Saturday, February 3, 2007

Utah House passes universal school choice - Milton Friedman’s vision is one step closer to victory

The following press release was sent out by the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation. New Hampshire must define an "adequate education" by this summer. This is a perfect opportunity for our legislators to include universal school choice for all students. School choice will not only improve the quality of education but also reduce the costs of education.

Utah House passes universal school choice
Milton Friedman’s vision is one step closer to victory

INDIANAPOLIS—Today, the Utah House passed, by a vote of 38 to 37, what could become the nation’s first ever universal school voucher program. The legislation, House Bill 148, would allow every family in the state to have a choice in their child’s education and would become the first program to achieve Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman’s vision for universal school choice.

“ Utah is getting to the core of what education is all about — learning should be tailored to each student,” said Elisa Peterson, executive director of the Salt Lake City-based Parents for Choice in Education, which has led the local school choice effort. “ Utah parents want the freedom to choose education based on their child’s unique needs.”

HB 148, spearheaded by the tremendous leadership of Speaker Greg Curtis and bill sponsor Rep. Steve Urquhart, would establish the “Parent Choice in Education Act,” that would provide every Utah parent with school-aged children a voucher worth $500 to $3,000 that could be used at any eligible private school. Children currently enrolled in private school who meet the eligibility for free and reduced price lunch would also qualify for the voucher. The voucher amount will based on a families’ annual income.

"Utah's children are smiling today...and somewhere so is Dr. Milton Friedman,” said Peterson. “How fitting that a bill giving choice to all of Utah's children could be passed in the same week that Dr. Friedman was honored."

On Monday, Milton Friedman, who passed away last November at the age of 94, was honored in cities around the country including Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Because of his 1955 essay on the role of government in education, Friedman is widely recognized as the father of the school voucher movement.

"This is the biggest step that has been taken toward achieving Milton Friedman’s dream of liberating children so they can reach their full potential,” said Patrick Byrne, president and CEO of Utah-based and Friedman Foundation board member. “This is the greatest social issue facing our country.”

HB 148 will now be sent on to the Utah Senate. In previous years, broad-based school choice programs have received much support in the Senate. Successful passage there would send the bill to Gov. John Huntsman, Jr., who signed the state’s special needs voucher bill in 2005.

“The victory today proves that in the end freedom always trumps fear,” said Robert C. Enlow, executive director and COO for the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation. “Over the past six years, we have been honored to work with so many dedicated Utah legislators and local leaders. Their passion for educational freedom is what has made this possible.”


The Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, dubbed "the nation's leading voucher advocates" by the Wall Street Journal, is a non-profit organization established in 1996. The origins of the foundation lie in the Friedmans' long-standing concern about the serious deficiencies in America's elementary and secondary public schools. The best way to improve the quality of education, they believe, is to enable all parents with the freedom to choose the schools that their children attend. The Friedman Foundation builds upon this vision, clarifies its meaning to the public and amplifies the national call for true education reform through school choice.

For more information on school choice in New Hampshire we recommend the New Hampshire Center for School Choice,

The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy

Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers.

"A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. "
Milton Friedman

Friday, February 2, 2007

$34.06 an Hour That's how much the average public school teachers makes. Is that "underpaid"?

The following article appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

No commentary needed the article speaks for itself.

$34.06 an Hour
That's how much the average public school teachers makes. Is that "underpaid"?

Friday, February 2, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Who, on average, is better paid--public school teachers or architects? How about teachers or economists? You might be surprised to learn that public school teachers are better paid than these and many other professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public school teachers earned $34.06 per hour in 2005, 36% more than the hourly wage of the average white-collar worker and 11% more than the average professional specialty or technical worker.

In the popular imagination, however, public school teachers are underpaid. "Salaries are too low. We all know that," noted First Lady Laura Bush, expressing the consensus view. "We need to figure out a way to pay teachers more." Indeed, our efforts to hire more teachers and raise their salaries account for the bulk of public school spending increases over the last four decades. During that time per-pupil spending, adjusted for inflation, has more than doubled; overall we now annually spend more than $500 billion on public education.

The perception that we underpay teachers is likely to play a significant role in the debate to reauthorize No Child Left Behind. The new Democratic majority intends to push for greater education funding, much of which would likely to go toward increasing teacher compensation. It would be beneficial if the debate focused on the actual salaries teachers are already paid.

It would also be beneficial if the debate touched on the correlation between teacher pay and actual results. To wit, higher teacher pay seems to have no effect on raising student achievement. Metropolitan areas with higher teacher pay do not graduate a higher percentage of their students than areas with lower teacher pay.

In fact, the urban areas with the highest teacher pay are famous for their abysmal outcomes. Metro Detroit leads the nation, paying its public school teachers, on average, $47.28 per hour. That's 61% more than the average white-collar worker in the Detroit area and 36% more than the average professional worker. In metro New York, public school teachers make $45.79 per hour, 20% more than the average professional worker in that area. And in Los Angeles teachers earn $44.03 per hour, 23% higher than other professionals in the area.

Evidence suggests that the way we pay teachers is more important than simply what they take home. Currently salaries are determined almost entirely by seniority--the number of years in the classroom--and the number of advanced degrees accumulated. Neither has much to do with student improvement.
There is evidence that providing bonuses to teachers who improve the performance of their students does raise academic proficiency. With our colleagues at the University of Arkansas we found that a Little Rock program providing bonuses to teachers based on student gains on standardized tests substantially increased math proficiency. Researchers at the University of Florida recently found similar results in a nationwide evaluation.

Of course, public school teacher earnings look less impressive when viewed on an annual basis than on an hourly basis. This is because teachers tend to work fewer hours per year, with breaks during the summer, winter and spring. But comparing earnings on an annual basis would be inappropriate when teachers work significantly fewer hours than do other workers. Teachers can use that time to be with family, to engage in activities that they enjoy, or to earn additional money from other employment. That time off is worth money and cannot simply be ignored when comparing earnings. The appropriate way to compare earnings in this circumstance is to focus on hourly rates.

Moreover, the earnings data reported here, which are taken directly from the National Compensation Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, do not include retirement and health benefits, which tend to be quite generous for public school teachers relative to other workers. Nor do they include the nonmonetary benefit of greater job security due to the tenure that most public school teachers enjoy.

Educators sometimes object that hourly earnings calculations do not capture the additional hours they work outside of school, but this objection is not very compelling. First, the National Compensation Survey is designed to capture all hours actually worked. And teachers are hardly the only wage earners who take work home with them.

The fact is that teachers are better paid than most other professionals. What matters is the way that we pay public school teachers, not the amount. The next time politicians call for tax increases to address the problem of terribly underpaid public school teachers, they might be reminded of these facts.

Mr. Greene holds the endowed chair of education reform at the University of Arkansas and is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, where Mr. Winters is a senior research associate. Their report, "How Much Are Public School Teachers Paid?," was released this week.

We highly recommend the book Education Myths by Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters before any parent or voter considers a tax increase for education.

Quote of the Day

Whenever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery. -- (1874) Benjamin Disraeli

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Using the Delphi Technique to Achieve Consensus

The piece below is about the Delphi Technique and the complete article is posted on the Eagle

The Delphi techinque is used by school districts and school boards to persuade voters and parents to support tax increases.

"In group settings, the Delphi Technique is an unethical method of achieving consensus on controversial topics. It requires well-trained professionals, known as "facilitators" or "change agents," who deliberately escalate tension among group members, pitting one faction against another to make a preordained viewpoint appear "sensible," while making opposing views appear ridiculous.

In her book Educating for the New World Order, author and educator Beverly Eakman makes numerous references to the need of those in power to preserve the illusion that there is "community participation in decision-making processes, while in fact lay citizens are being squeezed out."

"How to Diffuse the Delphi Technique

Three steps can diffuse the Delphi Technique as facilitators attempt to steer a meeting in a specific direction.

Always be charming, courteous, and pleasant. Smile. Moderate your voice so as not to come across as belligerent or aggressive.

Stay focused. If possible, jot down your thoughts or questions. When facilitators are asked questions they don't want to answer, they often digress from the issue that was raised and try instead to put the questioner on the defensive. Do not fall for this tactic. Courteously bring the facilitator back to your original question. If he rephrases it so that it becomes an accusatory statement (a popular tactic), simply say, "That is not what I asked. What I asked was . . ." and repeat your question.

Be persistent. If putting you on the defensive doesn't work, facilitators often resort to long monologues that drag on for several minutes. During that time, the group usually forgets the question that was asked, which is the intent. Let the facilitator finish. Then with polite persistence state: "But you didn't answer my question. My question was . . ." and repeat your question.
Never become angry under any circumstances. Anger directed at the facilitator will immediately make the facilitator the victim. This defeats the purpose. The goal of facilitators is to make the majority of the group members like them, and to alienate anyone who might pose a threat to the realization of their agenda. People with firm, fixed beliefs, who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in, are obvious threats. If a participant becomes a victim, the facilitator loses face and favor with the crowd. This is why crowds are broken up into groups of seven or eight, and why objections are written on paper rather than voiced aloud where they can be open to public discussion and debate. It's called crowd control.

At a meeting, have two or three people who know the Delphi Technique dispersed through the crowd so that, when the facilitator digresses from a question, they can stand up and politely say: "But you didn't answer that lady/gentleman's question." Even if the facilitator suspects certain group members are working together, he will not want to alienate the crowd by making accusations. Occasionally, it takes only one incident of this type for the crowd to figure out what's going on.

Establish a plan of action before a meeting. Everyone on your team should know his part. Later, analyze what went right, what went wrong and why, and what needs to happen the next time. Never strategize during a meeting.

A popular tactic of facilitators, if a session is meeting with resistance, is to call a recess. During the recess, the facilitator and his spotters (people who observe the crowd during the course of a meeting) watch the crowd to see who congregates where, especially those who have offered resistance. If the resistors congregate in one place, a spotter will gravitate to that group and join in the conversation, reporting what was said to the facilitator. When the meeting resumes, the facilitator will steer clear of the resistors. Do not congregate. Instead gravitate to where the facilitators or spotters are. Stay away from your team members.

This strategy also works in a face-to-face, one-on-one meeting with anyone trained to use the Delphi Technique."

Be sure to visit the Eagle website to learn more about the Delphi Technique.

Lynn Stuter is an education researcher in Washington state and wrote the above piece for the Eagle Forum. Her web site address is

Quote of the Day

How we take back our children's education -- one person, one question, one school at a time.
Copyright 1999-2006 Peyton Wolcott

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Make school cool: Give dropouts a choice

If you are a recipient of food stamps or medicare you have a choice of grocery stores or doctors. Why do we not have a choice of schools. Parents not legislators should decide what an adequate education is for their children. We hope when the legislature defines an "adequate education" they remember that for thousands of years parents have more than adequately educated their children at reasonable costs.

Choice should not be just given to dropouts but all students.

The following editorial appeared in the Union Leader.

Make school cool: Give dropouts a choice

EVERY KID should graduate from high school. Making reluctant ones do that is the hard part.

Gov. John Lynch has renewed his effort to ban any minors from dropping out of high school. His goal is probably a bit more realistic than President Bush's idea that Washington can, simply by mandating it, turn America's children into proficient students. To work, it will take some significant changes.

The word among education professionals is that kids don't drop out at 16. They drop out as early as elementary school. Bored and frustrated, they mentally check out. Their rears are in the seats, but their minds are elsewhere.

The best way for Gov. Lynch to realize his goal is not to spend millions on remedial programs. It is to give these kids an attractive alternative to their regular public schools. He can do this by letting parents take struggling students out of schools where they are falling behind and move them to schools -- public or private -- that might excite them.

The goal should be to engage those minds, not just buckle the bodies into their seats for two more years.

Quote of the day.

"I believe that school choice is the most pressing civil rights issue of the nineties!"

-- Alveda King Tookes, niece of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and founder of King for America, a civil rights group whose primary issue is promoting school choice.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Wall Street Journal -- on Abolishing State Income Taxes

The Wall Street Journal article below was sent to us by our friend Marilyn Rickert of Fair Tax Now.

She reported the following background information on the report.

The research on which the Wall Street Journal article was based was funded by Americans For Fair Taxation (FairTax). The goal was to compare the states that had income taxes and those with no income taxes to see which ones did better. As Flat Tax supporters, the team of Arduin, Laffer, & Moore was chosen to carry out this research because we felt their bias would be against the FairTax and in favor of an income tax -- yet as honest researchers they would accurately report their findings no matter the result.

Our research in IL shows that using the FairTax base, we can eliminate the state income tax and property tax at about the same sales tax rate as we have now while raising the same amount of money as our current tax system. Remember under the FairTax bill, everyone is protected up to the poverty level. Also how much you pay in taxes is always your choice.

To view the A Macroeconomic Analysis of the FairTax Proposal click here.

Incentives drive all economic behavior. Taxes are a negative incentive. From an economic efficiency perspective, the appropriate goal for tax policy is to establish a tax system that minimizes the tax disincentives on economic activities, given the revenue needs of the government.

The article below appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

Rich States, Poor States

January 25, 2007

Wall Street Journal, Page A18

If you're searching for the next big thing in American politics, it's wise to keep an eye on the states. Here's one possibility: the abolition of state income taxes.

In Georgia, Missouri and South Carolina, Governors and state legislatures are drafting serious proposals to repeal their income taxes to promote economic development. St. Louis, one of America's most distressed cities, may overturn its wage/income tax as a way to spur urban revival. And in Michigan, the legislature is in the last stages of phasing out its hated business income tax -- the most onerous in the land. "States are now in a ferocious competition to attract jobs and businesses," says economist Arthur Laffer, who is advising several Governors and legislators on the issue, "and one of the best ways to win this race is to abolish the state income tax."

The timing for fixing state tax codes could hardly be more ideal because states are swimming in budget surpluses thanks to the booming national economy. This should be a big year for state tax cuts. Governors in Arkansas, Florida and West Virginia have already announced major tax relief plans for 2007. Even New York City has a $1 billion surplus and Mayor Michael Bloomberg is promising a property tax cut.

But the biggest target is the income tax. Newly re-elected South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is talking of reviving his plan to phase out the income tax over 18 years. Mr. Sanford ran into opposition from the legislature in his first term, but he tells us that "I still consider this one of my top priorities and if the legislature wants to do it, I would be ecstatic."

Georgia may beat Mr. Sanford to the punch. House Republicans in Atlanta have announced that one of their top priorities is to use the half-billion-dollar budget surplus as a downpayment to "dismantle the current tax code." House Republican Majority Leader Jerry Keen tells us the debate in Atlanta is between a flat-rate income tax and a plan that would "do away with the personal income tax but broaden the sales tax by eliminating 107 exemptions. We're committed to a pro-growth tax plan that announces to the country that Georgia is open for business."

In Missouri the legislature is reviewing a plan by the state think tank, the Show Me Institute, that would increase the rate of the sales tax to 7.5% and limit spending growth to population plus inflation, in return for eliminating the state's income tax over 10 years. House Speaker Carl Bearden says "I would like to see a phasing out of our current tax structure in Missouri. . . . Eliminating the income tax can have a huge positive impact on a state's economy."

The idea of financing state services without an income tax is hardly radical. Nine states today -- Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming -- manage well without one. With a few exceptions, the non-income tax states are America's most prosperous. Meanwhile, the high income tax states, which tend to be congregated in the Northeast, keep surrendering jobs, people, and voters to the South and West.

State lawmakers also seem to have learned from two of the most recent states to adopt an income tax: New Jersey and Connecticut. As recently as 1965 New Jersey had neither an income nor sales tax, but managed to balance its budget every year. Now it has both taxes -- its income tax is the 5th highest in the nation -- but the state is facing what calls a "staggering budget deficit." Allied Van Lines reports that the Garden State is now one of the leading places for people to flee.

The latest state to adopt an income tax was Connecticut in 1991, but a new report by the Yankee Institute reveals that the tax has been a calamity. The state has ranked last in employment growth since 1991, losing 240,000 of its native born citizens between 1991-2002. No other state has since enacted an income tax, and lawmakers in Georgia, Missouri and South Carolina say Connecticut is now the model for how not to run a state economy.

Whether these states will be able to eliminate their income taxes in the next few years is an open question. But what's undeniable is that the debate in state capitals has swung decisively in the direction of chopping income tax rates, not raising them.

Quote of the day.

"A taxpayer is someone who works for the federal government but who doesn't have to take a civil service examination."
Ronald Reagan

Monday, January 29, 2007

Read Naturally Program

At the school board meeting on January 25th we believe a B. Connell an assistant principal reported on a program called Read Naturally. This is a recently implemented program in the english department. If my memory is correct this was for the middle school. By this age children should have already mastered the mechanics of reading. If they were taught phonics in kindergarten and grade school remediation would not be needed in middle school.

Research into the program revealed that the "Read Naturally" program focuses on "fluency", it makes use of "repeated reading" of the same material to develop a steady relaxed pace in reading.

To learn to read children and people need to learn the mechanics of reading.

With some help of a friend with much experience in the subject we learned.

"The constructivist view of reading is that it is "natural" and should be therefore taught as though it were as natural as speaking. But it's not. Reading requires instruction and learning of a specific skill: decoding."

"I checked the "What Works Clearinghouse" of the USDOE to see what they had."

"Read Naturally" was reported having only a single study that could be said to be research-based. And that study had kind of a screwy design, had very few kids involved, and was limited to Spanish-speaking English language learners. Worse, in that one study, WWC reports:

" Read Naturally was found to have no discernible effects on elementary school ELL students' reading achievement."

"Reading achievement. Denton and colleagues (2004) reported, and the WWC confirmed, no statistically significant differences between the intervention and comparison groups on students' reading achievement. In addition, the average effect size was small and deemed not substantively important. Therefore, the one study reviewed showed no discernible effects."

Sounds like a loser!

Thanks to our friend Kevin Killion of the
for helping us with research into the "Read Naturally Program.

As our friend stated this program sounds like a loser the English Department, the assistant principal and the school board should only consider proven curricula that is well tested and not fade learning programs for the critical years of learning. A good source for them would be "What Works Clearinghouse" of the USDOE.

Many teachers and others have made millions of dollars off of taxpayers and on the backs of our children's education by introducing these fade programs. Parents and taxpayers need to be attuned to this, our children's education and futures are too important to be wasted on fade programs.

Quote of the Day

"IT IS, IN FACT, NOTHING short of a miracle that the modern methods of education have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. To the contrary, I believe that it would be possible to rob even a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness, if it were possible, with the aid of a whip, to force the beast to devour continuously, even when not hungry, especially if the food, handed out under such coercion, were to be selected accordingly. "--Albert Einstein

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ideas to halt dropping out abound at summit

Quote of the day.

My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by myself.
--George Bernard Shaw

The post below is about the summit to try to halt dropout rates in our public schools. A number of people attended the session but I do not see that a large group of dropouts attended the meeting. It seems if you want to halt the dropout rates in public schools you should speak to dropouts.

Recently New Hampshire changed the age of mandatory education from 16 to 18 this change may only increase the dropout rates. While others States have recently decreased the mandatory age of attendance from 18 to 16 New Hampshire took a step backgrounds by increasing the age to 18.

One of the major problems with public schools is that the are a one size fits all education system with little room for diversity especially when it comes to thinking. The best solution is choice, choice for both parent and child to decide what is the best forum for the child to reach their full potential. However our public education system spends more time serving the teachers, administrators and those who attach themselves to the gravy train than the very people they are to serve the students.

The following story appeared in the Union Leader.

Ideas to halt dropping out abound at summit
Sunday News Staff

Manchester – It took just six hours to come up with more than two dozen strategies to keep kids in school, and organizers of yesterday's city summit on reducing the dropout rate hailed it as "tremendous start."

About 150 educators, parents, community organizers and students gathered for the summit, sponsored by the Makin' It Happen Coalition and held at Southern New Hampshire University.

Among the ideas that emerged:

More alternative education and training programs.
In-school suspension with academic and other support.
Better communication with parents.
Earlier intervention for struggling students.
After-school programs.
Partnerships with local businesses.
Mentoring to promote teacher-student interaction.
Bringing social services directly into the schools.
Tym Rourke, executive director of Makin' It Happen, said organizers will compile all the ideas that came out of yesterday into a planning document for future strategy sessions.

Mary Heath, deputy commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education, told the group the latest data shows a slight decline in New Hampshire's dropout rate last year. "We are looking to that as a positive sign that all of your efforts are working," she said.

Heath also said raising the compulsory school attendance age, as Gov. John Lynch has advocated, "sends a message to every single student across the state of New Hampshire that a high school diploma is an essential ingredient for life, and that every student in the state of New Hampshire is so important that we want them to have a high school diploma."

Kathy Hamilton of the Boston Private Industry Council was the morning's keynote speaker. That group convened a task force that looked at the dropout problem in Boston's public schools and proposed solutions.

Hamilton noted dropouts are less likely to get jobs, and more likely to be incarcerated or need social services, than their peers. Her group estimated the cost to society for someone to drop out is $425,000 over a lifetime.

"It's a human crisis because the consequences are so dire," she said. "But it's also an economic issue that affects each and every one of us."

Hamilton also showed a chart estimating the lifetime earnings of Massachusetts residents who attain certain education levels. Someone without a high school diploma could be expected to earn $954,407, while someone with a high school diploma or the equivalent jumps to nearly $1.4 million. An associate's degree brings that up to $1.8 million; a bachelor's degree could earn you nearly $2.8 million.

"People talk about winning the lottery," Hamilton said. "Really, all you've got to do is stay in school."

Members of the Mayor's Youth Advisory Council were among about a dozen students who lent their insights to yesterday's sessions. The MYAC has been conducting focus groups on the dropout issue and plans to report its findings to city leaders this spring.

Fred Bramante, a member of the State Board of Education, closed out the day's events, sharing the story of his own transformation, from a student who finished near the bottom of his high school class to a successful businessman and policymaker. "School taught me I was not very bright -- and life taught me that school was wrong," he said. "But I remember what it felt like."

Bramante suggested that all youngsters "have something special inside them," and it's up to the school system to find and nurture their interests, passions and dreams. "It's not about all. It's about each," he said.