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John Stossel: Public Schools Need More Competition
Wisconsin State Journal ^ | September 2, 2006 | John Stossel

Posted on 09/04/2006 3:36:41 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin

This week's back-to-school ads offer amazing bargains on lightweight backpacks and nifty school supplies. All those businesses scramble to offer us good stuff at low prices. It's amazing what competition does for consumers. The power to say no to one business and yes to another is awesome.

Too bad we don't apply that idea to schools themselves.

Education bureaucrats and teachers unions are against it. They insist they must dictate where kids go to school, what they study, and when. When I went on TV to say that it's a myth that a government monopoly can educate kids effectively, hundreds of union teachers demonstrated outside my office demanding that I apologize.

The teachers union didn't like my "government monopoly" comment, but even the late Albert Shanker, once president of the American Federation of Teachers, admitted that our schools are virtual monopolies of the state - run pretty much like Cuban and North Korean schools. He said, "It's time to admit that the public education system operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody's role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It's no surprise that our school system doesn't improve. It more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy."

When a government monopoly limits competition, we can't know what ideas would bloom if competition were allowed. Surveys show that most American parents are satisfied with their kids' public schools, but that's only because they don't know what their kids might have had!

As Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek wrote, "Competition is valuable only because, and so far as, its results are unpredictable and on the whole different from those which anyone has, or could have, deliberately aimed at."

What Hayek means is that no mortal being can imagine what improvements a competitive market would bring.

But I'll try anyway: I bet we'd see cheap and efficient Costco-like schools, virtual schools where you learn at home on your computer, sports schools, music schools, schools that go all year, schools with uniforms, schools that open early and keep kids later, and, who knows what?

Every economics textbook says monopolies are bad because they charge high prices for shoddy goods. But it's government that gives us monopolies. So why do we entrust something as important as our children's education to a government monopoly?

The monopoly fails so many kids that more than a million parents now make big sacrifices to home-school their kids. Two percent of school-aged kids are home-schooled now. If parents weren't taxed to pay for lousy government schools, more might teach their kids at home.

Some parents choose to home-school for religious reasons, but home-schooling has been increasing by 10 percent a year because so many parents are just fed up with the government's schools.

Home-schooled students blow past their public-school counterparts in terms of achievement. Brian Ray, who taught in both public and private schools before becoming president of the National Home Education Research Institute, says, "In study after study, children who learn at home consistently score 15-30 percentile points above the national averages," he says. Home-schooled kids also score almost 10 percent higher than the average American high school student on the ACT.

I don't know how these home-schooling parents do it. I couldn't do it. I'd get impatient and fight with my kids too much.

But it works for lots of kids and parents. So do private schools. It's time to give parents more options.

Instead of pouring more money into the failed government monopoly, let's free parents to control their own education money. Competition is a lot smarter than bureaucrats.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: aft; education; learning; publikskoolz; schools; stossel; teaching
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1 posted on 09/04/2006 3:36:43 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
public school is what it is because American citizens let it become what it is. And they can make it what they think it should be, one district at a time, I would think. It's gonna take a long time, it was neglected by them for over a generation, but it can straightened out.

Public education was founded on good principles. It was hijacked, like the democratic party, like the media, civil service, like, perhaps, the CIA -- hijacked by the left.

So, do we stand around and let them take it?

2 posted on 09/04/2006 3:39:44 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (live until you die. then live some more.)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
"Where madness prevails, 'tis folly to be wise..."

Of course they hated what Stossel said! They're all wrong, but they enjoy large numbers, so they're CONFINDENT. And so they feel RIGHT.

So naturally, HE should shut up...

3 posted on 09/04/2006 3:41:19 PM PDT by gaijin
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
John Stossel isn't a conservative. He's a libertarian.

(No more Olmert! No more Kadima! No more Oslo! )

4 posted on 09/04/2006 3:41:48 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
Competition is a lot smarter than bureaucrats.

Our founders are brilliant. They built competition into the very machinery of our government.

Competition begins in the public square -- in the marketplace of ideas, in the trenches of down-and-dirty citizenship, where so few dare to tread.

When one party doesn't enter it, though, it ain't much of a comptetition and it ain't much of a marketplace, either.

5 posted on 09/04/2006 3:42:14 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (live until you die. then live some more.)
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To: the invisib1e hand

Dang, wish we could find some of Stossels stuff for the Nation that has the 2nd largest population of Spanish Speakers...the USA.


6 posted on 09/04/2006 3:44:09 PM PDT by rovenstinez
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

That's why we need vouchers.


7 posted on 09/04/2006 3:46:42 PM PDT by BW2221
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

It all comes down to interest on behalf of the kids. If you can`t spark a kids interest, it will be difficult for him to learn or teach. If a kid is interested, if the kid sees it as fun, stand back because that kid will eat it up. The problem with education is they do it all wrong, they are using methods that are 100`s of years old and they can`t let go. You have to follow the interest. If you want them to learn something like math, it has to be presented differently than how it is from a book. For some kids that method works, but for most it doesn`t.


8 posted on 09/04/2006 3:47:16 PM PDT by Screamname (A second plane has just hit the second tower, this is a coincidence. - Katie Couric, Sept 11th 2001)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

The public school is today's equivalent to an Established Church. The Establishment in Massachusetts was ended in 1833 after the Unitarians won control of it through the courts. The losers, the Congregationists, joined the the baptists and the Catholics, to disestablish it. Pay for preachers was ended ; The buildings were privatized. If the public schools were to be treated the same, turned over to private corporations, or even back to the exclusive control of the local school districts, then improvement might take place. They would at least have the strangling hold of state and federal bureaucracy removed from their throats.


9 posted on 09/04/2006 3:47:29 PM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: Temple Owl

ping


10 posted on 09/04/2006 3:47:58 PM PDT by Tribune7
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
Public education is a monopoly, just like the MSM is a monopoly. I happen to agree with John Stossel, but I do find it ironic that he's employed by a virtually monopolistic system himself, albeit, privately owned.
11 posted on 09/04/2006 3:53:24 PM PDT by khnyny (Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.- Winston Churchill)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
I can't tell you how many PARENTS like public schools.

The problem is the PARENTS for keeping them in these cesspools of waste.
12 posted on 09/04/2006 3:56:10 PM PDT by nmh (Intelligent people recognize Intelligent Design (God) .)
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To: rovenstinez
yeah. do you remember when we had the second largest populations of Italian, Irish, Hebrew, Chinese, Indian, and English speakers?
13 posted on 09/04/2006 3:57:53 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (live until you die. then live some more.)
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To: goldstategop

I know. I like him in spite of himself. ;)


14 posted on 09/04/2006 4:07:57 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
Stossel blew it. Vouchers are an Al Gorish attempt to improve evil.

No school is a substitute for Mom. Instead of wonkish debates on how to best indoctrinate our kids, we should be spreading the gospel of homeschooling.

Stossel blew it.
15 posted on 09/04/2006 4:22:31 PM PDT by AlexandriaDuke (Conservatives want freedom. Republicans want power.)
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To: nmh
The problem is the PARENTS for keeping them in these cesspools of waste.

Without parents there would be no chance of making changes in the system.

16 posted on 09/04/2006 4:22:50 PM PDT by Gabz (Taxaholism, the disease you elect to have (TY xcamel))
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To: AlexandriaDuke
No school is a substitute for Mom. Instead of wonkish debates on how to best indoctrinate our kids, we should be spreading the gospel of homeschooling.

I'm all for homeschooling.......but it is not for everyone, including myself.

17 posted on 09/04/2006 4:24:06 PM PDT by Gabz (Taxaholism, the disease you elect to have (TY xcamel))
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

bump


18 posted on 09/04/2006 4:24:31 PM PDT by Temple Owl (Excelsior! Onward and upward.)
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To: BW2221
That's why we need vouchers.

Amen! We need 'em right now>

19 posted on 09/04/2006 4:27:06 PM PDT by Temple Owl (Excelsior! Onward and upward.)
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To: BW2221
In the interim.... Home School and take the Money away from the teachers unions.
20 posted on 09/04/2006 4:35:12 PM PDT by TexasTransplant (NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSET)
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To: AlexandriaDuke

Home schooling is on the rise, which is good to see. Nothing gets changed without a few people taking the first steps.

I'm am SO glad I'm done with schooling my kid. My son is going to a Tech College right now to learn some valuable, marketable skills. We told him early and ofter that we would NOT be paying for a state university brainwashing. If he wanted help with school, there had to be a good job prospect at the end of the line.

Eventhough he was in public school, I spent as much time with him in school as possible, did the Field Trips every few weeks, and de-programmed him EVERY night over dinner. I was The Evil StepMother, but I think he turned out alright, though school was a struggle for him from 8th grade on, but that's not unusual with boys in our public school system. They're bored, and the teaching methods they use are archaic!

When it was just him and me, one on one, he could absorb any concept...and I even got that non-reader to read by giving him books that held his attention and made him THINK a little bit. I allowed him to read all sorts of "adult-ish" books in High School, as did I back then.

Each one, teach one. ;)


21 posted on 09/04/2006 4:40:16 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: Gabz
I'm all for homeschooling.......but it is not for everyone, including myself.

It's not about you. It's about kids.

The best school in the world is indoctrination, not education. Kids learn from their parents.

22 posted on 09/04/2006 4:40:56 PM PDT by AlexandriaDuke (Conservatives want freedom. Republicans want power.)
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To: BW2221
That's why we need vouchers.

More welfare isn't the answer.

Parents need to pay for their children's education.

23 posted on 09/04/2006 4:45:32 PM PDT by Doe Eyes
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
Image hosted by Photobucket.com as much as i complained about it at the time, like all school kids do, i now believe i went through the pinnacle of public schooling... 1960-1973. it had already started to fall in 1970.
24 posted on 09/04/2006 4:49:37 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist )
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To: TexasTransplant
In the interim.... Home School and take the Money away from the teachers unions.

Teachers unions get 99.99% of their money from teachers' salaries.

99.99% of teachers' salaries come from property taxes which everyone with property pays whether you have kids in school or not.

I agree teachers unions are evil. But how does home schooling take money away from the unions?

25 posted on 09/04/2006 4:51:02 PM PDT by upchuck (Q:Why does President Bush support amnesty for illegal aliens? A:Read this: http://tinyurl.com/nyvno)
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To: AlexandriaDuke
It's not about you. It's about kids.

I know that.......which is why homeschooling is not for me or my child. It is not for everyone.

It is my responsibility as a parent to see to her education, I accept that responsibility. I also know and accept my own limitations and do what we can to give her the best education we can.

The best school in the world is indoctrination, not education

I have no clue what you are talking about.

Kids learn from their parents.

No kidding.......

26 posted on 09/04/2006 4:51:20 PM PDT by Gabz (Taxaholism, the disease you elect to have (TY xcamel))
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To: goldstategop
John Stossel isn't a conservative. He's a libertarian.

Right. That's what conservatives used to look like before big business and slackers in Congress took them over. He's a stand up guy. Hard to argue with him. Public schools suck.

27 posted on 09/04/2006 4:54:01 PM PDT by cowtowney
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To: goldstategop

>John Stossel isn't a conservative. He's a libertarian.<

Whatever John Stossel is, I was glad to see his broadcast on the school situation in America today the other evening.
I'm afraid most parents who keep their kids in government schools consider them "free". Well, they are certainly not free! And the movement to dumb down public schools, thus, your children and mine, began well over a half century ago, and it has gained momentum each year since. The children are the future. What they are being "taught", and what they are NOT being taught, has everything to do with what kind of adults they will become, how they will govern. I believe the only answer to upgrading the public schools is COMPETITION. If a school does not measure up to higher standards, parents should be allowed to send their children to a school that does. Competition is healthy and will bring results. More money will certainly NOT bring results. Unfortunately, the longer the government schools get away with their indoctrination programs, the fewer people remain who remember the "good old days" of eight room school houses, the paddle in the principal's office, the allegiance to the flag, Christmas carols being sung in holiday programs. In other words, when one doesn't know any different, one accepts "the norm of the day" namby pamby as it may be. It is time to put God back into the schools, and faith into those who govern this country, a clear choice of whom is allowed to teach our precious children, or God help us all!


28 posted on 09/04/2006 4:55:53 PM PDT by Paperdoll ( on the cutting edge.)
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To: the invisib1e hand

The public schools were a reaction to Irish Catholic immigration in the 1830s,40s, and 50s. Initially, they were explicitly intended as means of coercively "Protestantizing" Catholic children. That is how the Unitarians sold the system to a country that was already the most literate on earth.

The Unitarians' own motivation was to use the system to make Unitarianism the defacto established religion of the US. This would be accomplished largely through their control of the "teachers' seminaries" (later called normal schools, and today "schools of education"). If they could control the training of the teachers and the teachers' worldview, the Unitarians knew that local control over other things didn't matter all that much.

The Catholics resisted the encroachments of the "common school system" (what today's government schools were called then), which is why a Catholic school system developed.

As noted, the "public schools" were created out of, and spread initially largely because of, anti-Catholic sentiment, which historically made them a darling of both the liberals and the Ku Klux Klan (if you wanted to the join the Klan in the 20th century you had to, among other things, pledge support for "free" public schools and the "sacred" principle of separation of church and state). Later in the 20th century the government schools passed completely into the hands of the secular/progressive left and most recently they have been captured by hardcore cultural Marxists.

The government schools can't be reformed any more than the Soviet collective agricultural system could have been reformed. The model is the mistake.

Today the government's schools are destroying our children, families, and culture. The entire system needs to die. Tomorrow wouldn't be too soon. Perhaps the most patriotic act a parent can take today is to refuse to offer up his children as a living sacrifice to the Moloch of government schools.


29 posted on 09/04/2006 5:04:11 PM PDT by achilles2000 (Shouting "fire" in a burning building is doing everyone a favor...whether they like it or not)
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To: Gabz
It is my responsibility as a parent to see to her education, I accept that responsibility. I also know and accept my own limitations and do what we can to give her the best education we can.

Then you're to be commended.

I'm a huge proponent of home schooling, but you know what's best for your family. Which, by the way, is one of the basic principles home schooling is built on.

30 posted on 09/04/2006 5:04:42 PM PDT by Luke Skyfreeper
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To: Paperdoll
If a school does not measure up to higher standards, parents should be allowed to send their children to a school that does.

Virginia allows that. An additional 3rd grade class had to be added at my daughter's school because another school in the district did not meet state standards and parents are moving kids to the schools that do.

31 posted on 09/04/2006 5:06:54 PM PDT by Gabz (Taxaholism, the disease you elect to have (TY xcamel))
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To: Chode

'64 through '70 in inner-city Milwaukee Publik Skrewel. '70-'77 in a suburban area of Wisconsin that was pretty well funded and not drowning in socialism...yet.

But I had all the credits I needed to graduate by the time I was 16! Mom made me stick out half of my Senior Year "for the memories." Bor-ing, LOL!

Joined the Army at 17 and never looked back. Learned more in my first few years in the military than in all the other years of schooling combined. And then Uncle Sam paid for my (practical: accounting & business) college courses, too! :)


32 posted on 09/04/2006 5:07:07 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

What more is there to say? You did good...mighty good.
33 posted on 09/04/2006 5:09:49 PM PDT by yankeedame ("Oh, I can take it but I'd much rather dish it out.")
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
I like Stossel's idea about tying the money to the student and not the school. That puts it back into a competive situation since bad schools wont attract enough students to make their money.

The NEA could not possibly allow that to happen as too many entrenched unqualified teachers would lose their jobs.

34 posted on 09/04/2006 5:10:45 PM PDT by capt. norm (Bumper Sticker: Honk if you've never seen an Uzi shoot from a car window.)
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To: upchuck

>>>>"I agree teachers unions are evil. But how does home schooling take money away from the unions?"<<<<

Each school is paid by "head count"

How many students per period day, they count every student every day and submit a Bill.

If your kid ain't there they don't get the MONEY!

Fewer kids Less Money.

No reason to raise your property Tax if...

TT


35 posted on 09/04/2006 5:15:53 PM PDT by TexasTransplant (NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSET)
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To: Luke Skyfreeper

Thank you.

I've been beaten up pretty badly in the past on these types of threads because I admit that homeschooling is just not right for us.


36 posted on 09/04/2006 5:18:04 PM PDT by Gabz (Taxaholism, the disease you elect to have (TY xcamel))
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To: TexasTransplant

The capitation payment is also why those who control the schools (not the classroom teacher or local principal) love illegals. They lose American children and keep their numbers and cash flow up with illegals.


37 posted on 09/04/2006 5:19:11 PM PDT by achilles2000 (Shouting "fire" in a burning building is doing everyone a favor...whether they like it or not)
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To: Gabz


School selection is not available in most states. How wonderful it is in yours, because it will be shown that freedom to choose works!


38 posted on 09/04/2006 5:21:11 PM PDT by Paperdoll ( on the cutting edge.)
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To: Paperdoll

It is also available in Delaware, but we chose to leave there and move to Virginia because the schools are far superior here than those we could get to in Delaware.

And that is a pretty sad commentary on public schools in Delaware because we live in the 5th poorest county (thus school district) in Virginia.


39 posted on 09/04/2006 5:26:20 PM PDT by Gabz (Taxaholism, the disease you elect to have (TY xcamel))
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To: achilles2000
>>>>>"They lose American children and keep their numbers and cash flow up with illegals"<<<<<

The Children are probably not Illegal, their Parents might be, point is we do have the power to starve the Teachers Unions and at the same time pressure the local Govt School and demand excellence "or else"

"or else" can be many things, many of the people these schools are named after are still alive, letters/meetings with the teachers, admin, letters to the editor (if you still have a dino media), neighbors, City Council or just slamming them in a national forum (such as this one)

TT
40 posted on 09/04/2006 5:28:35 PM PDT by TexasTransplant (NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSET)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

There is no school monopoly. There are half a dozen private elementary and high schools within a few miles of my house that I am free to utilize should I wish, and I personally know a number of families who choose to home school.


41 posted on 09/04/2006 5:28:37 PM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
Image hosted by Photobucket.com yup, me too... i got out in Jan and still graduated regents with credits to spare & never looked back either.

till later that is... and now i guess it wasn't all that bad after all. 8^)

42 posted on 09/04/2006 5:30:13 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist )
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To: TexasTransplant
I'm not sure that is true in every state. I know that last year here in Virginia we were asked to fill out cards and return them to the county as to how many school-age children were in the house. It specifically asked that we include all children whether they were educated in the home or privately. The card also indicated that school funding was based on the total number of kids in the district.

I know that that census was related to how much the schools received, but I don't know the formula. If I can remember to ask my AP tomorrow I will. I'll post to you what he says.

43 posted on 09/04/2006 5:36:27 PM PDT by SoftballMominVA
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To: Chode
"I bet we'd see cheap and efficient Costco-like schools, virtual schools where you learn at home on your computer, sports schools, music schools, schools that go all year, schools with uniforms, schools that open early and keep kids later, and, who knows what?"

Strossel is basically describing religious schools (Catholic, Lutheran, Christian, etc.).

It's hard to believe the difference. My son went to Catholic high school. The wife of the wrestling coach (a product of public schools) thought it was awful that the school would have periodic locker searches - "a violation of students' rights."

I told her if I wanted my son to have "rights" I wouldn't be sending him to Catholic school.
44 posted on 09/04/2006 5:40:18 PM PDT by BW2221
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To: achilles2000
The public schools were a reaction to Irish Catholic immigration in the 1830s,40s, and 50s. Initially, they were explicitly intended as means of coercively "Protestantizing" Catholic children. That is how the Unitarians sold the system to a country that was already the most literate on earth.

I don't have the resources to debate you on this, but I don't believe it on the face of it. For starters, there are too many unprovables in there, even if it the truth. That isn't to say that you don't make a great argument.

Nonetheless, while I am a supporter of homeschooling (and have done it), I am no longer comfortable with "retreat" theology. Take your children out if it is prudent. For the sake your ever loving civic duty, if you turn your back on the entire system and don't avail yourself of every avenue to influence, your children's nation is only going to be further down the road to destruction than it is already.

45 posted on 09/04/2006 5:43:23 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (live until you die. then live some more.)
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To: SoftballMominVA
I know that last year here in Virginia we were asked to fill out cards and return them to the county as to how many school-age children were in the house. It specifically asked that we include all children whether they were educated in the home or privately. The card also indicated that school funding was based on the total number of kids in the district.

That must be a county/district thing - because I never received anything like that.

46 posted on 09/04/2006 5:46:05 PM PDT by Gabz (Taxaholism, the disease you elect to have (TY xcamel))
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

Bump for later reading.


47 posted on 09/04/2006 5:54:31 PM PDT by Sweet_Sunflower29 (I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
I watched Stossel's show the other night but I don't totally agree with him. I got the feeling that he was blaming the schools failure on the teachers and their union. (I am not a teacher).

I think the failure of the public school system is a beginning symptom of our society and the country failing. The welfare system, illegal immigration, moral corruption, litigation and devaluing Christian views are a few of the factors that have corroded the public school system.

As a parent I would not want my child exposed to the violent, morally bankrupt youth. They are a product of poor parental care and have ruined the environment of the public school system. The teacher are powerless in controlling these gangsters. That one scene where those kids were dancing around playing music and disrespecting the teacher is repeated everyday in thousands of classrooms across this country. The threat of litigation prevents the teachers from doing anything about it.
48 posted on 09/04/2006 5:58:27 PM PDT by pterional
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To: TexasTransplant

You have a point. But I reckon the money will be spent, somewhere, somehow, someway. You know how it goes.


49 posted on 09/04/2006 6:00:24 PM PDT by upchuck (Q:Why does President Bush support amnesty for illegal aliens? A:Read this: http://tinyurl.com/nyvno)
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To: Gabz
I'm going to check tomorrow and will post what I find out. I thought it was a state thing.

But I do remember that I had never gotten anything like that before or since (my kids were in 8th and 10th grade at the time) and I thought I had heard something about it being a census done every x years. I just don't remember the "x"

50 posted on 09/04/2006 6:02:25 PM PDT by SoftballMominVA
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