Sunday, October 28, 2007

Spiteful: Utahns for Public Schools Ad

I received an incredibly petty ad in the mail from Utahns for Public Schools. Perhaps you did too. Since it illustrates a point that been bugging me about the voucher debate for a while, I decided to address it--not because I believe anyone reading this is available to be swayed in the voucher debate (we've become pretty well informed here in the bloghive), but because I want to make a broader economic point.

In summary, the ad says, "Since every kid can't make use of a voucher, nobody should get a voucher." This is spiteful.

Should we insist that because every adult can't get a Pell Grant (they are only for people below a certain income), nobody should get one? Should we say that because every company can't compete for government aerospace contracts (you have to be a big enough company--and in the aerospace business--to get one), that no company should get government aerospace contracts? Would we insist that no one can use cell phones at home because some people live too far from a cell phone tower to get reception?

If I'm not harmed because you get a benefit, I should rejoice in your opportunity. Utahns for Public Schools does the opposite. This is spite. The ad preys on this worst base emotion that is truly counter-productive. It is the emotion that says, "If I can't finish first, no one else can finish."

[Note: I tried to find a link to this ad on the UTPS website, but I only saw their video ads linked there. If you've got a link, I'd love to add it.]


rmwarnick said...

Utahns for Public Schools is probably too polite to tell it like it is. The private school voucher program is being falsely touted as help for low-income families, when it's really an entitlement program for the middle class and the wealthy.

Jason The said...

Even if that was what Utahns for Public Schools meant in the ad (why not put the actual text, instead of your summation?), I would, even then, fully agree.

We're talking the education of Americans. Future business-people, citizens, and voters. No one should "rejoice in the opportunity of others" when it comes to education, it is something every child deserves.

I find it one of the most foolish perversions of a healthy, capitalist economy when the "free-market" ideology is applied to such integral pieces of our future as the education of our own children. Those so fond of such rhetoric would not be so committed if their own children's health, education, and prospective future depended entirely on the same elements that effect stock markets, dollar values, and global trade.

I hope the next generation is more realistic than we seem to be.

Bradley Ross said...

Thanks for your comments Richard and Jason. In response to Richard's comment, I wrote an additional post. Jason's comment seems to be arguing against a straw man. You write that education "is something every child deserves." We're in agreement on this point, so I'm not sure what the basis of your argument is.

As for why I didn't include the full text of the ad, the answer is simple: I'm lazy. :) The text will be familiar to anyone that has been following the voucher debate. They noted that half of all counties don't have private schools and that a family with four children getting the average voucher of $2000 would still have a lot of money to dish out for the average private school. If anyone has the mailer handy, I'd welcome alternate summaries.

Anonymous said...

Here's what you get in the Parents for Wal*Mart newsletter:

Union taking teachers out of classrooms
The union convention in Utah is traditionally held in early October, and it was scheduled to be so this year, too. In fact, school districts, which build their calendars around the union's schedule, had already scheduled school breaks for October 11 and 12.

Then the union switched their conference to this Monday and Tuesday so it would be close to the election, and so they could present their version of the facts to Utah teachers without giving them the chance to hear from parents and others who support the positive change that vouchers will bring.

But the change came too late for many school districts to change their calendars. The union is asking teachers to leave children in class, in the care of "uncredentialed" substitute teachers, so union bosses can keep spreading their "false" (according to KSL) claims about the voucher law. For all their claims of being "for the children" the union demonstrates over and over that they are simply protecting their own interests and sacrificing the interests and now the education of children.

KSL also rejected vouchers