Thursday, June 12, 2008

Congress Hates "Big Oil" and the OPEC Cartel, But Likes "Big School" and the Public School Cartel

Democrats in Congress have finally found a federal program they want to eliminate. And wouldn't you know, it's one that actually works and helps thousands of poor children.

We're speaking of the four-year-old Washington, D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program that provides vouchers to about 2,000 low-income children so they can attend religious or other private schools. The budget for the experimental program is $18 million, or about what the U.S. Department of Education spends every hour and a half.

More than 80% of the recipients are black and most of the rest Hispanic. Their average income is about $23,000 a year. But the teachers unions have put out the word to Congress that they want all vouchers for private schools that compete with their monopoly system shut down.

~From today's WSJ editorial

MP: The House voted in May to let the Justice Department pursue antitrust cases against the OPEC oil cartel for anti-competitive behavior. What about a similar bill to allow Justice to investigate the public school cartel for its anti-competitive practices?

10 Comments:

At 6/12/2008 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about a similar bill to allow Justice to investigate the public school cartel for its anti-competitive practices?

Simple.

The trend in government is more of a do as we say vs a do as we do system. Now you wouldn't be faulted for thinking we already have that kind of system but relative to other dysfunctional countries like Canada, the U.K., Australia, etc. we are extremely free and competitive.

 
At 6/12/2008 10:50 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

The WSJ said:

“The reason unions want to shut the program down immediately isn't because they're afraid it will fail. They're afraid it will succeed, and show that there is a genuine alternative to the national scandal that are most inner-city public schools.”

In addition to the second sentence being grammatically incorrect, unless I missed it, there is no evidence to substantiate the claim contained in the ten paragraphs of this article. Can someone point me to some support for the statement above? Some people might point to the fifth sentence of the fifth paragraph, after all, it is the only sentence other than the one above that contains the word “union;” however, the unsupported statement is so general and overtly biased that it is useless information in this context.

This might be good fodder for two guys talking in a bar, but how did this article ever end up in the Wall Street Journal—even on the editorial page? I expect much better writing from such a prestigious publication.

I agree that public schools have problems. I also agree that unions may even be a part of the problem. Thinly veiled union bashing will surely not cure any problem.

 
At 6/12/2008 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Public sector unions are a shadow government.

 
At 6/12/2008 3:53 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Just a few examples of the teachers' unions fighting vouchers:

Florida teachers union to fight move to revive vouchers

Teacher's union to file suit against vouchers amendments

La. Senate OKs school vouchers for New Orleans

Quality Education Yes; School Vouchers No

Court rejects vouchers for Ariz.'s foster, disabled kids

 
At 6/12/2008 5:30 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

juandos,

I appreciate your reply; you strengthen my point. If you can cite numerous sources so easily, surely the Wall Street Journal writer could have found something credible that unions stifle parental educational choices.

I can find unsupported garbage on the Internet; however, I expect better from the WSJ—even on the editorial page. I want to see some evidence with a claim such as a quotation that shows a position that a union official took against school vouchers, or an authoritative named source who has credentials to back up his or her assertions.

I see no supporting evidence of any union activity against school vouchers in the article, and I will stand by my claim that the writer has an ax to grind against unions. It’s either a personal vendetta, or he or she is just a piss poor writer. I’m not really sure which is worse.

 
At 6/12/2008 10:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Walt g,

I guess you don't read the WSJ which has been covering the opposition to vouchers from unionized teacher for years.

It might reinforce your argument if you could cite examples of incidents of teacher's unions that supporting school vouchers, and charter schools.

Coming from a family of teachers, I am accustomed to hearing the rails against charter and private schools.

 
At 6/13/2008 1:02 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> In addition to the second sentence being grammatically incorrect,

Yeah, well, he went to a government school. It's not his fault.

> unless I missed it, there is no evidence to substantiate the claim contained in the ten paragraphs of this article.

This would be completely correct. And yet, I'm willing to bet his assertion is substantially true, nonetheless. Do you have any proof the assertion isn't correct? Lacking that, I'm left with the fact that I do know how bureacracies work, and the behavior suggested is, in fact, very much in line with typical practices. Not proof by any means, no. But I'd bet on its correctness if there were some way to establish that.

> how did this article ever end up in the Wall Street Journal—even on the editorial page?

Clearly, you ARE a product of government schools, if you don't grasp what the word "Editorial" means in this context.

> I agree that public schools have problems. I also agree that unions may even be a part of the problem. Thinly veiled union bashing will surely not cure any problem.

OK, let's not veil it:
TEACHERS UNIONS SUCK SH**.

Not just a little, A LOT.

They repeatedly act in a manner directly detrimental to students and counter to the best interests of good teachers. They obfuscate and attack anything which threatens the existing "public" zero-accountability system, which has a demonstrably atrocious record, showing a despiccable lack of any form of responsibility for results. They protect and defend "teachers" blatantly guilty of all manner of crimes which any rational person would immediately and summarily FIRE anyone guilty of, even ones which are massively inappropriate for anyone with access to young children -- including, but not limited to, pedophilia, inappropriate behavior around children, exposing children to lewd and lascivious influences, up to and including sexual advances and sexual acts. Instead of investigating such accusations, they regularly defend and protect people who are unquestionably guilty of such behaviors, and require that they be treated no different than a teacher found guilty of having too many parking tickets.

Teachers unions constantly challenge any efforts towards basic teacher competency testing, and fight against any efforts to introduce legislation to that effect. As a result of this there are numerous examples of teachers who cannot pass basic literacy tests yet somehow suck money out of the payroll because it's too much trouble to fire them.

Union contracts often call for a dismissal process which can take not less than six or more months to complete, and usually require multiple independent review boards for the process to complete, and even after that insanely long process, the whole system additionally can be challenged in courts and tied up for years.

200 years ago, without ANY "modern educational system", visitors to this country encountered a populace almost uniformly literate, educated in the classics, and highly capable in their reasoning abilities.

Nowadays it's an amazing thing to encounter anyone who uses 4-syllable words regularly, reads more than a single book a year, or can add to 20 with their shoes and socks on. Black literacy (historically always the worst category) in the last 70 years has gone from 70% to less than 30%.

That's not just bad, it's criminal incompetence.

The unions are not singlularly responsible for this problem -- but they are the sole substantial roadblock to ANY positive changes in the system. Any other interferences or problem areas can be overcome -- but it is the Teachers' Unions, and the Teachers' Unions alone, which are at the center of every successful effort to stonewall and minimize every effort to effect good, valid change in the existing abortion of a so-called "educational system".

Walt, there is NO Union -- NOT ONE -- which is so egregiously bad, so downright EVIL -- as the Teachers' Unions. Not even close.

In summary -- Teachers unions are the absolute enemy of students and quality teachers everywhere.

There is a special, divinely appropriately horrible and agonizing corner of Hell waiting just for its leaders.

Is that unveiled enough for ya?

And yes, I can readily substantialy each and every claim above.

 
At 6/13/2008 6:31 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Obloodyhell said:

“And yes, I can readily substantialy each and every claim above.”

Yes, but you didn’t. I’m looking for examples, statistics, or statements. Where are those in the article or your reply to me? As you said yourself, those are all claims—that’s only half of good writing.

I probably would not have criticized the article if it had not been union related; however, my problem was with the delivery and not the content. Doesn’t it seem rather ironic to you that this article depends on poorly educated people to buy an argument about poor education without any evidence?

You seem to be wondering about my background. I don’t have a Ph.D. in writing. My writing credentials are an undergraduate degree in writing with a master’s degree in a related field along with being a writing tutor at the undergraduate and graduate level, and some unpaid writing and editing for very small publications. Not an expert. But, not exactly a neophyte.

Editorials do not give license to a writer to deliver opinions without facts. It’s not a reader’s job to prove a writer is wrong. A writer at the level of writing for the WSJ should be able to present his or her opinion and bolster it with convincing facts without relying on a predisposed bias of the reader to take a mental leap from public schools perform badly to unions are the fault without some stated connection. Either the writer is poorly educated in writing, or he or she is depending on the ignorance of the reader to sell a newspaper.

An editorial at this level should be able to receive a passing grade in a freshmen college English class on an opinion-writing assignment. I’ve seen a few hundred corrected English papers during my college tutoring; this one would have failed.

On another note, I appreciate opposing viewpoints because they are much more beneficial to a productive discussion than agreeable comments.

 
At 6/13/2008 7:01 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

anonymous 10:17 PM,

I’m a union member who serves the membership in an official capacity, but I am not trying to defend unions here. I don’t like writing that uses people’s inherent biases to make a point. I get tired of reading articles such as these: “unions are the reason for poorly educated students,” “oil company greed is the reason for high gasoline prices,” “foreigners take all of our jobs,” “foreign countries take all of our jobs,” “blacks cause all the crime,” “handguns are the reason people die.”

By focusing on these stereotypes and using resources to that end, solving the root cause of all the problems is placed on the back burner. Many of the solutions to these difficult problems will have to go through the groups above. Is it really a productive approach to alienate those who will almost necessarily be part of the solution? I don’t think so. Bringing all the people together will solve well-defined problems. Finger pointing and name calling serves no legitimate purpose whatsoever. It’s our choice.

 
At 6/13/2008 1:50 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey walt g, your comment: "If you can cite numerous sources so easily, surely the Wall Street Journal writer could have found something credible that unions stifle parental educational choices"...

I too wondered about this apparent flaw in the WSJ commentary piece to not cite at least a couple of the more obvious and contentious clashes between the unions and voucher support groups...

I've yet to hear a good reason the teachers' unions are fighting vouchers so hard...

"I see no supporting evidence of any union activity against school vouchers in the article"...

Well walt g, I don't think the WSJ bit was considered a, 'news' article but more of a commentary... Yet even a commentary should have some credible substance to it that can be verified independently...

 

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