Sunday, November 4, 2007

Philosophical reasons of Referendum 1 supporters AND the nationally funded movement to replace public education with private schools AND Jay Greene

There are two broad groups of people voting for Referendum 1. Type A Voucher Supporters are staunch free-market advocates who think that government and public education can't do anything right and shouldn't even be providing education because it's not in the constitution.

The second group of people, Type B Voucher Supporters, see the problems in our educational system, but would be horrified to know that vouchers are designed to destroy public education. They have been fooled by the outright lie that vouchers will BENEFIT public schools. These are the people that I am trying to reach out to in the TRUE Utah Voucher Cookie Ad. Vouchers take thousands from public education each time a student leaves. I really explain the funding arguments thoroughly in my earlier entries under the “nuts and bolts” posts. The entries are long, but they make you wonder how the voucher ad people sleep at night.

A poll by the Tribune published today illustrates my point:

For the one-third of Utahns who staunchly support education vouchers, parental "choice" is the driving force - not helping low-income families, the more idealistic reason the movement's leaders hammered home.
"It has always been a major theme of the voucher movement, that vouchers are a way out for minority and poor kids," says Hoover Institute fellow Terry Moe, a long-time researcher on vouchers.
Instead, a new Tribune poll found that a mere 6 percent of Utahns cited helping poor students as the reason they support vouchers.
… On the other hand, two out of three respondents said they support vouchers because "parents deserve more choice in guiding the education of their children."
About a quarter of those who would vote for vouchers supported the program because the public school system is "broken."

You can at least say that I and those voucher supporters have legitimate, honest philosophical differences about the proper role of government in education.

However, the public campaign for vouchers in Utah is NOT honest. The arguments publicly presented almost completely ignore what their supporters really believe. The pro-choice buzzword is thrown around, but attacks on public schools are swept under the rug because they know the large number of TYPE B voters will not vote for their true agenda.

Go to and type these words in the search box: vouchers, utah. 64 entries come up as I’m typing this. The TRUE cookie ad will come up as well as many debates and about a dozen ads by VoteFOR1utah. These are the ads they aired on TV. Watch them…please. They trot out a few teachers who support vouchers, the legislators who support vouchers (Wow. The politicians ignored the public about the stadium AND vouchers this year…that really motivates me to support them…), and the big lies: vouchers “reduce class-sizes, increase teacher pay, and save either $1 billion total or $5500 per kid.”

(The Truth Test clips from a KSL feature will also show up—watch the “Truth Test” and read this backpedal from KSL as they realize they’re on the hook for faulty reporting: …”True” really means “True, but.” C’mon guys. Just issue a retraction and move on. Read about KSL saying that the voucher mailers are putting “spin” on their bad reporting, plus their big, red disclaimers on every voucher article: . Then read my nuts and bolts entries about funding and the text of the bill about accountability.)

Go to and read the six DID YOU KNOW’s on the front page. Four of them are lies about money implying that public education will be strengthened. Nothing about privatization.

Roll Call of the National Voucher Movement with Lots O’ Links

But the signs of the national voucher movement are there. Go back to the Tribune article above and notice the name of the organization of the researcher quoted in the second paragraph, the kind of thing we usually just skim over. It’s the Hoover Institute, a big “think tank” dedicated to promoting certain ideas. I went to and typed these words in the search box in the lower right: education, free market. One of the first links about education (environmental stuff with similar titles came up as well) is this note from the editors explaining how they’re looking for somewhere to do a large experiment with vouchers where they mention “The carefully conducted research by Caroline Hoxby and Jay Greene.” More on those two in a minute. Two links come up for a book co-authored by Joseph Bast Notice the endorsement by John Walton at the bottom of the article.

Joseph Bast is the president of the Heartland Institute. In a not-so-surprising coincidence, the senate sponsor of HB 148, Senator Curtis Bramble, is a “Legislative Advisor” to Heartland Institute: . I like Joseph Bast because he doesn’t beat around the bush like the Utah voucher advocates—he tells you what he wants and why. In the site’s “school reform education suite,” there’s a new section entitled Why Conservatives and Libertarians Should Support Vouchers . In this essay, , Bast tries to convince libertarians to accept the halfway step of vouchers because they are necessary to “wean” the public from public schools. Fascinating stuff. (And incidentally, on pgs. 8-9, Bast admits that the studies show that private schooled students don’t do any better than public schooled students when they’re from the same demographics. His ironic explanation is that the “lavishly” funded public schools are too hard to compete against =).)

There was a guest opinion in the Daily Herald on September 27th by a Ryan Harriman. He complained how the out-of-state teachers union meddled in laws about vouchers nationwide. The print edition gave only his name. The online article gave us his affiliation, which was ironically, the out-of-state Evergreen Freedom Foundation. Click on the Issues tab on top, choose education, and scroll down to their advocated “Strategies.” 1. Deregulate schools to basic health, safety, and civil rights standards. 2. Mandate that 90% or more of allocated education dollars follow each student to the school chosen by parents. 3. Change teacher licensing requirements. An adult with a degree in a necessary field (English, history, computer science, business, etc.), who does not have a criminal record, and who has demonstrated the ability to teach students, should be able to do so in Washington state public schools.

These two organizations give “report cards” to states based on how privatized their education systems are:

The Cato Institute
Here’s their philosophy about what would rate a 100% rating. From pg. 1, “It’s a system where schools can offer instruction in any subject, using any method, for which families are willing to pay.”
Pg. 2, “It is a system in which educators have complete control over the curricula they offer, the teaching methods they employ, the prices they charge, and the hours they work; in which anyone who wants to open a school has the right to do so; and in which the profit motive drives the innovation and expansion of some substantial share of the education sector.”

The Heritage Foundation

Their contact people in Utah include Leah Barker of Children First Utah, Elisa Clements of Parents for Choice in Education Foundation (Ms. Barker is also the public spokesman for Parents for Choice), Mr. Paul T. Mero, President of the Sutherland Institute, and State Senator, Howard Stephenson, President of the Utah Taxpayers Association.

[Sidenote—I was at the voucher debate at UVSC in early October featuring Paul Mero and Patrick Byrne (the instate, $2.71 million PCE donor,5143,695223402,00.html ) on the pro-voucher side. A woman asked Mr. Mero if his goal was privatization of education during the Q and A. He gave her a hard glare and pompously chided her for being so cynical. He believed in Utah schools and was just doing it for the poor kids. Right, Paul…right. I can’t understand why your political affiliations would cause anyone to be cynical of your motives.]

This link also gives the history of the voucher/tuition tax credit fight in Utah. Voucher or TTC bills were introduced and defeated in 1988, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006.

What changed in 2007 when vouchers finally passed by one vote in the house?

I’m glad you asked:

Half a million dollars into the 2004 and 2006 Utah legislative elections happened. Who are All Children Matter? Do you know which family owns Wal-Mart and has 3 of the top 5 or 6 richest people in the world? Google: All Children Matter, Waltons and research it. You’ll get their foundation’s propaganda and lots of other sources detailing money poured into lots of states. “Utah was one of 10 states that All Children Matter has targeted to affect state elections, spending about $8 million nationwide in the 2003-04 election cycle.” How many schools do you think get built just from the Waltons’ taxes? What kind of incentives would they have to privatize education? Who would have the resources to cherry pick legislators a few at a time over 2-4 years through a Utah proxy group until obtaining enough votes to pass the most comprehensive voucher program in history? What possible proxy group already employs dishonest former Republican candidates?

And coming full circle to our extremely trustworthy researchers for The Hoover Institute, google Jay Greene, Waltons, Arkansas. One article you will find is this:
The Waltons gave the U. of Arkansas 300 million dollars, and then another 20 million to start the The Department of Education Reform. Greene’s job and those of the other professors, including an “Endowed Chair of School Choice,”—I’m not kidding—are completely funded by Wal-Mart money. Isn’t the University of Arkansas embarrassed at becoming a tool of a selfish agenda? Doesn’t this seem like an excellent arrangement for a privately paid-off stooge who continues to work for his previous employer, another far-right think tank, The Manhattan Institute, to borrow credibility from the name of a large, public university? You will see Greene’s name on over 50% of “pro-voucher” research. I wonder why? Almost all of the rest comes from the graduate students, staff, and advisory boards of the department, which includes Caroline Hoxby. And yes, some of these academics-for-hire, you can cross-reference all the names, have already complained that Utah’s voucher law is not comprehensive enough.

Greene has done a number of studies of the voucher program in Milwaukee, trumpeting the success of the voucher students. He doesn’t do his own research, but digs through the numbers of a University of Wisconsin professor who was the state's official evaluator of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program from 1990 to 1995. John Witte found some good things about vouchers, but more bad. And this long article by Witte from 1999 does something else for me. We always hear different sides of an issue arguing that the other side is misusing statistics or doing faulty research, but I often have trouble evaluating those claims. This is long, but Witte clearly explains exactly what Greene did in a way that makes sense. I don’t think Greene can have any more credibility (if he still had any) once you read this:
(It’s on a liberal think tank’s site, but it’s a reprint of a college journal article.)

This is just a small sample. Browse the links I provided and they link to even more organizations. See if you believe these think tanks provide objective information and check out all of their purposes, mission statements, etc. They are all devoted to promulgating their viewpoints. They are literally attacking the foundations of public education. Using the money of various millionaires, they have succeeded in buying Utah’s legislature.

There is no “safe” voucher. They are specifically and pointedly designed to weaken and destroy public education. The backers of the movement in Utah know this and lie about it. I believe that includes many legislators—they are not ignorant of what kind of national foundations they affiliate with. Other supporters of vouchers, they Type B supporter, have been fooled into thinking vouchers are “just a little shake up” that will actually strengthen public education. Study the true financial impacts of vouchers. Read Witte’s info about what vouchers did to Milwaukee.

Parent’s for Choice in Education has a Myths and Facts page:
In answer to myth #4, “Any accountant will tell you, there is no such thing as “fixed” costs.” Right.
But here’s Myth #5: Vouchers are the first step in an effort to destroy public education, and the groups pushing vouchers have ulterior motives.

They answer by using research based on Greene’s bad numbers to show public schools improved in Milwaukee and then say “As for allegations of a master plan to destroy public education, you can decide whether that conspiracy theory should occupy more than a second of your thoughts.”

Read the links. Read what the organizations say about themselves. Read their “unbiased” research. Look at the campaign financing and voting records in Utah. And then decide if that rhetorical answer is an excuse to avoid the question.

Find out how much PCE money your legislator got and do something about it.

Note added 11-5: Wow.
has been one of favorite, well-researched, and thought out blogs since I got really connected in the last month and a half. But I had neglected to go back and read all of his older research until now. Wow. Just go to the months August,, and September, and read his posts from Aug. 15th through September. The PCE is only about 12 people; they receive most of their funds from out-of-state interests and Patrick Byrne; and which legislators got how much money during the 2006 election in Utah is documented, including several dishonest reports. [See Sep. 4th for the complete list and other days for case-by-case analysis.] He gives multiple, documented details of All Children Matter's millions spent, state by state. (Can the PCE's attacks on the national union money get any more hypocritical?!! Seriously...would it even be possible?) We are being used as a destructive experiment in radical education theory.


Anonymous said...

I was wondering if there is a quick way to find out which legislators actually took money from PCE.

Do you have a resource that you could point me to?

UtahTeacher said...

The official site is

I don't know how to use this well...yet. I just got this from one of the most comprehensive blogs on the subject: I'm going to modify this post at the end to include some more links to his blog. The easiest way to see for 2006 would be read this blog's long lists of donation getters on Tuesday, Sep. 4. The 2007 link is front and center, at least for donations received. I'm still working on the rest.

UtahTeacher said...

I had a good friend whose opinion I respect tell me this post was too "conspiracy-ish."

I can't tell if he's right or not. I was going for more of a "an organized and well-funded web of organizations that is actively influencing national and local elections to achieve privatization" then a full-on "conspiracy." And I think the Utah face of these organizations dishonestly hides that agenda. It's a 200 pound gorilla they try to hide behind some Oreos.

What do you all think? Does this demonstrably effective and determined agenda, which is openly advocated on a national basis, merit discussion as something scary? Or am I exaggerating the outside influence and wearing a tinfoil hat on this one?

Anonymous said...

I don't know. Some people dismiss evidence as conspiracy if it has too many layers and comes in an alarmist tone... it doesn't mean it isn't true, just that people will be more skeptical of it. I think that if you want to avoid making this post look too conspiracy-ish, maybe you could present info that opposes what you have found and leave it up to the reader to figure it out or something.

Anonymous said...

I have no reason to believe that our elected officials are looking out for the public that elected them over their party. It has always been party first, people fifth... so if a conspiracy exists, then it is best to expose it... as long as it goes beyond conspiracy theory.