Monday, November 5, 2007

MEDIOCRITY VS. MERITOCRACY

Here’s my take on the current debate on Referendum 1 and school vouchers.

Utahns have a choice between the status quo, which consists of deeply entrenched mediocrity and a bureaucratic monopoly on elementary and secondary education in this state, and the opportunity for parents to take back the power over their children’s education.

If we say no to Referendum 1, then the power of the teachers’ union becomes even more powerfully entrenched and hard to break. And you can bet our taxes will go up, and they will lobby for that, because their solution for every problem is to throw more money at it.

And where will the bulk of the money go? Probably more to administrative costs, because that’s been the recent trend. In other words, salaries, but not necessarily for teachers, but for administrators. Administrators have the power, and see themselves as CEOs. School children won’t benefit at all.

One thing that irritates me about the argument that Utah spends less money per student than any other state, is that I don’t believe that’s necessarily a bad thing. So we can raise taxes and throw more money at this problem, but that’s not going to solve it.

Competition works in business. Competition worked to make things better for consumers of communications services. I know because I retired from Mountain Bell, U S West and Qwest Communications. Competition made those companies much more responsive to the needs of our customers, because we knew if we didn’t provide the services required, our customers would go somewhere else (and did, in a lot of cases). Before the break-up of the Bell System in 1984, there simply wasn’t someplace else our customers could go. They were stuck with Mountain Bell, whether they liked it or not, and a lot didn’t.

Competition will work in education, too, because if parents have the option of going someplace where the teachers and administrators are more reponsive to their concerns, it forces public schools to do the same.

The UEA, NEA and other education power lobbies in this state and all over the country are very concerned about Referendum 1. It chips away at the foundation of their source of power, which is the monopoly they have over educational resources in our society.

There’s been a lot of dishonesty in the arguments by opponents of Referendum 1. Ed Morrissey over at Captain’s Quarters has a lot to say about this issue. It’s something that’s attracted a lot of attention outside the state because this is a problem all over the country, and right now, all eyes are on Utah. Read the whole article, it’s worth your time.

Tomorrow is Election Day, when Utahns will go to the polls and decide this issue. It will have a huge impact, one way or the other, on the future of education, not only in Utah, but all over the country. This is a national story.

So please, if you want to take back the power over your children's education, go to the polls tomorrow and vote FOR REFEREDUM 1. If you'd rather maintain the status quo, well, just stay home. (Grin).

1 comment:

Thomas said...

No, it's about democracy and the will of the people. It's about the opportunity of education for all, not funding the elite for their choice, particually when they still have the choice without the voucher. It's about less government, fiscal responsibility and accountability for our tax dollars. It is about competition too. Utah has 96% of its students in public school, more then any other state when they spend the least amount per student of any state. Public schools compete very well here. It's about how it's wrong to give a government handout to artifically stimulate an education industry of private schools. It's also not about fear of the unions. Their members are just teachers anyway trying to do their job. I already voted NO.