Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Vouchers -- The Ad Hominem's Continue.......

Rob at the Amicus posted the latest of posters from (I believe) Utah Democrats. This one is a winner. This poster is titled "White Flight," in reference to Southerners use of tax-funded private schools in the early days of desegregation as a means of continuing segregation despite Brown v. Board of Education. The picture incorporates images of white folks marching with the confederate flag in protest of desegregation. So what is the intent of this poster......

A commenter tried to defend the poster with the following:

"nowhere do I see any comparisons of voucher supporters to "racist, Confederate flag-waving segregationists from the 1950s South.' "

I'm afraid I don't bite on the poster, or the anonymous commenter's defense of Utah Democrats. Despite the lack of language affirmatively calling voucher supporters racists, it doesn't take a genius to see that the "racist" implication is (to say the least) mildly being suggested. The clever use of negative images (the Confederate flag) is a subtle but clever way of calling someone a racist without actually saying it.

What else are voucher opponents telling us using this argument, lets pause and think about this?

1.)Utah's voucher program is designed to benefit the lowest income students: The script regarding poverty is that it effects minorities first and Caucasians last. So, the reasoning behind "White Flight" fails the first test. Utah's voucher plan is designed (following the White Flight" logic) to benefit minorities first. The poster shows that voucher opponents don't embrace the state's move to provide equal opportunity for less advantage minorities to choose the best suited schools for their children.

2.) Utah schools are succeeding in spite of themselves: One commenter and many voucher opponents have stated in opposition to vouchers that vouchers can serve no purpose with a school system that is flourishing. However, these concerns about "white flight" (not considering the racial stereotyping involved here) show that voucher opponents fear strong students leaving public schools. If Utah's public schools were as great as voucher opponents like to believe, then what difference does it make if strong or weak (minority or Caucasian) students make up the student body. It is a unintended admission that Utah schools succeed in large part to the quality of the students and parents (and some teachers) and in less part due to the bureaucracies which run Utah's schools.

3.) Utah Democrats are perpetuating racial stereotypes: Since we are going to (however subtly) through around accusations of racism. It seems to me, that the Utah Democrats are perpetuating the myth or stereotype that minority students are less apt or able to achieve in academics. Taking seriously the wild assumption that due to vouchers alone Caucasian students will leave Utah schools in droves large enough to constitute the catch phrase "White Flight"; why is there an issue with which students leave a system that is excelling in its job to educate all students? They are, however ambiguously, demonstrating a (in most cases mild) belief in certain racial stereotypes.

The Daily Herald rightly awarded this a "Buffalo Chip Award". Excrement from a large free roaming herbivore seems like an accurate depiction of this piece from the Utah Democrats. Please bring back some intelligent dialogue on this issue.


pramahaphil said...

I don't know why Excrement is highlighted. I used spell check and the word never unhighlighted after I fixed the spelling.

Rob said...

Maybe its a sign that your have diabetes or kidney disease.

I don't know why but lately I have had the same problem with blogger. The only way to fix the word is to go to edit, take out the word under the edit html, as well as all the html that is connected to the word. After doing so you can type what you replace the excrement in any font or color you desire.

Hope that helps.

Jeremy said...

Ugh...nothing worse whan when your excrement is highlighted! :-)

Ok...back to topic:

As a Utah Democrat I'm embarrassed my party is playing the race card in this debate. This ad is disgraceful. There are enough good arguments against subsidizing private school students with taxpayer funds that we don't need to take this route.

Since I don't buy the premise of the argument you're debunking in this post I don’t really need to defend myself as the "one commenter" who argues that Utah's public schools are succeeding. Well adjusted successful students don’t want to be yanked out of the public schools they are doing well in. Most parents won't rock the boat their successful and happy kids are rowing. Not enough parents will use the vouchers to provide Utah with the economic benefits promised by voucher supporters and the program will end up benefiting only those families who already have the means and desire to put their kids in private school in spite of the success of public schools. What a waste.

pramahaphil said...

LOL... Rob & Jeremy. I guess I will get my blood sugar tested again.

Sorry Jeremy, you aren't the only one. I've heard that argument in many other places. I'm unsure whether you will be proved right or wrong regarding the numbers of parents who will take their kids to private schools.

However, I think most people would agree that Utah's school system has some cracks. (lowest per student spending,etc..)Many in the education establishment openly equate greater funds to success in education, yet Utah is proving to be one of the most successful education systems in the nation despite the lowest per student spending nationally. So obviously the high spending = education success model is flawed. Now I'm not saying adequate funds aren't crucial in providing a decent education, but I am saying if voucher provide a means of (a) allowing parents a say as to how their tax education dollars are spent, and (b) vouchers can save the public school coffers more money to use on those students who remain in the public school system than vouchers deserve at least a few years of trial.

steve u. said...

I enjoy Jeremy's participation in the bloghive. While many silly arguments are being raised elsewhere, Jeremy raises a valid point. It is one that I raised in committee hearings.

No one knows the degree to which vouchers will be utilized. I think there are enough struggling poor and middle class students out there that the program will get enough use to bring significant financial benefits. But I do not think more than 10% of our students would ever move to private schools; we do love our public system. If, however, Jeremy's prediction ultimately were correct, the experiment could be concluded.

Jeremy said...

Thanks Rep Urquhart for your kind words!

I'd love to be able to buy the idea you guys have proposed that there is a possibility that the voucher program could be made to disappear if it is a flop. The problem is that I can't think of another example of an entitlement program that was easily revoked after government started handing the money out...even when the vast majority of beneficiaries were wealthy types who didn't need the entitlement in the first place.

This plan is a great example of a possible perfect storm of government waste that can't be undone. If things go poorly and only 2-3% of public school students use the vouchers do you really think Republicans will agree the experiment they've invested so much political capital in is a failure? They'll let it go another 10 years. By then all the rich kids who never would have been in public schools in the first place will be receiving vouchers (and they likely won't be the small $500 subsidies the program currently hands out to wealthy people...some legislators are already apologizing for how small those vouchers are). Will the Republican legislature be able to count on many of its rich donors to go along with revoking the state entitlement that helps pay for their kids private schools?

Not likely. Utah's taxpayers will be up the proverbial highlighted excrement creek without a paddle.