Every tax is a pay cut. Every tax cut is a pay raise.
Citizens for Limited Taxation
|School vouchers should be considered in Framingham||Friday, August 1, 2003|
|Harold J. Wolfe|
Most of the quotations in this letter to the editor come from the book
"The Worm in the Apple: How Teachers Unions Are Destroying American Education",
by Peter Brimelow.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA, http://www.masstecher.org) is an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA), the largest national teachers union.
A controversial proposal has dominated debate in recent years: school vouchers. School vouchers were the brainchild of Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman in a famous essay published in 1955. The idea simply put is that, if there is going to be a government subsidy to K-12 students, it would be more efficient to give some or all of it to the student and his family in the form of a voucher to be spent in the school of their choice - public, private, or religious. After all, the government fights hunger by distributing food stamps, not by owning supermarkets.
The alleged reason for the unions' opposition to vouchers is the indirect passing of public funds to private schools. This, union officials say, cannot be tolerated. But public funds are being passed to private schools at this very moment, and have been for many years - with the full knowledge, and even the support, of these same teacher unions.
Hard to believe? Here is a lengthy quote from former NEA president Keith Geiger, extolling the virtues of America's largest "voucher" program - the G.I. Bill:
"While the war still raged, President Roosevelt, with a nudge from his wife Eleanor, pushed through Congress the Servicemen's Readjustment Act, which we all know today as the G.I. Bill. This bold measure really launched the postwar education boom. Under the G.I. Bill, the federal government, yes, the federal government paid for the education of returning veterans. Specifically, the government paid their tuition and provided them with a weekly living allowance. For many veterans, the G.I. Bill meant something they had dared dream of - it meant going to college. And they went in droves. American colleges and universities would never again be the same. To accomodate the bright-eyed, they had to grow faster than ivy. What's more, the G.I. Bill changed, fundamentally and forever, how Americans think about a college education. Before the war, college had been considered an elite pasttime, like belonging to a country club. But, by the early 1950s, one in four young Americans was attending college - almost double the prewar rate. It must also be noted that for the sixty percent of the veterans who had not completed high school, the G.I. Bill paid for remedial, vocational, and technical education. In all, eight million of twelve million veterans took advantage of the G.I. Bill. The program ended up costing, in today's dollar, $119 billion. Now that's what I call a national commitment to education! The G.I. Bill turned out to be one of the wisest investments the United States has ever made. It provided the brainpower for America's incredible economic surge that began after the war and carried on right through the 1950s, the '60s and early '70s."
This is a remarkable speech to be coming from the leader of an organization unalaterally opposed to school vouchers. In 1955, when Milton Friedman first introduced the voucher program in his famous essay, he used the G.I. Bill as an example of what he meant.
They claim that, with limitted space, private schools will refuse to admit students with low academic achievement, discipline problems, or disabilities -- a practice known as cherry picking.
Admission to the government school comes only with the price of the house. Real estate prices are their "private school tuition".
When asked why vouchers are bad, Carole Shields of People for the American Way replied: "Fairness: You just can't pluck some kids out of a school and give them more hope and more opportunity and leave the rest behind". This means she thinks parents have some sort of obligation to inflict a miserable education on their children. It's a species of moral backmail.
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