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Education "vouchers" solve the fiscal crisis, and also lead to economic recovery?

Simply open up K-12 education to the market place, with government only playing a role by financing the students with a yearly education check of $8000.

*www.usagovernmentspending.com shows American local governments spending $458.3 billion for K-12 education in 2012.
*(Sir Ken Robinson says this education system is a complete failure)
*The new education cost of $8000 education check to 50 million K-12 students is $400 billion per year
*This saves $58.3 billion
*(a $6000 check would save $158.3 billion)
*The yearly education check allows students(and their parents) to choose how, when, where, and what they learn, and also who teaches them
*The yearly education check of $8000 opens up a $400B/year market to entrepreneurs, teachers, and creatives
*($6000 check opens up a $300B/year market to entrepreneurs, teachers, and creatives)

State fiscal crisis solved, federal fiscal crisis solved, and the new education market leads America's economic recovery.

Thoughts everyone?

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    Jan 22 2013: It's an interesting question whether school vouchers would undermine the 1st amendment rights by funding religious education with public money.

    This would be true if the government favored a particular religious doctrine. But it's hard to make this argument if people are granted complete freedom in choosing what school they want to attend. In this case, school vouchers seem to strengthen the 1st amendment rights if they have anything to do with it at all.

    Education, by definition, means putting ideas in people's heads. Can we trust the government such a delicate business? If we support freedom of ideas and freedom to believe what we choose, if we oppose indoctrination, shouldn't we separate school and state just as we *claim* we separate state and religion (which is a tough claim to make after watching the inauguration oaths)? It seems to me that 1st amendment rights are much better off with government out of education business.

    If we support the 1st amendment rights, why would we be outraged with people who want to exercise them by choosing religious education for their children?

    Lest I am accused of having a hidden agenda, I need to disclose that I have received a free higher education in a Soviet state university and have 3 children going to public American schools. I confess my own hypocrisy on this issue. I support public education, but I support freedom of choice too. It does seem to me that schools vouchers would be a good compromise.
    • Jan 23 2013: The first amendment has two clauses addressing seperation of church and state. The establishment clause which states "Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion" and the free exercise clause which reads "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

      Two problems... First, 85% of all private schools are religious in nature. The issue at stake here is the establishment clause, not the free exercise clause. The systemic consequence of vouchers is the funding of religion. It can be broken down ever further by realizing the some religions more represented than others. As for the free exercise clause, nothing is stopping people from choosing to spend their own money on a religious education..

      While the 1st amendment issue is important to me, it is not my most significant issue...

      Second, and far worse is to realize that private schools are not held to any curriculum standards.

      Public education is provided for a reason - our economy needs an educated work force and future innovators to thrive. This is what tax payers are paying for. We expect a curriculum that includes the teaching of science to prepare students for the demands of a 21st century economy. A curriculum that trades away science for religion means that the tax payer isn't getting value for their dollar.
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        Jan 23 2013: It is still vague to me why you equate school vouchers with helping to fund and establish religion. It's not the government money in the first place. It belongs to the people. Why can't people choose to spend it on religious education if this is their choice? I do not see how this can be viewed as government funding religion. I don't get this "hidden agenda" back-and-forth.

        Your second concern can be easily addressed by licensing, much like state regulates the medical, construction, or food industry. Or, better yet, if private schools are funded by businesses who hire the graduates, it can be easily addressed by free market if school funding is set up to be proportional to the quality of education they provide.
        • Jan 23 2013: "It's not the government money in the first place. It belongs to the people."

          Wishful thinking. Once the government collects taxes, that money belongs to the government. The government is prohibited from funding religion.

          "Or, better yet, if private schools are funded by businesses who hire the graduates,"

          What if the students decide not to work for that company? That investment is lost forever. Competitors who are not burdened by the expense of providing the education can better afford to offer better benefits to the employees. This is why education must be publicly funded. It simply wouldn't happen otherwise.
        • Jan 25 2013: I agree with Arkady here

          Brock's reasoning compels him to forcibly prevent people on food stamps from buying Halal and Kosher food.
          It also compels him to prevent public officials from using their salary to send their own child to religious schools.

          Government is not "respecting *an* establishment of religion"
          Government is not funding religion.

          With vouchers, the government is funding parents and students and giving them educational liberty: giving life, liberty and freedom of educational choice to the people.
      • Jan 23 2013: I agree with Arkady.
        And adding more: Brock, Who do you mean when you say "We" and "taxpayers"? Surely you mean "I". Gallup polls show that over 80% of Americans believe in God, and over 40% have views consistent with intelligent design. They would disagree with your "we" comments, and their calculus on "value for their dollar" for religious education will be much different than yours. America is predicated on life, liberty, and religious freedom among others, and vouchers+educational freedom are more consistent with the first amendment than the current public education system anyways.

        A voucher distribution done by local government would be for the people of the town to vote on standards and strings attached to vouchers. Atheist voters, atheist requirements. Muslim voters, Muslim requirements. Christian voters, Christian requirements.

        Science education is handicapped in public schools because the rules, regulations, and liabilities. And as Arkady suggested with businesses funding private schools, science companies like Johnson&Johnson have better resources, talent, and hands on opportunity for science instruction than public schools will ever have. Johnson&Johnson could also do this under a voucher system too as they would have a market supported by government financing.

        And finally, vouchers are not private schools vs public schools as all students can choose to select the public school. Vouchers are giving cash to parents and students and letting them be free to choose their education. They can choose tutors, home schooling, daycare, apprenticeships, internships, or any other education service offer out there. They can choose to pay the existing public schools, as their price would be the same as the voucher.
        • Jan 23 2013: The U.S. is still prohibited by the constitution to fund religion, and religious freedom actually benefits from this.

          We are a very religious country, not because government supports religion, but because it keeps its nose out of it. If the government favored one religious view over another, it would necessarily suppress all other views. As we have seen all around the world, when government gets into the business of religion, chaos ensues, and violence erupts.

          It is more than just believing in god or not believing in god. It can be Catholicism vs Protestant, Islam vs Christianity, Mormon vs whatever, etc. When the government stays out of religion, personal freedoms of belief flourish.

          "America is predicated on life, liberty, and religious freedom among others,"

          True, and If the U.S. gets into the business of religion, liberty and religious freedom will be the first things we'll loose.
        • Jan 23 2013: "and over 40% have views consistent with intelligent design"

          There was a time when most of the population believed the earth was flat. That doesn't justify an education that teaches that the earth is flat.

          Intelligent design is creationism with no supporting physical evidence. The Dover trials made that perfectly clear. It is a topic of faith and nothing more. Nothing is stopping you from using your own private money to support your own religious choices.
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        Jan 23 2013: Re: "Second, and far worse is to realize that private schools are not held to any curriculum standards."

        In these days of global economy, I see the need for international education standards. IB diplomas become more popular. The easiest way to achieve this is, perhaps, through an international organization of some sort transcending governments. Most other international industry standards are maintained this way, with no or little government regulation. I think, this is where education will go in the future.
        • Jan 24 2013: I favor curriculum standards. I'm not sure it needs to be international, but I don't think it's such a bad idea either. Naturally, governments are going to be involved - it's there money we are talking about, and they have a vested interest in standards that help grow their economies.

          It is the lack of curriculum standards that leads my list of objections towards vouchers. I would be fine with vouchers as long as the recipient schools were required to teach a standardized curriculum as determined by the Department of Education. I am perfectly fine with religious private schools adding to that curriculum, to include religious studies, but not subtracting from it.

          Vouchers would also need to be limited to the amount that would have otherwise gone to public schools.
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        Jan 23 2013: Re: "The U.S. is still prohibited by the constitution to fund religion, and religious freedom actually benefits from this."

        What you say is true and correct. But I still question the premise that school vouchers equate to government funding religion or favoring a particular religion by giving money to people for education and letting them choose how to spend it.
        • Jan 24 2013: You not understanding how it is a systemic funding of religion, no mater how convoluted the process is, isn't an argument.

          Giving people money "for education" requires the government to define what constitutes education. Otherwise, it could be used for buying a car.

          I am not apposed to parents choosing a religious education on top of the standard curriculum expected and payed for by the government, as long as the vouchers do not exceed the cost of a public education.
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        Jan 24 2013: Re: "A curriculum that trades away science for religion means that the tax payer isn't getting value for their dollar."

        Brock, you seem to have an unjustified bias towards the quality of education in religious schools. In the city I live, I know 3 "religious" high schools - all highly desirable for many parents - religious and non-religious alike.

        Let's not forget that Newton was a believer, big bang theory was introduced by Georges Lemaitre, a catholic priest, and genetics was founded by Gregor Mendel, a monk.
        • Jan 24 2013: I have no bias towards any school that teaches a standardized curriculum. If a religious school wants to add to that curriculum something else, to include bible studies, that is fine as long as the tax payers are getting the education that THEY paid for, and that includes real science.

          "Let's not forget that Newton was a believer, big bang theory was introduced by Georges Lemaitre, a catholic priest, and genetics was founded by Gregor Mendel, a monk."

          True, and they would all agree that those subjects should be apart of a standardized curriculum. Newton, as well as Galileo, would obviously support the teaching of the scientific method and advanced mathematics. Even more, the Catholic church, along with many other denominations of Christianity, are perfectly fine with the teaching of Evolutionary theory (the grand unifying theory of biology and medicine).
    • Jan 23 2013: "If we support the 1st amendment rights, why would we be outraged with people who want to exercise them by choosing religious education for their children?"

      I am not outraged at all. People are more than welcome to do this, as long as they do it with there own private funds. They are free to go to what ever church they like, and believe whatever they want to believe.

      However, with public funds we expect students to learn science, mathematics, reading, writing, social studies, history, geography, etc....In short, we expect an education that will produce a productive member of society. We expect an education that prepares students for a 21st century economy. We expect an education that will produce the next generation of doctors, nurses, engineers, architects, software developers, bio-chemists, etc...
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        Jan 23 2013: Re: "The government is prohibited from funding religion."

        You keep repeating this over and over. Other than your fear that people will spend the vouchers on religious education (which is their 1st amendment right), I don't see why you are opposed to school vouchers. This does seem like your primary concern.

        Re: "However, with public funds we expect students to learn science, mathematics, reading, writing, social studies, history, geography, etc....In short, we expect an education that will produce a productive member of society."

        Who's "we"? This is funny. "We the people" expect "them the people" to do this and that to ensure their own freedom and happiness. And if they choose not to do that, "we" will force them.
        • Jan 24 2013: "We", is the voter. Democracy only functions when the losing side acknowledges that they lost. 'We' includes those that disagree.

          Consider the question of why you think our education is failing. What standard are you measuring that to? Notice that once you ask that question of yourself, you are immediately forced to deal with the fact that you have a standard for education that must be objective.

          So what is that standard?

          Pay close attention to this point: If you don't have an expectation for what education is, you can not claim it is either succeeding or failing, or that one system is better or worse than the other at providing it.
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        Jan 23 2013: I think, many perceived problems and failures in our society come from undue expectations. People expect other people to marry the opposite sex, dress in a certain way, etc. And when people "fail" our expectations, it bothers us deeply.

        Against same-sex marriage? Don't have one!
        Against abortion? Don't have one!
        Against religious education? Don't give your children to a religious school! Give your child and your voucher to a public school.

        But don't tell other people who to marry and what to teach their children. Especially if you care for human rights. This is my hidden conservative religious agenda.
        • Jan 24 2013: Public funds for education need to purchase a standardized curriculum. If a religious private school wants to add to that curriculum, that is fine, but they can't take away from what the tax payers expect.

          As long as that school teaches what the government expects them to teach (math, science, reading, writing, history, etc) they are more than welcome to teach bible studies, underwater basket weaving, etc.

          I am not apposed to parents choosing a religious education on top of the standard curriculum expected and payed for by the government, as long as the vouchers do not exceed the cost of a public education.
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        Jan 23 2013: Your concern with standards for education can make sense. There must be some guarantee that people do spend the vouchers on education that meets certain standards. This can be easily achieved by government licensing the private schools. Much like health insurance plans cover only certain "in-network" health providers.
        • Jan 24 2013: Exactly. I am not apposed to parents choosing a religious education on top of the standard curriculum expected and payed for by the government, as long as the vouchers do not exceed the cost of a public education.
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        Jan 24 2013: Actually, I agree to most of your points including the requirement for standards and the lack of economic feasibility of private education for the poor. Raising the standard of living for people who cannot afford it, I think, does need to be based on charity - either voluntary or compulsory (taxes and welfare), or it will not happen. I am in favor of voluntary charity. Compulsory charity does not make us better.

        Anyway, thanks for a great discussion! :-)

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