Friday, November 9, 2007

False FUD Factusations

First, random related musing…I attended the BYU-TCU game tonight. As I enjoyed the game and the atmosphere, I thought about Utah County’s very close split between Referendum 1 supporters and those against the voucher bill, and all of those heated advocates sitting here screaming together at some horned frogs rather than at each other. I wonder if I’ve conversed with any of these people online or seen a sign in their yard as I drove by?

Two voucher supporters, Rep. Steven Urquhart, and Jesse, have written thoughtful commentary on the rejection of Referendum 1, even though I still disagree with many of their base presumptions and hope to influence some of those ideas in the course of discussion. But notice the 11th comment posted below Jesse’s post by Dave Hansen (Who, as best I can find, seems to be the President of The Buckeye Institute, another out-of-state, rightwing think tank trying to use Utah as a national lever for its own agenda and publishing silly propaganda like this. Especially enjoy the comparisons between public school supporters and repressive white leaders in the Old South straight from Patrick Byrne’s election night playbook.) totally attacking Jesse for what Hansen perceives as erroneous departures from the voucher orthodoxy. If Jesse deviates in any degree with PCE’s talking points, then he must be inexperienced, not committed enough like Dave the donor, and must not have read the bill. All this to a vocal voucher supporter who voted for the bill, but was discussing strategy to address opponent concerns after Referendum 1 was voted down 62.2 % to 37.8% in one of the most conservative states in the union. So if this is how some on the voucher side treat their supporters, how must they be justifying their loss to the intellectually inferior public school advocates?

FUD. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt. This was the only strategy used by voucher opponents (and the Satan worshippers at the UEA) because the benefits of vouchers are inherently truthful. Any “Against” vote was from a lazy teacher interested in preserving his/her union power or someone too stupid to mistrust all of this “out-of-state” influence.

This self-justifying attitude is coming from prominent sources and anonymous comments on the message boards, all of it insulting and arrogant.

The public faces:

Patrick Byrne’s IQ Test

Doug Holmes,2933,308936,00.html
Doug Holmes, chairman of Parents for Choice in Education, said opponents used fear to kill vouchers. Prize-winning teachers surrounded by kids appeared in TV ads warning that the program was flawed and a threat to public schools.
"Serious people who evaluated the policy -- the governor, the Legislature, the business community, etc. -- all support this," Holmes said.
(As opposed to all those flippant, jolly PTA moms…)

Rep. John Dougall

Larry Miller?!
(Rep. Dougall wouldn’t agree about his reading the bill being “radical.” The Sidetrack points out some memory differences on the timing of his conversion and ensuing donation.)
I learned a new term, one that I hadn’t heard before. It was that the F.U.D. method was being used, by design, in the NEA sponsored opposition ads. The F.U.D. method is “Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.”

Richard Eyre and Senator John Valentine
But pro-voucher spokesman Richard Eyre thinks voters were more confused than they were opposed to vouchers. And Senate President John Valentine still believes Utahns would support vouchers with the right information.

More from Senator Valentine: (Nov. 6th entry)
No one likes to be served humble pie but, whatever the outcome, I believe it's healthy for government to be reminded that voters are citizens, not subjects. They are the final decision makers on this bill and bear the final responsibility for what occurs as a consequence of their vote.

I initially though this quote showed at least some recognition of the validity of public opinion, but when I shared it with friends, they immediately retorted with, “The fact he had to be “reminded” that we aren’t subjects explains this voucher bill perfectly.” And I hope those consequences don’t include politicization of the school board.

The Peanut Gallery:

From this Deseret News Article:
Concerned | 9:20 p.m. Nov. 6, 2007
GWB Did you actually read the legislation? It's apparent you didn't. Vouchers did not give anything to the rich. It actually helped far more middle and poor class kids. Not to mention the significant increase spent on public schools. I encourage all to read the actual printed law even though it's too late. You will find the Anti-Voucher side LIED!!! And these people teach our kids. It just goes to show that even those who claim they're above the mess will go right into the muck if they feel threatened in anyway.

If the majority is unwilling to sufficiently research their vote where will we end up and what will need to be done when the mess is over our heads?

From this Tribune Article:
Tumbleweed Tom: 11/7/2007 9:35:00 PM

Anything But: You think conservatives aren't united by anything but
greed? We've shown you and will continue to show you how united we are against liberalism, socialism, anti-religionism, porn, crime, gun control, abortion, the UEA and the NEA (because they bash conservatism and embrace and try to indoctrinate about libralism). We don't oppose teachers, only teachers who try to endoctrinate our kids w/ the liberal crap. In that sense most politicians who are endorsed by the UEA or NEA will find that the endorsement is a ball and chain. The best thing the teachers of this state could do is completely cut themselves off from both unions and hire lobbyists who can convince legislators that teachers do not want to attack the core values prevalent here. The defeat of vouchers doesn't mean our values have changed, only that confusion or uncertainty of vouchers prevailed. Our legislatures, most of whom on all other issues, share the core values of the majority here, may indeed blame the UEA for the failure of vouchers. That probably means the two unions will be considered DIRT more now than ever before. Teachers, if you want to make headway w/ the Legislature, get rid of the UEA and NEA and use the money to hire effective lobbyists (who have never had any affiliation w/ either UNION).

From the initial KSL report of the referendum’s defeat:
I agree 100%
by tifflynn @ 11:52 pm - Tue. Nov. 6th, 2007

I really think people just trusted what they heard the most of. When
one side is spending literally 3x as much as the other, as was the
case here, the first is bound to win. Few people were able to look
into this program with an open mind. It was obvious to me (as I spoke with several teachers and PTA members) that someone was persuading most everyone in the public education system to think one way and one way only. I don't think too many teachers or citizens were able to look at the issue head on and read the facts to decide what was best on their own. It's too bad because we should be fighting for better education all around. Competition would have been very good for the public schools, smaller class sizes would have happened, increased funds would have helped. But I believe it just comes down to someone or some group wanting control for themselves. Fear of losing that control is what drove the anti-voucher campaign and somehow a lot of people bought into it all too easily. It's just too bad.

What a bunch of bologna! That is exactly the opposite of my observations and what has been recorded by those willing to share their reasoning. Those thoughtful enough to read the bill were more likely to change their minds from a vote "for" to a vote "against":
Here, here, and here.

Bear in mind, these are people who support vouchers in principle, but found too many flaws in this bill. I never found a similarly reasoned admission from an anti-voucher advocate switching to be pro-voucher.

As far as being informed, I asked my state senator if she had read the USU study used to claim over $1 billion in savings. She hadn’t. I seriously doubt that Speaker Curtis and Senator Valentine have as well. (See as well this “honest and sincere” questioning of the public’s ability to do anything right.) As I researched exactly how the bill funding language worked and read PCE’s own studies, I blogged about it and posted my findings on some other blogs that were pro-voucher. In the heated atmosphere of online debates, these four blog comments, based on the financial details of HB 148, had not been responded to as of early Friday, Nov. 9, 2007. I believe it is because my comments are indisputable on at least these two points of funding:

Utah Politics:

A marketing/PR guy with lots of ideas who works for the Utah Jazz on game nights--which I mention because it is cool:

A nice guy recommended by Rep. Urquhart:

Rep. Dougall (I was most nervous about posting to this blog as his replies tend to be caustic, but I definitely read the bill and concluded it was flawed. I've been ignored so far.)
I’ll quote this one because I think it’s the most succinct:

I personally believe that voucher supporters were more guilty of light reading than voucher opponents. The claims of $1.4 billion in savings were accepted and promulgated without question by PCE and repeated in the last letter to the public from Sen. Valentine and Rep. Curtis. I'm doubting they read even the executive summary of the USU study they cite, let alone the in-depth statistical twisting necessary to save $2675 more on the marginal cost of each student leaving school than total cost put in per student including capital costs.

Lines 309-315 of HB 148 reveal the shell game. When the general fund disperses a $2250 voucher to a school, the district ALSO has to give $2250 back to the Uniform School Fund...where it just sits until rolling back into the funds for the next year. That money is counted in the total student funding which makes the funding statistic look better, even though the local school and district both lost money. And after the five years of mitigation, the district loses the entire MSP.

I feel the true financial impacts of the bill have been nailed down fairly well now, besides a few factoids dependent on legislative intent that we may never know…such as whether the MSP withdrawn per student would be a statewide average, a district average (these two would differ by thousands of dollars in some cases), or the actual MSP of that student which would in most cases be only the WPU of $2417, resulting in mitigation refunds of only a couple hundred dollars. I’ve got further things to say about the UEA and my ideas for school improvement in the coming weeks.

Go to any article written in the last few months about vouchers in the Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune, or Click on the comments and see for yourself. The only FUD is that being spread by the voucher supporters to counter anti-voucher fact. They use “the status quo” as a buzzword about our “failing,” “broken” school system. They refuse to acknowledge the permanent, historical underfunding of our schools by claiming the state has been “throwing” money into the failing system with no results. The UEA or NEA is the strawman bogeyman that opposes all improvement, and therefore, voucher opposition is about “power and control."

Even voucher supporters mentioned above acknowledge the huge cost and inequality of HB 148 as written. Hundreds of thousands of smart, conscientious Utah voters rejected vouchers because of sincere philosophical objections to an instrument designed to destroy public schools. Regarding tax contributions as individual payments to be distributed back to the individual taxpayer inevitably leads to privatization and exclusion of those unable to pay. We don’t receive individual allotments of roads, police protection, fire service, etc. because the system would break down and exclude large portions of society. Society as a whole, including the wealthy taxpayers ultimately funding these public goods, benefits from an educated, protected populace. It cannot be about “I got mine.” That is not fear; it is principle.


RussellPage said...

I'm not a utah jazz pr guy. I just work on their media staff during the games.

Great post.

UtahTeacher said...

Fixed! Thank you for taking the time to read it. I'm glad that someone who voted for the referendum can see my post as constructive. I just want to establish facts, and then deal with all of our legitimate differences as we try to improve.

Jesse Harris said...

I later heard from an anonymous source at The Sutherland Institute that the attitude of Dave Hansen is more-or-less the official line of PCE. If you don't do every little thing they want, they're more than happy to throw you under the bus.

With friends like that...