School Vouchers Cannot FIX Education

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School vouchers seem a great answer to the problem of bad education, applying the capitalist system to education. However, it cannot work as currently attempted.
One problem in education is the way subjects are taught. In the 1950s New Math was introduced and it failed. In the 1960s Sight Reading was introduced and it failed badly. The public schools are still teaching forms of these two failed programs or methods. This is the reason for the failure in public schools. If private schools and home schools get vouchers and teach these same methods as is now required here in North Dakota and probably most other states, then they will obtain the same result.
For example, the public schools are to teach that 1 + 1 = 3 (not really, but an illustration) and as a result, students were unable to add correctly, then having private, charter, or home schools teach that 1 + 1 = 3 is not going to improve education (this is the case for fraction education methods). Obviously, the teaching methodology and errors in the way subjects are taught is more complicated than just 1+1, but that does not make the methods taught right, they are still wrong. Vouchers are not going to fix bad education methods.
There is the second issue concerning the use of vouchers. Vouchers are available in various locations already. Nevertheless, typically about 15% of students take advantage of the voucher program. Except for current Home Schools, education has not improved and vouchers are not available for most Home Schooling. But let us assume there is a significant improvement in education scores in private schools and vouchers are extended to Home Schools with the requirement for testing bad education methodology. That means 85% of students that still attend public schools are not getting a proper education. Can the US society continue with 85% of the population improperly educated?
One final issue with vouchers. In order for a private school to exist, from a business point of view, it must already have a balance of space and teachers. The school may be able to absorb a few additional students, but will not be able to take on a large growth. Therefore, unvetted schools will pop up all over to collect the voucher money. These schools will be interested in the money, not the students. The result will almost certainly mean LOWER education than already exists in the public schools. It will take at least half a decade for a private school to learn how to operate to obtain high-quality student learning. However, this drop in quality of education will be used as justification for government control over these areas of education before the improvement. We already have government control over the public schools and we already know how bad that is. The result is doing the same thing over and over, government control over more education, but expecting a different result. This is foolishness. Therefore, vouchers are a foolish option until public education is fixed. Then, vouchers would be a positive to enhance education above a successful public education.
We need at least 80% of our citizens well educated. A Republic cannot survive unless its citizens are well educated and well informed, according to the Greeks and our Founding Fathers.
This leads to the issue of uninformed citizens hearing or seeing "Fake News" and still being uninformed. The Department of Public Instruction and media here in North Dakota tells citizens our education system is doing well. We have a 60% failure on our state test in reading, writing, and math. Therefore, DPI and the media are perpetuating the "Fake News" that a 60% failure rate of our schools is a good education. So analytical thinking must also be taught so citizens will be able to identify "Fake News" when they see it. Please share your thoughts.


Jeffry Gilbert Added Mar 6, 2017 - 1:57pm
Nothing can. Like everything else it too is broken beyond repair. 
Joe Chiang Added Mar 6, 2017 - 2:13pm
I disagree.  At the minimum, in the 1940s and earlier we had 80% proficiency measured at a much higher level than today's testing.  What if we dusted off the old textbooks and taught the old methods.  I think we would get the old results, 80% proficiency.  LOL
I believe nothing that used to work is ever so broken it cannot be repaired.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Mar 6, 2017 - 2:29pm
What if we dusted off the old textbooks and taught the old methods. 
What if you spit in one hand and wished in another? Which would fill up faster?
The operative word in your comment is believe. 
Getting you to believe is so that can use your belief against you. 
Joe, grab an ample supply of adult beverage of choice and your preferred snack, pull up a comfortable chair and enjoy the show. EVERYTHING you have been inculcated with is soon to be proven nothing more than 100% USDA certified Prime BULLSHIT. 
Relax, kick back and enjoy the show! 
Joe Chiang Added Mar 6, 2017 - 2:42pm
LOL.  As a teacher, I use the old teaching methods when I teach math.  When there was testing of each individual class each year (we do not do this now, here), I had a 95% overall pass rate each year on the state test for four years.  No one in education wants that kind of pass rate (except me apparently) because schools receive Federal money for LOW pass rates.  This can be fixed.  Provide funding for good pass rates and schools will achieve good pass rates to get the money, just as they get bad pass rates to get the money now.
My article is from experience, not conjecture. BTW, I was fired from the school district for not "improving" my pass rate from 95% to 70%.  The district wanted to qualify for "schools in need" funding which my pass rates prevented and they later achieved.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Mar 6, 2017 - 2:47pm
Yep Joe, you have a terminal case of true believer disease. No possibility of consensus with someone blinded by belief. Man are you going to be lost when the excrement hits the oscillator. 
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 6, 2017 - 3:53pm
Joe C., the liberal teacher unions and liberal departments of education in our colleges are responsible for changing education. Includes the 1950s New Math, Sight Reading, etc..  And who in N. D. is requiring the same methods that failed in public schools?  So how do you reach the conclusion that vouchers are a foolish option until public education is fixed. Public education failure is the driving reason for vouchers and home schooling.
Joe C., the reason public education fails, national heath care fails, and communist countries have failing economies is because the decisions made to provide services is not based on feed back from those that receive the services. Success or what is important to the employees is not based on the customers being served. Now I am not saying that some feed back does not occur but that this feed back for the employee is of secondary importance.
We have supermarkets that compete, malls with stores that compete and can purchase good even from catalogs that are paper or digital.  Feed back from the customer comes quickly and often. And a business that wants to stay in business take the feed back very seriously.
School teachers salary and promotions are determined by the school board and managements that is responsible to the school board. The board, school management only receives critical feed back when their seat is on a ballot. And the cost of schooling is spread out over the population where most of the tax payers do not have student in the system. And the fee often added to the tax for school is low enough that the effort to get involved in school decision is not worth the effort. So in effect only extreme actions of the school board will receive public outcry.
Joe C. this insured failure. The school board and the school management without public input create their own standards. These standards created New Math, Sight Reading, etc..
Shane Dean Added Mar 6, 2017 - 3:54pm
People need to read up on Common Core and how it got snuck into our schools, then they need to hold their school district's feet to the fire to get rid of this poorly executed plan.
Shane Dean Added Mar 6, 2017 - 3:56pm
Common Core doesn't teach to get right answers and increase independent thought, it teaches kids to blindly follow the process and the process is more important than the answer.  This system needs to go.
jon vonn Added Mar 6, 2017 - 4:04pm
I remember hexadecimal too!  Money can corrupt
Bill Kamps Added Mar 6, 2017 - 4:10pm
Joe your articles are interesting but always contain some serious disconnects.   For example:
The school may be able to absorb a few additional students, but will not be able to take on a large growth. Therefore, unvetted schools will pop up all over to collect the voucher money. These schools will be interested in the money, not the students.
Why would new voucher schools be unvetted scams, when existing voucher schools are not ?
In addition, many private schools are not teaching that 1+1=3, or the  students coming from these schools would not be as well educated as they are, and parent would not be spending $1000s of dollars per semeseter to send their children there.
I will grant you that no single thing will fix the school system.  The biggest part of the problem is that the school system is political, and therefore its goals are about power, not about education.  The school system is run for the benefit of the adults running it, not for the children being taught.
Universities, which have their own problems, have done  a better job educating students because attendance is optional.  Students have a lot of freedom for where they can go, and universities that fail to educate, will fail to stay in business.  Given that the universities  have done better using a system of choice, it seems that a  system of choice is better than no choice.
Joe Chiang Added Mar 6, 2017 - 4:20pm
@Jeffry, please keep it civil.  I would be very interested in your knowledge, but not your ranting and raving.
All of you are correct, to an extent.
Common Core math IS the old failed New Math.  The Common Core Reading IS the old failed sight reading. 
The point most citizens do not understand is that NONE of these programs or methods are proven to help our students succeed.  You are all absolutely correct that IF you give up, then schools cannot be fixed.  But if we as a society demand that ONLY programs or methods that have been proven that they can help at least 80% of our students to succeed, then New Math would have never been possible.  Sight Reading would have never been possible.  Common Core would have never been possible.  And our society would still be at an 80% proficiency instead of 40% or so.
Therefore, if only quality proven successful teaching is used in our classrooms, then successful education MUST be the result.  That is my thesis, not what is but what could be. 
It is true Vouchers are supposed to be a correction.  But, the way education is taught is not fixed by vouchers.  If public schools teach to tighten a bolt by turning it to the left and that is considered "best practices", then when Home School and Private Schools use those textbooks (that are Common Core Aligned), they are teaching to tighten a bolt by turning it to the left.  That is no success in education, no matter how much in vouchers is received.
A law was JUST passed in North Dakota to permit vouchers. But to receive the vouchers the parent MUST teach what is taught in public school.  It was also just passed that public schools MUST teach Common Core.  Therefore, to get vouchers for Home School, the parent MUST teach Common Core which is a bad instruction method.
I know this is difficult for those who can only see what is and not what could be.  But, the only way a Democratic society can continue is if its citizens are kept informed.  The inverse means the end of a Democratic society must result if we have an ill-informed public.  The public MUST be uninformed if they are not properly educated, they cannot read or write.  The breaking and insisting on NOT fixing our education system is the direct attempt to destroy our free society.  I beg you to NOT lose our free society, but fight to keep the greatest society ever to be on earth.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Mar 6, 2017 - 4:28pm
@Jeffry, please keep it civil.  I would be very interested in your knowledge, but not your ranting and raving.
I'm not ranting and raving. Not by a long shot. In fact I'm going out of my way to be polite to you. Don't think so? Let me assure you Slade would blush with envy when I begin to rant and rave. Don't believe me? Ask Ryan, Jeanne and even George how I rant and rave when when provoked. Do you want to provoke me Joe? Hmm? See how polite I have been even in the face of an unreasonable accusation? Whaddaya say there Sport, how about we not go there?
Joe Chiang Added Mar 6, 2017 - 4:34pm
@Bill, actually there is a lot of discussion in the education community about Charter and private schools in states that permit them and include vouchers.  They have a total lack of education success.  By their lack of successful test scores, they could be scams only existing to collect voucher/state money.  If an existing private school has 100 students, they may be able to expand 10% or add 10 students.  But many school systems have thousands of students who could want in the private schools via vouchers.  Existing private schools cannot take in thousands of students.  The capitalist system says that if there is a need, someone will provide the product or service.  Therefore unqualified people will race to receive the voucher money, qualified to teach or not.
Joe Chiang Added Mar 6, 2017 - 4:35pm
I believe you Jeffry.  Thank you for your restraint.  :)
Jeffry Gilbert Added Mar 6, 2017 - 4:39pm
The breaking and insisting on NOT fixing our education system is the direct attempt to destroy our free society. 
Wrong. Its accepting the fact that all but the last minuscule moment of inertia that is the dead carcass of DUHmerica sliding across the ground has been depleted. Its going down. And its doing so by design. 
I beg you to NOT lose our free society,
Its been lost for decades Joe. Where ya been? Hmmm? North Dakota? 
but fight to keep the greatest society ever to be on earth.
Utterly devoid of evidence. Mere vicious rumor. 
Shane Dean Added Mar 6, 2017 - 4:42pm
Actually, my son is attending a charter right now and their scores are the best in the area.  So lumping things on charters is the same lack of information you railed against, Joe.  Nothing is absolute and there is no one right way to educate kids.  But the "proven methods" of Common Core are a sham and need to go.
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 6, 2017 - 6:04pm
Joe C., you jump over my comments because they hit the nail on the head.  The problem of public education is the lack of effective feedback from the customers students and parents.  Instead public education gets feedback from experts the school administration and academics.  In fact the present public school system can  be traced back to academics: experts or master minds.  Well failure tell us that they are neither experts or master minds.  The problem Joe C., is that they make decision for hundreds of people and if they make the wrong decision it effects hundreds of people.  That Joe C., is the core problem of centralized big government.  
Milton Freedman in his book on PBS quoted Adam Smith, " I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good." ... "an individual who intends only to serve the public interest by fostering government intervention is "led by an invisible hand to promote" private interest, "which was no part of his intention."  Elsewhere he says, “.....the interest of the dealers however, in any particular branch of trade or manufacture, is always in some respects different from and even opposite to, that of the public and therefore to that of the social structure itself........”  Now Joe C., I thing that describe the situation in public education.
Vouchers and magnet schools only increase the feed back of students and parents.  It is not as large an increase in feed back as purchasing goods at a store or gas for your vehicle but compared to public education and without a heavy hand for interference the feedback will more then double to maybe an order of magnitude.   That is progress which should result in schools that improve much faster then the decreasing performance to flat performance that we see in the inner cities.
Joe C., as a teacher you do not want to accept that your are actually serving your own interest over the public.  Until you accept that this is true and that you can not help yourself, none of us can.  Only then will YOU actually not be looking through a tube.  
You see the founders realized this and tried to make check and balances to minimize the effect.  But liberals like you Joe C., have over the last century demolished most of those checks.  Government growth exploded after the liberals which at the time were called progressives passed the 17th Amendment that ended Federalism. Now Senators are elected by popular vote.  Thus the state stopped being the watch dog on the Federal government.  They too had personal interests, yes this in unavoidable, and since usually each state had different interest they checked each other and the federal government.  Madison feared that similar interest would create faction that would vote as the Democratic party does today as a block.  Thus corrupting that check.
Joe Chiang Added Mar 6, 2017 - 10:51pm
Guys, actually I spent 30+ years in business as a trouble shooting manager before learning I could get rich as a teacher.  None of you are wrong to the point that you are looking at what is.  Indeed, there are some Charter schools that do well, especially those that have been around for at least a decade.  I have only been teaching 20 years and plan to leave in the next 2-4 years.
Jeffry, you are such an optimist.  LOL
Thomas, you are correct that the problem is the input from pseudo-experts.  But their input is not a cause, but a symptom.  The cause is education being broken between 1940 and 1965.  Different parts of education broke at different times.  Some of the breaks were accidental and others were deliberate, if you look at the history.  However, the pseudo-experts took advantage of those breaks to foist their theories on public education.  
My thesis is to go back to before those breaks when education was not broken and proficiency rates were 80% successful, before 1940.  If we have been doing what is bad and getting bad results, then to keep doing what is bad and expect good results is foolish.  The inverse is also true, to revert back to what was good will not result in bad, but will result in good results.
Thomas, I am taking a view of education as an education professional, as a business professional, as an historian, and in a logical mathematically systematic way.  I try and take ALL variables into account.  No offense, but each of you responding here have addressed specific separate variables without considering all the rest of the variables.  Yes to do this there are some generalizations that must be taken and there are always statistical outliers, like the charter school that works.  In general private schools and charter schools cannot absorb thousands of new students.  With billions in vouchers on the line, there will be many charlatans to claim they have an answer to trick unwitting parents into turning their voucher dollars over to them.  This is historical, logical, and within human frailties.  We have evidence of this kind of behavior where there have been disasters and the fake construction companies swoop in and provide hope of quick fixes, take the repair money, and disappear. It will happen with the voucher programs in the same way.
Mircea Negres Added Mar 7, 2017 - 2:31am
Joe, we have serious problems in South Africa too. Kids weren't taught how to think (critically or otherwise) because the apartheid regime and business owners wanted obedient automatons, then the democratic government introduced Outcomes-Based Education, which depended on First World resources at all levels for success (home, classroom, school, local, provincial and national education department) which do not exist.
The results have been a high dropout rate (kids just vanish from the system between first and twelfth grade), increased corruption in schools and administration (teacher and principal posts have been sold for money and goats!), dilution of subjects (math and science have been weakened to the point where they're useless to the graduates) and an attempt to keep up the pass rate at the expense of quality (kids are even dumber than they were two decades ago), among other problems such as thousands of school building made of mud, lack of facilities, student deaths due to drowning in pit toilets, absent and unqualified teachers, and so on.
To get a feel for the situation, I recommend you google Professor Jonathan Jansen, who's a former University of the Free State vice-chancellor (currently a fellow at an American university) or something like that. The stuff he writes about South African education will make your hair stand up, so Americans are not alone.
Dino Manalis Added Mar 7, 2017 - 8:23am
Public money should only fund public schools, but it ought to be done with state revenues, not property taxes, while public school choice has to be universal to increase competition and quality.  Private schools should offer financial aid, like colleges, to give educational opportunities to the poor and middle class.
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 7, 2017 - 8:47am
Joe C.  if the foundation is  built on sand the building will fail.  The present education system does not have sufficient parent input by design.  That is the sand.  Teachers are concerned about a room full of children and to teach a room full of children you find an approach that is best for the average.  The out-liners slip through the cracks.  And I am talking about a good teacher.  The management system also focuses on groups and treats them not as individual and the teachers are expected to do the same.  Now I am not saying individuals agree and they do not try to do what they think is best.  But if push comes they follow the school rules which is group dynamics.
As a business man you know that only when there is a cost involved does management really become concerned.  The income of schools is not attached to students or results.  That also is the sand.  Vouchers attach money to students.  Now I do agree that any change will have its struggles and growing pains.  I am not expecting all will succeed but the reason for attaching money to students is for their to be failures and for schools to close their doors.  That Joe C., is the cost management is fighting to prevent.   So I can through out all your concern because every situation will have different issues more then anyone can discuss.  
Start with creating a base to succeed is where I want to begin.
Bill Kamps Added Mar 7, 2017 - 9:57am
Joe, you are correct no one thing will fix the schools.
We do have a problem with what is taught.  We also have a problem in how schools are funded, using local real estate taxes.  This allows suburban schools to get far more money per student than inner city schools.  We have a problem that there is too much emphasis on testing, and teaching to the test, and not enough on real learning.

In the end US public school students at grade 12 are far behind other countries, who spend less.  Since there are so many entrenched in the status quo, including administrators, teacher's unions, and politicians, it seems unlikely things will get fixed.  This is why people with any money opt for private schools, so their kids dont get left behind. 
There are some examples of what will work in the inner city.  However, these are private efforts, and required a lot of effort and leadership, so they are not easily replicated.  The Harlem Children's Zone, and the East Lake Georgia schools are showing that no matter how difficult is the home life and neighborhood, children can learn and thrive.  Unfortunately these things are not being replicated because it is not easy, and administrators would rather cook the numbers, and play the game than roll up their sleeves and do the real work of education.
John Minehan Added Mar 7, 2017 - 11:09am
I'm positive that one thing almost never solves anything.
John Minehan Added Mar 7, 2017 - 11:14am
"Common Core doesn't teach to get right answers and increase independent thought"
Focus on "Right answers" and a desire to develop "independent thought" usually don't correlate well
John Minehan Added Mar 7, 2017 - 11:17am
"Why would new voucher schools be unvetted scams, when existing voucher schools are not?"
The issue, as the author points out, is scalability past a certain point.
On the other hand, market failure is a price to be paid for any new or disruptive idea.
Joe Chiang Added Mar 7, 2017 - 11:21am
Here is a summary of what went wrong.  New Math was experimental and never proven it worked, yet it was implemented nationwide.  Sight reading was experimental and never proven it worked, yet it was implemented nationwide.  The open classroom was never proven yet it was implemented under the name "Schools without Walls", another failed experiment.  Common Core is a re-release of the failed New Math, Sight Reading, and open classroom all of which are proven, they are all proven failures.  There is a common theme here, failed unproven programs are forced on the public schools.  That is the linchpin.  Require schools to ONLY teach programs and/or methods that have proven successful.  If this had been in place, NONE of the bad teaching would have ever been introduced.  I believe this could also fix the problem.  If only successful; methods are used in schools, Common Core cannot be taught, it is not a proven success.  In addition none of the other names they are trying to mask Common Core under could be used, like College and Career Ready, or Choice schools, or any other bad teaching, as they have no proof they will work.  The burden of proof would be on the educators to prove, statistically, that their programs work and they cannot.
John Minehan Added Mar 7, 2017 - 11:22am
"The capitalist system says that if there is a need, someone will provide the product or service.  Therefore unqualified people will race to receive the voucher money, qualified to teach or not."
Ideally, the market will winnow out the charlatans and the shysters, but that is tougher in the regulated system we have here/ 
Joe Chiang Added Mar 7, 2017 - 11:24am
John, there are no voucher schools now.  The voucher programs have been existing private schools that began accepting vouchers once available.  But with thousands of students looking, schools will be opened to accommodate them and because of the numbers, without vetting.
Bill Kamps Added Mar 7, 2017 - 11:29am
John, well true enough that voucher schools, or private schools cant be scaled to replace the public school system.  However, a common opposition to vouchers is that if given a choice, parents would leave the weak public schools, causing them to fail.  Which is an absurd reason to avoid vouchers. 
The big problem is that we are trying to use tests to tell us which schools are succeeding and which schools are failing.  This is typical government nonsense, that we can rely on numbers, instead of relying on the judgement of people.  A successful or failing school is more than just a group of test scores on core curriculum.
Because we rely on tests to grade the schools, the schools then game the tests.  "You want good test scores, we will give you good test  scores".   What we want are educated students at a reasonable price, that is more complicated than just test scores. 
We should be evaluating schools more rigorously, we should be giving principals more freedom to do the right thing, and we should be evaluating principals such that we get rid of the ones that are failing.  However, since these are government jobs, that is a difficult  thing to accomplish. 
Mike Haluska Added Mar 7, 2017 - 12:31pm
Joe - Vouchers themselves are not the cure.  The cure is enabling parents to have as much choice as possible regarding their children's education.  The main problems with public schools are:
1) funding is based on enrollment - the last thing a public school wants is for a kid to quit or flunk out because when the kid leaves, the money goes with him.  So what happens is that no matter how bad the kid performs or behaves in school the teachers pass him along so he remains in school and they keep the funding.  Over the years the curriculum is continually "dumbed down" so almost anyone can pass and the result is that nobody learns the necessary material to be qualified for a good college.  It also destroys incentives for kids to adopt good study habits because it is about as difficult as walking and chewing gum at the same time for a kid with average intelligence to pass his classes. 
2) parents are held hostage - no matter how bad a job the school is doing, the parents must continue to send their kid to that school.  This especially hurts poor families because well to do families can afford to send their kids to parochial school.
3) destruction of the family unit - the Welfare State has done more harm to more people than poverty ever could.  Even the most dedicated teachers eventually become discouraged because in so many cases the student's parents (usually a single mother) don't want to be bothered with or don't know how to help their kids with schoolwork. 
The Teachers Union has deliberately framed this debate as "anti-teacher" when it is actually "anti-self serving/fat cat/union leadership/school administrators" who don't give a crap about kids. 
Joe Chiang Added Mar 7, 2017 - 12:42pm
Guys, I agree.  But please pardon my getting a little crass here, however this example is VERY clear.  The choice is saying which man you want to rape you and none is not an option.  No matter the vouchers success or failure, they will not teach more than 15%.  That means 85% will be taught by the public schools.  Failure of the public schools and 85% of our citizens is not a viable option, in my opinion.
As to requiring 80% successful methods only, can the unions seriously object to success?  Teaching methods like Common Core than have a 30% to 50% success rate would not be acceptable, nor any of the replacement plans already in the works.  Parents, businesses, administrators, etc cannot reasonably object to only success in education.  This can be passed and will stop the BS education currently being taught.
Mike, you are dead on about #2 and #3.  But the best attack, in my opinion is to go after what can be addressed successfully one at a time.
John Minehan Added Mar 7, 2017 - 12:53pm
"However, a common opposition to vouchers is that if given a choice, parents would leave the weak public schools, causing them to fail.  Which is an absurd reason to avoid vouchers."
Not sure I agree based on this
It is a lot easier politically to shutter something that serves "the poorest of the poor" than something with a broad constituency . . . .
Joe Chiang Added Mar 7, 2017 - 2:06pm
The "leave public schools" is a union BS argument.  It is NOT legitimate.  Many schools are overcrowded.  So is 10% to 15% were to go to a private school, then the school would no longer be overcrowded.  In addition, maybe only 60% of funds will follow the student leaving 40% to stay with the school INCREASING the per student income to the school.  Plus, it the schools were teaching students correctly, 80% success, there would be no parents wanting to pull students.  Bogus argument.
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 7, 2017 - 2:08pm
Joe C., the is a true statement in 2017  but it does not have to be true in 2020, "No matter the vouchers success or failure, they will not teach more than 15%.  That means 85% will be taught by the public schools."   I does not take a hard look to find that conditions can change quickly.  The internet, PC,  hard drive music players, and cell phone.  At the start of the automobile age you could have made this statement and it would make sense.  
Public education was created.  It did not exist in 1800 to any extent. Yet people like our founders were educated people that read books.  And public libraries did not exist but book were passed around through basically private libraries.
Joe C., and all of you the country is dynamic when government does not restrict change.  That is the reason capitalism is the most productive system around.  It is dynamic.   If private education with vouchers serves the students better then public funded schools that parents will vote with their feet to put their children in voucher private schools.  And if public schools educate better then they will be the winner.   Public schools did win earlier in the countries history.  That is why we have a public education system.  But it does not always have to win and it may still win in some communities and loose in other communities.  We need to let people voting with their feet decide.  Parents, that is 90% of them, are concerned about the well being of their child and will make the best decision that can for them.  Teachers and School board make decisions for the masses.  Their decision may be best for the average, OK for the gifted, and a disaster for the below average, discipline problem, deficit in some area child.  That is why a few decades back Schools had to by court order provide more options in education.  This was not the decision of the school but the courts.  This shows the lack of dynamic capacity of government run education.  
John Minehan Added Mar 7, 2017 - 2:15pm
Mr. Chiang, actually read target="_blank">this
Joe Chiang Added Mar 7, 2017 - 2:34pm
Thomas, right on
John, ??????
Mike Haluska Added Mar 7, 2017 - 4:52pm
All I know is that when I have a wide variety of choice I tend to get exactly what I want at a price I am willing to pay.  Why ANYONE would think a government run monopoly of any industry is more benevolent, fair, economical than dozens of competitors fighting for your business with price, service, availability, quality, innovation, etc is beyond me.
Mike Haluska Added Mar 7, 2017 - 4:53pm
Joe - am I wrong about #1?  Have schools changed their funding formula?
Joe Chiang Added Mar 7, 2017 - 5:11pm
Mike, you are correct.  But it is worse than you think.  Not only do schools get funding for children in school, no matter what, their funding is increased if the student tests poorly.
History:  Before public education some communities taught all citizen's children.  But others did not.  Those that did not, only those wealthy enough to pay for schooling or tutoring received an education.  That was why so many citizens had to sign official documents with their "mark".
But once all students were taught in public school the national literacy rate rose to 80% from about 1880 to 1950.  But the methods of instruction developed and used before public schools were the methods used in public schools.  Have you ever read "Pilgrims Progress"?  This was a primary school primer k-3.  Our HS graduates and many college graduates cannot read and understand that basic primer.  BTW Pilgrims Progress is free on the web.  Please don't take my word for anything, check it out for yourself.  Ask a Public HS graduate to read it and explain it to you.  Pick them at random.  So sad.
But to get back to the point, no public school would result in only those children of parents with the money to afford private school could get an education.  Probably 75% of students would not be educated.  Public school is the most efficient way to educate all students.  There was always the assumption that educators would try and teach students in the best possible way.  However, there are now other agendas which include dumbing down education so our children will be suitable for a One World Government where the well educated boss around those with little or no education.  We need the likes of Obama in charge and and brilliant people like Al Gore because he was smart enough to invent the Internet.  LOL  Yes, these are the people who think they should tell the rest of us what to do, but must dumb down the thinking skills of the next generation to accept their "guidance".
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 7, 2017 - 5:30pm
Joe C. the vouchers in Milwaukee Wisc. is provided to welfare recipients.  It is an old program more then a decade old.  And the major opposition was the teachers union.
Joe Chiang Added Mar 7, 2017 - 5:32pm
May I ask how many of the possible student body are taking advantage of the voucher program?
Mike Haluska Added Mar 8, 2017 - 9:16am
Joe - I am NOT in favor of destroying public schools (nobody is) - I am in favor of holding them accountable if they don't do their job!  I am also in favor of holding parents accountable for their children's conduct, behavior, education progress and citizenship. 
Maybe if the Welfare State didn't reward people for having illegitimate children and actually went after the fathers to support their kids we'd see a different result?
Mike Haluska Added Mar 8, 2017 - 9:19am
Joe - I think it is misplaced compassion to try and shield any enterprise )public or private) from competitive marketplace forces.  The ONLY way we make progress is by rethinking the old ways of doing things and trying new things.  If we shield public education from competition we are sealing the fate of our kids to continually worsening education.
Joe Chiang Added Mar 8, 2017 - 1:18pm
Good points Mike.  I am not in favor of shielding anyone or any business.  But there are some public services that are best done by the government.  We do NOT want our jails run by the highest bidder.  That might mean criminal kingpins or gang leaders will buy the rights to run the local jails and arrange the release of any or all of their gang members.  Imagine Al Capone running the Federal Prisons.  LOL
In a similar way, there are Big government Democrats and Big government Republicans that both want total government control over education, not so what is best can be taught, but so their agenda can be indoctrinated. So what is being taught in our schools now is the big government liberal indoctrination.  They are very organized.  The big government conservatives are the next most organized.  They do not want what is best for students, they just want to change the indoctrination to THEIR indoctrination.  And they would rather have the big government liberals in charge (like DeVos) than risk fixing education and having a small government conservative in charge.  If you want to see the list of big government conservatives, just look at the organization ALEC.  DeVos' husband is a board member.  Our ND State Superintendent has been a panel member.  The new initiative in North Dakota is an open classroom type concept claimed to be written locally.  However, they lie.  Senator Obama first wrote it in 2007.  Alec adopted it sometime later.  Several states have already implemented it.  Now ND wants to adopt Obama's plan as if it is a conservative plan.
Then about 50% of the people have no clue about this fight or who is fighting.  They do not seem to want to find out either.  I am about ready to quit trying as virtually no parents
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 8, 2017 - 2:00pm
Joe C., as I said the teachers union opposed voucher in Milwaukee.  So the school board to protect themselves from the political capacity of the union made the program a pilot program.  I do know it has grown, but the strength of the union political capacity has kept the program small.  That grown only happened because the voters provided political support to balance the union.  more neighborhoods now can use vouchers.  I believe the growth is more then three times larger.   vouchers are not needed in the richer neighborhoods and the magnet school effort has effected vouchers also.
Joe Chiang Added Mar 8, 2017 - 3:42pm
I understand.  Various demographics will have different responses.  I am generally positive about vouchers except applied to home-school.  But the public schools need to be fixed and I think since that is way over 50% of all students that should be the priority.
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 9, 2017 - 8:51am
Joe C., until teachers feel the effect of parents stronger then administrators nothing will change.  We see the same effect at the place where you get your drivers license.  Since the salary and promotion of the workers and management are only slightly effected by the people they serve it will always be a pain to go there.
You tell me how can parents have more influence then management.  They are purchasing the education so they should get the product they think best serves their needs.  Management wants the needs of the community served.  Now as a conservative I think that management are not presenting what I consider community needs but that is another issue.  (example bathrooms and sex).
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 9, 2017 - 10:07am
Joe C,
Someone else mentioned the destruction of the nuclear family and you gave it a brief nod but I do not think you are considering the real impact on students when there is no father in the home.
From your "magical" 1940's time to today we have seen massive changes, about half of all children now grow up in homes without their father in the home, but even if the father is in the home, most parents still have both parents working so when they come home, helping kids with homework and showing support is not a high priority these days.
But in addition to this, it is school administrators and politicians who really screwed over the public school systems, especially in the inner cities.  They sold out their schools and their students to make a few bucks for themselves, they would for example take bribes to hand out lucrative school contracts for everything from toilet paper to construction.  Then the Unions got massive benefits packages to include some of the best retirement benefits seen in any industry at any pay scale.  The school system became a cash cow for Administrators and politicians all while they screwed over the teachers in classrooms and the students.
You can't "change" how the public school system works because there are too many people with their hands in the cookie jar.  Yes, schools get extra money for failing students, and they need that money to pay the loans they have taken thinking some day previous funding levels would return but never did.  The Administrators and politicians killed the public school system.
Charter schools and vouchers are all just symptoms of a disease in the public schools system that is going to kill the host at some point, there is no way the current system can survive forever in many places. 
Joe Chiang Added Mar 9, 2017 - 1:57pm
Guys, you really nailed some of the problems.
I teach on one of the Reservations.  Over 1/4 of the female natives have been raped before they get out of HS, typically by a relative.  Nothing happens to the rapist.
I had a student whose family did not want them.  He wandered around the Res trying to find someone who would let him in for the night.  He wore a hoodie.  It was sometimes 20 to 40 below zero.  We can go a month or more at a time where we never see temps as high as zero.  I see the TV show 20 below zero and wish it was that warm.  LOL  This kid did not do homework and often slept in class.  Duh.  Makes my heart break.
Yet I say education can be fixed.  Parents do NOT have any impact on the schools.  Administrators view parents as an annoyance.  We have a school district here with a proficiency rate of about 5% or less.  Their income INCREASES the lower their test scores.  There are parents who have been fighting this school district for years now and are laughed at by the local and state administrators.
Parents are lied to by the Fake News local media.  They are told everything is fine in education.  Education is NOT fine, it is very bad. 
I propose a law that anything taught in schools must be proven to succeed, that at least 80% of students will succeed as a result of using that program.  In addition, if a teacher is NOT using such a program and has bad test rates, their contract renewal should be challenged.  If an administrator is requiring teachers to NOT use proven programs, then 3 or more parents could file suit to have that administrator removed.  The BS being taught would come to a screeching halt.  The reason is because not one program or teaching method currently being taught is proven to work, not one.
I have designed a fix to the problems of poverty, but Federal Social Services will not let the problems be fixed.  It does not have to be this way, but currently, it is.  Government liberals, both Democratic and Republican, regularly thwart the will of the people.  This needs to stop.
Mike Haluska Added Mar 9, 2017 - 3:44pm
Joe - your assertion:
"But there are some public services that are best done by the government."
merits a challenge.  Please name 3 public services (outside of law enforcement, national defense, law courts) that are run efficiently by the government.  Education surely isn't one of them.    
Joe Chiang Added Mar 9, 2017 - 4:52pm
The government NEVER does thing more efficiently that private enterprise.  However, there are some things that government needs to be the one to do.  Monitoring elections along with any interested.  We have prisons being run by private enterprise now. some well and some not so well.  The same with schools.  But like anything else a hiring a good person makes things run good, and a bad person makes everything run badly.  My gosh, look at how Obama corrupted the CIA and FBI and IRS.  There is EPA (not unrestricted like it is now), IRS, Air Traffic Control.  Border Patrol, etc. 
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 9, 2017 - 8:34pm
You are a dreamer, and I respect that, but you are also not allowing yourself to see reality.  All the kings horses ..........
Mike Haluska Added Mar 10, 2017 - 9:27am
Joe - if I were POTUS, I would call an emergency joint session of Congress to discuss the nation's finances.  There would be two large TV screens behind me - on my left, a copy of the Constitution - on my right, a list of every Federal Agency
We would go down the list of agencies and compare the mission/function of the agency against the Constitution.  IF the agency's function was NOT specified in the Constitution as legitimate responsibility of the Federal Government, it would be summarily DEFUNDED AND ELIMINATED!  Article 10 specifically states that anything not spelled out in the Constitution shall be the responsibility of the states and individual citizens.
This is the ONLY way to get the government over-reach and spending under control and return to individual freedom and personal responsibility.
Joe Chiang Added Mar 10, 2017 - 12:51pm
@Louis.  So your recommendation is throw up our hands and don't try?
@Mike.  Do you live in North Dakota?
EXPAT Added Mar 10, 2017 - 5:05pm
Great article Joe. You covered all the bases both from a teaching point of view and what could be expected from a business standpoint.
But what you didn't cover is: What is education?
Should we be teaching the kids to put Condoms on cucumbers, or that little boys who dress like little girls are normal?
Is art or music just as important, or should the humanities be replaced by Political Correctness. It seems we don't have enough resources for both.
Why not have trade schools like they do in Europe?  An Executive Chef or an Auto Mechanic can make more than an Engineer, and the employment need is much greater.
Do we really want tax dollars going to Madrassa's, or Louis Farrakhan Schools? How about White Supremacy schools.
Who will accept the severely handicapped children now that there are no more Institutions?
As you aptly point out, a school voucher is a ticket to nowhere!
EXPAT Added Mar 10, 2017 - 5:15pm
I should have mentioned SPORTS as well. Will Private schools have sports teams? Will girls sports that don't bring in as much revenue be mandated!
Will they build stadiums and arena's? How about expensive Pools and Diving?
I think the emphasis should be on GOOD, unbiased, Public education. Starting with better salaries and benefits for educators and higher standards for Administrators.
The current system that makes school administration a political reward is more at fault than teacher ability, in my opinion!
Joe Chiang Added Mar 10, 2017 - 9:08pm
@Expat.  As usual your comments are pithy.  But I still believe in education of the 4Rs.  Unfortunately, we are back to what is instead of what should be.  We are teaching condoms on cukes, that sports is more important than core subjects, and core subjects don't matter, but some political agenda does.  I still believe that if educators are forced to prove what they teach is quality education, all the BS goes away.  Can putting a condom on a cuke help at least 80% of students succeed academically?  That is no more true than Common Core proven to help 80% of students succeed.
EXPAT Added Mar 10, 2017 - 9:49pm
Always the teacher. Do you agree that incompetent school administration due to Political Correctness is the Primary reason for failing schools?
I believe that if Teachers were treated like professionals, and allowed to make curriculum decisions based on class composition, results would dramatically improve.
Teachers have varying skill levels. A good administrator in a K-12 system surely could match the skill level of the teacher, to the student need.
Wage levels need to rise so that the most skilled are attracted to teaching and remain as a career.
EXPAT Added Mar 10, 2017 - 9:53pm
A voucher system is just a way for politicians to shift blame and not take any real action to improve the system that rewards constituents, not students.
Joe Chiang Added Mar 11, 2017 - 12:55am
@Expat.  I totally agree.  But which came first, the agenda being taught, or those who perpetuate said agenda.  I agree, vouchers are an excuse to shift blame.  I still believe the answer is to fix the schools.  Just ignoring or continuing what is broken as we are currently doing is not the answer.
EXPAT Added Mar 11, 2017 - 5:45am
There are about 14,000 school districts in the USA. How do we do that Joe?
Trump wants vouchers, which means he is not ready to change the system.
Just a few  superfluous rules like toilets and immigrant funding.
Joe Chiang Added Mar 11, 2017 - 3:08pm
If we had a national law mandating only methods and programs that have a proven academic success of at least 80% of our children, then things like condoms on cucumbers do not qualify to be taught.  The Pillars of Islam would not qualify to be taught.  Gender identity issues would not qualify.  But good teaching methods like we used to use before 1950 would qualify.
EXPAT Added Mar 11, 2017 - 5:46pm
Didn't we try that with "No child left behind."
Joe Chiang Added Mar 11, 2017 - 9:28pm
No.  NCLB was about trying to make sure teachers were qualified to teach.  But if you consider the highest qualified instructors in their field, college professors, they have the knowledge.  But as often as not, these college professors cannot relate the information to lower understanding students.  
I am only certified down to 5th grade.  Although I can teach successfully 3rd graders, but I have a very hard time relating to and teaching at that low a level for an extended period of time.  The new ESSA is failed Common Core extended, no matter what anyone says it is.  It is also NCLB on steroids.  But Common Core is BAD education, and has NEVER been proven to help students learn.  In fact, it is a proven education system, t is a proven failure that would NEVER be permitted if there was a requirement that such teaching be proven a success first.
Mike Haluska Added Mar 16, 2017 - 4:23pm
The more we take the handcuffs off of teachers and allow them to innovate (so far as they get desired reading/math/writing/science scores - RESULTS MATTER) the larger and more creative solutions that will be found. 
Think about this for a minute:  We take the most naturally curious creatures on Earth (children) and put them in a place where they can supposedly explore and learn and experiment and what typically happens?
After 2 or 3 years of droning, rote memorization, boring lectures all they learn is that they HATE SCHOOL!!!  How the hell does this happen???
Joe Chiang Added Mar 16, 2017 - 5:11pm
@Mike:  Common Core Happens.  Teachers have not been permitted to teach good methodologies since 1950s.  Our HS graduates cannot read the reading primer "Pilgrims Progress."  So sad.
Mike Haluska Added Mar 17, 2017 - 9:50am
Joe - when the "nuclear family" was the norm, not the exception, parents were actively involved with the schools and monitored selection of textbooks, teacher performance, spending, etc.  Schools did a good job and parents were watchful. 
The result of all of the "Progressive" social engineering has been disastrous - especially for minorities.  The Women's Rights movement got hijacked by the left and the propaganda of "a husband can be replaced by a Welfare Check" mentality spread to the point where over 70% of black households have no father.  Just try and find a public school in any large metropolitan area with an active PTA.  The "Progressive" glorification of single mothers has caused more harm to more kids than any other factor. 
Joe Chiang Added Mar 17, 2017 - 11:51am
Mike, you are VERY wrong.  When we have parent teacher meetings at my school at least one or maybe two parents show up and sometimes a teacher or two.  LOL  I believe the problems on the education end are fixable - but the Federal government BLOCKS the fixes.
Mike Haluska Added Mar 17, 2017 - 12:35pm
Joe - your comment is funny and sad.  I hope Trump eliminates the unconstitutional Department of Education and returns full authority to local governments.  That and making the Welfare State obsolete with high-paying manufacturing jobs will keep the "Progressives" out of power for decades.
Joe Chiang Added Mar 17, 2017 - 12:44pm
Not going to happen. Trump wrote an order that was going to eliminate waste.  The entire DOE is a waste.  But he is just cutting their budget by 15%.  That means it is still an 85% waste and worse yet, will continue to harm schools and our children.  ALAC is a BIG government new global government conservative group.  DeVos' husband is a board member.  Many members of our legislature in ND are members, both liberal an conservative GOP members.  
1984 was a liberal big government big brother concept.  RollerBall was a conservative big government big brother concept.  The results are the same, but reasons are different.
Mike Haluska Added Mar 17, 2017 - 3:52pm
Joe - there are practical and political constraints to cutting budgets.  The Department of Education buys votes and support by giving grants to schools all over the country - an the congressman in those districts don't want to hear about any "cuts" in their district.  More reason for term limits!!!
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 17, 2017 - 5:09pm
Joe C., as a teacher for a public school and a member of a school district with a teachers union that contributes to mostly by far Democratic candidates you have a personal interest in maintaining the status quo.  That means which is clearly shown in your comment tunnel vision.   
You could say I have tunnel vision.  I was asked to leave second grade because I did not do ANYTHING.  The school was a Catholic school that my older sister by 8 years graduated from and my parents were active in.  My parents set me to a school for the handicap which quickly told my parents that I should not be there.  I just was not interested.  That was the problem.   So Joe I went to a public school and received support and by the 4th grade choose to start doing something.  Graduated grammar school, high school and college in the public school system.  Obviously not the present school system since I graduated college in 1974 with a masters in engineering.    So I am not against public schools.  In fact Joe I know that America, this education system is the only one in the world that has always had multiple points of entry.  It does not classify students placing them in unyielding paths.  Or at least is has not for most of my life.  Today I am less sure.  That does not mean that students do not get lost and abandoned.  By the system has entry points not found in Europe or Asia education systems.
I Joe C., see the great points of our education system but I also see its failures.  That I hope is what I have pointed out above in my comments.
Joe Chiang Added Mar 17, 2017 - 10:15pm
Thomas, I am a teacher.  I am not a union member.  The union here officially stated that they thought a 60% school failure rate (The state pass/failure rate according to our Department of Public Instruction, DPI).  I could not stay a member of an organization that says our schools having a 60% failure rate is just fine.  But then the Chamber, the GOP, the Democratic Party, the AFL-CIO, and the Realtors Association all formally said a 60% failure and the teaching that got us to that outstanding success, was just great.
Here s a thought.  Our future President of the United States will be someone taught using Common Core and goes to college and will be taught America is the world problem.  If that does not scare you to death, then you have no idea what is going on in your schools.
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 18, 2017 - 7:56am
Our  past Presidents like Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln did just fine without a formal education.  Common Core will not slow down a future President.  
The lack of actually teaching the principles of the nation. of Nature's laws and replacing those principles of the Plato's Republic, Islam's Caliphate, More's Utopia, Hobbies's Leviathan, and Marx's Proletariat as part of education not that will harm the nation.  All the above taught that master minds and a class society (some people are better then others by birth) will just continue the civil unrest and wars that mark the past.   
Joe Chiang Added Mar 18, 2017 - 10:39am
No offense Thomas, but Andrew Jackson was a lawless President.  The Supreme Court decided the Cherokee were right and could not be removed from their land by treaty.  President Andrew Jackson decided to remove them anyway and the "Trail of Tears" was the result.  Perhaps if he had a formal education, he would have had respect for the rule of law and the entire Cherokee tribe would not have been uprooted.
President Lincoln actually studied on his own and practiced law successfully.  I believe he also studied the classics.  He had a broad knowledge, but was just live in too rural an are to go to a school.  
My students are self studying for a degree in "Phone".  They are self taught experts in FB, Instachat, etc.  I'm just not sure how many can get jobs with AT&T.  They are certainly unable to think through this decisions logically as they might if they had learning the classics, like Lincoln.