Friday, March 27, 2015

How Would You Like $5,000 to Spend on Your Child's Education?

 UPDATE: in a quick 3 minutes, here's why this is a bad, bad idea.  If you want public money going to private schools - that have NO accountability to anyone and can pick and choose who gets in (and who gets kicked out), then you'll like SB 6079.  A big no from me.

end of update

Wait for it.

A late dropping bill that missed my notice is SB 6079 by Senator Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane).  It would allow families to choice to get $5K of the average $7400 in state dollars per student.  Then you could use the money for "educational services" at public or private schools.

This bill is listed as first coming into the Senate on March 9th and, as of today, was referred to the Early Learning &E-12 Education Committee.   Apparently, there it sits.

This voucher nonsense is happening in a number of states mostly around special ed or ELL students.  Naturally the hope is to expand this crazy quilt idea for all K-12 children.  You could either get a voucher (and go shopping), a tax-credit scholarship, or get an individual tax credit.

It's all about choice, right?

Hoping this one will die a quiet death.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of bills, I saw the house budget came out:

I don't feel like I understand the process well enough to know how close to the final budget this will actually be. It looks pretty good to me (without the benefit of having actually seen the nitty gritty), but obviously the Republicans haven't gotten their hands on it yet.


Melissa Westbrook said...

The budget will have to wait (for me). I need a break.

Anonymous said...

I read a couple articles on it today. The Dems propose a limited capital gains tax, some additional services taxes, a very few tax loophole closures, and not fully funding the class size reduction initiative that was voted in last year.

I imagine the only part the Republicans will like is not fully funding the class size reduction initiative.

It is about to get testy in Olympia.


Unknown said...


It is still not enough. It only puts 2.4 billion more into K-12, when at least 4.5 billion is what is needed.

Dorn wrote a letter way back last fall when the Governors budget only put in 1 billion.

That doesn't even be begin to address our building needs. Just in Seattle we currently have 6000 students in portables, and to meet K-3 class size reductions alone we need about 20 buildings (beyond BEX). That is another 28 or so buildings we need, not even looking at our growth.

They made some great steps forward with this budget, with offering up fair revenue and not gutting health and human services or Higher ed, but it is still not enough to satisfy the McCleary contempt charge, in my opinion (and apparently I would imagine in Dorn's as well given his previous letter)

If it is the high water mark, I'm wondering what the Supreme will do at the end of session.


Anonymous said...

Could someone explain the anti-voucher thoughts? I have done very little research on the issue, beyond the sensational headlines.
As a parent of 2 public school students and 1 private school student, words could not describe my disappointment with SPS. I am a single parent and I come home every evening and tutor my children in both academics and values.
I would like a voucher. I would remove my other 2 from public school as fast as possible and head towards independent education. I think it is a better education, not in the elitist-get-better-jobs way, but in the way of producing better human beings who think, explore, risk, wonder, play, and grow.
That said, I have found this blog to be full of insight and I'm wondering what I'm missing about the problem with vouchers?

Anonymous said...

I keep getting my own vouchers, it's called suing. I'm 3 for 3 so far and preparing for the big one north of 500K keep an eye out for the settlement. SPS is a dead end for many students because of so many dead beat teachers.

Lawyer up!

Anonymous said...

Problems with vouchers? Let me count the ways....
But first know that that is the very issue with all of these neoliberal policies - they seem benign, even make a kind of sense, but the devil is in the details.

1) $5000 doesn't get you much as far as private schools. Instead what you get is a whole bunch of people setting up fly-by-night private schools with zero regulations and accountability in regards to curriculum taught, safety, how money is spent, etc. Numerous state examples of that, as voucher programs are being challenged legally (though in AZ they call the, "Empowerment Scholarships" rather than the vouchers they are). Read the reports on Louisiana.
2) Public dollars spent for private religious schooling. Need I say more aside from separation of church and state?
3) Private schools are under no obligation to take kids with vouchers, and most good ones don't. Their tuition is already considerably higher, and they have their pick of the cream of the crop. Some privates take a few voucher/scholarship types and then point to them as examples of how they are diversifying their student body.
4) The country of Chile is a living example of neoliberal policies (like vouchers) and the disaster that has caused to their education system. Rich parents could afford to pay for their private and charter-type schools with vouchers, poor people left with nothing since the public school system was essentially demolished/defunded by vouchers & gov't cuts. Reports of "schools" being set up in garages, taught by untrained "teachers" to make money.
5) Segregation.
6) Creationism.
7) Current voucher-that-aren't-vouchers programs are being used most by kids who never attended public school to begin with, despite the "save kids from failing public schools" narrative BS. I think Indiana just released a report on that.
8) What/who is left behind, and with what funding.
9) The money doesn't follow the kid if they get kicked out of the private school.

The list goes on.
But you can read for yourself.’s-education-system-institutionalized-inequality-and-a-preference-for-the-affluent/

Ironically, the same hypocrites who demand "accountability" in public schools, are typically fans of "school choice" as well, and decry any attempt to regulate quality or monitor funds of these "choice" schools and programs. See AZ legislators as a prime example there.


Anonymous said...

But Common Core/SBAC is already its own version of a gigantic voucher system. Lets address all of CTs points. First, its a huge diversion of funds headed to Pearsons, Murdoch, etc. So, privatization we have already by just selling out to common core. No curriculum in fly by night private schools? Seen any science books, or history texts coming home with your kids lately? Anything at all for Language Arts? It's all about teaching to the test. And don't like religion in public ed? Standards based learning is really it's own sort of religion. Little lifeless snippets of various standards proudly posted on walls all around the schools, like Bible verses. Bible verses are at least more comprehensible. Think privates leave out whole groups? Thats exactly what our advanced learning public options are designed to do as well. Every crappy school now has its own exclusive IB or AP wing, minority and problem free. These are designed to keep students who would never go to that school without an exclusive option. Not so different from exclusive private schools.

The only problem with vouchers.... they are too small.


Anonymous said...

The constant barrage on teachers may well be warranted. There are crappy accountants, architects, lawyers... and so on.

Here are some better ways to spend money.

Reduce Class Size

Specialize Schools that are separate but superior, such as kids with special needs.. be they physical or intellectual disabilities that need tons of care and hands on support. Or be they highly capable with the support and tools they need to excel. Schools that focus on athletics and the support and training facilities they need, schools that are for "average" kids who just want to not be different or special but just be like everyone else.

All of this actually exists in some third rate capacity under bullshit categories or schools..

We have such fear that separate means unequal.. uh no it can mean superior so that the monies spent can be spent clearly and with focus on the population that needs it.

Staff that are compensated and trained and have all what they need available.

Schools right now are Jacks of all trades master of none.

There was an actual real discussion about the bias and isolation that schools have and the kids are aware of it and hate it... the IB program, the HCC programs, the athletes or the STEM or the kids at NOVA or what is the difference between MCHS or the Interagency? Nothing that I can tell other than the software.

When you are in the schools everyday you see first hand that there are many many problems and many people within the walls that want to fix it and are willing to do so but are never once asked for input nor what they would need to do the job better. They go to one after another absurd workshop and instead of going to them have them come to them. Walk in and do the job for a week... see then what it is like.

I know it because I do it.. but I am just shit to be wiped from your shoe

- Shit stain

Anonymous said...

From the Southern Education Foundation: vouchers and tax credits in the U.S.


Anonymous said...

From TiredMom - Interesting comments and food for thought! My understanding of the voucher system is that, at it's core, it is intended to introduce some level of free enterprise into a structure that is essentially communist (I use this term descriptively, not pejoratively). My understanding is that the poorer one is, the less choice one has. By this, I mean the PTA seems to be the buffer between a "good" school and a "bad" school. The PTA essentially buys some of the services not publically funded. This prevents much of the active, educated, and vocal public school contingent from necessary experiences. I imagine public schools would get the funding they need in a hurry if the PTA were no longer allowed to raise funds. (I don't see how this is any different than PAC's in politics). The PTA at my local school, where my children attend, offer two ways to get involved: 1) donate money, 2) volunteer during the school day. I've noticed that most non-school day functions either cost money, as in a fundraiser, or create victims out of families, the tenor of most services/workshops. So much for working families participating in meaningful ways.

The religion comment was interesting as well. I agree that a public education is necessary to create a shared public foundation. An educated populace is important. Yet, there is a VERY strong ethical and moral system being taught in the schools, it's just undercover so it is harder to notice. For example, why isn't philosophy required of all advanced science students? Science without a moral grounding is the formula for WMD. Humanities without morals can slide into absolute relativism with no sense of right and wrong. Public service without a broader framework of ethics can actually foster inequality, racism, sexism, poverty. The subjects taught in public school are not "neutral" by any means and any attempt to treat them as such actually endorses one set of values over another. So we already have a "religion" problem without the vouchers.
What kinds of educational models are working out there? Do we have any urban success stories?

Anonymous said...

Yes - vouchers are intended to bring the free market in. It was disastrous in Chile, which basically followed all the economic tenets of the U of Chicago.

As for values....guess it depends on whether you think it is OK to be teaching kids the KKK was good, humans played with dinosaurs, and that the Trail of Tears was a good thing for Native Americans. Lousiana voucher schools use curriculum from Bob Jones Unversity,

Me? I'd rather not have my tax dollars spent to make U.S. kids the laughingstock of the rest of the world by them thinking humans and dinosaurs were best buds.


Anonymous said...

CT - Thank you for the link. I read it. How very disturbing.
I'm wondering if the appeal of vouchers is related (negatively) to the high level of complexity required to forge a common vision for public education.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure it is, Tired Mama. Most countries don't have the extreme levels of diversity that we have - religious, racial, political, economic. To some, vouchers/charters represent a means to get their kid away from the "riff-raff" and with kids more like them either racially, values/religion-wise, or SES-wise. Utah and Arizona are good examples - vouchers and charter schools are "white flight" schools.

Public education is a political entity. There are those who refer to public school as "government schools" and want to abolish them, there are those who think public schools are the great leveler, and there are those who see public education as the biggest cash cow currently in existence and will do anything to profit off it. There are also many nuances in between. The end result is that public education becomes the scapegoat for all of societies' ills, when reality is that it is just a mirror of society.
I've seen life in countries without public schools, and for all its shortcomings, our public school system in the U.S. is amazing for what it manages to accomplish given that so much is stacked against it. I've spent time in countries where families forego food in order to save enough money to buy a school uniform, because even if "school" is free, kids can't attend without a uniform. I worked with a family struggling to get education for their 3 daughters, because the gov't didn't believe girls should be educated. So I may have a slight bias, though I am also realistic. Regardless, I think public education is worth saving, and I will always work for it. I've seen the alternatives, and if we're heading down that path, it is a scary path indeed.


Anonymous said...

I'll take the 5K, buy some beer, and make my kids watch Kahn. Isn't that what Gates does?


Anonymous said...

NNCr, I thought you meant " the wrath of khan" at first. Come to think of it, that's not a bad description in my kids' mind of the khan academy. Chuckle.

As for Gates, it wouldn't matter what his kids watch, trust fund of mere millions (after he has given his billions away of course) will take care of them.

We just don't have that luxury. But hey, we can still drink beer!
(LOL, I had to match wine to prove I'm not a robot.)

bad parent

Anonymous said...

@ CT - You raise excellent points. Thank you!
One of my initial draws toward vouchers is a sense of empowerment. At my local elementary school, it seems like there is no constructive way to make anything better sans financial contributions. As a FRL family, we have a lot to give but dollars isn't among them.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Tired Mom, you are doing a good job, trying to stay informed, asking questions and being supportive of your children.

We are getting to a problematic spot in terms of school funding in this district and it's not just about PTA funding.

More to come.

Anonymous said...

How does the voucher bill work? Should all the private school kids in Seattle expect to see a 5K check to their parents? That's what it sounds like, looking at the law.

So, the parents at a private school like Lakeside get a collective 3 million dollars refund on the dollars they're spending on their children? 3 million that now, goes to the public school system?

A first problem with the voucher bill is that $5K does not buy a private school education (neither does the $7K that the state funds). Lakeside's tuition for next year is $30,000+.

A second problem (related to the first, but not entirely) is that it's a solution that might help a selective few, but at the expense of the entire population of children, most of whom will not have access to the private school education.

A third problem is that any more than occasional use of such a system would mean the dismantling of public education.


Anonymous said...

Tired Mom, can you comment more on the problems you're facing, and the solutions you'd offer, if you could be heard?

We are very vocal here on this blog, but often represent a very select demographic. I am happy to raise my voice to advocate for the changes I believe in, but worry when other voices aren't being heard.

Do you think that you could buy a better education for your children, for 13 years with 65K, and if so, how? (and, that isn't a rhetorical question -- and, potentially, not just addressed to Tired Mom). How would any of us buy the education for our children with that amount of money? I feel like I could buy a good education for my children for 300+K, but don't think I could do it with 65K.


Anonymous said...

TiredMom - I think that is a pretty common feeling in all sectors of education (public/private/charter) depending on the school. I've seen some schools/PTAs that do a good job advertising needs that include financial, in-school time, and out-of-school time (like stuffing envelopes, book fairs/doing book orders, etc.) so that all families feel they are contributing if they want to. One of the elementary schools near me just did a weekend grounds clean-up, and when I was talking to one of the parent volunteers, she mentioned that the only time she had to help was weekends because of her work schedule. The turnout looked fairly sparse, but that particular mom seemed happy to be there helping out. I think schools and PTAs could do a better job of including more activities to involve a wider variety of parents, not just the wealthier ones with cash and a stay-at-home parent who has time on their hands to handle multiple things. But honestly, parents who are helping their kids with schoolwork, reading with them each night, talking with them, and staying informed about public education are doing tons and are due more credit than they often allot themselves. That's huge, and not all parents are able do even that much.


Charlie Mas said...

Vouchers won't work because there aren't a lot of private school seats that would be filled by them and there aren't a lot of private school seats that would be created by them. As has been noted, for the first several years nearly all of the vouchers would be spent for the kids who are already in the private schools. After that, it's likely that the private schools will raise their tuitions.

There is not an army of people waiting to create private schools. Why haven't those education entrepreneurs already started a school?

There is not an army of super qualified people waiting to teach in them. If any new private schools were created they would be staffed either by current public school teachers or by people who couldn't get jobs as public school teachers.

There are not many suitable buildings available. If you know of a building that could be used as a school, please suggest that the District buy it.

How many of those private schools are ready to meet the needs of students with IEPs? How many of them are ready to meet the needs of bilingual students? How many of them are ready to meet the needs of students living in poverty? Not too many. Those students would remain in the public schools.

No, the vouchers wouldn't change anything except provide money to current private school families and take it away from public schools.

Sarah Hall said...

I have got a lot of questions to answer! For example, mow many of those private schools are ready to meet the needs of students with IEPs? How does the voucher bill work? Check out a newly published article at and compare!