Politics, Religion, and . . . Vouchers.

Jim Wooten has an opinion piece in today’s AJC discussing the idea of changing Georgia’s constitution to allow state funds to go to religious entities. Senator Stoner says he has a bill that would allow the money to go to those religious organizations while closing the door on vouchers. He says the Dems will go for it.

No Democrats supported that change in the Senate, and it therefore failed to gain the two-thirds approval required for submission to voters. Stoner predicts that a version he’s offering, which would also prohibit school vouchers, would attract 16 Democrats.

Is it worth closing the door on vouchers to get a bill of this kind through the process? Jim Wooten says no.

Do you agree?

35 comments

  1. Ben King says:

    The real question is can you convince GOP leadership to stop talking out of both sides of their mouth and saying this bill has nothing to do with vouchers?

  2. For something with no track record of success (vouchers) Republicans sure are willing to do almost anything to get them, even if it means wasting political capital.

    But then again, W. has/had no track record of success and y’all love him too.

  3. Maybe because they don’t work and suburban white voters are frightened of them because they think “undesireable” children will be coming to their public schools. I mean, I’m all for Republicans keeping up on this issue but like with SS reform it is one of those issues where R’s are blinded by ideology and refuse to let a dead dog lie.

  4. Maurice Atkinson says:

    In my opinion, government should fund nothing more than its mandate. Broadening the mandate only broadens the tax burden. Private or religious institutions that are successful are successful for a reason. We don’t need government screwing them up.

  5. Harry says:

    What about the inner city kids stuck in educational quicksand? What would you do for them?

    Seems to me, privitization and vouchers is a solution. Why not try?

  6. Bill Simon says:

    I am not interested in amending the Georgia Constitution for any reason with regard to the use of government funds (which includes funds generated from the lottery) for religious purposes…it has worked well for 200+ years.

    Only a liberal would want to muck with changing/amending the Constitution to suit their immediate political needs.

  7. billy says:

    “Only a liberal would want to muck with changing/amending the Constitution to suit their immediate political needs.”

    Are you serious?

  8. Harry says:

    Bill,

    There is the Weber School, a fine private jewish highshhool a-building in Sandy Springs, whose students are just as deserving of tuition assistance as are poor kids in Atlanta IMHO – especially if the voucher payment is actually a lot less than educating the kid in a public school. That saves the taxpayers money and may have a better academic outcome.

    The bottom line is better academic outcome (while maintaining equal treatment of the classes) – no matter if it takes amending the constitution to get there.

  9. Buzz I think the results in Cleveland were at best mixed. IIRC a lot of the kids who were using the vouchers either already attended private school before that or had a sibling in private school and were headed that way anyway.

    Unfortunately I think it will be a long time before any Georgia governor takes serious reform to public schools. If you can’t even fire a bad teacher without incurring the wrath of all other teachers how can you tackle the serious issues?

  10. HeartofGa says:

    If you think that we have uneven preformance from school to school, from district to district now, try implementing vouchers. Tax money with less taxpayer oversight.

    Further, Perdue’s administration has cut about a billion dollars from public education. His cuts are actually the first in decades to touch the sacred instructional dollars. I hear that there is even discussion about cutting the critical EIP teachers. These are the early intervention teachers who have been effective in helping children get ready to meet those critical third grade benchmarks. This is a relatively low cost, yet highly effective program that pairs part-time staff (often retired teachers) with our youngest students who do not come to school ready to learn. The support might disappear but the requirement to pass that third grade test won’t. I suppose it will be more cost effective to retain these students. Unbelievable.

    We have counties that do not have the necessary taxbase to raise the $$ via property tax, subject to the caps, to fund the activities required, but not funded, by the state. Given this, how could we possibly justify draining more dollars to experiment with vouchers? Our public schools-the place where most of our students are educated and the only entity required to educated all the children who arrive on their doorstep- are being strangled by a combination of unfunded mandates at both the state and federal level and decreasing financial support. It seems that local control means, “we tell you what to do, and you control how to pay for our plan.”

    How about we try the basics? Wasn’t Cagle who recently put forward his education plan, and didn’t that plan include challenging all of us to put our kids in public schools? An engaged community- parents and business- is the best answer. And making education a real priority in this state. We push it to the back of the funding line and then wonder why we’re in the cellar. No mystery.

  11. Harry says:

    I’d written this previously on another blog: Having local school boards administer the voucher programs in their school districts would provide needed financial and program accountability at the local level. Local school boards fulfill an important role in the community in overseeing education, and they would be a necessary control in a voucher system, continuing to assure the public schools do their job where parents elect to send their kids to public schools – as would happen in many cases. Otherwise, they would be able to raise revenue by leasing classroom space to the private sector where needed. They could oversee the voucher qualification and disbursement process in the community, making sure that controls are maintained; as an extreme example, practitioners of bestiality could not start operating schools.

  12. Harry says:

    If it’s broke, fix it. Based on results, many public schools are broken, and we’re not talking about every kid being a rocket scientist. These bad schools can’t even produce minimal standards. That is supposed to be good for democracy? Good education is fundamental and says how we provide for our future – our youth. I can live with some bad services, but not with the feeling that I am not doing everything possible to give to youth the best possible future.

    We’ve found out it’s not a question of money. Atlanta and Dekalb schools are spending over $11k per student to no avail. Those kids could succeed, but they’re not succeeding. I’m convinced a good part of the solution is to shake up the status quo. The union/bureaucratic mentality is like a poison in the classroom, killing accountability and excellence. The antidote is competition, privitization and yes, vouchers.

  13. Bill Simon says:

    Serious as a heart attack, Billy. Except, perhaps I should clarify what happened last year: Those folks who screamed for the gay marriage BS cannot consider themselves “conservatives” no matter what they claim.

  14. Bill Simon says:

    Not to get into a knockdown-dragout with you, Harry, because we do get along on a number of other issues.

    But, I am more concerned with the Road to Hell, and, good intentions though you and others THINK you have with the thought of amending the Georgia Constitution to allow government funds to be used on religious school vouchers, it will open the door on other uses of the funds by other entities just DYING to use public money to prosyletize their religion.

    And, who says every kid must have the same education? I met a teacher tonight who teaches K-5th grade in an Atlanta Public School and her students are meeting all of No Child Left Behind…the great Ejukashun plan from George W, the biggest left-winger since his dad.

    I’m fed-up with hearing that the solutions to the education problems in Georgia can be solved by either 1) spending more money, or 2) re-directing more money.

    It’s amazing that all the nimrods trying to solve Georgia’s education problems were ALL educated in Georgia. That’s like taking water straight from the Chattahoochee to use in your house while you expel your waste 20 feet upstream.

    You wanna know a solution? Tell the politicians to get off their asses and GO to the states that have the good education systems and see what they do differently. Betcha it ain’t a matter of “smaller class sizes” that is the solution to our ills that the Demmies want to waste more money on.

  15. billy says:

    Bill S,
    well, at least you can stay somewhat consistent with that explaination, even if i disagree with your “liberal” permise.

    longest consititution in the world: State of Alabama

  16. Bill I think you will find that every state spends considerably more $ / pupil than we do here. Including every state (every one is anyway) with better education.

    Sounds like the solution is to drastically cut revenue by eliminating property taxes and shifting to a small sales tax, where I’d have to spend $100,000 / year at the cash register to bring in as much money as my property taxes do. Hmmm….

    Of course, if you’re spending so much more money, you’ll get smaller class sizes AND a lot of other benefits. But I’m pretty sure no other state with good schools does things anything like Ga.

  17. Ben King says:

    Westminster: $15,717. Also, Westminster’s website notes:
    2004-2005 Tuition represents 63.8% of revenue

    By my quick calculations at 2 a.m., multiplying their enrollment and tuition numbers (by grade) and taking into account that that number makes up 63.8% of revenue: $23,666.15/student. If you use their “revenue and expenses number”, it comes out to be $21,009.10/student.

    APS stats – from their “Fast Facts PDF”$10253.26 (simply budget divided by enrollment).

    So, to put it basically – Westminster spends between $11-13.5 thousand more per kid, or DOUBLE what APS spends. DOUBLE per kid. And the kids at Westminster _already_ have huge advantages over APS kids. Are you telling me that this is a fair comparision?? I don’t think it is accurate to complain that the public schools are just spending too much durn money, and that it is simply the mentality that is the problem.

  18. Ben King says:

    “The union/bureaucratic mentality is like a poison in the classroom, killing accountability and excellence.”

    I was just referring to Harry’s line. My point is that such a mentality could not possibly bridge a $11,000 funding gap and be the sole reason that APS scores are worse that private schools.

  19. Bill Simon says:

    Ben…have you ever had a course or two in statistics where yes, you look at statistics, but then you also look at the difference in the populations?.

    Kids of APS are vastly different kids from kids of the private school genre kids. The kids who are put in private school are put there by parnets who care to spend the money on the private education and therefore push their kids in ways that most of the parents of the APS kids don’t, and just use APS as daycare. THAT is a completely different mentality that cannot be measured by the amount of money spent per kid.

    Government is an incredibly inefficient form of doing nearly everything in this country except fo required infrastructure and defense.

  20. HeartofGa says:

    Let me raise this issue in the context of this debate. How effective do you think Kathy Cox has been as state school sup? I don’t see positive changes she has made. She seems to have done very little at all. I think that the person at the helm of the “broken system” should be leading. I don’t see that from her. What, exactly, has she done?

  21. Bill Simon says:

    Hey, hey! Kathy Cox is doing just fine…after all, when she took office, she didn’t know that “evolution” had been around for close to 100 years and wasn’t a “buzzword” to the rest of us…she’s had a lot of catching-up to do. I think her review of the world has her on the Korea War at this time.

  22. Ben King says:

    Bill, I’m very aware that there are difference in the have different family backgrounds. Which is why in my first post I said that “the kids at Westminster already have huge advantages over APS kids.”

    And I think you have your view of kids at APS backwards. They aren’t there because their parents don’t care enough to spend money on private schools. They don’t HAVE $15,000 to spend on private schools, it has nothing to do with parents caring more or not. If you make $30,000/year, you can care all you want and not be able to send your kid to a private school. Its half your income. Come on, Bill. You are usually smarter than that. But you are welcome to keep that viewpoint, that is why more Americans trust Democrats on education issues.

    “Government is an incredibly inefficient form of doing nearly everything in this country except fo required infrastructure and defense.”

    See, I think that education is “required infrastructure”.

  23. Ben King says:

    doh, that first line is all f’ed up. “there are differences in family backgrounds”. I need to learn how to edit my posts.

  24. Bill Simon says:

    Ben…why has education gone DOWN in the past 35 years? LBJ and his Great Society plan, along with the required dumbing-down standards offered by the Clinton Administration.

    Puh-leeze. Don’t give me this “Democrats care more about education” crap. The only thing I’ve ever seen a Democrat do with education is talk a lot of BS and rake-in a lot of cash to their pocket.

    Is there a school board anywhere in Georgia that is run by Dems that has stellar results in the school system? I’d like to see that analysis performed.

  25. Ben King says:

    I didn’t say “Democrats care more about eduaction”. I said that polling shows Americans trust Democrats more to handle education matters. And my point was that it might be related to the viewpoint you put forth earlier, that poor parents simply don’t care enough, or they’d send their kids to private school. That viewpoint shows a basic disregard for many Georgia families who work hard but simply can’t afford to send their kids to private schools.

    And do I need to remind you that it was a GOP Superintendent who got indicted for stealing money?

  26. Bill Simon says:

    Well, as I recall, after Werner Roberts (Rogers?) lost his position in 1992 as state school superintendent, he wound-up at Georgia Public Broadcasting, where he proceeded to rape and pillage funds from that organization.

    SO, I believe the dems, for a number of years, raped and pillaged Georgia government, but, because everyone involved was a Dem, it was all wink-wink, nod-nod, every Bubba for himself in raiding the public trough.

    Besides, where do you think Republicans got the ideas they could steal and break laws? From watching the Dems do it for decades and get away with it.

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