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Friday, February 20, 2009

Cutting Governor's Schools of Excellence is a "Washington Monument Ploy"

The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is an ongoing gag to connect any person to actor Kevin Bacon in under six moves. If news stories count, I am tied to Bacon in just one move - the Patriot News quotes both of us in a story about the proposed de-funding of the Governor's Schools of Excellence.

Bacon thinks the program is great, I think it is outside the core function of state government. If I had known celebrities like Kevin Bacon and Sylar from Heroes were fighting to force taxpayers to continue funding it, I would have suggested that they - along with the Facebook group supporting the program - raise their own money to keep the $3 million program running.

I also suggested that Governor Rendell's gutting of the schools is a "Washington Monument Ploy" - cutting a popular program to create pressure for higher taxes, or to make his budget seem "cut to the bone". Again, the program is $3 million - or 0.01% of the $29 billion budget. We identified 1600 times that amount in wasteful state spending in our report Government on a Diet.


kate said...

You may want to consider proofing your blog posts:
"Again, the program is $3 million - or 0.01% of the $29 million [BILLION] budget."

Private funding for PGSE is problematic due to relations with the programs' host institutions, as well as insurance coverage. Problematic - but not impossible.

However, your argument that the programs fall outside the core function of state government is a faulty one. States do have a responsibility to nurture their future leaders, by providing the best possible educational opportunities for them. Rendell's educational agenda to "continue to make every high school diploma a ticket for success" is failing miserably. If we rely on this agenda alone, we are not going to have the leadership to pull us out of the mess our generation has created. The PGSE programs cultivate leadership in a time-tested and fruitful method.

Proof positive of this: I wanted to offer you public thanks. Those pesky Facebook group users have pounced all over your report, and many great discussions have ensued over points we agree with in your observations. The celebrities are not part of this discussion - but Pennsylvania taxpayers certainly are, and the programs have the overwhelming support of citizens much more important than Bacon.

Regards and thanks for your constructive work-

Andrew Smith said...

Seconding, and adding onto, what Kate has said:

The state has looming economic issues over the horizon that have nothing to do with this recession: Pennsylvania is in a state of population exodus, and the average age of a Pennsylvanian is increasing at an alarming rate. Now, more than ever, we need leadership programs like this one to foster the skills in our youth needed to overcome these future crises.

How can you not say that the Governor's Schools fall within the core function of state government, given what Kate, myself, and any future commentors say?

Nathan Benefield said...

I agree that we need youth leadership programs, but you assume that because civic society "responsibility to nurture their future leaders", that it must/should be a function of government. (In fact, your phrasing that we need government "to nurture our future leaders," sounds like something out of 1984.

We already do have a number of private summer leadership programs for high school students, including (I'm sure I'm missing many, as this is not an area of focus for me):

- Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week
- Boys State and Girls State
- City on a Hill
- Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Program

These are able to partner with universities to host events, and do so without taxpayer funding or government control.

Finally, as you note, Pennsylvania is having a population exodus and an aging population - the Governor's Schools have done nothing to prevent this.

Benjamin Campbell, Ph.D. said...

Nathan, are any of these private alternatives you propose free to deserving students, so that the educational opportunies are merit based, instead of depending on the student's economic statis? The PGSE system is an equal opportunity state wide system that is available for all PA high school students to apply for. It provides a level of education for which public and privage school are not able to obtain and serves as the pinacle of gifted education our state offers at that age level. In the sciences along 560 students applied for the 100 (or now 0) spots available for this summer, to give up 5 weeks for a rigorous academic experience for which they recieve no credit, but has shown to have a major impact on their education and career path If you want, I can provide you with multiple Testimonials of alumni about how Governor's school was the most impactful educational experience of their lives. The alumni have already been through the program and can never return. they have nothing to gain from saving it other than knowing how important it is to future students.

In the Article where you and Mr. Bacon are mentioned, Rendel's spokesman said that the Governor's schools do not represent economic benefits. But all of that money is spent in the state, on PA universities for meals and housing, on PA residents who teach for the programs.

It is not clear from your writings, whether you oppose all educational funding by the state, or just gifted educational funding. Please clarify your opinion.

Benjamin Campbell, Ph.D. said...

By the way, I do agree with your objection to the Boscov's bailout, and read through your publication "Spending Tips 2009" and was pleased to see you didn't recommend PGSE to be cut. I like your work, but wish you would back up statements like "programs such as the Governor's Schools would be better funded privately." better from what perspective? By the way, I am a Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Sciences Alumni, 1997

Nathan Benefield said...

Why would it better to be privately funded? Because then the funders would take ownerhip of the program, and ensure that it is/continues to be of highest quality. You tend to lose that it it is funded using other people's money.

You have made a good argument that the program is valuable, which could convince someone like to to donate to the program. I am not persuaded that I should compel my neighbor, under threat of force, to do so (i.e. through taxation).

Benjamin Campbell, Ph.D. said...

Just because something is taxpayer funded doesn't automatically make it inefficient. I can only speak for the Governor's School for the Sciences, but those that have run it for the past 27 years have worked very hard to ensure that it is a school of Excellence. Take a minute to go to their website and look at the annual journals of research performed by high school students in 5 short weeks. It's amazing how much they learn and accomplish. I see the existance of the Gov Schools as part of our government's mandate to provide education for all children. Are you opposed to all taxation for educational funding, or just gifted education? This state puts far more money into special needs students on the low end of the intellectual spectrum (about $10,000 extra per student per year). If we gave that level of support to our gifted education, it would be a huge step toward regaining our dominance in the fields of science and engineering.

Nathan Benefield said...

Taxpayer-funded programs may not automatically be inefficient, but they almost always are. Public schools being a key example of overspending and underperforming.

We do not advocate the elimination of all education funding, and think government has a role in ensuring public education is available for all. But by public education, we do not mean simply public (i.e. government-run) school. We support funding that follows the child, rather than funds buildings/districts, and programs that allow parents to choose their child’s school, including tax credits, scholarships, cyber schools, and charter schools.

The same principle applies to higher education –fund students, not institutions. Summer enrichment programs could also be aided through taxes credits or aid to students, not as an arm of government. I would liken this more closely to the debates over preschool funding, in which we supported a plan that would offer tax-credits for pre-K scholarships, rather than a new government program, in part over fears that this would crowd out or lead to government control over private preschools.

David Barton said...

First of all Nathan, by the repeated lack of your answer to Dr. Campbell's question, it is apparent that you do not support funding of gifted education. It would be nice to see that in your own words. I have to support the arguments of Dr. Campbell above - support the Governor's Schools.

The PA Governor's Schools of Excellence (PGSE)remains the only opportunity of its kind. When programs such as these become privately funded, they do not accomplish anywhere near the same goals. The programs become "feeder" programs where colleges spend money and accept tuitin from students to provide them a comfortable and fun few weeks to advocate that the top students attend their universities.

The PGSE do not aim to do this at all, but rather are in place entirely to serve the students. I know that the reputation of the Sciences Governor's School is that it is one of the most academicaly rigorous programs in the country for high school students. The PGSE are run by extremely dedicated faculty who do so for no other reason than to support PA's youth, see their enjoyment, and see that their dreams become a reality. These students are the state's very best of the best, and it is a program that colleges and universities worldwide see as an ultimate preparation for advanced college work and research - something that all colleges and universities want to bring more into their culture. The PGSE directly funnel PA students into Ivy League and top name schools, thus allowing them to become particpatory citizens and leaders in our economy and society in their respective fields. Tell me how this does not support the state? This will allow PA and America to regain our position as the top producer of human capital in the world in any field.

As you yourself have said, this program is a very small portion of the budget. While I recognize the conservative and rational principles involved in eliminating government funding for this program, the fact remains that no other privately funded program is able to provde merit-based gifted education to ALL PA students, even those at economically disinclined levels. Any attept at privitazation of the PGSE would eliminate this ability to draw in only the most academically gifted students, and therefore would ruin the reputation of any such program.

You say that you "support funding that follows the child, rather than funds buildings/districts, and programs that allow parents to choose their child’s school, including tax credits, scholarships, cyber schools, and charter schools." The PGSE are entirely devoted to serving the students, and all funds for this program follow the students, from their home community, to their college, to their careers, and to PA and America.

The PGSE provide for our future. There is no privately-funded alternative. Perhaps the government could oversee a portion of the funding being cut by inviting fewer students to attend. This has been done in the past. With this propsed cut, I am afraid that the Governor is sending a clear message - that adequacy is our goal, and we will support no efforts towards excellence. We can make this a great program. It does have a direct impact on our students. It does contribute to the overall good of Pennsylvania. It does deserve the funds of our state's taxpayers.

Elizabeth A. Male, Esq., CPA said...

I've read through the posts and there are some implicit assumptions here for which NO ONE has provided any support. One poster seems to suggest that PGSE train our future leaders. Query: Do alumni of the PGSE stay in Pennsylvania? Are they obligated to do so? Why do you assume that we are not simply training leaders for other states that offer greater job opportunities?

Also implicit is the assumption that privately funded enrichment programs will exclude the economically disadvantaged. Andrew's Leap offers scholarships to those who cannot afford the tuition. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~leap/

How many gifted and talented students hail from economically disadvantaged households? My guess is, not many.

The foundational fallacy here is the notion that the state can or will provide greater opportunity for our children than parents and private donors. I don't see any support for that contention either.

As a parent of two gifted students, a parent who fought in vain to obtain an appropriate education for my children, I can tell you that government funded schools are not at all interested in developing the full capacity of the best and the brightest. They are only concerned with checking boxes and shuffling paperwork.

If we are going to publicly fund education, each parent should be provided a voucher for "X" dollars, so that the parents can choose and optimize the education of their children. The state has no genuine interest in our children. Our kids are being used as pawns. Rendell is using this cut in gifted education simply to make the case for future tax increases. This is nothing more than political theater.

Anonymous said...

"As a parent of two gifted students, a parent who fought in vain to obtain an appropriate education for my children, I can tell you that government funded schools are not at all interested in developing the full capacity of the best and the brightest. They are only concerned with checking boxes and shuffling paperwork."

As a faculty member and administrator for one of the PGSE schools since 1995 I can tell you that I have never worked with an educational program that holds the students' needs any higher than PGSE (and I've worked in higher education since 1996). What you are saying may hold true for other government-funded programs, but it is plain wrong with respect to PGSE. Perhaps the case is that, whereas your children may be gifted, they were simply not gifted enough to compete with those who were selected for such programs. I know this is hard to swallow for a proud parent.

"The state has no genuine interest in our children."

This statement has never been more true than now. Especially considering that the state senate is spending $300,000 on gold-embossed stationery. Funny where the priorities lie.

Elizabeth A. Male, Esq., CPA said...

Query: Will your dedication to the children change if PGSE are funded privately? What is your fascination with public funding?

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, the answer to that question was answered by Kate on February 22. Scroll up.

kate said...

Ms. Male, with all due respect, you are treading on very dangerous ground with your statement, "How many gifted and talented students hail from economically disadvantaged households? My guess is, not many." That fact that you would make such a "guess" discredits most of your argument, as it places you in the category of parent who could afford to send her children to the best of opportunities. You're not seeing the whole picture. Speaking personally as one of the MANY gifted students in Pennsylvania who would never have had the opportunity to attend a tuition-based university feeder program (aka. the new versions of what were formerly called Governor's Schools), I frankly take some offense to your remark.

The statistics are hard to find. Giftedness does not have a standard definition. The 2002 report 'Minority Students in Special and Gifted Education' (Donovan & Cross, Ed., National Research Council) notes that a lack of concrete guidelines at the state or national level to define giftedness leaves the, "interpretation of potential open and making the category of giftedness relative to local school or school system populations... a consequence of relativity is that the data on assignment to gifted and talented programs are far more difficult to interpret."

So I do apologize for not being about to counter your 'guess' with statistics. I wish I could have invited you to review PGSE student applications or auditions this year; meeting the students who applied would have easily proved my point.

You make an incredibly elitist argument in noting that parents or private donors should be responsible for the best educational opportunities for children. What about the families who do NOT have such resources? Securing private funds for educational opportunities is a FULL TIME JOB - and parents and communities who need to seek out such opportunities don't have time for another full time job. They are busy trying to keep their children fed. You seem to suggest that private and parent funding is better than state funding for K-12 education. Not only is it not better -- in many, many cases, it is not even feasible.

I took a look at the site for Andrew's Leap. You're right; most college-based summer programs for high school students have some form of financial aid or scholarship available. But the fact is, this aid is always limited. I'm speaking from experience in several years of higher education services; summer high school programs on college campuses serve two purposes before educational goals: 1) feeder programs for the college; 2) tuition profits.

(Another fallacy, to borrow your words, of citing a program like Andrew's Leap as an example is that a program such as this is open only to students in the vicinity of Pittsburgh. Did you know that 72% of Pennsylvania is considered rural? I 'guess' that if my children don't live in CMU's neighborhood, these scholarships don't apply.)

As for the opening of your post, let me tell you four concrete things that the Governor's School for the Arts (PGSA) does - or, rather, *did* - to train Pennsylvania's future leaders.

(I'll mostly ignore your Orwellian suggestion that PGSE alum be obligated to stay in Pennsylvania in order for these programs to be worthwhile.)

1. All students participated in leadership/advocacy training throughout the program, with an immediate goal of enacting a community-based leadership project upon their return home (to their Pennsylvania communities).

2. The more long-term goal of this training was to instill a sense of civic responsibility in these young artists. A particular theme of the advocacy curriculum at PGSA was gratitude to the state of Pennsylvania for providing excellent educational opportunities for its youth. All students wrote letters to their area representatives and senators, and were encouraged to share good news about their accomplishments with their legislators.

3. Each of PGSA's 200 students contacted a school from which few or no applicants had come to PGSA, in an effort to ensure that the opportunity was available to all Pennsylvania youth.

4. An extensive list of Pennsylvania colleges and universities - public AND private - offered scholarships to PGSE grads.

I know these four points because this native of very rural northwestern Pennsylvania, whose parents gross income was considerably below the Pennsylvania median, who grew up over an hour from the nearest college which didn't have any summer opportunities for gifted students anyhow -

This PGSE alum not only attended PGSA, thanks to an opportunity the state provided, but she also returned as a staff member for nearly a decade and IMPLEMENTED the leadership & advocacy curriculum at PGSA.

And I'm really proud of it - and even prouder of the thoughtful, valiant, positive, constructive, and ongoing efforts of my 19,336 colleagues in their efforts to save these programs. Frankly - we override you.

Elizabeth A. Male, Esq., CPA said...

Kate, You've just made my point.

You are teaching the best and the brightest to look to government as the solution rather than to be self-reliant. I object in the strongest possible terms.

The government created the deficit in education, the government cannot cure it. It is up to the individual, the parents, to take responsibility for educating their children appropriately.

Your efforts to save the programs have nothing to do with our children and everything to do with saving your jobs. Sorry. I see right through it.

CTY also offers financial assistance. http://cty.jhu.edu/financial/index.html

Net bottom line: We really don't need PGSE to provide our children with enrichment. Rendell has chosen to pick on our children in a misguided attempt to justify a tax increase. Swing and a miss.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Male I can assure you that I know Kate and have worked with her. Her actions have nothing to do with saving her job because she has not worked for the program for the past couple years. She is just like the other 19,000+ alumni who have no benefits that they can take from this program anymore. Their actions are for others, not themselves.

And I would like to add, as a parent of gifted children myself - you are wrong. My wife and I both have full time jobs, we need those jobs to pay our bills, we both work over 50 hours a week. We don't have the means to home school our children, even if we wanted to. (Which we wouldn't because many studies show home schooling can have negative effects on socialization). This does not mean that we do not help our children learn, we go to great lengths to interact with them and provide them with experiences that they could not get in school.

With that being said I have to say it is a governments job to protect its citizens. Part of that protection is eductating their young. Part of that education should be to provide the resources needed to hire quality teachers, and teach our children to high standards - so that parents don't believe they have to do it themselves.

Bottom line - if you aren't happy with how our government spends resources educating our children you should help change the government and their actions to change the results, not take your ball and go home.

kate said...

Wrong on at least two counts.

I have not worked at PGSE for several years, thus have no interest in 'saving my job.'

And YOU do not need PGSE to provide YOUR children with enrichment.

But the concept that the best educational opportunities should only be available to the children of white-collar parents who can afford to pay for them is the most misguided of all.

We will disagree on this point. It is interesting, however, that you offer NO support to your statement that PGSE is teaching children, "to look to government as the solution rather than to be self-reliant."

A self-reliant teenager seeks out opportunities that will enhance his/her future. In your world, those opportunities should be limited to his/her parents level ofincome.

I'm just glad that I live in my world and not yours.

Elizabeth A. Male, Esq., CPA said...


I've slept on your predicament and I'd like to invite you to step out of the world of government functionary and into the world of entrepreneur.

IF, as you suggest, eliminating the funding for this program will create a horrific chasm between need and opportunity, I suggest you set yourself up to FILL THAT NEED, for a fee.

Phase I: Establish yourself as a coordinator for summer enrichment programs for all students. Do your research, find programs in state, out of state, residency programs, day programs, serving gifted, average, challenged, identify those that provide financial assistance, identify possible sources of funding for those who are in need. Match students interests/abilities/ability to pay with available programs. I've already given you two: Andrew's Leap and CTY. I'm sure there are hundreds of others across the country. For an additional fee, help the children complete their applications. You seem to suggest that you know what administrators look for in the students. Help students highlight the areas that will most likely gain them admission to the program of their choice.

Phase II: Establish a charitable organization to solicit, accept, manage private contributions from individuals and businesses to fund those who are in need but have not money.

Phase III: Extend your work down to the junior high/middle school level; perhaps elementary school. Community colleges often offer summer programs to gifted and talented junior high school students. Local libraries serve elementary school students.

When my kids were in need of enrichment, it never ocurred to me to look to government for the solution. The gifted program at our school was so poor they didn't even advise the PGSE existed. I was consistently left to my own devices to find enrichment at all levels. I would have paid a fee for help with that process.

Let me take this opportunity to state clearly and unequivocally that which should be immediately obvious: Any time we accept a government provided "benefit," we provide the handle by which we can and will be manipulated. That is why it is so very important to constrain government to its core functions. Gifted summer enrichment is beyond the core function of government. Parents and the private sector should be providing the enrichment.

Rendell seems to take perverse pleasure in using people as pawns. This is not the first example of this behavior. I am genuinely sorry you and others are caught in his reprehensible game. But I think you have an opportunity to call his bluff and turn lemons into lemonade. I wish you well.

Sarah Biedka- PGSA 06 said...

"Your efforts to save the programs have nothing to do with our children and everything to do with saving your jobs. Sorry. I see right through it. "
Fact: the majority of PGSE staff considers PGSE their "summer jobs." They are generally educators and, for PGSA (which I recently attended), artists during the rest of the year. In fact, they are (as far as I have seen in the PGSA) highly respected professionals in their fields, which is part of what makes a PGSE such a worthwhile, educational experience.
As a recent graduate (again, 2006), I automatically received the Provost scholarship at a prestigious (read: private and VERY expensive) Pennsylvania college, a college which I could not have otherwise afforded, despite scholarships and loans, because I am part of the true middle class. This “true middle class” definition means that my parents and I make too much money to receive grants and some loans, but not enough to pay for college out of pocket. For those of us not born with silver spoons in our mouths, or for those of us who are not "poor enough," -the true middle class - there is no affordable opportunity for such an education as PGSE. Suggesting that all it takes is a little elbow grease to afford a proper education is preposterous. (Trust me, I, an “elite” PGSA alum who attends an “elite” college in an “elite” program- work at McDonalds to afford my “elite” Ramen noodles, just like anyone else.)
Finally, I would like to reiterate my frustration with the flippant, arrogant, and offensive way in which a certain population is discussing the future of the PGSEs. The Governor’s Schools should not be reduced to a mere partisan issue or line on a budget report. In truth, they are much more than that and deserve respect, no matter what the outcome (public, private, go ahead and argue in a mature adult manner, please) of their future.

Sarah Biedka said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Elizabeth A. Male, Esq., CPA said...

What happened to the quaint notion that you made your way and paid your way? When was healthy self-reliance and a sense of personal responsibility for your children replaced with a pervasive entitlement mentality? Seems many wish to live at the expense of the state. Trouble is, the state lives at the expense of all of us. There is no need for the state to be in the middle of this. None. Parents need to take some responsibility for providing enrichment activities for their children. Where they cannot provide that which is required, private charity is available.

Anonymous said...

Then perhaps private charity can fund our military and the useless and pointless conflict in the middle east that has cost us how much in taxpayer money for the past eight years? It would be nice if we could all pick and choose what our taxes end up funding, but we can't so you'll just have to accept that. I suppose you also object to welfare, medicare, and social security, failing to see the benefits of these programs, especially during times like these. "Paying your own way" would have destroyed this country long ago, and it is mentalities as such that have kept this country so far behind in sociological evolution these past 50 years.

Anonymous said...

There has been a lot of back and forth here between certain parties and while I do not have the time to read every word that has transpired here, I hope I can offer another perspective from what little I have perused.

I have been a fortunate recipient of both publicly and privately funded methods of summer enrichment programs. I am currently 23 years old and a college graduate. I am a PGSE for International Studies 2002 Alum, as well as a CTY alum. I’m just going to give my thoughts on each.

On CTY: It was the most enriching ways to spend 3 summers of my youth and I wouldn’t have given that experience for the world. I made best friends who are still my best friends 8 years later. But, was it expensive? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely. Affordable for everyone? Not a chance in hell. I know very few families that have the sort of disposable income that CTY requires tuition-wise.

In the course of my summers at CTY, I saw one Black student. ONE…out of the approximate 1,000 students I encountered over those 3 years. This is NOT what American education should be. I had the best teachers and I was surrounded by the smartest kids in the world. I was also surrounded by the richest, most privileged kids in America. Some of these trust fund teens had houses in the Hamptons and had private jets. No matter how you slice it, programs like CTY, while wonderful and dear to my heart are financially impossible for the majority of Americans. Truth be told, with or without CTY, all of our (CTY Alumni) professional and personal lives would differ very little from what they are now.

On PGSE (International Studies): PGSE had the same educational standards as CTY, if not higher. The diversity of PGSE was quite different than that of CTY. 90% of us went to public schools (not the typical Phillips Exeter kid from CTY). There were students from the inner cities to the farm counties of western PA. There was one thing that you could sense was just different. Every single one of us (there were 100) knew we were lucky. We were lucky to have been given this immense opportunity to further our own educations without paying one extra red cent, and lucky to have relieved our parents of that financial burden.

We never took our classes for granted and bubbled with excitement at the thought that going to Governor’s School was a chance for us to break out. It was our “big break” if you will, a way for our dream colleges to see the extent of our educational dedication and a way to “get ahead.” Many had already had their heart set on one prestigious school or another. Many were also planning to graduate from college in 3 years because they knew their families could not afford all 4 years. We were diverse, both racially and socio-economically. We had dreams that many of my CTY counterparts took for granted. Like many of my fellow PGSE classmates, I was unable to attend my dream school because of financial reasons. However, many of us, because of our academic achievements at Governor’s School were able to secure solid college scholarships. Governor’s school gave us opportunities we never thought we’d have because we came from a single parent home or the first one in the family to attend college.

Here’s my final thought: While enriching and wonderful, CTY will not change a child’s life in the long run. We will still be lawyers and doctors and cure cancer. We’ll attend the best colleges and will allow our children to do the same.

Attending Governor’s school, however, will change a young Pennsylvanian’s life. What money cannot buy but a collective state can provide, is a chance for our most intellectually able to rise and BECOME somebody. Those who are born into wealth and have the smarts are already predestined to be someone, though some choose to forfeit. Public Programs like PGSE gives those who were denied the silver spoon an extra chance. Sometimes, they are even denied the bootstraps of which they are demanded to pull themselves up by. If there is EVER a time to keep these programs, it is during these economically trying times. As a "hybrid" of these types of programs, I am speaking from my experiences with both. It is one of my deepest hopes that when our economic storms pass, that PGSE will return.

Elizabeth A. Male, Esq., CPA said...

"What money cannot buy but a collective state can provide, is a chance for our most intellectually able to rise and BECOME somebody."

Money does buy it. OTHER PEOPLE's MONEY. Did your family apply for a scholarship or financial aid? You do know that financial aid is available for those who need it, don't you?

Why must the state, "a collective state," as you call it, foot the bill? Why should taxpayers be forced to subsidize your enrichment? Do parents bear ANY RESPONSIBILITY for the education of their children? If not, why not?

"The trouble with socialism is that someday you are going to run out of other people's money!!" --Margaret Thatcher

Anonymous said...

Ms. Male if you really feel this way about government's role in peoples lives I suggest you invest in a very large well and water pump and not call the fire department if your house is ever on fire. Or make sure you never need the police, or for that matter OSHA at your job. Government's job is to protect and educate it's people. Government may not be the most efficient, when this is the case it is the job of the voters to demand better quality - not to tell government to just not do things. A government that does not support the needs of its people is a government that will lead to a failed state. Tax payers should pay for education for the same reason they pay for other government functions - because it is for the betterment of the "state" to properly educate their children.

And as far as finacial aid goes - you are obviously very ignorant on the issue. I work at a state college and see this problem every semester: financial aid (state and government) does not come close to the costs of schooling. I see full time students, with as much aid as possible, a full time, or two part time jobs who still have to take out loans.

Bottom line is that when you can afford to do what you like it is easy to say government should do very little, but you ignore the fact that it was the government that allowed you to get where you are - through means of education, state funding for school lunches, government protections in the workplace and the marketplace and every other function of government. There is a tendancy for those well to think they did it all themselves, without stopping to think of all the little ways government has assisted you in your life.

Elizabeth A. Male, Esq., CPA said...

Cry me a river.

I was the first person in my family to earn a bachelor's degree. My two brothers, both younger, followed each earning a bachelor's degree. My parents SAVED and TOOK ON DEBT, WHILE I WORKED, WHILE MY BROTHERS WORKED, to earn enough to live on while earning our degrees.

My parents paid off that debt. At the age of 38 years, I went back to night school, while working part time and raising my family, to simultaneously earn a Masters degree and a J.D. I graduated at the age of 43, passed the bar, and I'm just starting my legal career. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. My children were not born with silver spoons in their mouths.

I HAVE ZERO TOLERANCE FOR YOUR ENTITLEMENT MENTALITY or any suggestion the state is responsible for paying for my children's enrichment.

Spare me your lectures---all of you.

Anonymous said...

The government performing its function is an entitlement mentality, and PGSE is not enrichment. To call these programs enrichment is to think of them as summer camp, which they are not. What these programs are is professional training for students. They are as important to education as AP classes are during the school year. Perhaps this is the root of your problem, you fundimentally misunderstand the nature of what is being cut.

Anonymous said...

furthermore, those loans your parents took out, much like the ones I and my parents took out can also be considered an entitlement by your standards as they are backed by the government, which allow them to be given at a lower interest rate.

Elizabeth A. Male, Esq., CPA said...

Please show me where we authorized the state to provide professional training for a select few.

You fail to understand the proper role of government in the lives of the citizens.

"...Political power is that power, which every man having in the state of nature, has given up into the hands of the society, and therein to the governors, whom the society hath set over itself, with this express or tacit trust, that it shall be employed for their good, and the preservation of their property: now this power, which every man has in the state of nature, and which he parts with to the society in all such cases where the society can secure him, is to use such means, for the preserving of his own property, as he thinks good, and nature allows him; and to punish the breach of the law of nature in others, so as (according to the best of his reason) may most conduce to the preservation of himself, and the rest of mankind. So that the end and measure of this power, when in every man's hands in the state of nature, being the preservation of all of his society, that is, all mankind in general, it can have no other end or measure, when in the hands of the magistrate, but to preserve the members of that society in their lives, liberties, and possessions; and so cannot be an absolute, arbitrary power over their lives and fortunes, which are as much as possible to be preserved; but a power to make laws, and annex such penalties to them, as may tend to the preservation of the whole, by cutting off those parts, and those only, which are so corrupt, that they threaten the sound and healthy, without which no severity is lawful. And this power has its original only from compact and agreement, and the mutual consent of those who make up the community...."

John Locke, The Second Treatise of Government.

The state exists to preserve our lives, our liberties and our property from incursion by others. PERIOD. The state does not exist to redistribute wealth as they see fit or to provide professional training for a select few at the expense of the many.

Grow up.

Elizabeth A. Male, Esq., CPA said...

Glenn Beck says this better than I can. Excerpted from: http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/198/22535/?ck=1

"... Where I grew up, we didn't take money from other people. Where I grew up, when I grew up, we worked hard for what we got. We didn't expect a dime from anybody. I was told when I grew up, we don't take the money from the government because it's hard earned money. Somebody worked hard for that money. Now nobody cares. I deserve it. It's mine. I want more. You have that; I want that. We have pegged our -- we've hitched our wagon to the star of greed and envy and dishonesty. There is no honor. Where is the honor? Where is the person that wants to do the right thing because it's the right thing even if it will destroy their own career? Where is that honor? I'll tell you, you won't find it in the public sector, but you will find it in the private sector. You will find it with the people of this country. You will find it. You will find people left and right on every street, in every neighborhood in America that will give until it hurts, that will put food on their children's plate before their own plate. Who will not share with their wife or their husband one of the struggles of the day because they're struggling with something of their own. You will find people who will self-sacrifice all across America. Why? Because we're not Europeans. Because we're Americans. This is who we are and yet our schools and our president and our congress and quite honestly both sides of the aisle are teaching and preaching to us every day, "That's not who we are." Oh, they say it, that we're that in speeches, but they don't mean it. Oh, they'll have somebody craft something that they have extracted from your brain in some focus group and they'll say, "Oh, yeah, that will make the meter rise. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, say that. But I don't believe that. Don't worry about it. Just say that. Oh, they'll eat this up."

I want my country back. And it's been handed, we've handed it to them. We've handed it to them in our own arrogance and our own stupidity. They've convinced us that we're not alike. They've convinced us that somehow or another we hate each other. Our neighbor, just because they have a D or an R at the end of their name? I don't have a D or an R at the end of my name. That is such a small part of who I am. And right now I ain't either. Somehow or another they've convinced us that we can't lean on each other; we can only lean on them. We can only lean on the government. Well, we've got a choice. We either lean on the government and they will gladly be our crutch or we start depending on ourselves again. We don't have a problem saying, "Get the hell off my land." We don't have a problem saying to somebody, "Who do you think you are. Get off of my land and I don't want a dime from you." But at the same time, that same person that says that sees the need in their neighbor's eyes, and whether they go over themselves and say, "Can I help you with that? Do you need something?" Or praise the Lord if they were so proud that they wouldn't want you to help, they wouldn't want you to know, that you were observant enough to see their need and you would just leave it on their porch. A friend of mine grew up very poor. He remembers walking out of the front porch one day. They didn't have any dinner the night before. He walks out on the front porch. He's getting ready for school and there are groceries all stacked up right there by the doorbell -- the door after the doorbell had rang. He walks out and the neighbor lady who he's sure was the one who left those groceries, she was out by her car and he came out and he looked at all the groceries and he said, "Where did these come from?" She said, "I don't know what you're talking about." He said, "All these groceries." She said, "I don't know what you're talking about. Lord just must know that you guys have been hungry. I'd take them in, put those blessing s in your counter." That's who we are. That's the way we're supposed to be, not somebody threatening to put us into jail. If we who have been responsible don't feed those who were not responsible, I'll do it because I want to, not at the threat of jail or the end of a gun. We're not a communist, socialist or dictatorship kind of country yet."

Or are we?

Anonymous said...

Ms. Male -

You said: "Money does buy it. OTHER PEOPLE's MONEY. Did your family apply for a scholarship or financial aid? You do know that financial aid is available for those who need it, don't you?"

I assume you are referring to CTY. Yes, I am well aware of scholarship and financial aid and let me tell you WHERE that aid comes from. US. Former CTY students. I get emails every month asking for donations from Johns-Hopkins University to fund a student's summer session at CTY. So in actuality, OTHER PEOPLE's MONEY is still used to pay for "underprivileged" students at private programs.

You talk about how much debt your family took on to have you go to college, etc. Going to gov school could have given your family relief from those costs because could have gotten you a scholarship for college like it did for me. If you are telling me that you'd rather your parents go into debt to send you to college than have an opportunity of a lifetime that would not only enrich you, but have a chance to lessen your future debt, then I just can't argue with that.

According to your arguments, school taxes shouldn't be paid either. In fact, any taxpayer money that goes to schools should not exist. There should be no such thing as public school then. Because in reality, gov school is just a summer public school. You say "I HAVE ZERO TOLERANCE FOR YOUR ENTITLEMENT MENTALITY or any suggestion the state is responsible for paying for my children's enrichment." NEWS FLASH...they already do, unless your kids go to private school. You can also forget about schools like Penn State and Univ. of Pittsburgh. These are great in-state college institutions that people go to because they can't afford Harvard. I suggest you read up and see how much of your state taxes go to the public schools and colleges in your state.

Nathan Benefield said...

Anonymous - your logic is dizzying. To suggest private donations, given freely, are the same as tax dollars - in which others are compelled to fund a program - is absurd.

As to the notion that government currently funds public schools and some universities, therefore must fund the Governor's Schools - that logic would imply that since AIG got a bailout, every company should get a bailout.

If I shop at Boscov's, must I then support a taxpayer-funded bailout of the store?

Your arguments that the GSE is a good program has been fairly convincing. I would be even willing to support the program with a (small) contribution.

However, no on has asked me to do so in the effort to "save the Governor's Schools" - they have asked to support a lobbying effort to get government to continue taking money from my neighbors - under threat of force - to fund the program. I am much more reluctant to support that.

Anna - PGSA Alumni said...

I think it is fair to say that some people may not want to pay for an "elite summer program" for a "selective group of students," or however else you may word it.

However, as mentioned earlier, since we all ARE required to pay taxes, and have no direct control over which specific usages our own dollars go to, I must admit that if I were looking at a list of all items being paid for by taxpayer's dollars, I would rather see a program with an extensive list of alumni testimonies as to the benefits of the program, rather than the purchasing of sparkling stationary...

Just my opinion.

Elizabeth A. Male, Esq., CPA said...


We are all required to pay taxes to fund the expenditures authorized by our Constitutions.

Please show me where our Constitution authorizes the state to use the power of taxation to extract money from the population as a whole to pay for the summer enrichment for a few high school students.

You must understand that once we deviate from constraints imposed on taxing and spending, the government becomes a government of unlimited power, an agent of theft under color of law. "Need" does not provide the moral authority for the state to engage in legal plunder.

Private charity is the only moral means of providing summer enrichment for those who cannot pay for it. Money that is taken, taxed from us under threat of lien/levy of our private property, cannot be said to be money that is freely given or to fall within any reasonable definition of the word "charity." It is theft under color of law.

I accept my responsibility as a parent to provide for my children. It is a shame that other parents seek to avoid similar responsibility by asking the state to take from the many to provide for their children.