"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Geese, Ganders, &c.

I'm not big on charging folks with hypocrisy. I suppose the difference to me is how one goes about things--if you aspire or try to inspire toward virtue but fall short, it goes with the territory of being human.

On the other hand, if you judge and condemn others for their shortcomings, then for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged, like the man said. But still, I don't get much pleasure from purveying fire and brimstone, even when somebody has it coming.

Peter Schweitzer, though, (via S.T. Karnick) highlights something quite cynical and quite unrelated to moral smugness:
"After researching the book I really truly believe that the leading lights of the Left — Moore, Franken, Clinton, Pelosi, Kennedy, etc. — really honestly don't believe what they are selling us. Their own experiences teach them that their ideas don't work."

Wow. Imposing standards that you don't even hold yourself? This is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

For instance, in the Atlantic a few months ago, reliable NPR lefty Sandra Tsing Loh wrote of her spirited attempt to get her own little sub-genius into private school. (She failed.)

Due to a bit of testing ineptitude on the part of her little darling, and a lot of a lack of money (she got fired for cussing on the air), little Sandra Jr. is now an inmate of the Los Angeles Unified Skool District. But what a turnaround from Mom! I was duly impressed with Ms. Tsing Loh's spirited defense of public schools in last Sunday's LA Times, castigating the paper for treating the LAUSD system as if it had "cooties." She's also taking a newfound joy in the cultural diversity that the public school system offers, and she suggested that "Times editors and writers should be required to live in the neighborhoods and send their kids to the public schools the paper covers."

Now, imposing standards on others she herself did not hold even a few months ago might open her to charges of hypocrisy, but not from me. I say good onya, Sister Sandra. But like anyone who gets religion late in life, say, Anne Rice finding Jesus, it'll be interesting to see if it sticks.

24 comments:

Pastorius said...

Sandra Tsing-Low rocks.

I can't help, I just like her.

By the way, I don't think my comment here fits the comments policy of this blog, does it?

The Liberal Anonymous said...

I'm not able to read the entire first article, but it seems to me that she was afraid of the public schools and then was proven wrong. I know you righties like to ride sinking-ship ideologies straight to the bottom of the ocean, claiming all the while that they're floating, but a central component of liberalism is embracing new points of view. (You know, the whole "progressive" thing.) So she realized that LAUSD isn't as bad as she thought it would be. Hypocrisy? No.

Tom Van Dyke said...

How can you agree with me and still sound so disputatious, LA?

We shall follow Ms. Tsing Loh's pilgrim's progress. She hints in the first article that this may just be a one-year thing. We shall see what happens should she find herself in possession of a large wad of cash.

connie deady said...

I'm missing what the hypocrisy is. Seriously.

My daughter had 5 years of secular private school (incredible education she got there) 3 years of Catholic school, 4 years of public high school and goes to a private college.

Is there something in liberalism that says private schools are evil?

Tom Van Dyke said...

The elephant in the room is the partisan divide over vouchers.

James Elliott said...

Vouchers are not the answer. Vouchers are completely ineffective for people who can't already afford private school. A better answer is to refund/credit the amount of an individual's tax dollars that would go to public education if their child goes to private school and to increase funding for public education. Imagine the amount of money the schools would get if we axed the illegal and ineffective Missile Defense "Shield" or the illegal "bunker buster" projects. BILLIONS of dollars.

connie deady said...

The elephant in the room is the partisan divide over vouchers.

Ah vouchers. Depends on implementation. If they don't do more than simply refund money to people who are already going to private school, then it's just a tax break for the rich. Granted, I'd have appreciated the break when my child was in private school...

James, I hate your idea. Public school funding isn't based on a user fee like turnpikes. It benefits society as a whole. Revenue comes from single people, childless people, etc. Whether I have a child in school has nothing to do with my tax obligation to support schools.

However, I do agree that we need to increase funding for public education. Private isn't best because it's private. It's best because it's better funded, in most cases, excepting rich areas with good property tax bases.

I'm interested in seeing more experimentation with charter schools.

Tom Van Dyke said...

"However, I do agree that we need to increase funding for public education."

Who could disagree with that? ;-}

David Kaziska said...

"Private isn't best because it's private."

Part of the reason private is best is exactly because it is private. I knew a principal of a financially-struggling private Christian school where the students got a very good education. Because it was private he could administer the discipline that is impossible at public schools. He could hire dedicated teachers who demanded salaries less than what unionized teachers at public schools required. Also because it was private they weren't bound by the political correctness of the public school curriculum.

Matt Huisman said...

Private isn't best because it's private. It's best because it's better funded, in most cases, excepting rich areas with good property tax bases.

I think we have to get past this notion that all private schools are all $20,000+/yr tuition institutions. They're not. Most of them spend a lot less than your typical inner-city public school per student. (Note: I haven't said here that public schools waste money...I've only made the point that most private schools are not extravagant.)

If they don't do more than simply refund money to people who are already going to private school, then it's just a tax break for the rich.

Same type of misconception, going to private school doesn't mean you're rich.

And by the way, by what logic is it reasonable to take someone's money to pay for their children's education and then not pay for their education?

Matt Huisman said...

Vouchers are not the answer.

The same could be said about more money for education. Sometimes I wonder how much more money is needed to 'get things right'...its probably always just a little bit more.

Imagine the amount of money the schools would get if we axed the illegal and ineffective Missile Defense "Shield" or the illegal "bunker buster" projects. BILLIONS of dollars.

Give me a break. This arguement is complete garbage...by this logic, any failure in education can be explained by any other budget item sucking away limited resources. There is no magic 'right' number of tax dollars that politicians get to carve up...they make the case for what should be done and how much it will cost, and we agree or disagree to do it.

James Elliott said...

Part of the reason private is best is exactly because it is private.

Part of the problem with private schools (my mother was a private school chemistry teacher for several years before moving on to special education), is that they are not required to be accountable to standards of education or employment. A private school teacher need not be credentialed or even fully educated.

He could hire dedicated teachers who demanded salaries less than what unionized teachers at public schools required.

I was a unionized special education teacher for two years. I made $36,000 a year. Special ed teachers are better paid than regular ed. For the amount of work a teacher puts in to their day, if they're getting paid less than I was AND the regular ed teachers, I feel very, very sorry for them.

This arguement is complete garbage...by this logic, any failure in education can be explained by any other budget item sucking away limited resources.

With this amount of money, NCLB could go from unfunded mandate to funded law. With this amount of money, teachers could be paid a professional wage, boosting teacher retention (studies show the more experienced a teacher is (barring burnout), the better the quality of their instruction). With this amount of money, more schools could be constructed, lowering class sizes (which are a HUGE detriment to learning). With this amount of money, school districts would not have to choose between firing teachers and cutting music and arts programs (programs that are proven to aid in children's development).

Funding is just one aspect of the problem, but it is an aspect. This is not some magically growing tax dollar suggestion. This is a suggestion to take billions of tax dollars from programs that are illegal (they break signed treaties) and/or completely ineffective (SDI might as well be throwing silly putty). In business, programs with no return on investment or no net profit are shut down and their resource streams funneled to programs with good returns. Education is a proven good investment with good returns.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

The "progressive" Sweden sure likes vouchers, and private funding of education.

Look here ... ain't Sweden what many liberals aspire to be?

Education is clearly an example where the liberals in the country are anything but the self-proclaimed "progressive."

If you're headin' down the wrong path, forging further ahead is not progressive. Maybe y'all ought to consider turning back on this one?

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

A private school teacher need not be credentialed or even fully educated.

Who cares? "Credentials" is simply an obstacle put in place by unions so they can keep a monopoly on teachers.

When you say "fully educated", do you mean with any college degree, or do you mean with a degree in education?

tbmbuzz said...

James Elliott said...
......... Imagine the amount of money the schools would get if we axed the illegal and ineffective Missile Defense "Shield" or the illegal "bunker buster" projects.<<

Not to deflect here, but what exactly is illegal about these programs? I see nothing in the Constitution forbidding these projects.

What I basically see from most posters here on the issue of the failure of public education is that their solution is to continue to throw more money down the black hole of the failed system instead of reforming the system itself to bring back accountability, discipline and academic quality. The U.S. already spends more per capita (per pupil, that is) than virtually any other developed country, yet U.S. public school students consistently fall into the lower ranks when worldwide standardized test scores are considered. Whatever happened to the old fashioned notions of competition and hard work to improve public schooling?

James Elliott said...

Who cares? "Credentials" is simply an obstacle put in place by unions so they can keep a monopoly on teachers.

Credentials are state and federal requirements, and handed out by universities.

When you say "fully educated", do you mean with any college degree, or do you mean with a degree in education?

Both. The former is especially true of private schools, including the secular one I went to for several years.

Not to deflect here, but what exactly is illegal about these programs?

Not to be rude, but please don't be obtuse. Signed treaties, such as ABM (SDI is relavent here) and Non-Proliferation (ditto "bunker-buster"), are U.S. law once ratified and require an Act of Congress to withdraw from. The said programs are in violation of these treaties, therefore are illegal.

What I basically see from most posters here on the issue of the failure of public education is that their solution is to continue to throw more money down the black hole of the failed system instead of reforming the system itself...

Again, not to be rude, but I think you're only half-comprehending what the posters are writing. I believe all of us have conceded that money is only part of the problem, but it is a huge deal. When kids are crowded 30 or 40 to a classroom, when textbooks are 20 years out of date, and when they are denied exposure to arts and music because of budget cuts, that's a problem.

In my work, the one thing that becomes glaringly clear is that across economic and ideological lines parents demand the teachers and the state to be solely accountable for their children's education. Parental involvement in education is key. It's the one thing magnet and charter schools get right.

Matt Huisman said...

A private school teacher need not be credentialed or even fully educated.

That may be true, but if 1 in 10 failed flunked a basic skills test like those here, who would be in a better position to correct the situation?

I was a unionized special education teacher for two years. I made $36,000 a year. Special ed teachers are better paid than regular ed. For the amount of work a teacher puts in to their day, if they're getting paid less than I was AND the regular ed teachers, I feel very, very sorry for them.

The average teacher salary in the Chicago Public Schools is $55,558 for a job where you work 9 months a year. Whether that's a fair amount for the job, I don't know...but I'm not going lose too much sleep here. (Note: My wife was a public school teacher.)

This is a suggestion to take billions of tax dollars from programs that are illegal (they break signed treaties) and/or completely ineffective (SDI might as well be throwing silly putty).

The ABM treaty no longer exists, so we're not violating anything. SDI may or may not be ineffective, but isn't it funny how the rest of the world always gets so paranoid that we're pursuing it? It's our money, why do they get so bent out of shape about it?

But getting back to my original point, if education needs more funding, make the arguement and Americans will pay up. The arguement that so and so is throwing away money over there, so you might as well throw it away over here isn't a good one. I'd rather just have my money back.

connie deady said...

And by the way, by what logic is it reasonable to take someone's money to pay for their children's education and then not pay for their education?

But that is simply not correct. Money is taken from every property owner in the school district to pay for the schools. Lots and lots of people without children at all, or whose children have graduated (like myself) still pay property taxes.

I put my child in private school because I chose to. The public school where she would have been in grade school was bad. It was a changing neighborhood, going from old and established to minority and poor. When we moved to a new district, the public school was much better, but we decided she could benefit from Catholic school.

She went to public high school, which was pretty good, but it probably was the 2nd richest district in our county.

But I never felt that because my daughter wasn't in public school that I shouldn't have to pay property taxes. BTW, the Catholic school was fairly cheap and mostly subsidized by our church.

The private college is almost $40,000 a year, btw.

Maybe I'm babbling, but vouchers make me vey emotional. I'd sacrifice virtually every public good to ensure quality public education. We're so far behind the rest of the civilized world in education today and taking resources away from public education is only going to further the gap.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

We're so far behind the rest of the civilized world in education today and taking resources away from public education is only going to further the gap.

Why can't a child take his "share" of public funding and apply it to an educational facility of his choosing?

In Oregon the cost per pupil in the public school system is about $8500 per year. The school I send my son to charges $3200 per year (it is subsidized as well).

The government run public school system is a monopoly, and as it follows with most other monopolies, efficiency goes down, quality goes down etc. because of the lack of competition.

Further, the "siphoning of money away from the public school system" is a load of hooey.

Are you suggesting that all home-schooled kids be forced into public education? By NOT going to public schools, those students are depriving the schools of money.

Lets see, my home-schooled daughter is siphoning $8500 away from public school; my son in private school is siphoning an additional $8500.

Heck, I oughta send them to public school, then the schools would have $17,000 more money!

(ps ... I am using sarcasm to get my point across, but the facts are right on the money).

connie deady said...

You from Oregon? I'm a displaced native. One of the few born, raised and educated in Oregon. Cut my teeth on Wayne Morse, but that's another story.

I guess we are failing to communicate here. Education is a public good, available to all. It's it's availabiity that benefits society as a whole. It's not a benefit to the individual children.

If I remember my basic econ here, some government services are to benefit certain users, so we pay gas tax and the more people use the roads, the more they pay. Others are public goods that benefit society as a whole. Everyone pays, even though they may get no "personal benefit". Sort of like national defense.

Matt Huisman said...

I guess we are failing to communicate here. Education is a public good, available to all. It's it's availabiity that benefits society as a whole. It's not a benefit to the individual children.

We're communicating fine. CLA and I just think you've been taken in by a semantic trap. We are taxed with the understanding that the state will provide for the education of all children, not for buildings, etc. That is why most school funding is based on a per pupil basis. It doesn't matter where I live, the money follows my children.

The concept is similar to a health insurance plan...I have in-network doctors to choose from, but if I go out-of-network, I'm still covered, just at a reduced rate.

I live in the Chicagoland area, which is home to an extremely large number of private schools (mostly Catholic). If these schools were to close tomorrow, the entire public school system would literally shut down (this comes from the former head of the CPS, Paul Vallas) and the taxpayers of the state would HAVE to come up with more money. All that private schools do is keep the true cost of the state's mandate artificially low.

(Personally, I've always thought it would be fun if the private schools just took a month off twice a year. I think you'd see a voucher proposal immediately.)

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

You from Oregon?

Not from, but I live in Oregon.

For the other side of the voucher debate (ie, the side that I am on) you really ought to study what the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation has on their website. There is a link to it above.

I apologize if I was a bit testy in my rant above ...

connie deady said...

No apology necessary.

In my own mind, I understand my irrationality on vouchers.

When I was in California I worked with advocates in the disabilities field and dealt a lot with state hospitals. As a strong supporter of deinstitutionalization, I came up against parents who irrationally supported state hospitals because of their belief that stone and mortar could never be taken away.

I supported giving the money that went to state hospitals to the counties to be used for community programs, which offer far greater choice (see the similarity here?).

At the root of the parents fear was that money could dry up but bricks and mortar would stay. I recognize public education isn't working well right now, but my fear is that if you give money and private gets it, that somehow the commitment may go away.

Matt Huisman said...

But giving money to fund the education of private school children doesn't take money away from public schools, it only adds to the general tax burden because it makes all of us live up to our commitment to fund education for every child.

Of course, if you assume that people will leave the public schools in droves because of the newfound affordability of the private alternative, that would be different...but then, what would that tell you about the current system?