‘Dear SCRG:’ Herndon explains himself on vouchers

Now I have received a copy of a response that David Herndon has sent to SCRG’s response to his complaint. If you had trouble following what I just said, go back and read this, then come back here and read the following:

Dear SCRG:

Thank you for you response. Please mark me as "oppose both" on question six.

We do not remember my campaign putting the "x" where we apparently did, but if we did do so it was a mistake.

Truthfully, a campaign assistant answered your questionnaire… and I do not know if it was our mistake or the awkward wording on your part that led us to "x" the wrong box.

Hopefully, I have been very clear about my support for public education, and my opposition to vouchers, from the very beginning. In fact, my strong support for education and my opposition to vouchers was a centerpiece of my campaign long before you sent your questionnaire. (It is also worth noting that part of the reason I am running is to give voters a pro-education alternative to your voucher candidate.)

David Herndon

26 thoughts on “‘Dear SCRG:’ Herndon explains himself on vouchers

  1. Randy E

    Is Hillary Clinton his campaign staffer (a typical misstatement)?
    If his campain staff member didn’t understand what he or she was marking then this reflects negatively on his choice of staff. It seems there is either deception or incompetence involved.

  2. Lee Muller

    Just accept the fact that you and Randy don’t understand markets, don’t have any business experience, and don’t care to understand how vouchers would work.
    You are a cheerleader for the government, who is afraid of everything outside your narrow life experience, which has all been inside big corporations and big government.
    Randy seems afraid of having the market set his wages, while many really good teachers welcome vouchers, because it would mean more accountability, smaller classes and higher incomes for them.
    No businessmen owe you their business plans for how they would use vouchers to provide a better education. If you want details, why don’t you ask for explanations from GovCo educrats as to why they fail so often?

  3. some guy

    Lee, I think it’s clear that you do not understand the deal.
    Education of children is not a “free-market” model. It just isn’t.
    First of all, the “customers” must attend school; they aren’t really customers at all, in least not in the sense of other free market enterprises. Unlike customers in any true free-market situation, children and families are forced BY LAW to participate.
    Furthermore, public schools cannot choose which children they’ll work with. This is, of course, a big selling point for private schools like the one Gov. Sanford’s children attend: they keep out slower-paced students and those with behavior problems. Since the public schools are not allowed to choose thier clientele in this way, the notion of fair and free competition is completely off-base.
    Now, you may say that we shouldn’t offer free education to the poorest of the poor or to children whose parents don’t care one way or the other. You may say that public schools, just like private schools, should be able to reject kids on the basis of test scores, etc.
    But anything short of that indicates that you are the one who does not understand the facts — a system of compulsory education in which public schools must be open to all simply is not a free market model.
    On the other hand, if you reject the notion of compulsory education and of a free education open to all, then I think you’re going even beyond Gov. Sanford and SCRG.

  4. Lee Muller

    Americanism rejects compulsory behavior of all sorts. Socialism is not a working model for anything successful, including schools. Why would anyone think the brutish economic system which produces junk in every industry is somehow best for providing educational services.
    Socialist education isn’t “free”. It costs over $12,000 per pupil per year. It is is for profit, all soaked up by the managers.
    Real customers don’t have to be compelled at gunpoint to “contribute” tax money to callous managers.
    Vouchers isn’t a true free market model. It just tries to bring some choice to the parents and children. A true free market would have education provided entirely by for-profit business and by charity, accountable to stockholders, just like the private schools have done for 400 years.

  5. Barry

    Vouchers are a joke. I often think folks that tout them haven’t been to most rural areas in our state (btw – I spent all morning earlier today in Bamberg) where the only private school may be 30-40 miles away and no single mom is going to be able to get their child to that school anyway.
    I am a Conservative Republican voter in Elgin and I will not (and have never) support any candidate for office that wants to push the voucher agenda – especially with the underhanded (shall I say lie) way they push their agenda in their frequent mailings and phone calls to my house.

  6. some other guy

    “Americanism rejects compulsory behavior of all sorts. Socialism is not a working model for anything successful…”
    Uh, well what about the United States Military? That is compulsory and its the cornerstone of United States of America? Its also the biggest socialist instution in America but no conservative ever complains about it being socialist. The military provides everyone in it a home or housing allowance, a job and salary and benefits.

  7. p.m.

    Actually, Barry, Jefferson Davis Academy in Blackville is only 15 miles from Bamberg.
    I happen to know that because the name of the school scared me away from an job interview somewhere nearby.
    Nevertheless, I think vouchers would make public schools compete with private schools for money, forcing them to improve when nothing else has.
    Lee is right. The managers (administrators) soak up the profit in public education and endeavor to perpetuate it wihout making much provision for improving the education children are getting.
    To make ends meet next year, my district is letting five teaching positions evaporate thanks to attrition while adding one administrative slot. Apparently, the executive director of instruction (I kid you not — in a district the size of a titmouse, that is her title) needs an assistant, or an associate, or someone who can do her job for her.
    Something HAS to shake up public education, where mediocrity has taken root and spread like wisteria, choking trees that once bore fruit.

  8. Randy E

    p.m. using your rationale applied to Obama’s “57 states” misstatement, your use of “an” with “job” would indicate a lack of education. Clearly this is not the case but what’s a double standard between friends?
    Please share an example of where you have seen a public school compete for money with private schools. We should take on a massive voucher program because some of you “think” it will result in competition and greater success? Last year, in the ENTIRE state of South Carolina, there were around 30 African-American students in private schools who took an AP exam. Despite this, voucher proponents believe private schools would magically perform better with such diversity that public schools now serve?
    You made a point before about the charter school in your county performing at a higher level than the public schools in general. The parents who choose to send their kids to the charter school are inherently more involved than the general parent population. So is it the charter school itself or the active parents that help affect positive academic results?

  9. Randy E

    Lee, I’m waiting for you to justify your claim that a real manager could run a school. There are 24 credits necessary to graduate. In keeping with your 15:1 ratio of students to teacher, explain how many of each type of teacher are necessary to make this work.
    I anticipate that you will dodge this challenge even though you claim to be a real manager. Instead, I bet you’ll stick to your demagoguery.

  10. some guy

    Lee seems to be all over the place here. I thought he was lecturing about “market” forces, and then he acknowledges that education isn’t a free market model.
    In any case, if he is opposed to compulsory education for children, then, again, I think he is more extreme than either Gov. Sanford or even SCRG. If he is opposed to taxes going to public education, I think he may be more extreme than Gov. Sanford or SCRG.
    As for this “for-profit….managers soaking up the profits” stuff, that’s pretty laughable. Sure, there are people in the public school system who make nice salaries. But I would think that even well-paid superintendent generally make FAR LESS than their counterparts in private business (executives who manage similar-sized budgets, staffs, etc.). Most teachers and administrators make mediocre wages, at best.
    Lee lectures about real-world business and “market” forces, yet seems extremely out of touch with how things actually are. And, again, it would appear that his philosophy on education is far to the right of even the most vocal organized voucher/tuition tax credit proponents in this state.

  11. Doug Ross

    I don’t think that using AP exam results as the standard to measure the quality of education is useful. The majority of those students who take and pass AP exams would be successful academically regardless of the AP classes.
    And if you want to use AP exams as the standard, then please provide the number of African American students who took and passed those exams in Allendale-Fairfax High School. I can’t find those numbers.
    I can find the numbers reported by the school on the percentage of students who passed the English 1 end of course test last year: 20.5%
    Better for those kids to stay in that environment than even attempt ANYTHING else.
    Just one chance. That’s all we’re asking. Give the parents of 100 kids in Allendale the $10,000 spent per pupil now and let them decide what they want to do. A million bucks… what’s the worst thing that could happen? That some private entity comes in and saves some of those kids from a lifetime of despair?
    The years keep passing by.

  12. Randy E

    Doug, look again. I didn’t use AP exams to measure quality, I used the fact I cited regarding AP exams as an indication of the lack of diversity in the private schools – both minority and socio-economic level.
    Again, in the ENTIRE state there were only 30 African-American kids in private school who took an AP exam. Despite this, you and others champion these private schools as a panacea without evidence that they can serve such a diverse population any better.
    Exactly what would a private school in Allendale do differently? Will they have better teachers? Will they be free from mainstreaming special ed kids? Will the be free from 504s? Exactly why will they do a better job?

  13. Lee Muller

    some guy needs to practice his reading comprehension.
    Let me help him get started:
    I said that just adding vouchers to a socialist school system does not make it “free market”, but only adds some market forces in the form of customer choice.
    I suspect that some guys use an alias because they would look even dumber then they already do, if they honestly revealed themselves as teenage students criticizing business consultants with 35 years experience.
    And Randy worries that vouchers would make schooling worse for blacks in Allendale and elsewhere, who already have over a 50% dropout rate. I don’t think public school is having much effect on those dropouts sitting down at the corner store.

  14. Doug Ross

    > Again, in the ENTIRE state there were only
    >30 African-American kids in private school
    >who took an AP exam. Despite this, you and
    >others champion these private schools as a
    >panacea without evidence that they can serve
    >such a diverse population any better.
    But what do AP exams taken in existing private schools by black kids have to do with giving kids in terrible public schools a better education?
    I miss the connection. I don’t think the goal of voucher proponents is to get black kids to pass AP exams. The first step would be to get black kids in the worst schools to be able to read and write English at a better rate than they are doing now.
    That would be an accomplishment in and of itself. How many more years of failure does the public school system need?
    Only 20% of the Allendale kids can pass an end of course test in English. Why are you and others so afraid of trying ANYTHING else that might help the other 80% do better?
    A million bucks. Take it out of the lottery money and don’t cut the current public school money a dime. Give it one year for 100 kids and see what happens. What is the downside risk to something like that? What could possibly go wrong that would be worse than another generation of illiterate public school kids??

  15. Randy E

    Doug, my point is that there are very few black students served in private schools. I used the fact that in the ENTIRE state, there were only 30 black students taking an AP exam in private schools. This is one objective measure of the lack of diversity in these schools – both in ethnic and socio-economic terms.
    Given this, how can you support your assertion that a private school in Allendale will serve a diverse population better? Again, exactly what would a private school in Allendale do differently? Will they have better teachers? Will they be free from mainstreaming special ed kids? Will the be free from 504s?

  16. Randy E

    Regarding your question of why not try a voucher system; the debate siphons energy, time, and focus from comprehensive reform. If we enacted it, we’d spend years analyzing the results while holding off on other reform initiatives because many see it as a panacea. Meanwhile “the years will keep passing by.”
    You have astutely cited many of the specific problems in education, like teacher accountability. State End of Course exams and AP exams are effective tools for such accountability because they reflect the specific content of a course. One of my colleague had 100% of her students in algebra pass the state exam. There’s an objective measure of teacher success.
    Currently, the only evaluation tools we have are occasional subjective observations for which teachers can put on a dog and pony show. Or, we look at grades over which teachers have complete control. For example, I am little Doug Ross’ teacher and know that his dad is highly obtrusive so I slip him a couple points on his average. Daddy is happy and doesn’t complain (about that at least) so the administrator is happy. In the end, the teacher receives kudos.

  17. Lee Muller

    You need to look in the mirror and ask yourself why you are so afraid of competition, so afraid of new ideas, so afraid of the opportunity to have more control over your classroom, so afraid of parents signing a voucher or check and feeling they have a right to expect quality service.

  18. p.m.

    I quote here from the resume of an applicant hired to be a principal at an elementary school in my district. She was describing her duties at an elementary school where she serves as assistant principal:
    “…disaggregating, monitoring and adjusting curriculum data to maximize student proficiency in all assigned content areas…”
    “Facilitating monthly … meetings with teachers to promote and ensure data-driven collaborative strategie planning sessions … guiding the consensus amongst the 4th, 5th and 6th grade teams…”
    You know, everytime the board at my club meets, we have a “data-driven collaborative strategic planning session.”
    At least I think we do, but we don’t call it that, and we’re adults, not students at an elementary school. We just look at the figures from last month to see where we’re going.
    Maybe we’re not “guiding the consensus” well enough, because now and then someone complains about the greens or the green fees or somebody’s handicap, but, still, we manage to disaggregate what data we have.
    That usually starts with someone saying, “Let’s break it down,” and we focus on the specifics.
    But if desegregation begat disaggregation in the public school system, more power to you.
    No wonder the legislators can’t give you what you want, though. They probably can’t figure out what you mean.

  19. Lee Muller

    Randy, does your school own a dictionary.
    Look up some of the words you misuse, such as, “platitude”.
    Why are you afraid of the voucher opportunity for poor children to select their teachers?

  20. p.m.

    Pardon me for trying to write with my tongue tucked too far under my earlobe, Randy, but here’s the gist of what I meant. Educators should speak English, not eduspeak, at every “data-driven collaborative strategic planning session.” Then the dog-and-pony show might have a chance to become the “comprehensive reform” of which you speak. We might be able to “disaggregate” the over-centralized, uber-costly “administraggle” that education has become.
    When I went to school, the district office had three employees — the superintendent, his secretary and one other administrator. Now it has 15 or 20, including the executive director of instruction, director of elementary education, director of support services, federal programs coordinator, finance director, superintendent, food service coordinator, health services coordinator, coordinator of technology and a director of human resources and communications who has NEVER sent out a news release about anything.
    Our district will spend three times as much money next year on the superintendent’s expenses than it will on library books.
    Education has given way to hierarchy, and the hierarchy is mostly just sitting on their butts watching our children’s youth swirl.

  21. just saying

    “Why are you afraid of the voucher opportunity for poor children to select their teachers?”
    I’m not against some parts of voucher plans: vouchers seem like they would help middle class parents who care about their children’s educations and live in under-performing school districts.
    …I’m against it because it doesn’t solve many of the problems: Vouchers do nothing to help in impoverished communities (if they can’t get enough capital to attract a grocery store, who is going to build them a school). Many voucher plans also do nothing to help those living at subsistence levels (tax credits are after the fact are useless, and many other proposals don’t cover the full tuitions).
    … and I think they would exacerbate some problems: Vouchers do nothing to help the children of parents who don’t care. Now, I don’t know how to help those kids without trampling “parental rights” (maybe we should), but presumably all of the children whose parents care will be moved out into the private schools, leaving even worse performing public schools as they will have a higher percentage of troubled and disciplinary problem children and less funding (only the non-caring have kids there so the people voting for any needed tax increases [if any] will be less in number).
    Two asides:
    I am unaware of any wide ranging studies showing that private schools (or magnet schools) outperform public schools _after_ adjusting for the fact that public schools have to educate everyone (e.g. a good study must adjust for level of parental involvement, student socio-economic status, and students with disabilities) while being bound by standards the private ones don’t face.
    I am entirely in favor of government reformers making it just as easy to fire government employees for cause as it is to fire private employees for cause. (The “for cause” is important though.) Why is not being able to fire people always cited as a problem for government, yet none of the so-called reformers ever propose a bill to fix it?

  22. Lee Muller

    Actually, the food vouchers like Food Stamps and WIC have built lots of better grocery stores in poor neigborhoods, given the poor a much wider choice for their diets, and at lower prices due to the competition.
    College education vouchers have given all students choices of schools, and have forced colleges to upgrade their offerings. For example, lots of black students no longer see SC State, Claflin, Allen, and Benedict as their only options.
    Unfortunately, some really lousy diploma mills have milked black students who didn’t realize what a sorry education they were receiving. A lot of that can be blamed on complicity by high school guidance counselors. We need to clean that up, and install safeguards against similar fraud by educrats of a K-12 voucher system.

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