I Was Present at the Creation of the . . . School Choice Movement in America

“Mother, I have to go to school today; my teachers are counting on me.”

I Was Present at the Creation of the . . .

School Choice Movement in America

By: George Noga – July 25, 2021

August is “Back to School” month for MLLG; we will publish a multi-part series on school choice throughout the entire month for which today’s posting is a prequel.

Next month marks the 30th anniversary of the school choice movement, which began in 1991 when the late J. Patrick Rooney used his own money to fund a private voucher program in Indianapolis for children from poor families. It was an instant success. The Wall Street Journal published a glowing front page story in 1993 which led to others starting similar programs in Milwaukee and San Antonio later that year.

I was in Hawaii vacationing with my family in the summer of 1993 when I read the WSJ article. My first thought was, “I can do that too“. I was not wealthy enough to fund the program by myself and would need to raise money. Fortunately, I was well positioned to shake the money tree by virtue of owning an investment firm that had some of the wealthiest people in our area as clients and also due to my erstwhile fund raising for local arts organizations while serving as head of the Orlando Opera.

I had raised enough (including $50,000 from Betsy DeVos of the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation) by the end of 1993 to fund 250 scholarships. I decided to begin in time for the 1994 school year and our Orlando program thus became the fourth one in the USA. To get the word out, we ran an ad in the Sunday paper and distributed applications at predominantly black churches. We had no idea what response to expect.

The first week after our ad, I was expecting 10-20 applications and would have been ecstatic with 50. Two days after our ad appeared, we received 250 applications and they flooded in until there were 2,500. We awarded scholarships by lottery with only 1 in 10 applicants selected. We urgently needed to raise money to help more kids.

Jeb Bush, the keynote speaker at our inaugural banquet, came up afterward and asked me if he could help. He committed a day of his time to help raise money and we soon spent a day meeting with business leaders throughout our area. Later, Jeb was able to get a corporate tax credit scholarship bill though the legislature, which provided money to foundations such as ours. The organization I founded in 1994, now called Step Up for Students, last year awarded 103,000 scholarships for $700 million to enable children from low-income families to escape failed government schools. Wow!

Because of the astounding success of our efforts in Orlando, I was invited to join the board of Children First America, the leading school choice organization in the USA. The board included Patrick Rooney, John Walton, Betsy DeVos and Ted Forstmann. During the years I served on this board, we raised many millions of dollars and were instrumental in starting private scholarship programs in over 100 American cities and our efforts led to 33 states (today) enacting educational choice voucher programs.

Each year in Orlando, we held a picnic for the scholarship children and their families. Near the end of the picnics, we invited parents, who wished to do so, to step up to the mic and share their personal journey. The stories we heard were heart rending. The scholarships truly changed countless lives. I recall one such story in particular.

One of our scholarships went to a middle school boy who had been in constant trouble at his government school. His mother told us he hated going to school and often feigned illness to avoid going. One morning, a few months after he began attending his new school, he awoke sick with a 102 degree temperature. Nonetheless, he insisted on going to school. Taken aback, his mother asked why he wanted to go. He replied, “Mother, I have to go to school today; my teachers are counting on me.”

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For the entire month of August, we address educational issues.

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More Liberty Less Government – –

School Choice and the LGBTQ Controversy

Progressives would see all children drown rather than provide lifeboats for some. 

School Choice and the LGBTQ Controversy
By: George Noga – May 24, 2020

      Progressives in Florida have worked themselves into a lather because some families exercise their freedom of choice under the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program to send their children to religious schools that are not LGBTQ friendly. They would rather take away the freedom of over a hundred thousand families than permit a few families to use their liberty to make choices with which they disagree.

        The LGBTQ scare is a smokescreen; liberals always have hated school choice because they are enamored with big government and teachers unions. From the start of the school choice movement, at which I was present, opponents have demonized choice. At first, they claimed vouchers could be used to fund schools run by the KKK or witches covens. Their latest claim that religious schools are anti-LGBTQ is being used as a bludgeon against corporations participating in the scholarship program and, in these hyper-PC times, they have caused a few companies to quit the program.

        A key question is: “Whose money is it, anyway?” No one objects to families using their own money for their children to attend the school of their choice. So, to whom does tax credit scholarship money belong? Credits differ from vouchers, which are funded by government. Unlike vouchers, credits never were state funds. The tax credit program was built on the principle of funder choice to keep government out and to permit families to choose. Progressives treat scholarship families as inferior to those using their own funds to pay for their children to attend the same schools.

        That government schools discriminate against religion is obvious; less obvious is that public schools promote their own religion. They teach a vapid, politically correct, secular and valueless orthodoxy that, instead of reinforcing parental values, is antithetical to them. Tax credit scholarships permit the lucky recipients to escape failed government hell holes, which often are petri dishes for social dysfunction and breeding grounds for behavioral pathologies. Progressives oppose religious schools but force children to attend schools that indoctrinate them with the government religion.

        Critics of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program are hard at work cudgelling companies with the club of political correctness if they don’t agree to quit participating. However, if companies quit the program, that means fewer scholarships inasmuch as  companies can’t pick and choose who receives the scholarships or which schools recipients choose. Thus, a family may not, for example, have a scholarship available to move their LGBTQ child from a public school where he/she is being bullied relentlessly into a private school that provides a safe, nurturing environment.

       Progressives are acolytes of the secular, valueless government religion; they hate it when even one person sends their children to a real religious school. They shamelessly have used the KKK and witches covens as scare tactics. Progressives would much rather see all children drown than to provide lifeboats, solely because they object to the choices a few people on the lifeboats may make.

Our next post on May 31st chronicles the death of the American dream.
More Liberty Less Government  –  –

Government Accountability is an Oxymoron  

The most powerful force on earth is a consumer armed with a free choice.   

Government Accountability is an Oxymoron  

By: George Noga – December 1, 2019  


Since founding the school choice movement in Florida 25 years ago, I have debated many apologists for government schools. Invariably, their go-to argument is that private voucher schools are “unaccountable“. When everything else fails, they trot out this moldy canard. It’s time for me, once and for all, to demolish this fairy tale.  


            Everyone wants accountability for the products and services they consume. In free markets businesses compete to provide accountability for quality, safety and value. There is no such thing as an unaccountable free market. The most potent force on this planet is a consumer armed with a free choice; or, as Von Mises so eloquently put it, “Markets are a daily plebiscite in which every penny confers the right to vote“.  


          Markets deliver safety, quality and value in many ways. Foremost is branding, by which companies stake their reputation on products. When you vacation at Disney or buy an Apple computer, the reputations of the companies are on the line. Markets also deliver quality and value through franchising. If you eat at Wendy’s, you know what to expect. There also are third party rating firms like Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, Underwriter’s Laboratories and BBB. Lastly, social media confer enormous power on consumers; a few terrible reviews can sink nearly any business.  


          Markets are accountable from the bottom up, with consumers exercising control directly. Government accountability is an oxymoron; to the limited extent it may exist, it is from the top down. Consumers can exercise limited control through the political process only once every four years. With government accountability, voters select candidates with positions on numerous issues; with markets, consumers make a choice about one specific good or service. In many jurisdictions accountability is impossible due to political domination by interest groups and voting blocks. With government schools there is no branding, franchising, independent rating agencies or social media.  


        Contrast market accountability (Uber) with government regulated taxis. With Uber, consumers get location, name, photo, driver rating, fare and arrival time. They get a spotless car, pay via credit card and rate the driver. With taxis you get none of the above; you get an unkempt driver with poor English who drives aggressively. The taxi has a musty odor, blares obscene music and costs triple Uber; complaints are futile. Which is more accountable, the market (Uber) or government (taxis)?  


           An independent review of Providence, RI schools with 25,000 students found peeling lead paint, brown water, leaking sewage, rats, frigid temperature, classroom chaos, bullying, no discipline and rampant violence. Only 5% of students were at grade level. Unions protect failed teachers and principals, who at worst are placed in rubber rooms with full salary and benefits. Government blamed lack of funding even though spending was $18,000 per student – 50% above the national average. Not one person ever has been held accountable and these horrors have been going on for decades.   


         In sharp contrast, Providence charter and voucher schools are successful. Instead of expanding charters and vouchers, government and unions want to impose more regulations on them in the name of – you guessed it – accountability. They are trying to turn charters and vouchers into the same veritable hell holes parents are fleeing.  


         Lack of accountability in government is endemic just like waste, fraud and abuse. The only way to reduce these evils is to slash government spending; there is absolutely no other way.  We can increase accountability and simultaneously reduce cost, waste, fraud and abuse by giving every parent a 100% school voucher.   


        The next time you hear that voucher schools are unaccountable, remember Uber, taxis and rubber rooms. Remember that free markets always are accountable and that government accountability is an oxymoron. Above all, remember the Providence schools; how much of that kind of accountability do you want for your children?  

Medicare for all? Next, we take on the Canadian national health care system.   


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My 25 Years in the School Choice Movement

Ron DeSantis is Governor of Florida today because of 100,000 black voucher moms.
My 25 Years in the School Choice Movement
By: George Noga – January 20, 2019

       I started the school choice movement in Florida in 1994 by raising money for private vouchers for children in poverty – 80% of whom were minorities; it was an overwhelming success. Assisted by a new tax credit law, we rapidly expanded. The program, now called Step Up for Students, grants over 100,000 scholarships each year at a cost of $400 million. Due to the Florida success, I was invited to join the board of  Children First America, which began voucher programs in over 100 cities. This posting offers reflections and observations based on my quarter-century in the movement.

1. School choice is a winning issue. Ron DeSantis is now Governor of Florida because 100,000 black voucher moms voted for him by a huge margin over Andrew Gillum, the black Democrat candidate, who vowed to abolish vouchers. Black women voted 18% for DeSantis only 9% for Scott and 7% for the GOP nationally. DeSantis also got 44% of the Hispanic vote. Doug Ducey won Governor of Arizona by corralling 45% of the Latino vote versus only 30% for McSally – again due to school choice.

2. Vouchers increase funding for public school children. Teacher unions, contrary to all logic, argue vouchers diminish funding for children in government schools. Assume there are 100,000 students is a school district funded at $10,000 per student, or $1 billion in total. If 20% receive vouchers for $5,000 (50% is typical), the 80,000 kids remaining in public schools now are funded at $900 million, or $11,250 each, equal to an increase of $1,250, or 12.5% per pupil remaining in government schools. QED

3. Choice is ultimate accountability. Opponents’ go-to argument is that voucher schools are unaccountable. Government schools are run by stultified, politicized and unionized bureaucracies whereas private schools are accountable directly to parents and students. A consumer armed with a free choice is the most powerful force on earth. Imposing rules on voucher schools turns them into the hell holes parents are fleeing and causes good private schools to shun vouchers, thereby reducing options for children from poor families. The state doesn’t interfere in schools where parents pay tuition directly, only in those that accept vouchers. They thus treat voucher parents as inferior to others.

4. Opponents always use race, class warfare and scare tactics. Even though I raised money from white businessmen to fund vouchers for black and Hispanic kids, I was called racist every time I spoke in public. Critics argue vouchers are bad because some kids are left behind; this is like asserting everyone should drown because there aren’t enough lifeboats to save everybody. Nor do vouchers skim the best students; voucher kids are indistinguishable from public school kids in every demographic.

5. School choice is about more than education. Government schools teach a vapid, PC, secular, valuless orthodoxy. Choice allows parents to select schools that reinforce, rather than contradict, parental values. Choice permits parents to select a safe environment versus metal detectors and perpetual police presence and to escape public schools, many of which are petri dishes for social dysfunction and breeding grounds for behavioral pathologies. Choice permits children to escape being held hostage by those standing in the schoolhouse door blocking their escape. Choice would be highly desirable even if there were no differences in educational outcomes.

6. Public schools are a jobs program for adults. Voucher schools that fail are closed. No government school ever closes. Inept and dangerous teachers can’t be fired; instead, they are shuffled among schools or paid to sit in rubber rooms. The problem is not that there are a few bad apples, but that there aren’t enough good apples.

        School choice has come far in 25 years but has a long way to go until that magical day when every family in America has the power to choose. The 2018 election proved school choice is a winning issue among black and Hispanic voters. That should scare the bejesus out of teachers unions, progressives and others who are preventing poor kids from escaping failing schools. More importantly, it should embolden politicians of all stripes to embrace school choice – which is the civil rights issue of our time.

Watch for our special mid-week posting on Thursday, January 24th.

MLLG High School Graduation Address


There are many excellent teachers in America, unlike those brutally described in this post. The problem however is not limited to a few bad apples; there are not enough good apples. 
MLLG High School Graduation Address
By: George Noga – June 4, 2017
       Congratulations on your graduation from this failed government high school. Now you enter the real world and must confront hard truths beginning with your teachers. They attended a college of education which attracts the poorest students mired in the bottom deciles of their class; nevertheless, they harbor illusions of adequacy. Teachers can’t be fired no matter how inept or dangerous. Some taught you; others are assigned to rubber rooms where they can do no harm. The problem is not just a few bad apples, but too few good apples. Teachers are anti-competitive government workers who oppose pay based on merit or results. They are overpaid for what they produce.
      Your unionized teachers bargain for salary and work rules at your expense; that’s why your school day begins at zero dark thirty. Public schools are a jobs program for adults; you are afterthoughts. You were indoctrinated in pro-government, anti-business, politically correct conformity with an entitlement mentality. They scared the bejesus out of you about climate change and the environment with myth and misinformation.
       School choice is the civil rights issue of our age; yet, you had no choice where to matriculate, unlike affluent families – none of whose kids attended your school. Your teachers and administrators stood blocking your schoolhouse door to stop you from escaping. Principals and administrators are unaccountable to students, parents or anyone but  the government blob – which never has closed a failed school. They are in constant fear that if armed with a free choice, the most potent force on earth, you will escape their government monopoly. Minority students were thrown under the school bus by the NAACP and your elected leaders because they choose to support public sector unions over you – knowing full well the great harm this inflicts on you.
      Although your learning was far beneath grade level, your school spent nearly as much per student as the most elite private schools. The education  budget is wasted on administrators; barely half ever found its way into your classroom. Your government school with police presence and metal detectors resembled a prison. Sports were more important than education. Your school was a Petri dish for every dysfunction and social pathology. Your graduation is a testament to your perseverance – not to learning. You have been badly defrauded by those you innocently trusted.
      You can’t attend college without much remedial work and community college is mostly a chimera. Any honors or awards you may have received are cruel hoaxes. You are not prepared for good jobs; practice asking “Do you want any fries with that burger?” Every tattoo and piercing reduces your lifetime income by $100,000. You can expect a life of quiet desperation with little or no social or economic mobility.
      In a final ignominy, you are victims of intergenerational theft; you inherit $600,000 as your share of unfunded future U.S. government liabilities. This does not include your share of unfunded future state liabilities for teacher retirement, health care and benefits which vastly outstrip benefits for comparable private sector jobs. You inherit the equivalent of a mortgage on a million dollar home – only without the home.
     There is no way to sugarcoat your predicament. Nonetheless, you are young and there is a narrow path that can led to success – but only for a precious few of you. The first step is to eschew all myth and political correctness, to embrace truth and to see and to understand the world as it is – not how you would like it to be. Understanding the reality of your high school experience as described herein is a good beginning.
      Learning must be a lifetime pursuit; never stop. Find something you are good at which isn’t necessarily something you like. Work incredibly hard; save money; and consider starting a business. Above all, make sure your children have educational choices and are not forced, like you, to attend failed government schools.

The next post on June 11th is MLLG’s college commencement address.

Guns in America – Liberty vs. Government – MLLG Update

We address: (1) Guns in America redux; (2) MLLG status and website; and (3) the eternal struggle between personal freedom and government power.

By: George Noga – June 26, 2016

    This post touches briefly on three topics beginning with a followup to our February 2016 series: Guns in America, which enjoyed phenomenal distribution that propelled it to a high position on search engines including Google. Recently, we noticed a paper published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. Although it was published years ago, it has just now begun gaining widespread traction in the gun control debate.

  The paper is entitled: Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? To read, simply click the title. It documents that gun control has no correlation with criminal violence and, in fact, has a negative correlation, i.e. more guns, less crime. The authors concluded that gun control is ineffective because it does not affect the social, cultural and economic factors that are the real determinants of violent crime. Note: The main sources for the study include the CDC, US Academy of Sciences and United Nations.

Uncommon Wisdom about Liberty and Government

    It doesn’t get better than this; that’s why MLLG is publishing a lengthy quote. The case being discussed was before the Texas Supreme Court and involved eyebrow threading, a safe and traditional South Asian practice to remove unwanted hair. The State of Texas demanded threaders obtain cosmetology licenses requiring 750 hours of training (that did not include eyebrow threading), shut down of their businesses and fines of thousands of dollars. The threaders took Texas to court. Justice Don Willet wrote the following in his opinion supporting the threaders, who won the case 6-3.  

   “This case concerns the timeless struggle between personal freedom and government power. Do Texans live under a presumption of liberty or a presumption of restraint? The Texas Constitution confers power – but even more critically, it constrains power. What are the outer boundary limits of government actions that trample Texans’ constitutional right to earn an honest living? Must courts rubber-stamp even the most nonsensical encroachments on freedom? Are even the most patently farcical and protectionist restrictions unchangeable, or are there judicially enforceable limits?

    “This case raises constitutional eyebrows because it asks building-block questions about constitutional architecture – about how we as Texans govern ourselves and about the relationship of the citizen to the State. This case concerns far more than whether (Texans) can pluck unwanted hair with a strand of thread. This case is fundamentally about the American Dream and the unalienable human right to pursue happiness without curtsying to government on bended knee. It is about whether government can connive with rent-seeking factions to ration liberty unrestrained and whether judges must submissively uphold even the most risible encroachments.”

MLLG Preview and Website Update

    So far in 2016, MLLG has published two series, Guns in America and Inequality in America. We have blogged about, inter alia, the US election (3 times), climate change (3), government and socialism (3), school choice, tax inversions, Pope Francis, Islamic terrorism, Scandinavian economics and Jefferson-Jackson Day. Whew!

    For the second half of 2016, look for multi-part series on (1) climate change; (2) poverty, hunger and homelessness in America; and (3) financial repression, negative interest rates and the war on cash. Other pithy topics may include: China, political correctness, Greece and Puerto Rico, Uber and gay marriage (you’ll really like that one) and media bias. This summer, as customary, we lighten things up with posts about life in Montana – our summer home. We call these posts “Montana Moments“; enjoy!

Inequality in America V – Putting it All Together

Surprising answers to questions about inequality in America

By: George Noga – May 29, 2016

   Even socialists agree inequality from newly created wealth (even massive wealth a la Gates and Jobs) is an unalloyed benefit to society because it is the best metric for how well an economy is innovating, becoming more productive and responding to the needs of all people. Inherited wealth is mostly dissipated in a few generations, heavily taxed and often used charitably. Last, if Social Security and Medicare benefits were capitalized and included in wealth measurements, inequality would plunge markedly.   At the outset of this series, I promised to explore and to answer many questions about inequality in America based on facts and logic. Following are the answers.

    It is nigh impossible to get an accurate picture of inequality of income due to deeply flawed statistics based on AGI and household income, inconsistencies between income cohorts and flawed comparisons that don’t track the same people over time. One conclusion is certain. Accurate data would show much less inequality of income. Progressives oppose disparity in pay between CEOs and workers but are okay with similar clefts for athletes and movie stars. Steve Jobs took a nearly bankrupt Apple and created $750 billion of value; he made $2 billion, or 0.27%; was he overpaid?

    Data based on spending shows sharply less inequality; the lowest income cohort spends $2 for each $1 of income. There is no inequality based on taxation (including payroll taxes) as America has one of the most progressive tax systems in the world. Nor would a $15 minimum wage reduce inequality; less than 1% earn the minimum and their average household income is $50,000. Young, poor, minorities and the unskilled are harmed by minimum wage laws. The truly poor need jobs not a higher minimum wage. Progressives claim a moral imperative to increase the minimum wage knowing aforehand it creates unemployment. Where is the morality in that?

    The chasm between reality and rhetoric is wide. All measures of inequality, Gini, Theil and MLD, are markedly worse under Clinton compared to Reagan and under Obama versus Bush 43. Inequality is fueled by progressive policies including: (1) tepid economic growth; (2) higher taxation; (3) opposition to school choice; (4) energy policies; (5) ObamaCare; (6) opposition to trade; and (7) spending, debt and deficits. It is progressive dogma that creates inequality despite its self righteous rhetoric.

    All metrics show less inequality in Europe; however, we must ask if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Many Europeans lead lives of quiet desperation with no economic mobility and a permanently moribund economy; they even refuse to reproduce or to defend themselves. Europe produces no innovations in electronics, software, drugs or even pop culture. The former USSR would have scored favorably on measures of inequality as does Botswana; where everyone is poor, there is no inequality. The Gini coefficient for happiness in America is the highest in the world; that says it all!

    There are some things we should do to reduce inequality. Foremost is to stop corporate welfare as wealth created by government is illegitimate. Too big to fail needs to be eliminated as this is but another form of government largess. Capitalism must be based on both the carrot and the stick. Most Americans understand and accept inequality created by the marketplace; their beef is with government playing favorites.

    At its beating heart, inequality is mostly an imaginary problem. The vapid dogma of progressivism is incapable of solving real problems; therefore, it creates a series of phony problems for political maskirovka. As demonstrated in this series, progressives have created the very inequality they now hypocritically rail against. In sum, inequality in America is not a serious problem except when created by government.

The next post June 5th entitled “Hurricane Warning” is particularly pithy.

Inequality in America IV – Reality versus Rhetoric

There is an abyss between what progressives say and do. They vehemently condemn inequality while advocating policies that create and exacerbate it.

By: George Noga – May 22, 2016

    There is a staccato drumbeat from progressives asserting there is a grave and metastasizing crisis of inequality in America. In this fourth part of our series, we reveal the specific policies of Obama and progressivism that result in greater inequality.

1. Tepid economic growth is the 900-pound gorilla. Under Obama, coming off a bad recession, there has never been a year with 3% growth. It is the worst economy ever under these circumstances. The lack of growth is due to Obama’s policies for taxes, regulation and health care amidst great uncertainty. A languishing economy coupled with tiny wage gains is radioactive for poor and minorities and exacerbates inequality.

2.  Black youth unemployment is over 50%. Obama refuses to consider a temporary entry level wage. Instead, he wants to increase the federal minimum wage by 40%.

3.  Higher taxes are like steroids for inequality. Obama’s tax increases on dividends, capital gains and small business constrain capital investment and are a death-knell for job creation. His refusal to lower the corporate tax rate keeps trillions locked up abroad instead of financing jobs at home. Tobacco taxes have skyrocketed, disproportionately harming the poor; one pack a day costs $1,000 a year more in taxes – more inequality.

4.  Opposition to free trade is harmful. Obama deserves credit for the TPP; however, progressives led by Clinton and Sanders are demagoguing it to death and want to kill it. The underclass benefits more than any other group from free trade. For liberals however, obeisance to labor unions trumps the welfare of the underclass.

5.  Opposition to school choice keeps poor kids in failing schools. School choice is not only the civil rights issue of our time, it is a potent economic issue. Liberals choose to pander to teachers unions while throwing poor kids under the school bus. Lack of school choice could very well be the number one contributor to increased inequality.

6. Higher prices for food and energy wreak havoc on the poor. Food prices have surged due to Obama and progressive support for ethanol subsidies. Energy takes 25% of the income of poor families but only 10% for a high income household. The average price of a kilowatt hour was up nearly 40% under Obama – until the recent drop in oil and gas prices – which occurred despite, not because of, Obama’s policies.

7.  ObamaCare is a disaster and poor Americans bear its brunt. Health care costs are rising along with taxes to fund it while access and quality of care plummets. Doctor shortages, rationing and death panels will have more impact on the poor. Meanwhile, the legions of 29ers and 49ers are growing due to perverse incentives in the ACA.

8.  Obama’s spending, debt and deficits savage savings. Poor elderly Americans have seen incredibly low interest rates damage their lives. For every $25,000 a retired couple has in savings, monetary policy under Obama costs them $100 per month.

9.  Increasing the minimum wage fuels inequality. Progressives claim a moral imperative to raise the minimum wage knowing it costs poor and minority jobs. The real minimum wage always is zero, and that is exactly what the wage will be for many.

10.  Obama has created a poverty trap. If a low-middle income family with children has a second worker enter the labor force, the effective tax rate on the extra earnings is up to 80% due to phaseout of benefits. Under Obama, the number of single earner households has increased 2.6 million and households with no earners by 5 million.

    Every one of the above factors increases inequality and every one is a creature of progressive dogma. The difference between progressives’ rhetoric and reality is indeed a bottomless abyss. Progressives created the inequality in America they now demonize.

Part V, the final post in this series, is scheduled for May 29th.


My Days with Jeb Bush and Rand Paul 

By: George Noga – January 10, 2016

     I have spent the better part of entire days one-on-one with Jeb Bush and Rand Paul; this is a simple account of the time I spent with each. Let’s begin with Jeb.

In the 1990s I founded the first school choice program in Florida by raising money to pay for private school for disadvantaged kids. The program was an instant success and I asked Jeb to speak at our inaugural banquet. While conversing with Jeb at the dinner, he asked if there was anything further he could do to help. Not being one to pass up an opening of such magnitude, I averred that since we had a waiting list of over 2,500 children, he could help me raise more money to fund these kids.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Jeb committed a day of his time to help raise money. The arrangements soon were made; I was to pick up Jeb at the airport one morning and drop him where he had a speaking engagement later that afternoon. Jeb was by himself, without staff or security, and we spent the day driving from meeting to meeting with heads of foundations and corporations. Jeb was well briefed and did his best to help me raise money. He solicited my thoughts about how best to expand school choice in Florida. He always was pleasant, modest and unassuming.

Jeb later got a corporate tax credit scholarship bill through the legislature permitting businesses to obtain dollar-for-dollar tax credits for donations to qualified scholarship funding organizations such as the one I started. Fast forward to 2016; the organization I founded now raises $300 million annually to fund nearly 70,000 scholarships for children from poor families attending failing government schools.

My day with Rand Paul occurred recently. Senator Paul and his family had planned a vacation to Disney World and, being a low handicap golfer, he wanted to play a great course while here. I serve as co-chair of the Center-Right Coalition of Central Florida and am known in political circles; further, my son had once done volunteer work for the senator. To complete this circle, I happen to belong to a club with a highly regarded golf course. The arrangements soon were cemented.

Rand drove his wife and children from Kentucky to Orlando without staff or security, He arrived at my club precisely on time. We practiced, played 18 holes (sharing a golf cart) and had a two hour lunch afterward. He never once used or even looked at any electronic device. He was an accomplished golfer and shot his handicap on a difficult golf course. At lunch, where we were joined by a few others I had invited, he solicited advice from each person about what needed to be done for the good of the country and answered all questions in a straightforward manner.

Both Jeb and Rand met Teddy Roosevelt’s famous approbation of “Hale fellow, well met“. They were unerringly pleasant, modest and solicitous of others. They did exactly what they said they would. Our beloved republic would be in good hands with leaders that had the character of Jeb Bush and Rand Paul.
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The next MLLG post identifies the keys to the 2016 election – look for it in about a week

School Choice: The Civil Rights Issue of Our Time

By: George Noga – December 1, 2014
        In seven years of authoring this blog, I  wrote about school choice only one other time – once in 300 posts. I have shied away from that subject despite (perhaps because of) having been deeply involved in the school choice movement for ten years from 1994 to 2003. I started the first school choice program in Florida, and only the fourth in the entire USA, in 1995. The program I began (now called Step up for Students) funded 68,000 scholarships this year with a budget of nearly $300 million. During much of that time I also served on the board of the leading national school choice organization, Children First America, which began school choice programs in 100 US cities. This subject is not a new one to me.
“Imagine many kids died because ambulances drove right past private hospitals and would take seriously injured kids only to a public hospital.”
        It is not hyperbole or overstatement to assert school choice is the civil rights issue of our time. Actually, it is far more than that. Although people of color suffer most from the current educational paradigm, everyone is victimized. Imagine there was a terrible accident involving a school bus full of kids and there was a private hospital nearby ready, willing and able to provide high quality care. Now imagine the ambulances would not take the severely injured children to the nearby private hospital – insisting they could only be taken to a more distant public hospital that provided inferior care. Imagine some kids died as a result and imagine the ensuing public uproar. That is precisely what is happening in our schools; poor and middle class kids are dying educationally (and some literally) – yet there is little or no public outcry.

       Never have I seen an issue so demagogued and so rife with downright lies and with those promulgating the lies knowing full well they are lies. In the following parts of this post, I address many of these canards.

  1. School choice takes money from public schools: Let’s stipulate there are one million students in a particular school district and spending is $12,000 per pupil; total spending therefore is $12 billion. If 20% are given vouchers for $6,000 (50%) and total spending remains the same, the per pupil spending on the remaining 800,000 kids in public school now is $13,500 – an increase of $1,500 per pupil. Yet educrats and teachers unions want you to believe public school funding has been cut when it actually increased $1,500 per student or 12.5%. If every student had a voucher we could slash spending on education by 30% to 40% and improve school quality to boot.
  2. Private schools are not accountable: This is the biggest lie of all. If a parent has a problem with a public school, it is nearly impossible to seek redress. Public schools are accountable only to stultified bureaucracies and unresponsive school boards and not to students or parents. Private schools are directly accountable to students and parents. A consumer armed with a free choice is the most potent force on earth – recall New Coke and Blackberry.
  3. We don’t spend enough on schools: Real (inflation-adjusted) spending has doubled or even tripled in recent decades while schools got much worse. The US spends more per pupil than nearly any other OECD country while test scores in math, science and reading are in the middle of the pack. Actual public school spending is much higher than reported because much of it is hidden, i.e. off the school budget in capital budgets, pension plans, health care, debt service and grants. Often, real spending is double that shown on the education budget. Washington D.C. in 2010 spent $30,000 per pupil and had the worst schools in America. Sidwell Friends, one of the most elite private schools in the USA and where the Obamas send their children, spends only slightly more. Moreover, there is no proven correlation between school spending and any measure of educational output.
  4. Teachers unions and educrats care about students: The educational blob is nothing more than a jobs program for adults. New York state (population 19 million) has more school administrators than all of Europe with a population of 700 million. The head of the teachers union once said he would begin to care about students once they started paying union dues. Out of over 100,000 teachers in California, an average of 2.2 are fired each year for poor performance. Union tenure and seniority rules are nothing but a union racket.
  5. Private schools skim the best students: Every study published shows this is false. Voucher students in private schools are indistinguishable from public school students in every demographic. There is absolutely no skimming of the best students. The popular movie, Waiting for Superman, depicts the cri de coeur  from ordinary, anguished parents facing long odds to save their kid’s life by securing a voucher in a lottery.
  6. Teachers are underpaid: If this ever was true in the past, it has not been true for a long time. When accounting for hours worked and all benefits, teachers are overpaid by more than 50% per a study by the American Enterprise Institute. A typical teacher with a $50,000 salary will receive another $52,000 per year in benefits compared to $20,000 in benefits for a worker in private industry. Teachers have great pay, outstanding benefits, light work loads and ironclad job security despite graduating in the bottom two quintiles of their class.
  7. Vouchers favor the rich, resegregation, scare tactics: With all the facts against them, the education blob (educrats, unions, politicians) resort to scare tactics. They play the class warfare card by asserting vouchers favor the rich. News flash: the rich already have school choice by controlling where they live and via private schools. The blob then says the “rich” could add to the vouchers and send their kids to even better schools. Their argument is they don’t want to help poor kids just because some rich kids might possibly do even better. Race baiters play the race card claiming private or charter schools are more segregated – an argument shot down by the Supreme Court.
         In addition to the above myths, many other significant facts favor school choice. Foremost among these is the matter of values. Public schools teach a vapid, secular, valueless orthodoxy. School choice permits parents to select schools that reinforce, rather than contradict, parental values. Another issue is child safety. Public schools require metal detectors and a perpetual police presence and for good reason. Public schools, particular those in inner cities, have become petri dishes for social dysfunction and breeding grounds for behavioral pathologies. The blob is holding the kids hostage.
“Inner city schools are petri dishes for social dysfunction and pathologies.”
         The favorite story from my time in the school choice movement concerns Tommy. When he attended a failing public school, he continually feigned illness and did everything possible to avoid going to school. In utter desperation, his parents applied for a voucher from our organization for Tommy to attend a private school. After a few months at his new school, Tommy awoke one morning with a fever and obviously was ill. Nonetheless, Tommy insisted on attending school that morning. When his astonished mother asked him why, Tommy replied, “Because my teachers are counting on me.”
        There are millions and millions more Tommies in America and we are killing them educationally just as surely as the ambulances that would not take dying kids to a private hospital. The ones we don’t kill, we doom to lives of dysfunction and desperation. Shame on educrats, teachers unions, politicians, NAACP and their enablers. And yes, shame on unionist public school teachers too, for they are part of the problem. All these people are standing in the schoolhouse door, just like Orval Faubus in 1957, blocking desperate children from leaving. School choice is the civil rights issue of our time!