with it. After hearing so much initial criticism of this document in the blogosphere, I was expecting some kind of shocking and irresponsible garbage. But, what I read was actually very measured and helpful -- I thought it was GREAT.

I do not claim that either Paul or I speak for one another, but I am certainly more on his side of this debate than that of the good folks (and you are all good folks) who oppose him. When I have more time, I hope to write more about this subject. But, what I interpret to be Paul's basic premise is correct:

(1) We Mormons, as part of the larger Judeo-Christian community, are engaged in a Culture War with Secular Humanists.

(2) The classroom is a major battle field of that struggle.

(3) Currently, we are actually losing the war within society at large.

(4) Vouchers may help to prepare a place where we, Mormons/Judeo-Christians might someday choose to retreat in the future as part of a larger effort for cultural survival.

If any of those claims shock us. Then we simply have not been paying attention.

Sincerely,
A.W.

Alienated Wannabe said...

Sorry about all the mistakes and deleted comments -- I am a product of public education.

(That's was a horribly cheap shot, but I couldn't resist.)

CraigJ said...

AW,

Thanks for your comments. I enjoy discussing this issue, especially when culture warriors like Paul hop into the fray.

Thanks for your succinct summary. If this is indeed a "culture war" against secular humanists, it's sure an expensive one. The bill will cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. Is all of this worth it just to reduce the influence of some non-Judeo-Christians seeking "cultural domination"?

Along those lines, would you be willing to mention a secular humanist or two, by name, that is currently in Utah and negatively influencing our kids? I'd like to know who I should be worried about. And, as a follow up, can you explain how implementing this voucher bill would take down said secular humanists?

Who knows - maybe there's a secular humanist just down the street. Perhaps we need an online database.

(Sarcasm provided at no charge).

Paul Mero said...

Craig,

Okay, I’ll try this again. I am sure I screwed something up in the posting process earlier.

I do hope we can meet in person sometime. I think it would help these conversations. And I do appreciate you guys letting me nose in on your blog site, especially when I am not very adept at this process…I’m a 44-page kind of guy! 

Point by ever-loving point…

Your campaign point…PICs, PACs, POOPs (whatever that is!)…I don’t write the campaign laws or non-profit laws. We just abide by them. Yes, certainly, we lobbied on the Hill for HB 148. That’s on record. For this referendum, our role is educational. Of course, we support school vouchers as good public policy. But we do not and will not tell people how to vote.

Through the V3 essay and our online Fact Sheets and Power Point presentation (which, BTW, will become a movie file with commentary, very cool for this computer novice), we are trying to inform elected officials, community leaders, and the interested public about HB 148.

Contrary to the critique of V3…that we’re trying to obfuscate the real details of the bill… we have taken a lot of time and resources to present an objective analysis of the bill (on our web site, click on the “ABCs of Vouchers”). But, yes, we like the policy.

Your “who loves ya” point…We’re not trying to sell people a bill of goods. Because we are not campaigning on the referendum, our measurement of success for something like V3 is simply accuracy…did we tell the story correctly?...did we make the significant historical points that we feel are relevant to the current voucher debate? If people like it and it helps them understand the debate a bit better, then great; if not, then perhaps we failed in our task.

I have been ridiculed for stating publicly that my hope is that V3 would help build a statewide consensus, whatever direction, for education policy. (It certainly seems to be galvanizing you guys!) Seen as one contribution to the public debate, I believe V3 serves this purpose…seen as a political document designed to undermine the confidence of LDS people in the public school system, as I am sure you see it, it’s easy to understand why you would think it will only add to needless contention. But that’s life for an organization like ours that at once both pushes innovative policies and tries to build consensus around them. It’s is inherently a difficult task.

Your Church statement point…it is what it is…a statement of neutrality from beginning to end. My friend, imagine what you will about it, but there is a reality about it…part of which I mentioned in my earlier posting. The key to understanding these Church statements is to not think too hard about it…again, it is what it is. I wish I could share more with you about this, but it would not be good form.

Your “complete history” point…one thought: why don’t YOU write the rest of the story? I think V3 is the rest of the story. It certainly is a Utah story, not a southern states story. Although I do address similar tactics in V3…the part where the private Mission Schools were established to segregate (and convert) young Mormon kids from their locally-controlled public schools.

Your “rich people” point…HB 148 is a universal voucher meaning that anyone can apply for and conceivably receive a voucher. Then again, it is a horrible distortion to describe HB 148 as anything other than a bill to help low-income, minority kids struggling in their public schools.

Conveniently overlooked (and a point you should pass along to the anti-voucher crowd for their defensive playbook) is that the Legislature authorized the State Board of Education to set the rules governing the voucher program. You are probably aware that the State Board has drafted these rules already. What you might not have picked up on is that the State Board can proportionally allocate the voucher funds…that is, they can prioritize ALL of the funds to go to low-income families. So, if “rich” families are getting vouchers, then the State Board isn’t doing a very good job.

You’ll need to let that one digest. And, admittedly, the devil in me can’t wait to hear Kim B. and Carol L. and the gang trip over this point to proclaim that they don’t have such authority to do so. They do. (Aren’t they all powerful?)

Your “failing system” point…I know, honestly, teachers aren’t the problem…the system is the problem. We need a “seamless” system that serves all families in all situations, not one rigid system (kiss the ring and ask pretty please) that feels like it owns Utah’s children. And this was certainly a big point in V3: the public school system we live with today began as an external imposition by the federal government on Latter-day Saints to manage this unruly population of religious weirdos. I know you hate that…but the truth is recorded and undeniable. You can blow it off by pretending that the LDS Church masochistically welcomed the imposition and decided to turn lemons into lemonade, but that just isn’t the truth.

Okay, so why do I keep bringing this point up? Because it is precisely on this point that the guardians of Utah’s public schools (from BYU’s School of Education to the State Board) DO EXACTLY WHAT I AM ACCUSED OF DOING…namely, invoking the sacred support of Church members for public schools. V3 simply forced them to show their hand…and now Kim B. begins every articulation of his anti-voucher mantra with “I’m a Mormon.”

Look, as I wrote in V3, the truth is that economics (the Great Depression) and the habit of convenient lifestyles (70 years and four generations of doing it this way) probably have more to do with public school support in Utah than any other factors. I am not trying to take anything away from anyone who is sincerely trying to teach children. It’s just time to “get real” in behalf of parents who would like to regain control of their children’s lives…and low-income minority kids who only need one ounce of hope to make a better life for themselves…but can’t because of their poverty…and because of a bunch of pompous, self-appointed public guardians.

Your “limited government” point…voucher millions will cost less than public school billions. There is no comparison. The public school system is a monopoly…vouchers are a small way to give poor kids a way out of failing schools and some hope for the future.

I have written extensively on a limited government approach to schooling: self-reliance in education…meaning every family takes care of their own educational needs to the degree they can, and then society helps where these families need it. It is an acknowledgement that the public school system is a government program, plain and simple. (And please don’t spend any time trying to tell me it’s not, or that it is but it’s a “special” government program that does not, or should not, have to live by the universal rules governing efficient and effective government.)

Your “cultural isolation” point…yeah, this was hard to get through in that interview. Frankly, it caught me off guard…and that happens to even super-human debaters like me!

So let me address, here and now, the “cultural extinction” usage from V3. All I mean is that, in Utah’s case…in the case of a religious people…culture is important and our schools should support our local cultures and a myriad of cultures might require a myriad of schools. And, no, I’m not afraid of a myriad of cultures.

Try this: do you think that the early pioneers (yes, LDS people) had to worry about their children dressing up like Goths? Or worry about serial divorce? Or worry about the epidemic spread of STDs among youth? Or worry about juvenile crime?

No, they didn’t…and it’s not because people were “special spirits” back then. It was because their culture was distinct and permeated their lives…including their educational experiences. Now look at LDS youth (and adults for that matter)…we‘re just like everybody else. Hooray!

Another example: look what we did to the American Indians. We “Americanized” them so well that they are now known for two things: alcoholism and casinos. Nice work! We killed their culture.

Educational freedom is a bulwark against such “Americanizing.” The quote on the inside cover of V3…the one by Dallin Oaks…to me sums up the entire school voucher debate. It is about pluralism and, in the specific case of HB 148, our collective respect for the welfare of our most struggling minority students and poorest neighbors. (BTW, he wrote that 25 years ago and it still stands today as precedent in parental rights cases…thank goodness the history-haters aren’t governing our judiciary system or else we wouldn’t have such things as precedents!)

Which is a great segue for your “you lack sincerity Paul because we all know that arch-conservatives seek the preservation of American culture” point…yes, this is a point of delicate balance for us arch-conservatives (what does that mean anyway?). We do seek a common language, currency, numeracy, and literacy…AND a real and authentic display of unique cultures. I like the “neighborhood” system found in big cities and what the SL Chamber is trying to do for downtown SL.

What I don’t seem to get is why “school people” are so afraid of real diversity and real freedom. Actually, I do know why. It’s because the system they defend was not created to promote real diversity and real freedom. It was created, as V3 shows, to control people…all in the name of the “common good.”

And so I conclude with this thought…is it in the common good for over 40% of Hispanic and African-American PUBLIC school students to fail to graduate without a diploma? If it is then vote for Referendum 1…and live with it.

Sorry to be so long-winded. You are good for listening.

Best, PTM

republican senator larry craig said...

I am not gay. I have never been gay

Richard W. said...

PM:
How serious do you take the "church neutrality" statements? or do you rationalize everytime the church says something you don't agree with?
It seems as though you hate everything that government does, except give money to private schools.
One statement that makes sense:
When conservatives complain that govt. does not work, they get elected and prove it.

democrat presidential candidate hillary clinton said... said...

I am not gay. I have never been gay.

president bill clinton said...

I never had sex with that woman!

Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Craig,

On the international politico-economic scene, one of the most powerful Secular Humanists is George Soros -- perhaps the single greatest financial supporter of "Progressive" causes and Democratic candidates in the history of our nation. Please see the following links for background information:

http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2007/7/1/191100.shtml

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Soros

http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=589

Popular media is dominated by Secular Humanists. Aaron Sorkin, another major Democrat donor and the primary force behind the television programs "The West Wing" and "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," is one that comes to mind. I single him out only because on occasion he would have his show's characters speak openly of the Culture War and give the Left's side of the argument.

Locally, Rocky Anderson is probably the most well-known Secular Humanist. But, there are many sincere foot soldiers employed by the ACLU, the Salt Lake Tribune, the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, the University of Utah, etc. who all work tirelessly in their shared cause. I know more than a few of them personally. In a very limited role, I have even helped some of them with their projects, so I know what I talking about.

They are not necessarily bad people. On the contrary, there is actually a certain nobility of purpose, indeed, a religious zeal with which they work. But, most of them would resist self-identifying as Secular Humanists; just as most Al Qaida zealots would resist calling themselves religious extremists and terrorists. But, make no mistake, just like Bin Laden they are very much religiously opposed to the traditional movements of Judaism and Christianity, and they are actively working to destroy the influence of such in the world.

I wish it were otherwise, but I am telling you the truth.

That is why I love Democrats like Jimmy Carter, Joe Lieberman, Rob Miller, Steve Olson, et al, because they represent the last hope the Democratic Party has of being completely overrun by Secular Humanists. I look to them to keep the extremist enemy (secular) at bay within the Democratic Party; just I strive to keep extremist enemy (religious) at bay within the Republican Party. Both are to be feared.

My hope is that we in the general middle are all Americans before we are partisans. Otherwise, we have no hope.

Sincerely,
A.W.

Alienated Wannabe said...

Oops!

What I meant to say in the second to last paragraph is ". . . they represent the last hope the Democratic Party has of NOT being completely overrun by Secular Humanists."

Sorry for making yet another typo!

CraigJ said...

AW,

Thanks for your comments. I share your view that moderates, regardless of party affiliation, hold the keys to bringing our country together. On this topic we are allies!

I hold no allegiance to Rocky Anderson and I can tell you that I am certainly not the only one within the Utah Democratic Party to hold this view.

And, in getting to know some of the fantastic leaders helping our Utah schoolkids, I can say that secular humanism or cultural domination or authoritarian control are so far removed from what really goes on that it makes such claims look utterly silly.

What really concerns me, though, are the folks at PCE who have viciously attacked moderates in both parties. They've funded extreme pro-voucher candidates to take out moderate legislators, and in many cases, Republicans! In last year's race, they paid for horrible, misleading attack ads that didn't even mention vouchers. They've held this state hostage for 7 years and I for one am tired of it. If ever there was a political force in Utah that despises moderates, it is PCE!

Next year, I will be standing up for moderate Republican lawmakers across the state. If they're being contested in a primary against a PCE patsy, I'll be there hammering in lawn signs and dropping off door hangers.

Thanks...Craig.

Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Craig,

For me, the voucher question is not about the good intentions or the decency of our local school teachers and administrators. Rather, it is about giving parents options to choose from while seeking the best interests of their children. It is my hope that a voucher system will help to strengthen the hands of parents, recognizing them as having the authority to raise their own children, as opposed to the government or some Secular Humanist special interest.

Such a Secular Humanist agenda is real. It is constantly manifesting itself in text books and model curricula nationwide. I am intimately acquainted with it in higher education, and I know that such dogma also filters down into the K-12 system as well. It is organized. It is well funded. And, it is on track to installing itself as the dominant ideology of the rising generation in America just as it has already captured the hearts and minds of most Western Europeans.

A public school teacher I know has warned me more than once not to send my kids to public schools. I have tended to take this with a grain of salt, because I have seen this person as being a disgruntled employee desperately waiting for retirement. But, I am increasingly becoming inclined to heed his warning. I hope that a voucher system make it so that all Utah parents can make such a choice themselves.

Sincerely,
A.W.

CraigJ said...

AW,

OK...I'm having a hard time completely understanding. So, your problem isn't with those leading public education in Utah. Rather, it is with textbook publishers and the spread of a "godless ideology" from higher ed? You're saying that university education programs are compromised by these ideologies, and, due to their influence, the new unaware recruits coming from these programs then pass these concepts on to the children they teach?

Are our local educational leaders closet-secular humanists? If not, are they then simply complicit, turning a blind eye to such "godless teaching"? If not, are they just powerless to stop the onslaught of well-funded secular humanist organizations and textbook publishers as you describe?

Accepting those premises is difficult for me. Most of the members of our elected school boards are themselves parents. Textbooks go through a concerned vetting process and must be approved to make it to the RIMS list. Core curriculum requirements are discussed, debated, and decided in open, public meetings. The Eagle Forum, for instance, speaks up on curriculum requirements on a regular basis. I happen to disagree with them frequently, but, nevertheless, it is their right to comment (and believe me they do.)

So what's this all about? If you know of a Utah-approved textbook that's advocating secular humanism, have you alerted your local or state school board reps? I'd really like to see that textbook.

I simply don't see the conspiracy, and I surely don't see how an expensive voucher program that just hands the money over with next-to-no accountability is going to help. What I see if we pass this is a royal mess - just google "florida voucher fraud" to see what I mean.

Vouchers are a false choice. Parents do deserve choice but vouchers isn't it. I founded a Charter School and can tell you that is 100 times the alternative to vouchers because charters grant autonomy while requiring accountability.

And, to your point...if parents want complete authority over every educational choice for their children then they must also accept complete responsibility. Responsibility entails fiduciary obligation for those choices. If taxpayers are going to give money to a parent and say "here you go," I would expect the parent to demonstrate that they used the money for the purpose it was intended and didn't just buy themselves a new plasma TV. In a charter school, magnet school, or other public school alternative, the accountability is built-in. We know how the money was spent. However, there are *no* such protections built in to HB148.

I'm sure that many parents would use the voucher responsibly and that many private schools would use the taxpayer money to deliver a good product. HOWEVER, and this has been my beef with the bill from day one...given the near-total lack of any safeguards in HB148, the probability for greed, fraud, waste, and abuse is so high that it is almost a guaranteed certainty that the program will create wealth where it's not deserved and victims where it could have been avoided. Accountability for the money is a critical flaw in HB148.

Vouchers imply a trust relationship amongst three stakeholders - the parents, the schools, and the taxpayers. HB148 does not honor this trust relationship in any way. Policy preferences aside, it truly is a bad bill.

Thanks...Craig.

Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Craig,

From your previous comments, I get the impression that you think my statements regarding the current Culture War and an organized Secular Humanist effort represent some kind of bizarre conspiracy theory.

If you are unaware of such an effort, yourself, then please do not take my word for it. (Though I am personally acquainted with individuals so engaged and stand as an eyewitness to their activities.) Rather, please read the material that they themselves publish. I think you will see that everything I have stated is quite reasonable and fair.

The following quote, for example, is from the Secular Humanist website www.secularhumanism.org:

The Culture War Continues in Spite of the Recent Election

by Paul Kurtz
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
State University of New York at Buffalo
Chairman, Center for Inquiry


"The results of the recent elections are gratifying to secular humanists, for they discredited the Religious Right. This is one victory in a protracted Culture War that has been raging in the United States. . . .

"In recent weeks, readers of Free Inquiry were no doubt pleased by the publication of several books critical of religion — The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins; Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris; Creation, by E.O. Wilson; and Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, by Daniel C. Dennett. All of these scientists are affiliated with Free Inquiry and the Center for Inquiry. What is remarkable is that this is the first time that so much national attention has been given to the criticism of God and the expression of atheism, though, unfortunately, the media has not pointed out the affirmative ethical agenda of secular humanists who are skeptical of theistic claims, yet believe deeply in humanist ethical values and principles.

"The strong showing of the Democrats in the House and Senate and the election of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House are welcomed by those who wish new directions. Noteworthy in this regard is the defeat of many symbols of the right wing, including Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania), George Allen (Virginia), Kenneth Blackwell (Ohio gubernatorial candidate), Katherine Harris (Florida), and the aggressive congressman, Ernest J. Ishtook Jr. (Oklahoma).

A word of caution is in order. Although the Religious Right lost the battle, I reiterate that it is surely not the end of the Culture War. One needs to bear in mind that many Democrats who were elected are themselves social conservatives, such as Bill Casey in Pennsylvania and James Webb in Virginia. Regretfully, the liberal wing of the Republican Party is now virtually dead . . ."

To read the full article, please follow the following link:

http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=pkurtz_election

Thank you for your time, Craig. I will try to answer the rest your questions in greater detail tomorrow. I am too tire to do more tonight. (I am only up now because my youngest was crying and I needed to change his diaper and give him a bottle.)

Sincerely,
A.W.

Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Craig,

Sorry for the delay in responding, my friend. Okay, let's see if I can help you better understand, if not exactly embrace, my point of view:

(1) I am not trying to single out the public school system to indict the good people involved in it. Please do not misread me. I am, in a way, indicting all us together. In my world view, our society is consistently growing more wicked. And, in some sectors, we are becoming not merely "godless," as you say, but actually aggressively "anti-god."

I am sure that sounds crazy to more than one person out there. I apologize, but that is honestly how I see things. And, as Elder Ballard recently told an LDS congregation, we in Utah actually follow all the national trends. We may be a step or two behind, but we are right in there with everybody else. So, even if all that you say is true about the local school systems filtering out anything that is allegedly inappropriate (and I have no doubt that in most cases what you say is true) it will not be long before what is common in the public school systems outside of Utah also becomes common within Utah. I hope you can see that.

(2) Universities are wonderful places. They are not only economic engines, they are social and political engines too. They not only develop new technology, they also develop new attitudes and lifestyles. This fact has not been lost on those who want to take society in a different direction than where I would like to take it. And, such folks have done an excellent job of using higher education to further their agenda. And, as absurd as it may seem to you, what happens in higher education does directly impact upon all the levels of education below it -- in all the ways you cited and more.

I concede that you know more about charter schools and local school districts than I do, Craig. But, I suspect that I a know a little bit more about higher education, and the efforts of the social engineers employed therein, than you do. I promise that I have not exaggerated a single thing I have said with regard to their efforts.

(3) Because of what I have witnessed and experienced, I am concerned about the trend of society. I am worried about the efforts of those who seek to redefine what it means to be a family, what authority a parent has in the life of a child, or what the proper role of government should be in our lives.

I support vouchers in concept, because I see them as being a way to strengthen the hands of parents in determining what is best for their children. I see them as creating options in the distant future for parents who may someday want to retreat from the public school system. (Vouchers are just one tool I hope to make available to parents within a larger toolbox.) I see the current Utah law as being a groundbreaking experiment. There, undoubtedly, will be lessons learned and appropriate changes made. But, I am eager to pursue this experiment, and I urge all likeminded individuals to vote in favor of vouchers.

Thank you for your time, Craig. I will grant you the last word if you would like it.

Sincerely, Your Brother,
A.W.