Better Local Control – Triple the School Districts

A few years ago, Brett Moulding, the state director of curriculum invited me into his office to chat with me. He started off with, “Oak, you’re very involved in your children’s education. How do we get more parents involved like you are?” I replied, “Easy, just implement Investigations math statewide.” However, I think there is a better way than ticking off tens of thousands of families. :)

It seems like these days everyone likes to use the phrase “local control of schools,” especially those who find it a convenient war cry against any state legislator trying to inject their voice into the education system. Does anyone truly think we really have local control of schools? What would local control even look like?  We’ve come a long ways from Little House on the Prairie, but who should be setting policy and curriculum at the local schools? Parents? Teachers? The district? The state office of education? Legislators? Children? :) I would like to propose an idea for consideration (thanks to Jed Norwood for his assistance in pulling these numbers together).

This chart shows the population of Utah over the last 60 years. We have quadrupled in size from about 700,000 citizens to about 2.8 million. Yet over that span of time we have only increased the number of school districts from 40 to 41, and that 1 has caused a lot of controversy.

Utah Population vs. Number of School Districts

This graph is basically a duplicate of the first but the Utah population is divided by the number of school districts to calculate the average number of citizens within a school district.

Utah Population per School District

Just for sake of comparison, lets look at the predominant religion in this state. The LDS church over this same 60 year period has grown from just over 1 million members to almost 14 million. Instead of amassing power in the 180 stakes that existed back then, they divided it out to over 2,800 stakes.

LDS Church Population vs. Number of LDS Stakes

Look at the effect. Instead of a rising population per stake, the number of members per stake actually decreased somewhat significantly over that time span. This decentralizing of power allowed the members of the church to have better local control, local representation where members can communicate with their leaders easier, and the church still maintains economies of scale by having stakes associated with each other.

LDS Population per Stake

What would Utah look like if the education system followed the LDS church’s program of splitting its power to maintain local leaders and close contact with its members? Interestingly, about the same number of students per district compared to members in an LDS stake.


Current System What if Scenario
Utah School Districts 40 116
Residents/District 67,412 23,827
School Board Members 205 580
Students/District 13,228 4,561
LDS Members/Stake 4,825

Obviously changing anything involves pros and cons and figuring out the details of such a transition. For some smaller districts, they might not even be affected because they may only have 1 high school. Big districts like Alpine, Jordan, Davis, Granite, could see themselves broken into 8-10 districts, dramatically reducing the size of the district, and bringing local control back to the people.


  • Current board members in ASD (Alpine School District) spend 15-20 hrs/week on district work. If the district split into several pieces, each board member of the new districts may only spend 2-3 hours/week on district work opening the door for greater public participation instead of only those who can make such a huge time commitment.
  • One board member in ASD is over 24 individual schools due to the geographic size of the district and will be getting 2 more schools soon. How is that fair to the board member or the public who expects their board member to be responsive to their school needs? Splitting districts brings the public better representation.
  • Because of the time commitment and being stretched thin, board members are reduced to “yes-men” because they just don’t have time to dig into anything more than at surface level.
  • Instead of 7 board members in ASD there may be 40+ depending on if the new boards had 5 or 7 member compositions. That means you’re electing someone who is truly local to you and you wouldn’t need a partisan election where you choose neighborhood delegates to go vet candidates for you. Right now, with the size of the district, we’re electing people who we don’t really know where they stand on anything.
  • To run for office would be much easier in a smaller area. It would be far less expensive to cover a couple precincts rather than a dozen or more.
  • By cutting the size of the district, we could probably eliminate completely the staff at district offices and give teachers a modest raise. If we gave principals of the schools their own budget to control and they worked with the School Community Council to set school policy just like charter and private schools, we could run very efficient, lean schools and increase teacher salary.
  • Privatizing busing and maintenance would then allow districts to focus on education and contract out for those services.
  • School community councils should be given more power to serve as a local school board at the individual schools. They should be given power to hire and fire the principal based on community feedback, and to deal with discipline problems with students or teachers at that school. That way we actually wind up with 300 or more school board members in a district the size of Alpine. The schools are always saying they want more parental involvement, this would finally do it. Give the schools to the parents and let them own them. That includes curriculum and content. Let them decide if they want 9th grade English to be filled with reading books on diversity and tolerance or else classics of literature.
  • Parents finally have to look into curriculum choices for themselves and be more involved at the schools.


  • The big one deals with the tax base and figuring out how to split it. Initially splitting the districts, they could just share the pool of the same district money on a per student basis. After that there could be a plan worked out for a conversion to where parents with children in school pay for their education like they used to, and other citizens without children in school stop paying in property tax to cover the education of other people’s children. This will also greatly incentivize parents at local schools to make sure their children are getting the best education because those parents will be writing the checks themselves.
  • With that last point, some people are shouting for joy and others are screaming “what about the poor kids?” Those families who haven’t the money to attend school could rely on generous people in the community to donate to aid in the education of the children. If you don’t think this will happen, then you have no hope in the charity of others. I believe good people will step up and donate rather than pay a tax that takes money from them. Disagree? Look at the LDS church’s Perpetual Education Fund which has been very well funded by generous people all over the world. Surely we can believe there are generous people in our communities that will step up and help educate children. Giving comes from the heart and when it’s done this way it benefits the giver and the receiver is grateful instead of our current system where the “giver” hates paying taxes and the “receiver” believes it’s an entitlement.
  • How do you then set up a new high school somewhere and have it pull some of the population from surrounding area middle and elementary schools? This could be done similar to the way a charter school is set up. It would also help make sure the parents were ensuring administrators were held accountable for the costs of that development because it’s coming out of their pockets.
  • “What about economies of scale,” I hear everyone screaming. The LDS church has plenty of economies of scale because it has agreements with large companies to provide for its wards and stakes. The Utah state office of education could do the same thing. I also do not think charter and private schools suffer much in decreased purchasing power.

There are certainly more pros and cons and I invite you to list them in the comments. These were just the primary items on my mind while writing this article.

Legislative input?

Now for the really sticky issue. I have had a few people ask me over the last week that if this is a good idea (and they have said it was), then what about the legislature stepping into things that affect local schools? This is not a clear cut issue.Yes I favor local schools as outlined above. However, right now many are currently under the control of individuals who I question their common sense and/or associations. District implementations of programs by fiat like Investigations math has destroyed thousands of lives. Even after we got the state office of education to review the program and remove it from their approved curriculum list along with Connected math, ASD has continued to fully use both of these harmful programs. This requires the intervention of the legislature to set programs into place using common sense and get the curriculum scales balanced before they hand control over to the parents to have true local control. At least that’s my opinion.

King for a Day

If I had to say how I think things should play out it would be as follows:

  1. Immediately implement partisan school board elections at the state level and temporarily at the district level
  2. Keep state board terms at 4 years since they cover twice the geographic area that state senators cover, but reduce district board member terms to 2 years since they have areas more comparable to state representatives.
  3. Legislature appoints citizens review boards for strong academic curriculum and standards to remove garbage programs like Investigations, Connected, and Interactive math for which there are no studies to support them
  4. Shatter the districts into fragments as described above
  5. Turn over control of curriculum to the locally elected boards and make parents accountable for their children’s education
  6. Leave district school board elections partisan, but have local schools have non-partisan races since you should be familiar enough with people in your area that you can have that be non-partisan.
  7. Allow schools to compete for students and their money based on performance. Allow teachers to teach more students if they can handle it and the students want in that class because of the superior job that teacher is doing. Those teachers get paid more.
  8. Those that have children in the schools and actually pay to have their children schooled there are the only ones that vote on board members for the school and district.

Incidentally, this would be closer to what Jefferson envisioned as a way to correct problems that arise when you don’t have local republican government.

“The article… nearest my heart is the division of counties into wards. These will be pure and elementary republics, the sum of which taken together composes the State, and will make of the whole a true democracy as to the business of the wards, which is that of nearest and daily concern. The affairs of the larger sections, of counties, of States, and of the Union, not admitting personal transactions by the people, will be delegated to agents elected by themselves; and representation will thus be substituted where personal action becomes impracticable. Yet even over these representative organs, should they become corrupt and perverted, the division into wards constituting the people, in their wards, a regularly organized power, enables them by that organization to crush, regularly and peaceably, the usurpations of their unfaithful agents, and rescues them from the dreadful necessity of doing it insurrectionally. In this way we shall be as republican as a large society can be, and secure the continuance of purity in our government by the salutary, peaceable, and regular control of the people.” –Thomas Jefferson, The Jefferson Cyclopedia, Pg. 213

For those saying “how can Oak use a quote that contains the word democracy!?!?” please visit this page of quotes on Republics and Democracies which was one of the first posts on this site.

Weigh in and let me have it below! :)

31 Responses to “Better Local Control – Triple the School Districts”

  • Amalthea:

    I don’t think it is a bad thing to have all citizens, even those without children, pay taxes that support education. People both with and without children at home all suffer the consequences of a poor educational system. A better educated citizenry (supposedly) makes better laws, and this makes life better for people without children. Better educated students mean better doctors, engineers, physical therapists, software designers, power plant developers, etc., and all of these people make life better for those without children. And if all schools were run as well as the best charter schools, maybe we could pay less taxes and still have a well-educated populace.

  • Jennrc3:

    I like it. I don’t think we need school board members though. Just a principle who also teaches at the school is enough. I think public school should only go till noon which would also cut cost. Let’s teach the most important subjects like Writing, Reading, Math and True History. Other subject could be offered as extra curricular classes after lunch. This would cut the cost of lunch programs too. People could vote on what they wanted to have their children learn and people from the community could get paid to teach whatver they specialize in…languages, computer, music, art, dance, science etc. Parents would pay for each class they sign up for. No Federal money needed. Maybe the kids could even find creative ways to earn money to pay for some of their own classes if the parents could not afford it. This allows for parents to decide what they want their children to learn. We know the needs of our children and should have a say in what we want them to learn or not learn.

  • Jo:

    Would there be no requirement for people who do not have children in the schools to pay for the schools? Would there be a provision for people who want schools based in a unique ideology, ie. religion, to have their resorces thoroughly allocated as they desired?

  • England1776:

    Oak, I love it, but I don’t know why we need school districts at all. Charter schools are their own districts, this means they have control of their school, no one esle to run it but the Principle and Parent board and parents. I have found that parents and even local citizens are very happy to help out and teach classes at school for subjects they have a passion and expertise in. People love to share their talents. We could set a great pattern for the rest of the country. It would save tons of money, improve schools and increase local control. Thank you Oak, for all you do for education, as well as the rest of us.

  • Anonymous:

    This is a great write up and idea! I completely support it. This IS what Jefferson envisioned and wanted, dividing government as we grow. THIS is the way to have civic education for the youth, by having adults the youth know in elected positions. THIS is how the future generation can learn how to govern themselves! Civics classes usually just teach kids how to be political activists, pushing feel-good, mostly liberal, ideas. When kids grow up seeing people they know holding positions of responsibility, they learn to be responsible and concerned with protecting their freedom. Of course the adults learn more as well and become more responsible in their demands of government, when they have to match income with benefits, and when they can’t pick someone else’s pocket to pay for wishes. Great job Oak! Keep it up!

  • Anonymous:

    True, we would have more community board members, making about $4500/year. But we would have less mid-level district administrators making $110,000/year who don’t answer to the public! Superintendent salaries would be much less as well, even though there would be more of them. And they would be much closer to the people. It is worth it! If you have ever lived in an area of smaller community school districts you probably know this, though it would be better if there were NO big districts in the state to influence the politics of it on the state level!

  • Ed Barfuss:

    Oak, You may have ignored the economy of scale. If I remember right, the two largest school districts in Utah have the lowest administration to classroom cost. The “no district” idea has merit but I believe at least some of the charter schools have high Admin to Classroom ratios. We need to do a serious cost/benefit analysis. Individual schools choosing their own textbooks is possible but the state board will cry foul. I think some level of standardization through out Utah has merit. Thanks for making district size an issue. The ASD budget is 50 times larger than the Highland City budget. That much money is problematic.

  • Anonymous:

    “The way to have good and safe government is not trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to everyone exactly the functions in which he is competent … [more] … It is by dividing and subdividing these Republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations until it ends in the administration of everymans farm by himself, by placing under everyone what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best.” Thomas Jefferson

  • Dana:

    Laura Ingalls Wilder received a better education as a 15 year old than most of our students receive today . . . as did Jefferson under a no tax system.

  • Dianne:

    Fantastic idea, Jennrc! Why not have scholarships pay for the extracurricular things, too – scholarships EARNED by students and funded by generous and interested parties – just like university scholarships.

    Could teachers support themselves on the reduced part-time income if they don’t teach any extracurricular classes? A “capitalistic” system would pay teachers per pupil and would not restrict class sizes. Discipline is provided by parents who recognize that if their kid caused too much trouble, he/she would loose their seat in that class. The best teachers would quickly rise to the top raking in huge salaries. That carrot would attract excellent teachers producing excellent results, would it not?

    Also, children under 8 should not be in school. They should be at home with their mothers. I once spoke to a woman who secured private music lessons for each of her children. One of her oldest children started violin lessons at age 5 and, by 17, had developed an amazing talent. Her sister, about 5 years younger, was nearly her equal at age 12. Their mother told me that after what felt like beating her head against a brick wall for several years with her older daughter, she decided that she would try something a little different with the younger kids. She held them back until about age 8 and each of them easily advanced to the same level of proficiency within a year or two that they would have been at had they started 3 years earlier.

  • Rick:

    Why have school districts at all? The best sized school district is one per student. The parents of each student should have complete control of their education money. Let the market decide who are the good teachers and which programs work best. Really, this would solve almost every education problem we face.

  • Webstuff:

    England1776, excellent idea. Hello! Charter schools ARE their own district, and parents can choose where to enroll their children. Why do we need school “districts” at all?

  • Anonymous:

    Yeah, I heard she made it to Calculus.

  • Anonymous:

    I have a problem with the part where only those who have children in the school can vote for local board members. Does that mean that those who do not have children are exempt from paying taxes as well? It is a socialist thing to do in taking money from someone but not letting them have a voice through a vote. I think that those who contribute money towards the system should have a vote regardless of “child” status. Grandparents also have a stake in the education of their grandchildren and should not be discriminated against.

  • Anonymous:

    Why not go further? Why not make every school a charter school? Or something close to this? I agree school districts and school boards and district officials are deaf, dumb and blind. For years now, I have been trying to get my (Davis) district to once again offer honors geometry. [The lack of it is highly responsible for the dumbing down of secondary math]. They have refused to. I then went to the state board of education, spoke before them, called and e-mailed them. Once again my efforts were futile.

    It seems the only hope is the legislature [aka Senator Howard Stephenson]. I have written a bill which he has said he will introduce. It directs that honors geometry be restored, but in doing so gives more power to teachers to make decisions. They can choose their own books without regard if the book has been approved by the state office of education.

    I have heard that charter schools DO LISTEN to parents. Our school board system as now constituted is a farse, they are satisfied with very mediocre education, with just getting by.

    In fairness we should be paying our educators more, for a university education, they don’t earn much, I wish we would raise their pay, but also demand more of them, ie. students who are serious about getting a good education should be offered the opportunity.

    Also it would help if the legislature would not only require this but also fund it. If we invest in eduction in the right way, it will pay dividends in spades, do we stop spending money on food because we are having a hard time with our finances?

  • Anonymous:

    The problem is that most parents don’t pay enough money to educate one of their children, let alone all of them. Also, I’m not sure how it will work if each parent can decide what curriculum their child is taught. I doubt you find a consensus among all parents. Don’t forget that parents are thinking about the interests of their own children first, while a teacher is trying to figure out how to meet the needs of all of the children.


  • Anonymous:

    You answered your own question. Choice. Some parents choose to keep their children in a district school for a variety of reasons.

  • Tammy:

    These are some great ideas! Thank you Oak for about these issues so thoroughly. One question I have is why not eliminate district and state school boards all together? I have been told that every community has the authority to set up their own private school under the direction of the city council. These schools are called magnet schools. The city council can then set up parent advisory committees, and the committees select the curriculum, the faculty, and school administrators. Magnet schools in combination with other private schools and home schools would introduce an element of competition and parental input that would improve the quality of education dramatically. Local community members would have to investigate how to get adequate funding for the school, but they would be free of all the “strings” attached to state and federal funding of education.

  • Anon:

    Our system of public schools did not exist at the time of the Revolution. They came into existence gradually until by the late 1800’s we had public schools throughout the country. What Jefferson and the founders talked about was education of all, but the only thing, at the time, they wanted publicly funded were the school buildings. In early Utah, education was paid for by the individual families, and it was considered your duty to help pay for the education of the less fortunate. Alexis de Toqueville describes how parents would be fined if they didn’t provide education for their kids, but it was entirely the family’s responsibility to educate their kids. We assume that public education is the way it has always been. However, it’s only been that way in Utah for about 120 years, and the rest of the US is similar. Brigham Young said, “I am opposed to free education as much as I am opposed to taking away property from one man and giving it to another who knows not how to take care of it. But when you come to the fact, I will venture to say, I school ten children to every one that those do who complain so much of me…Would I encourage free schools by taxation? No, that is not in keeping with our work.” (St. George Temple address, 1877)

  • Grkayt:

    Yes! Triple the districts, cut out the State & current local school boards, compensate new elected district leaders only for extra time and expenses but rely more on volunteer parent involvement. We need to consider how much of our property & income taxes already go to support our schools and administration expenses. Local control and parent support could direct those funds to better schools and teachers instead of special programs to satisfy some federal grant. Why should our students have to rely on liquor taxes for milk money?

  • Tommy:

    Those of us who object to compulsory education funded by (compulsory) taxation aren’t asking for a poor education system. This is the most common logical fallacy of those who insist on public (i.e., compulsory) funding for education. We’re saying, among other things, that a free and competitive market will tend to raise the quality of the supply for all offerings, and that the current system has proven itself unresponsive and inefficient. We’re also saying that there are social benefits, beside the benefits inherent in education, to be had by both the voluntary giver and the voluntary receiver of private charitable education funding.

  • Anonymous:

    Good observation, but unfortunately we don’t live in an agrarian 18th or 19th century anymore and will never do so again. If we desire to compete on the global market place, we need to educate everyone as best as possible. Other countries are doing it, even the socialist and communist ones. We could be more relaxed about educational achievement in the past where an 8th grade education was satisfactory, but we need to find realistic solutions for our own day and age without becoming overly nostalgic for a simpler past.

  • Doug:

    Oak – Excellent discussion. I have a few prejudices (don’t we all?) But I think some excellent points have been made already and several lean to my prejudice. The school choice movement is still fresh with many ideas. I believe that an ultimate evolution of it is the abolition of districts, though the abolition of their boundaries and control will not result in their complete demise. Arizona operates the highest number of charters and has the largest percentage of public school students in charters. (1 of every 6). This large number of entities seeking economy of scale for any number of administrative and specialized services has spawned numerous school service organizations providing special ed, accounting, language instruction, federal compliance services, etc. I would end districts and place every school under the local control of a council, elected for terms at meetings at the school. Anyone is eligible if willing to serve and selected by a majority. No boundaries to live in, no child needed to attend. I would suggest that voter registration and other considerations be dropped. If you would hire them to guide your company’s million dollar budget, maybe you would vote for them. That’s what it is about, isn’t it? I would encourage district offices, bus barns, maintenance units, etc. to reinvent themselves as corporations servicing any school they can. Many states have equalized taxation for education and distribute it statewide on a per pupil basis. This allows great parental control and market forces enter the system. Curriculum that is liked attracts business. Teachers, gifted programs, special ed services, transportation, after school programs, help for the troubled teen, all items that make a niche in the market and draw customers (and many other items – even the limited Utah charter market has diversity). I have always believed that the closer government is to the people the better they are likely to feel served. It often has difficulty but we all need to expect to put time in. I do not believe in paying for service to the community on a local board, nor do I expect board members to spend their life doing it. I serve on a charter board in Arizona, that though I’ve moved, prefers I continue. We have twelve charters. We are large enough to have “district” services for economy of scale. We achieve more because we also sell them to many other schools. The evolution has not reached its optimum but it is much closer because of discussions and ACTIONS like these.

    Another point. I was appointed to serve on a district consolidation committee. We reviewed many budgets from across the United States and many tax and spend paradigms. It was only possible to recommend consolidation of overlying (non-unified) districts from the standpoint of efficiency of expenditures for the taxpayer. Any system analyzed solely for budget will evolve to larger and larger units. This is visible in any product market, though every product market has an entity that breaks that mold in any number of specializations. There is room for large and small. Accountability is an ever necessary byword. Lets keep moving forward.

  • Kristen:

    I really like the idea of decentralizing. Multiplying districts gives us that many more chances to innovate and improve, as well as to give real local input into what our kids receive. Continued State Board of Education provides a unifying and correlational arm. But what I like the most is the chance for parents to learn to lead, to gain governmental experience, and to set an example of service. Serving on such boards provides priceless experience for citizens. This experience is such a boon to our community! Citizens need such opportunities to grow–it builds the strength of our nation. And our children learn to serve in the future, through the public virtue of their parents .

  • Jennrc3:

    This statement should be a red flag to all of us “Other countries are doing it, even the socialist and communist ones”. This is the reason we should consider doing something different. those who created our government schools had socialism in mind when they did it. It is working perfectly. We have a generation who do what they are told, but don’t know how to think. This is why we have people willing to ignore their rights and get molested by TSA, rather than stand up and not accept it. We have a society who depend on the government for many things those 8th grade graduates would have never expected to be handed to them (education, food, protection, saving them from hurricanes they were warned about, unemployment insurance, etc). By the way, that 8th grade education was often way better than our 12th grade education, even some college education. What they learned was more beneficial and useful than our dumbed down, feel good education we get today. We are just so used to it, we don’t recognize our downfall. The government is not capable of having a successful program. Our government schools are no exception to this rule. They keep promising better programs that cost more money, and they keep failing. Why do we trust them? In most areas, local control is more effective and less expensive.

  • Anonymous:

    Using the LDS Church stake statistics is simply comparing apples and oranges because the church isn’t dividing itself into independent pieces. When a stake is divided, the church is still firmly in control of each stake. A district split is more like a divorce.

  • Maybe it’s not apples to apples, but it’s at least plums to plumcots. :) Even though the church has a hierarchy, they split stakes so they have more effective local control. Districts are still beholden to state standards like stakes are subject to church standards. I think the parallel works.

    In 2006 I asked ASD’s school board to make a statement to the teachers in the district that they were at liberty to teach the times tables to their students and informed them that many teachers were afraid for their jobs if they taught them. I sat down and the superintendent and board president (JoDee Sundberg at that time) took turns actually yelling at me from their seats in open board meeting that I didn’t know what I was talking about and that they knew everything that was happening in the district and that no teacher was afraid for their job. I was stunned. I almost asked if they wanted names. How insane is it to think that these few people knew what was happening in thousands of classrooms. It’s far better to split current districts and release almost all the district admins, or as some have suggested make all schools essentially charter schools with a real board instead of the weak SCC structure. That would ensure local control and local accountability.

  • Jared:

    “This statement should be a red flag to all of us “Other countries are doing it, even the socialist and communist ones”. This is the reason we should consider doing something different.”

    Let’s not twist was Corruption_Exposed actually wrote. He warned that we can’t start providing less education to the public (your plan) while our enemies, which include socialist and communist regimes, continue to provide more and more education to their citizens.

    “those who created our government schools had socialism in mind when they did it.”

    Huh. I never knew the Pilgrims had socialism in mind when they created public education. In fact, I always thought the Pilgrims wanted what you want, Jennrc3: A theocratic takeover of schools. I wouldn’t call that “socialism” though.

    “It is working perfectly. We have a generation who do what they are told, but don’t know how to think. This is why we have people willing to ignore their rights and get molested by TSA, rather than stand up and not accept it.”

    A lot of people let the TSA “molest” them because 1) they don’t care about the “right” of which you are speaking, 2) they realize flying on a plane isn’t exactly a “right,” and 3) they would rather get “molested” than blown up.

    “We have a society who depend on the government for many things those 8th grade graduates would have never expected to be handed to them (education, food, protection, saving them from hurricanes they were warned about, unemployment insurance, etc).”

    Yes, I do expect the state government to educate all kids under the age of 18. I want kids to receive the same opportunity I did. If it weren’t for public education, who knows where I would be today. I certainly never would have received a high school diploma or learned the skills necessary to succeed in college. I never would have earned an advanced degree. Not everyone was born into money, Jennrc3, so not everyone can afford the private K-12 education you advocate. And not all parents are capable of or care to homeschool their kids.

    What do you mean about society’s dependence on protection? For someone who supposedly loves the Constitution as much as you claim, I would think you’d appreciate the job the federal government is doing when it comes to “…protect[ing] each of them [the States] against Invasion; and… against domestic Violence.”

    You have a point when it comes to dependence on unemployment insurance, but I’m pretty confident most members of society don’t “depend” on the government for food. The same goes for “dependence” on being saved from hurricanes.

    “By the way, that 8th grade education was often way better than our 12th grade education, even some college education.”


    “What they learned was more beneficial and useful than our dumbed down, feel good education we get today. We are just so used to it, we don’t recognize our downfall.”

    I think there are definite areas for improvement needed in our public schools. For example, here in the Alpine School District we have a horribly inadequate math system. But the other areas of teaching are, by and large, good or excellent. What exactly is this “downfall” you speak of? Is it the fact that America is the most powerful military might in world history? Is it our world-leading health care system? Is it our high standard of living? Is it our strong adherence to freedom and “justice for all”? Explain to me what this downfall is that you speak of.

    “The government is not capable of having a successful program.”

    Not capable? Really? I think the government’s road-building program is pretty good. Its military program does a dang good job of protecting us from invasion. If those aren’t successful programs I don’t know what is.

    “Our government schools are no exception to this rule.”

    As demonstrated above, this isn’t true at all. I’m just one of many success stories to come from the government program to fund schools.

    “They keep promising better programs that cost more money, and they keep failing.”

    Who is they? If by “they” you mean liberal Democrats in Congress and in the White House, then I agree with you. I don’t want President Obama funding my local school district any more than he already does. However, I refuse to go as far as you do by suggesting we should shut down public schools in Utah and elsewhere in America.

    “Why do we trust them? In most areas, local control is more effective and less expensive.”

    First of all, some politicians actually are worth trusting. Not all, not even most, but some are. But that’s a separate issue. Second, I agree that local control is more effective and less expensive. However, I completely disagree with what you’ve written on here in the past when you’ve said that we should get rid of public schools and instead implement the ultimate “local” education program: homeschooling. Under your proposal, millions and millions of kids would never receive any education. I refuse to support your radical plan.

  • Jennrc3:

    Jared, I will do my best to explain.
    1. The pilgrims did not have government schools they were taught by their parents. Government schools as we know them were designed by people like Horace Mann and John Dewey (author of Democracy and Education). They were socialists who wanted a way to indoctrinate the children and they loved socialism. I have studied a bit with Dr. Glenn Kimber who has a PHD in the history of education. The way our system was designed by these men was for a political purpose that separates our children from the parents. Up until about 75 years ago most people homeschooled or had tutors for their children. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton were all homeschooled and were very well educated. Most people could afford tutors or homeschooling materials because they were not taxed on their income or property. Many people taught primarily out of the bible. Homeschooling is not very expensive. My point about communist or socialist countries also having government schools is that they have the children right where they need them, not at home learning from their parents, but learning whatever curriculum the government thinks is best. They teach them what they want them to know, how to live and what their duty to society is. Now if what they were teaching them was right, it might be a good thing, but it’s not. They don’t let the parents home school, because they want the control over each generation. If you don’t want to homeschool, very well, but if I want to, I should have that right. I should not be required to pay for or use a system I think is failing.
    2. Allowing TSA to molest us in the airport makes people feel they are safe, when in fact they are not. I personally know someone who recently got on a plane with a large knife in his carry- on. He forgot it was in the side pocket. With all of the security checks, how did that happen? We should not allow the government to violate our rights (in this case our 4th ammendment, not a right to fly which I agree is not a right) to “feel” safer. Where will the line be drawn if the terrorists plan their next attack at a mall or grocery store? Will they do invasive pat downs there too?

    3.The government is not doing a good job educating our children. They have dumbed down the tests so things look different than they are. In 1957, the U.S. was at the top in the world, when it came to education. By the mid 70’s we were at the bottom. The difference? God was not allowed in the schools. Teachers taught children that there was a “generation gap” between them and their parents, so their parents won’t understand the new methods of teaching, but they should trust their teachers. Our children no longer get true, intense history lessons as those who graduated in 8th grade did; I did not get them either. I have had to educate myself and pay for additional training. They are taught Math methods that are ineffective (it takes years to change them as we have seen with investigations), and there was even a reading program called “sight reading”, which was not only ineffective, but was shown to cause a huge increase of students with an inability to read.
    4. We do have a powerful military, I will give you that. However, there is always room for improvement. The incident at Fort hood would not have been such a tragedy had it not been a “no gun zone”, a governmnet policy. Our military decisions should be made for the most part by our General, not the President. Otherwise, we end up having weak points in history where our military is not as strong (ie:Clinton Administration).
    5.Healthcare has been great too, but hasn’t been completely by the government…yet. With the exception of Medicare, which should have never been started it has been the free market eeping it successful.
    6. Just a few government programs that are not run well: Welfare System, Education, Post Office, and Social Security.

    I don’t think we should take Federal funds from the government and yes the liberal Democrats spend way too much, along with some Republicans too.

    You may feel my ideas are radical, but really they are not. We have several generations who have been taught that parents can’t teach their children as well as the state, and that we need the government to step in and help us in every little or big thing. So if we are going to keep local public schools, we as parents should be able to decide if we want God allowed in our schools, whether or not we want to use the schools and what subjects should be available to our children based upon their individual needs and talents. The teachers should be chosen by the parents, not the principal, since we know what is best for our children. If this was the criteria, I may go for it. I just pulled my children out of school after years of frustration with government schools. It is not for eveyone, but it was right for us.

  • Jared:

    So what about people like me who come from very poor families? While growing up, I remember half the time my family didn’t have enough money to pay rent; and the other half of the time I think I just didn’t know about it. Paying for education would have been out of the question for my family. So I guess kids like me are just screwed under your plan? And please don’t tell me rich people would have magically come along and paid for my private education or that the lady down the street who herself had no education would have homeschooled me. I want real answers as to how you believe someone like me—or actually, how EVERYBODY like me—would receive a real education were the state of Utah to suddenly fold its public education system.

  • Jennrc3:

    I am not sure what you want me to say. People were charitable to help those who truly couldn’t help themselves. Not just the wealthy, but those like me who are not. So you still would have recieved an education. Someone in the neighborhood may have even taught you a trade of some sort so you could support your family. Just because its not what we are used to doesn’t mean it did not work. An education back then may not have included Mythology, Sex Ed, or other unnecessary classes. But it did include the most important parts of learning: Reading, Writing, and Math. If you learn those, you can learn anything you put your heart into. The books they read were classics which taught history, virtues and good morals, unlike many of the other useless books our children read in school today.
    I understand how you think this would not work. Because of your circumstances, you are concerned about others like you and you have never seen or studied anything different than what you recieved. If we did not have a government run system, you would probably be one of those great people who would seek out the needy and help them. If our tax dollars were back in our pockets, we could do a lot more for those around us. If we did not have the system of education we have today. Most parents would step up to the plate, because we love our children and we want society to be educated. I don’t believe the majority would throw their hands up and say, “well I guess if the government won’t give my child an education, they just won’t get one.” There are great computer programs that teach children the subjects our kids want to learn but parents don’t know how to teach. Neighbors would share the talents they have.

    We also have to ask ourselves what a “real” education is. To me, it is gaining knowledge and a love of learning that will continue throughout our lives. It is developing virtues like being able to work hard, and be honest with our fellow man (something desperately needed in society today). It is understanding how to use the things you learn and apply them to your life. Many people graduate from high school and want a break, because they are so bored of school. And many kids graduate and still have no idea what they want to do with their life! I don’t believe that is how it should be. We should always be seeking for more knowledge. Most of what I learned in High School I have not used at all. I have forgotten the unimportant things, and I have found that many of the most important things I needed to know were not taught in school. There are some good classes and good teachers out there. It is not all bad. However, there is a ton of wasted time and money dumped into the unnecessary part of the education system. There is not a perfect system that will make everyone learn, but we can do better than this.
    It is not the proper role of government to provide an education for our children.