Free Staters Attack Public Schools, Tom Slater, Portsmouth Herald, 1/28/12

posted Jan 30, 2012, 4:00 AM by Bill Duncan

Free-Staters attack public schools
January 28, 2012 2:00 AM

Jan. 23 — To the Editor:

Our Republican Legislature, led by the Free-Staters and the tea party, is considering two bills that would further the destruction of public education in New Hampshire, HB 1607 and SB 372.

Both bills would divert scarce public money from our public schools to religious and other private schools and for home schooling. In most of the 20th century, American public education was the envy of the world, and along with the union movement helped create the American middle class. The GI Bill, which helped educate our servicemen returning from World War II (and was opposed by Republicans as socialism), is an example of a terrifically successful government program that also boosted American's income by helping many move into the middle class.

In February 2011, President Obama met with top executives of Silicon Valley high-tech companies. Steve Jobs, chief of Apple (the most profitable tech company in the United States) told him that the work done by the more than 700,000 people producing their products overseas was not coming home. And the reason Apple went overseas has nothing to do with taxes or regulations, the favorite line of the Republican presidential candidates.

As an example of China's labor advantages, former Apple executives have said that, when their subcontractor in China needed 8,700 industrial engineers to produce the iPhone, they were hired almost immediately (of course, the fact that, according to independent analysts, Apple saves about $65 per phone by making it in China doesn't hurt). Mr. Jobs told the president that the government should help train engineers.

Some executives suggested the government change visa programs to bring in more foreign skilled workers. Wouldn't it be better to improve education in this country, so our future graduates have the needed skills? Public education in New Hampshire is already pretty good, and can be improved with the proper programs. But diverting taxpayer money to private schools and home schooling is not a productive approach.

Tom Slater