September 30, 2006
RE: School Choice
Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 9:19 PM
I think the general threshold has been met. That is: government money = government control, or at least the ability to set significant parameters such as admissions quotas, curriculum, faculty hiring, and other significant 'opportunity' (including Title IX) requirements. The specific program or mechanism is less important, except to the extent that, as Daren argues, it will in practice be very difficult for non-voucher- accepting private K-12 schools to compete with those that accept vouchers. Vouchers will be voluntary in theory but mandatory in practice, due to the entirely unfair competition from other privates as well as from government schools.
Finally, I never hear pro-public-voucher, never-worry-about-the-private-schools arguments from many people who actually intend to send their kids, and do send their kids, through the public system. I would be more convinced if they were willing to argue the voucher point with their private school of choice, where I think it properly belongs, or if they simply let their kids tough it out through the public school system, pre- or post-secondary, that they defend. I'm not sure either is the case. Therefore I remain a sceptic and a critic on the public money/public control issue, whatever the analogy one chooses to apply.
Re: School Choice
Posted by Daren Bakst at 9:00 PM
The G.I. Bill isn't analogous to the
types of vouchers we are discussing on the K-12 level. The G.I.
Bill is extremely narrow in scope, and because of its beneficiaries
(veterans) and the unique nature of "veterans politics," it generally
wouldn't be the type of program that would dictate a lot of
institutional accountability or regulations.
Ironically, as stated in this article,
"After the second world war, the federal government used various
college accrediting agencies to ostensibly guarantee a quality
education for veterans. Only accredited schools could receive G.I. Bill
funds, so the accrediting agencies quickly transformed themselves. They
became the gatekeepers of the tax money and virtual adjuncts of federal
So, I'm not even sure that the G.I. Bill itself hasn't led to some
problems, although my sense is that the law wouldn't be enough by
itself to lead to governmental control of higher education. If
vouchers only went directly to veterans for K-12 education, there
probably wouldn't be much concern on my part. However, I'd want
to make sure that the program was not the start of some slippery slope.
The G.I. Bill did get the ball rolling on
the federal intrusion in higher education. The timeline shows the G.I. Bill was a slippery slope when it came to regulation connected to federal funding, particularly student aid. This document
(in PDF) also demonstrates this point. This doesn't mean we
shouldn't have the G.I. Bill--its unique nature and scope easily could
have been distinguished from later legislation that was enacted (it
didn't have to be a slippery slope).
I'm also not arguing that vouchers will lead to the immediate
government control of private education. It would take
some time, likely in an incremental fashion (like in higher
education). It probably would be much quicker though given that
"accountability" is so popular, and on the K-12 level, government is
much quicker to regulate, in part because the K-12 system is so bad,
and academic freedom is pretty much a non-issue.
we want to compare apples to apples, it should be vouchers to the
Higher Education Act of
1965 (HEA)--this law contains the aid programs for non-veterans (like
vouchers). The HEA led to excessive regulation and was the start
of the "inescapable bargain" between most colleges and the federal
government. The regulation has gotten far worse over the years,
and now, the
current Administration could take it to new levels.
I do hold out hope (a little) that vouchers or another means of school
choice can be done in a manner to address the "government control"
concern. It is Saturday night and I'm thinking about various
ideas (and writing this post). This may show that I really care
about this issue or I really need to get a life (probably both).
RE: School Choice
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 6:00 PM
You said: "One only has to look at what is happening to higher education to see how vouchers will be the government's excuse for control of education."
I think that higher education, through the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 a.k.a. the G.I. Bill, clearly demonstrates that government vouchers do not necessarily lead to excessive government regulation. Veterans were permitted to use the voucher at any college or university, including sectarian institutions, and the federal government stayed far away. They just sent the check and trusted that individuals would use the voucher wisely. They did. Students avoided institutions like West Virginia University.
There is no convincing evidence that the G.I. Bill initiated the kind of legislation (and regulation) that appeared in the 1960s and haunts higher education today. Only when universities accepted federal funds for scientific research and development did excessive government regulations follow. Probably the worst offender was the Higher Education Facilities Act of 1963. By the mid-1960s, the federal government spent around $750 million for university-based research and development, and federal regulation began in earnest.
GOP election machine
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:09 PM
I've been enjoying One Party Country: The Republican Plan for Dominance in the 21st Century (Wiley, 2006) by Los Angeles Times reporters Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten.*
Based on their day jobs, you won't be surprised to learn that this is no volume of praise for Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman, and their colleagues. Hamburger and Wallsten reveal at times their disinterest in (or distaste for) core GOP principles.
Still, this book offers an interesting outsider's perspective of the political operation Rove and company put together for the 2000 and 2004 elections, along with plans to secure a long-term majority for the Republican Party.
The authors might not like the results, but they recognize the effectiveness of strategies that encourage like-minded Americans to join the GOP fold.
In the battleground states of 2004:
Instead of edging toward the middle, Bush ran hard to the right. Instead of trying to reassure uncertain moderates, he worked hard to stroke the passions of those who needed no convincing. ...
Rove's team had a critical advantage: a substantially better computerized system for pinpointing small but significant pockets of potential supporters and even individual voters. The GOP also developed a more nuanced understanding of ethnic voting blocs, as well as more disciplined tactics for going after them.... Like the other pieces of [Rove's] strategy, it did not seek to gain long-term dominance by bringing about a sea change in public attitudes or values. Rather it approached the task as a matter of maximizing the size and impact of the GOP's natural base....
Of course, this strategy can succeed only if a critical mass of voters agrees with GOP ideas.
*In the interest of full disclosure, I worked with Wallsten at The Daily Tar Heel 15 years ago.
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