Tuesday, June 17, 2008

School Choice: Change You Can Believe In

Barack and Michelle Obama send their children to an upscale private school saying it is "the best option" for their children.

Several hundred low-income parents in our nation's capital have also sent their children to private and parochial schools, with the help of a federal program that provides Opportunity Scholarships. Like Mr. and Mrs. Obama, most of these parents are African-American. And like Mr. and Mrs. Obama, they too believe the schools they've chosen represent the "best option" for their children.

Now these parents have a question for Mr. Obama. Is Mr. Change-You-Can-Believe-In going to let his fellow Democrats take away the one change that is working for them? Or will be one more Beltway pol who speaks eloquently about public schools -- while making sure his own kids never have to step inside one?

From today's WSJ


At 6/17/2008 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We will see President Obama act with the wisdom of Solomon. He will get his kids and the teachers' union will get their kids.

At 6/17/2008 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just get rid of the teachers’ union because that will solve the problem. We should spend all of our time and resources to that end.

Let’s ignore that their mother dropped out of high school and moves them 4 times in one school year and instills no sense of propose in her children because she has none herself. We will also ignore the importance of the father’s responsibility rearing his children because he is absent from his children’s’ lives or in prison. While we are at it, we may as well ignore all the reputable studies that link socio-economics to poor educational attainment.

Yes, “Johnny” and his brothers and sisters will be able to receive A’s in school and graduate at the top of their class without the terrible teachers’ union that protects all the stupid and lazy teachers. I’m sure that’s the solution: Aren’t you?

At 6/17/2008 6:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 6/18/2008 2:42 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

Walt, Fred --

The problems Walt cited are indeed an issue with any child -- but parents who are given options tend to actually try to get their kids into better schools, and those kids usually respond well to being in a better school.

Parents can and do represent a central element of the forces shaping a child (My own answer to most of the people subjecting their kids to the inner city is pretty much the same as the late Sam Kinneson's advice to people starving in the deserts -- MOVE!! Before ALL OTHER THINGS, if you actually care about your kids, do WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO to get the OUT of that environment.)

But access to better schools is a more directly available remedy (unless you plan to take the kids away from all lousy parents and put them in creches, which would almost certainly be worse in many cases). It has been shown in virtually every case to provide better schooling for a lower cost-per-student than current public schools do, and in most cases the children respond well to it.

It takes a really, really lousy set of teachers and conditions to steal away the kind of basic wonder and fascination with the universe that most kids are born with. Give them a half-way decent environment to go to school in, with teachers that know what they are doing and CARE about them, and most kids will overcome mediocre-to-bad parenting.

More importantly, what is it going to hurt -- the current system is broken to hell, and it's clearly in need of a complete overhaul.

You cannot get these kinds of improvements with obstructionist unions which fight every possible change or effort to modify the existing incompetent system, to test either students or teachers, and fight to prevent clearly incompetent as teachers (or, even worse, have socially inappropriate mores for someone who is around kids -- positively identify a pedophile [but not enough to arrest and convict], and the UNIONS WILL FIGHT FOR THEIR JOB)

This isn't to say teachers are inherently bad, but that their unions are the worst examples of Union and Labor Organizations on the face of this planet. They are utterly bereft of reason, lacking in the smallest iota of justice, devotion to educational duty, or moral principles. They do not care one whit for the wellbeing of students, and little more for the wellbeing of the competent teachers who want to do the best job possible.

And I argue that the above statements are NOT hyperbole. They are demonstrable fact, not exaggeration for effect.

At 6/18/2008 8:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we accept that private schools are better than public schools, what makes them that way?

Possibly, but not exclusively: No unions, smaller class sizes, better facilities, more money, better teachers, smarter teachers, innovative teaching methods, longer school years (We are still using an agrarian school-year calendar?), longer school days, shorter school days, more class choices, fewer class choices (back to the basics), fewer children with learning problems, children with parents who instill a love of learning in their children, and competition for the brightest children. . . .

As you can see, the list is almost endless. Effective problem solving requires a root cause analysis of all the factors. I don’t doubt that unions play a part in the problem because they are slow to change—all big organizations are. However, focusing exclusively on them exacerbates the problem and hides the real solutions.

Whenever you read an article about current educational problems, ask yourself what solutions the author proposes for the education of children. And, what empirical studies provide evidence to that end. If the article’s main point is simply “private schools are better than public schools” you are reading an anti-union message however it is disguised. Talented writers can be very persuasive without providing any facts. Here’s a hint to expose the author’s hidden agenda: Look for real solutions, and not merely restatements of problems in various forms.


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