Look Kids–A Unicorn Farm!

By miller727@icloud.com October 20, 2015 Uncategorized 1 Comment

If unicorn farming is something you have considered as a potential hobby, this book seems to be a wonderful primer on the dos and don’ts of running a successful unicorn enterprise. It was written by Jessica Marquis and published in 2011. You can order your copy today on Amazon.

I would encourage you to order soon before they’re all gone. It would appear that a substantial number of these books have already been requested by the folks at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for wide-scale distribution to politicians across the nation.

In fact, from some recent things I have read on the far-right Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) website, some people there have already gotten their hands on a copy.

Yet, instead of unicorn farming, the OCPA has extrapolated the lessons from this book into their own whimsical and lucrative tale of farming for tax payer dollars through the mechanism of vouchers and education savings accounts (ESAs).

Here is the first chapter of their warm and fuzzy rhetoric relative to how ESAs could be a “game changer” for Oklahoma parents, as well as a simple and efficient means to destroy  reform public education in Oklahoma:

“ESAs are the latest advance in educational choice, fostering an unprecedented level of personalized learning opportunities for students customized by those who know and love them best: their parents.

The ESA concept is simple. Parents who do not prefer a public school for their child simply withdraw him or her, and the state deposits funds it would have sent to the school into that child’s ESA instead. Parents receive a type of dedicated-use debit card for authorized expenses including private school tuition, online courses, testing fees, tutoring, special education therapies, and more. Any leftover funds remain in the child’s ESA for future education expenses, including college.”

Oh yes, it’s so simple.

And unicorns can perform great feats of telekinesis and reduce the number of emails in your inbox with just a swish of the tail.

The OCPA also points out that other states have already implemented highly successful unicorn voucher programs and that Oklahoma lawmakers just need to get on the ball.

“Florida became the second state to enact ESAs, in 2014, followed by Mississippi, Tennessee, and Nevada earlier this year. Oklahoma is conspicuously absent from this list because the state legislature failed to act.”

These days, it seems everyone is looking to break into the voucher farming industry. Like raising unicorns, voucher farming is an industry with unlimited potential.

According to social media, OCPA senior vice president (and chief unicornomist) Brandon Dutcher is even bringing his unicorn voucher symposium to GOP audiences in Guthrie and Altus later this week. I am sure it just the beginning of a concerted effort to build momentum for ESAs prior to the start of the next legislative session.

In his presentation, Dutcher will provide everything you need to know to make a good living as a voucher farmer. Parents can choose to harvest the services of wonderful schools like Shiny Rich Prep Academy and His Lord and Savior Collegiate Hall, just to name just a few. Once there, their children will ride magical unicorns sprinkled with special pixie dust that will enable them to escape across the rainbow and have a magical learning journey — far, far away from that dreadful public school to which they’d been previously sentenced.

Of course, according to OCPA’s book of voucher farming, we can live in this fantasy land and it won’t cost us an extra dime. On the contrary, not only will parents get money but the sending school will also get more money. Despite handing millions of dollars to families of children currently in private schools or presently home schooled, ESAs will not negatively effect funding for remaining students. These new vouchers will be magical that way. 

Like unicorns,  ESAs will sparkle like a fresh glass of champagne. Yet, sparkling is only one aspect of a voucher’s abilities. Vouchers can do more than just look pretty. They can erase years of parental neglect, poverty, and lack of resources in one fell swoop. The playing field will be equalized as the wealthy white families welcome with open arms these new children from the “other side of town.”

Here’s the truth about education savings accounts.

Contrary to what some supporters profess, this initiative is NOT about helping those students most in need. It will, however, help many families shore away some extra money for that Disney World vacation by offsetting some of Joey’s tuition costs to attend Shiny Prep Academy.

Voucher farmers promise they can run multiple school systems for the same money we previously used to run one system. That’s like saying, “Hey, our household budget is getting a little tight. I think we should buy a second house.” And, yet, our legislature want to do just this during a historic budget crisis?

According to last year’s version of the Oklahoma ESA legislation , the vouchers will provide poor students with percentage of their state funding, based on a family’s financial standing.  For most students, this will be somewhere around $3,500-$4,000.

Therefore, like many other school choice programs, Oklahoma’s ESA program will actually be a school’s choice program.

Consequently, if Marcus wants to head across town to attend Shiny Prep Academy, the message he’ll likely receive is: “We’re terribly sorry. It turns out your voucher just doesn’t quite cover our full costs. You still owe us another $8,000.”

So much for that choice.

And what if you are one of those students with an academic deficiency, behavioral issues, family problems, annoying parents, or God forbid, a disability? Sorry– it’s too hard to make money educating you, so we’re going to find some means of making you go away.

For all those kids who can’t get into the Really Swell High School across town? You are all welcome to go back to your public school. Yes, that same public school that had to cut pretty much everything because the state sent a chunk of its money to vouchers for wealthy folks.

So, sorry about your dumb luck, kid.  You should take comfort in knowing that this voucher program made it possible for a rich family who was sending Philip to Harvard Collegiate Prep Academy anyway to have a bit more money to finance his new Mustang on his 16th birthday. You should be happy for Philip. He will be your boss someday.

Granted, the language of last year’s ESA bill specifically limited the scholarships to students previously enrolled in an Oklahoma public school for at least 100 days in the prior school year. As a result, this would force some parents of private school students to return their child to the awful public school for a year in order to take advantage of the ESA scholarships moving forward. This is assuming this requirement doesn’t magically disappear a year after the law gets enacted.

Of course, the voucher farmers like to say that no child should be trapped in a failing school just because of his or her zip code. But most parents are NOT asking for choice; they simply want to have a great school in their neighborhood.

Why should they have to run around town shopping for a quality school while wealthy kids take a short walk down a paved, flower-lined sidewalk to a modern, well-staffed school down the street.

Maybe I am being naive, but is it too much to dream that every child would be able to attend a great school in his own neighborhood, with his neighbors, near where his family lives. Moreover, that every school receives the funding and support it needs to be excellent.

Does it really make sense to anyone but voucher farmers that a solution to having a thousand students trapped in a failing school is funneling millions of dollars away from that neighborhood school to meet the needs of 100 of them across town?

What happens to the 900 children left behind in a school with even less funding than it had the year before.

If you still believe in unicorn farms and voucher fairies, spend three minutes watching the following video at the bottom of the page.

As for me, I’m off to feed my unicorns. They have voracious appetites!

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