Education – Studies Show the Need for Empowering Parents

Education – Studies Show the Need for Empowering Parents: It’s the last show of 2018! We’re taking a look at education in America. Why are countries that spend less than we do on education getting better results? Join us as we talk about the need for parents to have a choice in the education of their children and more!

Air Date: 12/31/2018

Guest: Justin Owen

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


Listen:

Download: Click Here

Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith And The Culture

Rick:

You’ve found your way to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture. Always from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. And this is the last day of the year, so we’re actually for the last time in 2018 addressing those very important topics from that biblical, historical, constitutional perspective. But don’t worry – we’ll be doing it tomorrow on New Year’s Day and throughout, Lord willing, 2019 as well.

We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Tim Barton is a national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. And my name’s Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator. Visit WallBuildersLive.com today, but also visit WallBuilders.com for some great tools and information to equip and inspire your family.

And also a great place, last day of the year, this your last chance to do this – end of year giving. It’s an opportunity for you to make a final donation to WallBuilders to help us continue this great work and spread it across the country equipping and inspiring as many people as possible to help save our constitutional republic. Do that today at WallBuilders.com. It could be a one time end of year gift. Or perhaps you want to go ahead and sign up for a monthly donation. That’s very helpful to us because it allows us to plan our different activities throughout the year. So, check all that out at WallBuilders.com.

Final Program of the Year

Rick:

David, Tim, final program of the year. Can you believe this?! 2018 has gone by. We’ve had a lot of great shows this year.

Tim:

We have. It’s been another good year and it’s been fun that we’ve had the opportunity to expand to some new stations, add some new new listeners. So, that meant some new interaction for Foundations of Freedom, some new guests throughout the year talking to different content. It really has been a fun year and some really great programs looking back, some great content. It’s been fun to have another year.

David:

Well, I’ve got to tell you – I miss Christmas. It’s been way too long. I’m ready for Christmas again.

Rick:

Uh-huh, yeah, you’re right, a week is too long for you.

David:

I’m missing it, man. I’m going through withdrawals.

Rick:

But it’s not like we– it’s not even like it’s been a week, right? We kept playing Christmas music all last week. We’re not going to do it this week, right? Tim and I are going to out vote you.

David:

That’s where I’m suffering withdrawal right now. I need some Christmas music, bro.

Tim:

And it’s only in the studio right now that he doesn’t have Christmas music going. Let’s just, let’s clarify so nobody feels this mercy, guilt, something, happening. No, he’s still playing Christmas music. Don’t think he’s going through withdrawals from missing it. No, it’s only on the show we don’t have the Christmas music for the bumpers between commercials anymore. But, no, he’s doing fine. He’s got thousands of Christmas songs on his CDs, and on his iTunes, and on Pandora, and everything else he listens to, he’s fine. But, yeah, we, it’s okay for us to move forward.

Talking About Choices

Rick:

And as much as we love giving him a hard time, he should have that choice, right? He gets to choose what he wants to listen to and when he wants to listen to it. That’s an important part of freedom. So, we’ll abuse him for it of course, but David gets to listen to Christmas music all year long. That’s what you call a choice.

Now, another choice we want to talk about today is parents having the choice to direct the education of their child and actually make sure that their kids get the best education possible. So, we’ve got a guest coming on later to talk about what’s happening in Tennessee, and frankly, across the country, with regard to education and empowering parents in education. So, we’ll move from choices of Christmas music to choices in education for our kids.

David:

Well, I’m going to differ with you some here. I don’t think we need a better choice in education for our kids because if we would just spend more on education we wouldn’t need choice.

Rick:

Yeah, uh-huh.

Tim:

Oh, that’s the problem. We don’t have enough money!

David:

We’re not spending enough.

Tim:

So, we should tax people more.

David:

That’s right.

Tim:

Yeah. Oh, so that’s the problem is our taxes are too low. If we had higher taxes our education system would be better.

David:

That’s right.

Rick:

And when you’re doing such a good job like the public schools are, then we should reward them with more money, right, because they’re doing such a great job teaching history, and economics, and all the reasons we have–

Let’s Look at Some Stats

David:

Well, let me give you some stats because everybody already recognizes we’re being facetious and sarcastic here. America is among the top nations in the world – 195 nations, we’re one of the top nations, one of the top four nations, in the amount of money that we spend per student. We’re spending 12,300 dollars per student per year. Okay, that is far more than other nations.

Here’s our academic results. Let me just take mathematics. These are nations who spend significantly less than we do and yet their academic achievement in areas of mathematics are far above where we are. Now, I can do this also in reading, and science, and other subjects. I’m just going to take math because I was a math and science guy, so I kind of like this. Number one in the world in math is which nation?

Tim:

Well, I don’t want to be stereotypical, but I’m about to be. I’m going to say it’s probably somewhere in Asia that are number one in math. At least if statistics in polling would bear out to be true up to the current date. So, I’m going to say somewhere in Asia.

David:

It would be Singapore.

Tim:

Which is somewhere in Asia?

This Is Embarrassing

David:

You don’t– Singapore is a world power – you don’t know? They spend so much– oh no, wait, they’re not even in the top 40 of nations on educational spending and they have top mathematic results with extremely low expenses. You have Hong Kong is next, than Macau. I don’t even know where Macau is, they’re number three. Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Estonia, Canada, Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Slovenia (where is that?!), Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Norway, Austria, New Zealand, Vietnam, Australia, Sweden, Russian Federation, France, United Kingdom, Portugal, Czech Republic, Italy, Ireland.

And it goes right down the list – Iceland, and Spain, and Luxembourg, and Latvia, and Malta, and Lithuania – all of those are significantly higher than the United States in math scores and spend less than we do.

Tim:

Well, that’s embarrassing.

David:

That’s embarrassing. A lot of those– Vietnam, we think of them as a third world nation. They outperform us academically. Not only do they outperform us in things like math, but they also outperform us in science, they also outperform us in so many other areas, and they don’t spend hardly anything on education. So, if we could just spend more–

Tim:

It’s because they don’t have hardly anything that they can spend.

David:

But look how well they do.

Tim:

Sure.  

David:

And the thing is – we think, and we keep being told a guilt trip, that we need to vote for school bonds because the schools need more money and if we can get more money we can have better education. That’s not the formula.

How Long Can This Last?

Tim:

And it’s interesting looking in these nations that perform academically higher than Americans do, if they lived in nations that promoted freedom, that promoted entrepreneurship, that had capitalism, they would be thriving just based– at least merely looking at what could be, I would argue maybe obvious, right. Because it’s not that necessarily we work harder. Americans don’t work harder than everybody else. No. You go to some other nations, you see people in slave labor working incredibly hard. They just don’t have a economic system or a government that protects their rights, that promotes freedom.

So, we’ve come to a place in America, it’s become so comfortable and casual, that we are losing the very thing that’s allowed us to enjoy the freedom, that’s allowed us to enjoy what’s made us special. And now, academically, we’re so underperforming, it really raises the question of how much longer can we enjoy the freedom and the prosperity in America before it changes. Especially when you look at the problems academically. Well, see, this is the irony of educational choice.

We can’t have you choosing better schools. We need you to get an inferior education. This is embarrassing where America is in the world and we’re spending more, we’re taxing more, and we won’t let you go to a place where you can get a better education, a better system.

Tim:

Yeah, which is interesting because if you start looking at schools in America you do have schools that are classical education schools, you do have charter schools, you have certain private schools that are performing at higher academic levels.

And actually, I would think if you break down some of the academic testing that you would see, no, if you start looking at some of these classical education schools, or some of these charter schools, some of these private schools, you would see that students from those schools are performing at a level very competitive with those other nations of the world. Instead of when you look at what’s happening in the public schools, no, competition tends to make things better, it makes things cheaper, it helps us be more productive. And yet, you’re right, for education we’ve said, “Whoa, we don’t need competition. We just need more money.”

David:

Imagine what your hamburgers would be like if you had no competition. If every burger joint was owned by the same place and you had no quality service it would be terrible. But that’s why we’ve got these guys on from Tennessee. They monitor this, they look at this, they have reports. And what they’ve got is in Tennessee and other states as well. So, going to be pretty informative on where we are in education right now.

Rick:

Justin Owen, our special guest. Stay with us. We’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live.

America’s History

This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history.   Joseph Story is one of the most important names in American jurisprudence. Not only was he placed on the U.S. Supreme Court but President James Madison but he also founded Harvard Law School and authored numerous legal works on the Constitution. While today’s revisionist claim that the goal of the First Amendment was absolute religious pluralism. Justice Joseph Story vehemently disagreed.

He declared, “The real object of the First Amendment was not to encourage, much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but was to exclude all rivalry among Christian denominations.”

According to Founder Joseph Story, Christianity, not pluralism, was the goal of the Founding Fathers in the First Amendment for only a Christian nation is tolerant and thus is truly pluralistic. For more information on God’s hand in American history contact WallBuilders at 1 800 8 REBUILD.

Rick:

Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Justin Owen is with us from Beacon Center of Tennessee and Beacon Impact – Justin, thanks for coming on, sir.

Justin Owen:

Thanks for having me. It’s always a pleasure.

A Couple New Studies

Rick:

Hey, you guys have a couple of new studies out both of them dealing with education spending. One of them on the problems of education spending, the other one on the benefits of having education savings accounts. Just curious, first of all, what is your target market? When you do the studies, is it to get legislators to see what’s happening with the dollars they’re sending? Or is it for parents? Or is it for both?

Justin Owen:

It’s really for both. We first want parents and taxpayers to understand how we’re spending their education dollars. Now, it’s no shock to some of us that we don’t spend them very wisely in either our state, or your state, or anywhere across the country. When we give bureaucrats the opportunity to spend those dollars. For example, we found that only 52 percent of the money we already spend actually makes its way into the classroom.

So, we really want to arm parents and taxpayers with that information so that they can then join the call and pressure legislators to say, “Let’s give parents more opportunities and put them in the driver’s seat and make those decisions themselves.”

Rick:

Hey, Justin, I’ve got to highlight that number you just said – only 52 percent of the money gets to the classroom.

Justin Owen:

That’s right at least here in Tennessee and it’s about the same across the country. There are some states where it’s upwards of 60 plus percent. We are on the lower end in Tennessee, unfortunately. But so much of that money, no matter where you live, gets eaten up by bureaucracy, it gets eaten up in the central office, the superintendent salaries, and central office budgets rather than actually making its way into the classroom and educating our kids. Which is what that money is supposed to go toward.

So, I think a lot of taxpayers, and specifically parents, would be outraged to find that barely half the money that we’re spending– and it’s a lot of money – here in Tennessee it’s 10,000 dollars a year per child– that only about half of that actually makes its way into the classroom to educate their child.

Unable to Crack the Nut

Rick:

Yeah, man, that ought to wake folks up right there. You were about to say when I interrupted you, sorry about that, also in terms of influence in the legislature – you guys have already accomplished some great things through your work at Beacon. In fact, I understand the school choice program there in Tennessee. You guys were at the forefront of that.

Justin Owen:

We were, fortunately, able to get a school choice program but it’s limited just to families with special needs children. Which is very important for those children who struggle in their current school and need a different environment. But it is very limited – only about 30,000 kids across the state actually benefit or even qualify for that program. And we’ve got over a million kids in our public school system.

And we’re in a similar situation as Texas, unfortunately, where we’ve got great economies, things are booming, we’ve got low tax, low debt states. Both Tennessee and Texas are looked at as models for free markets and freedom.

Rick:

Yeah.

Justin Owen:

But when it comes to educational choice, we just haven’t been able to crack that nut–

Rick:

Right.

Justin Owen:

–like a few states like Arizona and Florida that really have provided a lot of robust opportunities and options for families. We have very, very, limited options in this state. So, we’re really looking at how can we empower parents and give them more control over their child’s education. And really, the best way to do that going forward is through education savings accounts.

Empowering Parents

Justin Owen:

A lot of people probably heard of HSAs or Health Savings Accounts that they can use for their health related expenses. This is really no different. Parents can get a debit card, we give them a portion of the money we already spend on their child, and they can use it for private school tuition. Or if they need a tutor for their child, or educational therapies, or curriculum, online classes, really use it for a robust variety of things and customize their child’s education. Because we know every child learns differently, right?

Rick:

Well, but Justin, that’s a huge assumption. You actually think parents know what’s best for their kids? Are you suggesting that they should make the decisions–

Justin Owen:

Certainly more than bureaucrats, right?

Rick:

Exactly right. No, you’re 100 percent right, man. And I could hear the frustration in your voice when you were talking about Tennessee and Texas and I share it. Oh man, this was why I ran for the legislature and served for a few years and didn’t get anywhere on it.

But it just, it doesn’t make sense to me that freedom loving states like Texas and Tennessee that– you look at the other issues, you look at the hardworking people in those states, the attitude of the people in those states, but for some reason on this issue our principles about freedom, and people making their own decisions and not government, and being anti-monopoly, and for free market and competition, just somehow doesn’t translate in education. And it’s been a huge battle for us here and sounds like for you as well in Tennessee. But it sounds like you’ve at least made some progress and people can see the benefit to those 30,000 kids.

So, what’s the chance of these studies educating people enough to say, “Hey, we need to expand this and put more choice into more hands.”?

Justin Owen:

Well, I’m optimistic, cautiously so, given that we’ve been trying for several years to get something like this done. We’ve got a new governor coming in. Our current governor is term limited. And Bill Lee, the governor elect, has been very vocal on the campaign trail about being a school choice supporter–

Positive Educational and Economical Impact

Rick:

Good.

Justin Owen:

–and has advocated for giving parents more choices. Now, we’ve got a lot of new legislators coming in who feel that same way, who are ready to really expand educational options.

And one of the things we did with the second study was look at the economic impact. We talk about the educational impact and study after study shows that if you give parents more choice those kids are going to get better educations. And even the kids who remain in public schools do better when they have the option to leave with a choice program. But we wanted to look at the economic impact too. We’re going to have higher graduation rates if we give choice, we’re going to have higher incomes by those kids who graduate and get a further education, we’re going to have lower crime rates.

So, other states that have education savings accounts and robust parental choice have witnessed a lot of economic benefits as well. When we’re talking specifically to Republican legislators, and just like in Texas we have a lot of them, the vast majority, or supermajority, of Republicans in our legislature, they want to see the economic impact as well. I think providing that data and that intellectual ammunition behind not only is this the right thing to do because it’s fundamentally fair to give parents this freedom in this choice, but there’s going to be an impact as well, a positive economic impact.

Rick:

That’s right.

Justin Owen:

So, hopefully with all of those things changing in our state we’re going to really be able to make a run at putting parents in the driver’s seat. Really, for the first time in the history of Tennessee for sure.

How Do ESAs Work?

Rick:

Well, I hope you do and then I’ll be able to pound on my legislators here in Texas, “Look, Tennessee did it. We’ve got to catch up with these guys.”

And I interrupted you earlier. You were explaining how the ESA works. I would like to, just before I let you go, reiterate that. Explain that again. So, in the states that have done it, or even cities that have done it, the parent gets a portion of the money that is spent and then gets to use that specifically for that child, what’s best for that child. And you mentioned several things. Say again – what are the types of things that the parent could use it for?

Justin Owen:

Yeah, the vast majority of parents are going to use it to send their kid to a private school of their choice and pay the tuition for that, or transportation, and their books, and all of the things associated with that. But the benefits of ESAs is that if your child is struggling at math, you can hire a tutor.

We even have this thing in other states called “teacherpreneur” where teachers who are public school teachers will actually go and tutor kids via an ESA payment in addition to that so that they’re able to create a more flexible schedule and provide for those kids. Particularly for children with special needs, a lot of them need educational therapy on top of the education that they’re getting. This fund, this money, can be used for that.

If you want to buy curriculum for your child – say you’re a homeschool parent, you can use that to pay for the curriculum and all of the textbooks and everything that comes along with that.

So, it really does put the parent in the driver’s seat as the consumer. It gives them a whole menu of things that they can spend those dollars on – with limits, of course. You can’t go out and buy 10 laptops, but you can buy one–

Rick:

Right.

The Best Thing About It

Justin Owen:

–for your child. Giving them the opportunity to provide that child with the education they deserve is really important for a lot of parents. And the best thing about it is that you’re using existing dollars.

So, we’re not creating a new government program with new tax dollars, we’re simply shifting the money we already spent on that child to give it to that parent to let them decide how to spend it more effectively. And then even a portion of it remains in Tennessee, it would be about 25 percent of it, would still remain with the public school. And even though they’re not teaching that kid anymore, they still get the additional funds. So, we’re actually increasing per pupil funding as a result of this and not only putting parents in the driver’s seat. So, it really is a win win solution for everyone.

Rick:

That’s such a huge point because the number one thing I always hear when talking school choice is, “Yeah, but you’re taking money from the public schools.” And there’s a lot we could debate on that, but–

Justin Owen:

We’re taking * from the public school too, right, so you’re not having to educate that child anymore.

Rick:

That’s right and twenty five percent is still going to the other kids increasing that per pupil funding. It’s good for everybody. Like you said, it’s a win win for everybody.

Well, we wish you guys the best and we got a lot of friends there in Tennessee, and legislators that come to our legislators conference, and certainly going to encourage them to support this and most of them are already very pro school choice anyway.

But you guys do great work. I want to give out your website for folks that are listening to us today to find out more – BeaconTN.org, that’s BeaconTN or you can just google Beacon Center of Tennessee and we’ll have links today at WallBuildersLive.com so you can get there very easily.

Justin, it’s a pleasure having you, man. Let’s get you back again soon.

Justin Owen:

Thank you so much. If we figure this out, we’ll help you get this done in Texas as well because we really appreciate everything you guys do. You deserve choice just as much as we do in Tennessee.

Rick:

Amen, brother. No doubt about it. Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.

Avalon Project

Tim:

Hey, guys, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders. I know you hear my dad and Rick talk a lot about our Founding Fathers about the original intent of our nation, a constitutional heritage that we have. And really we’ve seen how far we slipped away from that. And I know a lot of us as we hear my dad and Rick talk think, “I wish there was a place that I could go where I could see these documents and I could read and learn about the Founding Fathers firsthand.  See the things they did.”

I want to give you some websites today that can help you accomplish that very thing. If you get online you can go to places like Library of Congress and you can look under their century of lawmaking or historical documents. You can go to the Avalon Project, to the Founders Constitution, Google Books, or even the internet archives.  

Or you can just go to WallBuilders.com. We have a section for our WallBuilders Library. And under that section we have different subgroups for historical documents, historical writings, even a place where you can get helpful links to find out more information about other websites.  Where you can do research for yourself and find the truth for yourself. Friends, this is the time that we need to know who we are and where we came from. WallBuilders.com is a great place to go.

Four Minutes for 2018

Rick:

Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Special thanks to Justin Owen for joining us today as well. And certainly looking forward to some good reports out of Tennessee on their efforts to expand school choice.

Back here with David and Tim Barton. Guys, we’ve got like four minutes here for 2018. Four minutes.

David:

Wow. Four minutes.

Rick:

What are you going to share with the world in your four minutes–

Tim:

Well, it’s not like we’re counting down for the ball drop. So, maybe there’s a few minutes after they hear this program depending on when it’s aired on their station or if it’s a podcast. But, yeah, looking at at the end of the year, dad, what are the thoughts?

David:

Well, at 52 percent of money going into education from tax dollars you would not accept that any business at all. If 48 percent was going into overhead and not into product services, that would be abominable in enterprise or sector.

Rick:

That’s right.

David:

So, not having competition allows you to have half of your money be wasted on administrators. We in Texas tried one time what was called the Dollars to the Classroom Act where we said we’re going to require that 65 percent of every educational dollar be spent in the classroom which is what most parents think happens anyway. And we found out we couldn’t do that because in our larger school districts, for every teacher there was an administrator – it was a one to one ratio. You don’t have one administrator for 10, 12, 15, teachers like you have a principal of a school. It was one administrator for every teacher – it was crazy.

A Huge Bloated Bureaucracy

David:

So, we have such a huge bloated bureaucracy. And what happens in that and we even covered it even a week ago some of the wackiness that’s coming out of the classroom. Whether it be you can’t have red and green colors in the Christmas season, or– it’s just, it’s crazy stuff. And we continue to fund that. So, at some point we’re going to have to say, “No, we absolutely demand some choice.”

And the fact that you have a Democrat governor coming into Tennessee who has promised to do educational choice, that is absolutely astounding. So, other states need to take note of that. Conservatives say they support educational choice. Republicans say it. They just don’t get it done. Hopefully Tennessee will.

But every single state needs competition in education to break up this inferior system that we have because our results every year are getting worse and worse. We’re not climbing among the other nations – we’re being surpassed by other nations. And if you keep doing the stuff you’ve been doing you’re going to keep getting the results you keep getting it. And right now those results are not good. They’re not worthy of our tax dollars or efforts. We need to change the way we handle education. And choice would do that.

Rick:

And this isn’t just based on theory. You could do that based on theory. You could just say, “Look, we see free market economics work so well in every other area we should do it here.” That’s what Milton Friedman was saying 50 years ago, but now we can actually say, “Look at the results.” It isn’t just theory. It’s been tried in places all over the U.S. and in places all over the world and it works. Choice works – monopoly doesn’t.

David:

I want to go back to an old story we had years ago on a Good News Friday. And we have so many stories on Good News Fridays, but this is one that has always stuck with me because it was one of the most hilarious stories I’ve ever seen, but it is proof that competition works.

One of Most Hilarious Stories

David:

And when George W. Bush, 43rd president, became president of the United States, since the federal government has jurisdiction over Washington D.C. given it by the Constitution, the president came in, Republican Congress, said, “We’re going to do school choice in Washington D.C.. They have some of the worst academic scores in the nation. They have some of the highest dropout rates. We are going to give parents a voucher and let them go choose the school of their choice.”

And as you can imagine there was a rush to get out of those inferior schools, there was a rush for vouchers. So many kids left the school and so many kids went into other systems where the graduation rates soared, the academic numbers soared, the percent of kids going to college soared.

The clip I remember so clearly was a newspaper article where the superintendent of public schools in Washington D.C. was going door to door in the hood and saying, “Parents you can come back. Look how much we’ve changed the public schools now that we have choice. We want you to know you can come back. It’s really good now.”

Well, they should have been doing that from the start, but it was competition that drove them to change the inferior product they were turning out to try to compete with the private sector. And that’s what choice does not only in education, but every other area. Which is why the free market economic system is so sound for a nation at any point in time.

Education – Studies Show the Need for Empowering Parents

Rick:

Well, we would love to see those kind of results in community after community all across the nation. Every state, every legislator, should want what’s best for those kids and should want these results which come from this competition. So, encourage your state legislators throughout 2019.

We’re about to enter into a legislative session for most states in the next couple of weeks, so it’s a great opportunity for you to let your state reps and senators know that you want choice in your state. And regardless of what kind of program, if they have some kind of pilot program or a little bit of a program like Tennessee does, tell them you want it expanded, you want every kid in your state to have the opportunity for the best education possible. What a great way to go into 2019.

Thanks so much for listening today. Thanks to Justin Owen for joining us today. We appreciate you being a listener to WallBuilders Live!

2019-01-01T14:48:01+00:00December 31st, 2018|Education & Schools|0 Comments

Leave A Comment