OMG! The Free Market Works!

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An unintentionally hilarious piece recently appeared in the Pravda of contemporary progressive liberalism, The New York Times.

This lachrymose report laments the fact that major public school districts around the country are losing customers — oops! students — and the result is layoffs. Of teacher union members, no less! Quelle horreur!

Between 2005 and 2010, Broward County (FL), Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus (OH), Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Bernardino, and Tucson have all lost students, some massively.

The article tells some tragic tales. LA let go of 8,500 teachers in the face of an enrollment drop of 56,000 students. Mesa Unified District lost 7,155 students and had to close four middle schools and lay off librarians — the ultimate evil.

The cutbacks are threatening offerings in art, foreign languages, and music.

But to what do the authors of this mournful article attribute this decline? They mention declining birthrates, unemployed parents moving elsewhere to find work, and illegal immigration crackdowns. But they also mention — tentatively and skeptically — the movement of students from regular district schools (essentially run by the teacher unions) to charter schools (run more or less autonomously, i.e., not under the unions’ thumb).

In Columbus, enrollment in charter schools rose by 9,000 students while enrollment in the public school district dropped by 6,150. One honest parent explained, “The classes were too big, the kids were unruly and didn’t pay attention to the teachers.” So she sent her dyslexic daughter to a nearby charter school, where — GASP! — “one of the teachers stayed after school every Friday to help her.”

In an institution where pleasing the customer is actually important, it’s no surprise that her daughter received the help she needed.

Nationwide, while the number of kids in regular public schools dropped by 5%, the number in charter schools rose by 60%.

Naturally, the public school system special interest groups — greedy unions, self-righteous teachers, callous administrators, and so on — are hysterical. For example, one Jeffrey Mirel, an “education historian” at the University of Michigan, bleated that public schools are in danger of becoming “the schools nobody wants.”

Wrong! Public schools have been for some timethe schools that nobody wants. Before the 1960s, teachers unions either didn't exist or — where they did — didn't exert the control they assumed in the 1970s. Teachers unions run schools for the benefit of their members only. So the problems started accelerating.But what’s happening right now is that some few lucky kids are being given the choice to get out — and they’re taking it.




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Jon Harrison

Would Visitor prefer that the childless person contribute toward the education of his/her society's children, or pay even more for the costs entailed in welfare, crime prevention, etc. that an unschooled population would require? If Visitor objects to this level of participation in society, he/she should renounce his /her citizenship and find a home where education is paid for 100% privately. Good luck with that.

Certainly in the US there is no chance of education becoming completely privatized. This is not possible from a practical perspective, as any thinking person knows.

Visitor

Mr. Harrison,

Let's take your contentions, which are ancient, tired arguments for authoritarianism.

#1)"his/her society's children"... Children are created by a certain biological function we are all fond of. Now, who supports these children who are the natural result of "societies" desire to reproduce? Is it society as a whole? Which, honestly doesn't care about your offspring anymore than they care about the guy beating on 5 gallon buckets in front of the Smithsonian.

#2) The false assumption that if government does not force everyone, childless included, to fund education....these children will become criminals, mired in receiving welfare and be a burden on the state, and therefore the average taxpayer. This is, of course, nonsense. A child's productivity is directly related to his/her parents productivity. It doesn't matter who else is forced into supporting the child. This has been proven over 50 years of social engineering schemes.

#3) There is no chance that the US will accept a purely private education. Such effective, and rational thinking is "not possible from a practical perspective, as any thinking person knows." To be generous, I'll put aside what you consider a "thinking person". And deal with practicalities. Practically, "society" is a collection of individuals. Who act in their own best interest.Having successful children is in their best interest. Practically, the outdated models of a "society", that is a product of failed philosophies of the late 1880's to 1960's, is just not practical.The US "society" does realize this. And with the aging of this "society", they are beginning to realize this more and more. This "society" wants more money spent on the majority who vote, who are over 65, than they want to spend on the young. In other words, the over 65 crowd wants to steal money from the young, in the form of taxation, to pay for their retirement and health care, rather than steal money from the old to pay for education of the young....

This is the reality. What are you going to do for me is the reality. And the young are out of luck. They are the minority.....I guess they can just love it, or leave it.

Jon Harrison

You "spun" my short comment in a way that pleased you. This is the drawback to commenting -- one has to write an essay in order to be crystal clear and avoid intentional or unintentional misrepresentation of what one has said or meant to convey. I could go down the list -- I didn't say or mean to imply that all children deprived of a public education would become criminals, for example -- but what's the use? You're stuck in a certain mindset and no dose of reality is going to unfreeze your mind. I shouldn't have wasted my time to begin with.

Visitor

First, the vast majority of religious schools are NOT Baptist schools denying evolutionary theory.They are Catholic first, then non-denominational Christian, with Jewish and Muslim schools as well.

Second, you can deny evolutionary theory and not be otherwise ignorant and stupid. Being ignorant about biologoiical theory doesn't preclude being knowledgable about a million other things, such as physics, math, econ, etc.

Third, no, education vouchers go to children who need education. Seems obvious....

Visitor

"The vast majority of religious schools are NOT baptist schools, denying evolutionary theory".....

That very much depends on where you live. Worldwide, no, most religious schools are muslim. And they teach a very warped since of evolutionary science also, or "theory" if you prefer. Second are buddhist schools. Then Catholic schools.

But,I have the sneaking suspision you where referring to the 50 states of the US. Which are, fortunately, very diverse, even to ths day. What is true in King county, Washington, is not neccessarily true in Haywood county, North Carolina.

You really should get out to the country you are speaking of. I don't know if you know this, but there are very few Catholics in the souteastern states. And even fewer Jews. There are some in the larger cities who have expierenced alot of influx recently from the northeast. Still, their numbers are relatively small.

I have 2 childern. And, of course, like any parent, I wanted to educate them. So, when they were entering school age 10 years ago, my wife and I went looking, as consumers, for schools. We saw what the government run schools produced. We went to the Asheville (NC) country day school. Very fine school, but way too expensive for our limited income. We then looked at the alternatives. There is one catholic school in the 15 county western NC area. I'm sure it's fine, but we could not possibly drive our kids 1 hour one-way to this school. There is a Jewish scool in Charlotte, 3 hours away. You can see that's not an option.

What is very, very plentiful here are "christian schools". We did shop these schools. They made very clear what their objective was. It was not education. It was primarily that the students came out as unthinking drones of christianity.

What is true of the pacific northwest, has nothing to do with what is true of Saudi Arabia, or Kashmire, or the North Carolina mountains, or the causcus states of Russia. Check your assumptions before you write the "vast majority" of anything, is anything.

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