public goods are shared goods

Spend any time exploring the world of ed reform, and the concept that gets sold to you again and again is choice. “School choice” is the term of art, within the ed reform movement, for private school vouchers.

Choice has to do a lot of work, because the evidence doesn’t. More study is absolutely necessary to evaluate the value of private school vouchers, just as more study is necessary when it comes to charter schools. But the extant evidence is not good. In fact, if you’re a champion of vouchers, it’s downright bad. Here’s recent bad news from Ohio. Here’s bad news from Milwaukee. The news from DC is, thus far, howlingly controversial; here’s some data (PDF). When it comes to DC, I personally am disturbed by the lack of quantifiable gains that aren’t educator dependent– that is, the fact that graduation rates are significantly higher but testable knowledge is not at least raises fair questions about the pressures for schools receiving vouchers to graduate students even if they have underperformed. (One of the consistent problems with school vouchers is the fact that they directly incentivize schools putting their fingers on the scale, and often with no accountability beyond the honor system.) These are just recent cases, but you can survey the available data and say with little doubt that a compelling empirical case for school vouchers doesn’t exist.

(A bit out of date but good overview on the flagging voucher movement from the Washington Monthly is here.)

Voucher proponents, in the face of this failure, have to sell hard on the idea of choice. Ross Douthat, in a typically goofy response to the repeated and public failure of school vouchers to produce better results, changed his mind doubled down, echoing Charles Murray in saying that producing results was never the point. (Hey, who says that advocating something is the same as claiming it’s effective public policy?) It’s all about freedom, giving people choices and making them happier, even if those choices don’t actually accomplish anything. But is choice in this individualistic sense even a virtue in this case? I would submit that it’s not, and in fact that it’s directly opposed to the essential social compact that modern governance relies on.

Consider another public good: public transportation. Here you’ve got a service provided at low cost to all people that is paid for in part by tax dollars. Think about applying the school voucher model to public transportation. If people could take “their share” of the tax dollars that go towards the bus and subway and similar and apply it instead to buying their own car, would that entail choice? Sure. Would it make some people happy? Sure. And it would be a disaster in terms of good governance. It would drastically degrade the service for those who continue to use it, if the service could continue to exist at all. That individuals would have choices and be happy that they have choices is irrelevant if providing those choices hurts a public service that has been enacted through democratic process.

No one would entertain the idea of public transport vouchers. Just like no one would entertain the idea of me being able to take “my share” of defense spending and say that I’ll take care of defending myself, thanks. Government expenditure, in schools as well as in transportation and defense, is based on pooled cost and shared spending. Part of the basic logic of vouchers is founded on a phony premise: that if you subtract one student and the portion of a school’s budget that would be devoted to that student, you’re having a net zero effect on the school. That simply isn’t in keeping with the reality of how school budgets operate.

As is typical in American political discourse, voucher proponents love to focus on rights. They often talk about parent’s right to send their kids to whatever school. But of course, parents do have the right to send their children to whatever schools will have them. They just don’t have the right to use public money to do so, any more than I have the right to take public money to buy a new car. (Not that my 1998 Nissan Sentra is anything less than I dreamed it would be.) We apply voucher logic to literally no other service provided by government, and for good reason. Public services are dependent on shared access, shared costs, and shared accountability. If the public pays for a service, it has the right to run the service and the responsibility to provide oversight for it. If you don’t like that dynamic, you are essentially objecting to the very idea of taxation and democratic government.

You’ve got to understand all of this as a part of the larger conservative project: undermining all governmental and public ventures, and doing so in large part by degrading the potential for pluralism. Public education is a straightforwardly redistributive program; it’s a massive government venture; and it has been, recent concern trolling to the contrary, one of the most successful human endeavors of the last several hundred years. The rise of universal public education for all, though still not fully realized, represents one of the greatest improvements in human welfare in history. It’s no wonder that  this is threatening to conservatives, particularly because teachers are heavily unionized and reliably Democratic.

Why is Michelle Rhee a rising star for conservatives? Because she’s working to undermine what has been on balance a very successful and righteous public program. I recognize that there are a lot of principle people on the left who badly want to reform schools and improve educational outcomes. But I am consistently mystified by how credulous they are about claims made by people who hate a)government programs like public education b)unions and c)Democratic constituencies. Whenever I debate a libertarian about public school reform, I always ask: in your ideal world, would public education exists at all? If they say that they would prefer a pure voucher system where public money finances nothing but private schools, I stop listening. I don’t take opinions about reforming institutions seriously when the person expressing the opinion actually wants to destroy the institution. I’m crazy like that.

I said before that I think part of the point is not merely to hurt public education in order to move towards a privatized system, but also to erode the foundations of pluralistic society. I think that’s a big part of this. Public education is, at its heart, a radical and beautiful idea. It’s not merely that everyone should have access to education, and that we should all pay for it. It’s the idea that children from across class, racial, ethnic, and other boundaries can come together and work and learn together. They don’t merely learn the knowledge and skills that school teaches them, but how to operate in a democracy where everyone is not alike. Seeing that a multicultural, pluralistic society can work– not perfectly, not without angst, not without effort– is an essential part of a civic education. And that knowledge contributes to the understanding that society is a supporter of individual flourishing, not a threat to it, and that what ultimately benefits the individual is what benefits all of us. Urban people tend to be more liberal in part because they see every day the necessity of people working together to provide for the common welfare, which often means effective government. That in part is what vouchers threaten, as they contribute to the division of children into smaller and smaller subsections where they lack the ability to meaningfully interact with others from across the broad American range of difference, and to see the necessity of shared sacrifice.

“We’re all in this together” is a fundamental liberal insight. It’s everyone’s right to send their children off to private school for whatever reason they see fit, and many do so for exclusively enlightened motives. But to say that the public is obligated to pay for it, without real accountability and absent any meaningful evidence of superior outcomes, is nuts.






224 replies
  1. 1
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    Freddie, cher, welcome back.
    ;)

    I know how to fix American education.
    Outlaw private schools.
    Make all schools public, excellent and free.
    And implement Heckman equation preschools starting for age 2.
    That would be true equality.
    The schools would get a hella lot better in a hurry if rich ppls kids had to go through the same public education system as everyone else.
    Teachers salaries would go up.
    A social justice win all around.
    ;)

  2. 2
    gex says:

    For Ross and his ilk, this is all a means to direct money to religious institutions. For the rest it is a means to direct money into the coffers of our Galtian Overlords. I hate Ross’ motivations more.

  3. 3
    saucy says:

    Really nice piece. I’m curious what you think about charter schools.

  4. 4
    rufflesinc says:

    The main problem I have with charters and vouchers is that you never see it in wealthy school districts. If choice is so great, why don’t they implement it? A better solution is to simply dissolve school zones and let students go whereever they want.

  5. 5
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @rufflesinc: yes. that would help too.

    Heres my question Freddie– Why do we need private schools in America?
    I know, because we ape the Brits in everything….but srsy….why?
    Because private schools cant exclude on religious or racial basis– only on SES basis.
    Isn’t that just…..well….unamerican?

  6. 6
    D-boy says:

    amen

  7. 7
    Walker says:

    @rufflesinc:

    A better solution is to simply dissolve school zones and let students go whereever they want.

    Except that this is so tightly wound up with property taxes and housing values, so it is unclear how we make such a change without a massive revolt.

    Here in Ithaca, there is only one high school, but the value of your property can change by 30% according to the primary school district for the house.

  8. 8
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    I always assumed “school choice” was a racist dogwhistle. Undoing the forced busing and all that.

  9. 9
    Ash Can says:

    Fabulous post, Freddie. Few things gall me more than people who say “Why should I pay taxes that support public schools? I don’t have any kids/My kids don’t go to them.” The health of our public education system is no less important than the determinant of the health of this nation’s entire future. Among their other numerous and insidious flaws, vouchers are a cop-out, an excuse to ignore the problems in the local public school system that need to be addressed, and to shirk the duty to address them. Like all the other “solutions” from the right, it’s lazy and dishonest.

  10. 10
    PeakVT says:

    But I am consistently mystified by how credulous [principled people on the left] are about claims made by people who hate a)government programs like public education b)unions and c)Democratic constituencies.

    Stockholm syndrome, perhaps. Or, like so many other policy areas, the discussion has been pushed so far to the right that people have to say these things to be considered “serious.”

  11. 11
    alwhite says:

    the equation is actually very simple. Take money away from struggling schools (who are usually fighting social problems caused by poverty and transition) and award it to religious groups and private businesses. The latter two are also able to ignore the handicapped so the struggling public school gets a double whammy less money & more expensive students.

    The real goal of “choice” is the destruction of public education in America.

  12. 12
    Kirk Spencer says:

    If you outlaw private schools, the next thing you see is “home school academies”. That is, children are nominally home-schooled, but the parents cooperatively bring tutors for various subjects. (This exists already, it’s just going to get bigger.)

    Now, the politics of outlawing private schools makes that a nonstarter, but that pales when trying to stop home schooling.

  13. 13
    LGRooney says:

    all about freedom

    “No man is an island” and all that…

    This is the point that needs to be hammered home. Living in a society, in a civilization, means sacrificing some of your freedom for the greater good of that society. If someone is too immature to sacrifice anything s/he wants, that person needs to move away and build walls, with no in or out, content that s/he is able to do whatever s/he wants to do behind those walls but the rules change outside.

    I’m all for walls for those who want them as long as there are no kids involved and no pollutants. Kids must be trained how to think like adults. If they decide on their own, once some magical age of decision has been reached, that they want to remain children, let them lock themselves away.

    As for pollutants, the walls built must have roofs and underground barriers to prevent any air pollution or effluents reaching those of us who wish to remain a part of the greater-good society, i.e., the world of adults.

  14. 14
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The rise of universal public education for all, though still not fully realized, represents one of the greatest improvements in human welfare in history. It’s no wonder that this is threatening to conservatives, particularly because teachers are heavily unionized and reliably Democratic.

    These are the boot stomping on a human face people. They cannot live in an egalitarian society, because they’d whither and die without others to look down on.

    So naturally, public education is a threat to them.

  15. 15
    LGRooney says:

    @Ash Can: I have a friend who can’t stand kids and certainly doesn’t want any of his own. He is happy to live near a school, though, and pay his taxes to support those schools because it keeps up his property values.

  16. 16
    Luthe says:

    The problem with full school voucherization is that it would end up a bastard cross between the Republican plan for Medicare and “separate but equal.” Those with cash to spend on top of the voucher would send their kids to good schools, while those without would end up with Professor Hokum’s Emporium for Education and Take-Away Hamburger Stand. Not to mention all the kids who would be “home-schooled” (aka watching cartoons all day). There would be no guarantee that kids were actually going to school or learning. A public school system isn’t just teachers educating kids, it’s also about kids actually having to show up and be educated.

  17. 17
    FFrank says:

    freddie amazing article that does need legs. Push it to other venues GOS etc. You define the argument logically, adding links and you also defuse other arguments.

  18. 18
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    Not a bad assumption, actually. As long as the public schools were separate and unequal, public schools were fine.

  19. 19
    danimal says:

    But to say that the public is obligated to pay for it, without real accountability and absent any meaningful evidence of superior outcomes, is nuts.

    I was amazed to read that Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin was pushing to expand charter schools. As part of his proposal, he backs eliminating testing the charter schools with the same testing regimen required for public schools. Obviously, this impacts the ability for parents to make informed school selection choices.

    That’s the tell: they aren’t trying to improve outcomes or find better ways to educate children. Accountability requires independent methods of assessment. If the conservatives were convinced that liberal control of schools is so ineffective and harmful to education, they would have nothing to fear from consistent evaluation standards. But they are afraid, and as the research shows, their fears appear to be justified. They don’t want accountability for their cock-eyed theories.

    The conservatives are taking on a political project to eliminate the commons as much as possible. The grand success of universal public education is an ongoing threat to modern-day conservatism. They are slowly turning their guns toward “government schools”. They must be resisted.

  20. 20
    Feudalism Now! says:

    Good piece! The goal is to privatize as much as possible to fund for-profit businesses that mirror public options. The reason there is not a public transportation option is there is not a viable private transportation model that would be profitable even with taxpayer support. Why is their no competitive solution to Amtrak? There is no money in it. Air travel is so much better to the Galtian mindset.
    There is money to be made in private education, same as private prisons. It also has a side benefit of keeping the takers in their place with a substandard product. Win-Win

  21. 21
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    A nice post Freddie.

    Now for some nitpicking, specifically regarding writing style:
     

    When it comes to DC, I personally am disturbed by the lack of quantifiable gains that aren’t educator dependent—that is, the fact that graduation rates are significantly higher but testable knowledge is not at least raises fair questions about the pressures for schools receiving vouchers to graduate students even if they have underperformed. (One of the consistent problems with school vouchers is the fact that they directly incentivize schools putting their fingers on the scale, and often with no accountability beyond the honor system.)

    Maybe it’s just me, but I had to read this complex sentence three times before I could make heads or tails of it. As best I can tell there are at least four related but different ideas getting into the same elevator, all jostling each other and wanting to push the button for different floors so to speak, just in this one sentence. Unfortunately education reform is one of those wonky subjects that makes eyes glaze over amongst non-political people, which means it would be nice if you could communicate your points more clearly and distinctly so that those of us who are less knowledgeable on this subject have a fighting chance of being able to digest them and communicate them to others at a later date. It might not help, but it can’t hurt.

  22. 22
    kc says:

    “School choice” is the GOP frame and it’s total bullshit. It’s bad enough when the media mindlessly and obediently adopt GOP framing, but it kills me to see liberals who ought to know better do it.

    Call it what is is, private school entitlement. Republicans already have “school choice.” They just want everyone else to pay so they can send their kids to private schools with no public accountability.

  23. 23
    Paul in KY says:

    IMO, ‘vouchers’ are a way to undermine public schools. The actual voucher money is never gonna be enough for a poor person to send their kid to LaDeeDa Day School or Bishop Cudlip High, but it advances the meme for certain assholes that public schools don’t do a good job & all the people they are educating are parasites anyway.

  24. 24
    Culture of Truth says:

    It’s pretty clear that the support for vouchers is an ideological, if not theological belief in the power of markets and ‘choice.’ That is, as with so many things, the cart is being put before the horse, the facts, altered to fit an agenda. I’m willing to be persuaded, but the real issue we ought to debate is what makes schools better, and do that.

  25. 25
    Stillwater says:

    You’ve got to understand all of this as a part of the larger conservative project: undermining all governmental and public ventures, and doing so in large part by degrading the potential for pluralism […] It’s no wonder that this is threatening to conservatives, particularly because teachers are heavily unionized and reliably Democratic.

    Two different analysis offered in these two sentences. One is principled, the other cold political calculation. I sometimes wonder if we attribute too much causal intention to the way these things play out and I find myself more and more inclined to accept the idea that conservatives fundamentally define themselves not as adherents to any overarching principles or conception of government’s role in promoting the greater good, but as merely being opposed to liberals, and therefore, as being opposed not only to liberalism and liberal policy but institutional structures that foster and perpetuate liberalism. This analysis sounds trivial. But conservative ‘ideology’ is trivial too. Could it be just that simple?

  26. 26
    bemused says:

    Rhee was on Morning Joe this am but I walked on by. I just didn’t want to start throwing stuff at the tv when Joe and the rest pretended to know how to fix our education problems. Maybe one of them had something authentic to say but it wasn’t worth sticking around to find out.

  27. 27
    bjacques says:

    It’s nice you’re addressing the ostensible arguments for vouchers, but they’re beside the point. With conservatives, it’s always about the fuckin’ dollars (to quote Joe Pesci); destroying pillars of a pluralistic society is a bonus (though it does accelerate the decay).

    Douchehat did let slip about better results not being the point, but good save with the handwaving about “freedom” and choice.” If conservatives can’t cut taxes to zero, at least they can funnel that public money into the right private hands. Meanwhile, their religious allies who dodge taxes get to collect them as well.

    The UK government has been doing similar damage to their state school system, setting up Swedish-style “free” schools which are of course funded publicly. Maybe they’ll get away with it because British people of a certain age are conditioned to associate “Swedish” with “au pair” and think of Ulrika Jonsson so it must be a good idea. Or was until the cutbacks got everyone’s attention. Letting universities jack up tuition fees and then waving a finger at them is almost as effective in putting a good education out of the reach of the many.

    The Tor/LibDem dismantling of the National Health Service, another public good, proceeds apace. If you hear Call Me Dave Cameron talking about how passionate he is about saving the NHS, start stockpiling aspirin. He’s attacking the structure of the NHS, which sounds boringly bureaucratic so it must be wasteful and good riddance, instead dumping the organizational work on GPs or private entities who’d like a turn at the trough.

    To a conservative, a public good is an oxymoron.

  28. 28
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Kirk Spencer: i say let them home school. But make legislation for size and number of outside tutors hired. If the “home-school” turns into a private school, it goes public and turns into another public school. Thanks for the new school, Distributed Jesusland!
    Sure its radical and impossible politically, but arguing for it would publicize the real problem.
    I would use it as a stalking horse to get the liberaltarian education types like Freddie and EDK and Ynglesias and Douthat and Larison to argue solemnly about voucherization and freak out about the potential abolition of private schools while the social justice ninjas sneak in Heckman equation preschools.

  29. 29
    Freddie deBoer says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: It’s an unfortunate sentence. Thanks for the input.

  30. 30
    sublime33 says:

    What also gets lost in the argument for public education is that it is the best system to allow the cream to rise to the top by casting the net as wide as possible. I never thought Horatio Alger would become a liberal icon – I thought those stories personified the American ideal.

    Privatizing education is similar to amateur athletics 100 years ago. The British were big proponents to restricting access to competition – mainly to keep the riff raff out of rowing and running events. Did it help England build the strongest track and field teams? Hell no. And of course they were horrified when those uncouth Americans started showing up and winning track and field medals.

    But England still probably has the best polo teams in the world, as if that matters.

  31. 31
    Commish says:

    Excellent post.

  32. 32
    alwhite says:

    @rufflesinc:

    They have basically done that in MN. It has allowed (mostly white) kids to flee to the suburbs as the expense of transportation. Oh, and it has made some damn fine football, basketball and hockey programs. SOMEHOW certain schools just seem to be the ‘right’ choice for your kid to attend if he or she just happens to be outstanding at a specific sport. It has not helped academically under performing schools do anything but get worse as the money flows further out.

  33. 33
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    The early (original?) justification for public schools was to make sure that all Americans shared a background of literacy and numeracy, plus coming together to learn about each other and to become “Americanized.” Part of what was being responded to was the influx of immigrants that was threatening to overwhelm the “real Americans,” etc. Yes, it’s ever been thus. Except then it was inferior grades of Europeans.

    It does mix the issues of public education and immigration, but it seems to me that elements of this justification, updated, could be used by liberals in their framing of the issue. We’ve got to undermine the frame of “individual freedom” and replace it with community welfare.

  34. 34
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Freddie deBoer: oh pleezpleezpleez Freddie, answer my question?
    Why should we have private schools in America?

  35. 35
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @sublime33:

    What also gets lost in the argument for public education is that it is the best system to allow the cream to rise to the top by casting the net as wide as possible.

    And the world is changing. The new arms race is human capital, and anglosaxon christians are global paupers.

  36. 36
    Nylund says:

    A few points.

    1. The analogy with public transportation is a good one, but many people hate public transportation, so I think using that example is a bit like preaching to the choir. You may also be able to make it with a public good more universally deemed necessary like the police. EG, take a voucher and hire a private security company to watch over you. Its an imperfect analogy though. Point being, more convincing analogies probably exist.

    2. If I understood her argument correctly, recently Megan McArdle was trying to make a point that people who don’t like “school choice” in the form of vouchers are hypocrites because they already have “school choice” via the ability to move to a new district. Wouldn’t this also make voucher proponents into hypocrites as well since, according to Megan, “school choice” already exists? Not that wasting time on Megan McArdle is worth anyone’s time, but I think she deserves to be hammered on yet another dumb argument on her point.

    And finally, you’re correct in that evidence is quite mixed over th effectiveness, and that conservatives have switched gears and now say choice is good, purely for the sake of choice. IE, being “free to choose” a bad choice is better than have limited choices, even if they are all better. Strangely, their love of the greatness of “freedom to choose” bad choices doesn’t extend that far. It doesn’t extend to women’s rights or narcotic policy, or pretty much anything other than taking money out of a public school system they want to see abolished. In the end, they just really hate anything that redistributes resources. The rich should get to keep all their money and never be forced to use any of it to help the less fortunate. Its a sort of “every man is an island” view of the world that entirely ignores the externalities of real life. Its in your best interest to have your fellow citizens educated, healthy, and law-abiding, and remains in your best interest even if you have to pay a little bit more to help ensure that outcome. They seem to entirely ignore these realities.

    I think they imagine they can create these isolated and gated little worlds (or gulches) where they live lives of education, health, and safety. Who cares if the rest of the country that lives on the other side of the fence falls into disrepair, sickness, violence, and poverty? Its sort of a “the only problem with Marie Antoinette was that she didn’t have enough guards to protect her from hoi polloi” view of the world.

  37. 37
    Freddie deBoer says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: I’m a civil libertarian, and personally I just think that denying people the right to private education is too much of an impediment to individual rights. If you pay your taxes and are willing to also pay to send your child to a private school, you’ve got that right, in my view.

  38. 38
    Ash Can says:

    @LGRooney: Because your friend, like you say above, is a grown-up who understands the value of public goods such as public schools. If everyone shared his common sense, public schools wouldn’t be facing the problems they are.

    @FFrank: The problem with spreading this to a place like GOS is that it’s carrying coals to Newcastle, which the left (and the center, for that matter) do far too much of. Instead, Freddie should hook this up with E.D. Kain at Forbes, or some other big-name mass-market venue, where it will get the wider exposure it deserves.

  39. 39
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @FFrank: no it isnt. its a bunch of high verbal crap that basically says Freddie doesnt know what to to do. Its the exact replica of EDK/McArdle/Larison/generic libertarian bulshytt-talker posts on education. They all diddle around the edges and never address the real problem.

    You answer the question. Why do we need private schools?
    Lets forget about the voucher crapology (another nonsolution brought to you serfs by the Holy Power of Free Market Economics) and just make all American schools public.
    Like a universal voucher called American citizenship.
    kk?

  40. 40
    sublime33 says:

    “The new arms race is human capital, and anglosaxon christians are global paupers.”

    I wouldn’t say anglosaxon christians are global paupers. But if they expect to get a speed pass for all opportunities in life based on their heritage instead of merit, the nation as a whole will become second or third rate if they don’t promote the best engineers, doctors, etc. based on ability.

    You would think that Southerners, who are the biggest promoters of this, would look at college football in the 60’s as a warning of what happens when discrimmination or favoratism becomes policy. Southern colleges become second rate powers when they only played white players while Northern and Western schools played the best players available regardless of race.

  41. 41
    Dennis SGMM says:

    The same people who have declared that choice regarding school vouchers is a good thing because choice is just in and of itself good sure hate choice when it comes to womens’ reproductive rights.

  42. 42

    I wish some technocrat had never come up with the per-pupil expenditure number. It makes people think (totally stupidly, I might add) that they are paying a huge sum of money to educate their child in the public school system. I’d say, if you want a voucher for your kid, you get a voucher for precisely the amount you put in. When they see that $400 check, maybe they’d understand the concept of pooled money for common purpose.

    Why should my tax dollars go to pay for a kid to go to private school?

  43. 43
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Freddie deBoer:

    I’m a civil libertarian, and personally I just think that denying people the right to private education is too much of an impediment to individual rights

    ah yes. A civil libertarian.
    Gotcha.

    If you pay your taxes and are willing to also pay to send your child to a private school, you’ve got that right, in my view.

    Shorter Freddie: In America, the rich have more rights than the poor.

  44. 44
    taylormattd says:

    And when can we expect your followup on this issue? I predict the following:

    “The answer to the proliferation of plans to privatize public education is CLEARLY to vote for the Green Party candidate”

  45. 45
    cleek says:

    I said before that I think part of the point is not merely to hurt public education in order to move towards a privatized system, but also to erode the foundations of pluralistic society.

    …and to destroy the teachers’ unions.

  46. 46
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Why should my tax dollars go to pay for a kid to go to private school?

    because shut up serf is why.

  47. 47
    Stillwater says:

    @Dennis SGMM: Heh. More evidence for the universality of Cleek’s Law: if liberals hold P, conservatives hold not-P.

  48. 48
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @taylormattd: awww get real dude.
    civil libertarians never vote for Obama– they just concern troll him in public and PRETEND they would vote for him.
    the voting booth is private, like the grave.
    look at EDK and GG….who starbursts them? Gary Johnson.

  49. 49
    kay says:

    @Feudalism Now!:

    There is money to be made in private education, same as private prisons. It also has a side benefit of keeping the takers in their place with a substandard product. Win-Win

    That’s what scares me, the for-profit charters. They’re here, now. Public education is a big pot of money, and they cannot wait to get their hands on it. They’re buying off the state legislature in Ohio.
    Twenty years from now we’re going to be counting heads in the Senate, begging for a “public option” in elementary schools, and arguing that 15% off the top in taxpayer funds goes to profit.
    What a horrible, horrible idea, to allow elementary and high schools to become profit centers. It was just inevitable that they’d game it.

  50. 50
    cleek says:

    @Stillwater:
    woohoo! i have a law!

    that’s better than 10 internets.

  51. 51
    Freddie deBoer says:

    Matoko, I don’t know what your deal is, and I long ago gave up caring. I’m not a libertarian; most people call me a socialist. If you want to talk about ideal theory, cool– we can get really long-range and wanky. For now, there’s this thing called money, and people who earn it (and are taxed at appropriate, progressive rates) can spend it, and I have a hard time seeing how preventing them from saying “hey sir, please take this money and in exchange teach my child” is consistent with any vision of personal liberty at all. Do I want some fundamental changes in the system? Yes, I do. Do I think those are relevant to the discussion at hand? No, I don’t.

  52. 52
    Dan says:

    Douthat shouldn’t be allowed a pen and paper, let alone a perch on the NY Times Opinion page

  53. 53
    Juicetard (FKA Liberty60) says:

    Terrific post. I would expand this logic to most of the privatization mania with government services.
    There was a time when I also thought that competit9ion and privatization would make government services more efficient.

    But time and experience hasn’t borne this out; the results are that generally when government services are privatized, the cost goes up, and service doesn’t.

  54. 54
    rufflesinc says:

    @alwhite: Do you have a couple links to articles I can read? thanks

  55. 55
    Scott P. says:

    You may also be able to make it with a public good more universally deemed necessary like the police. EG, take a voucher and hire a private security company to watch over you.

    Ever read Robert Nosick’s _Anarchy, State and Utopia_? That’s precisely what he advocated.

  56. 56
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    There’s no reason why you can’t have school choice within public schools. In San Francisco, there’s a lottery. At the elementary level, you can choose any of the 100+ elementary programs for your kid.

    Oh how how how the more affluent parts of San Francisco b*tch when kids from the poorer parts take places in “their” schools, instead of the cr*ppier schools in the poorer neighborhoods. And how how how white upper middle class parents b*tch when they get assigned to a school that m, but doesn’t have enough white upper middle class granola eaters there. Their kid might have to hang out with poor non-white kids! The horror!

    Hence, there’s campaign after campaign to do away with the school choice system in San Francisco, or make it more neighborhood (i.e. income) based. Because it’s a lottery, and equitable, and upper middle class parents in affluent neighborhoods can’t game their way to a spiffy outcome for little Chloe and Aidan. So they f*cking hate it, and bitch about moving to Marin.

  57. 57
    jl says:

    Speaking as a higher ed and sometime music teach, I think that the contempt (or at best indifference) most USians have for education is the real problem. Probably good results could be obtained with this attitude when simple readin’ writin’ and ‘rithmatic skills were enough, but not now.

    Educational reform that revolves around test scores, teaching to those test scores, built on boring drills of boring skills that have no meaning to the students will fail. I think it will fail public or private, choice or no choice. You can throw all the vouchers and charters you want at the problem and such attempts will still fail.

    Edit: and I teach quantitative number stuff. Even there, tests of skills in isolation of real world application and interest, teaching to the test, and drills fail. At best you have students who can work formulas and solve abstract problems they do not understand and do not know how to apply in the real world. They will be hopeless at applying the knowledge in new settings that require creative thinking, which is when they need those skills the most.

    The whole direction of education in this country leaves me pessimistic and depressed.

  58. 58
    Corey says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist: I actually don’t think this is true, if only because most folks don’t live in districts where it would even be possible to mingle with “those people”.

  59. 59
    Shrillhouse says:

    This post was exceptionally well written. Bravo.

  60. 60
    Shrillhouse says:

    This post was exceptionally well written. Bravo.

  61. 61
    taylormattd says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: lol

  62. 62
    cyntax says:

    @jl:

    I think it will fail public or private, choice or no choice. You can throw all the vouchers and charters you want at the problem and such attempts will still fail.

    That’s true up to a point. What can also happen is that a private school can function as an ability grouping mechanism, so the students at private schools don’t need very much practice to pass these tests, and of course this means the tests don’t interfere with private students’ opportunity to get a quality education.

  63. 63
    The Tragically Flip says:

    This is a great post. It’s important to recognize that while there is a huge part of education that is empirical, objective and quantifiable in terms of quality – eg, does our children actually lurn 2+2=4, a large part of the “value” of education is as a status good.

    Elite private schools may be somewhat better at the objective tasks of teaching students knowledge and skills, but that’s not really why the rich like them. The real reason they’re valuable is because they give you a ticket to better things in life just by virtue of having gone there. This is the real reason they have to cost so much, to keep out the riff-raff.

    Demeaning the value and quality of public education only helps them in this competition too. After all, if everyone really does get a good education, and employers know a public school educated person can do the job just as well as someone who went to an “elite” school, why bother with the latter, and the associated salary expecatations and ego that go with it?

  64. 64
    jl says:

    @cyntax: Good point. Thanks.

  65. 65
    Corey says:

    Freddie, I’m mostly sympathetic to your view, but the thing I keep coming back to wrt charters and vouchers is, if the current model for funding and delivering education doesn’t work in certain contexts (poorer areas, mostly), how else can you experiment with alternatives but charter schools and/or vouchers?

    One thing that summaries of charter effectiveness ignore is that there are different kinds of charters. Some are set up by charlatans and deliver results equivalent or worse to the public schools; others are like KIPP and provide significant value-add.

    Can we export the KIPP model wholesale to public schools? Of course not. But if there’s even a sliver of insight in there about how to improve the existing model, the money spent funding those schools is well worth it, IMO.

  66. 66
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Freddie deBoer:

    I dunno, I hardly think that American style civil libertarianism is the be all and end all of freedom. Basically, the “freedom” to go to private schools means “don’t piss off the Roman Catholic Church.”

  67. 67
    Paul in KY says:

    @Freddie deBoer: She originally asked you: ‘Why do we need private schools’

    IMO, you have not answered her basic question. You don’t have to answer, but your responses (to her) have been sorta ‘politispeak’ and dodging her basic question.

    I don’t think we need them myself.

  68. 68
    cyntax says:

    @jl:

    You bet.

    I’ve read some studies on how much harder the teachers and students at public schools have to work to keep with the standardized testing regimens and the tempo is really destructive. It’s interesting–if depressing–reading.

  69. 69
    Freddie deBoer says:

    @Paul in KY: I don’t think we need them, just like we don’t need hotels for dogs. The question is whether they constitute such a challenge to the public good that they need to be regulated away. I’m happy to hear that case, but in general, I have to say no. Trust me– I have said a lot of intemperate things about private school, nasty things. Some I’m not proud of. But to advocate forcing their closure, even while I acknowledge some of the pernicious effects of private schooling, seems out of tune with American democracy.

  70. 70

    @Paul in KY:
    I’ll go out on a limb here and say that banning private schools would violate the freedom of association part of the First Amendment. And would, in fact, be a form of fascism that would really rub people the wrong way.

    I think private schools should have to meet standards set by the state. But they shouldn’t get state tax money. If you want to spend more than the baseline on your child’s education, fine. But everybody should get the baseline, and the baseline should be high. That’s my opinion.

  71. 71
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Freddie deBoer:

    I’m not a libertarian; most people call me a socialist

    i thought you just said you were a civil libertarian. You are not a socialist. A socialist would be all for abolishing private schools.

    For now, there’s this thing called money, and people who earn it (and are taxed at “appropriate, progressive” rates) can spend it

    Aye, theres the rub. I disagree about your rate theory. But you are a libertarian. That is PURE libertarian boilerplate right out of my Unified Field Theory of Libertarianism.

    You know what my deal is Freddie?
    I hate liars.
    Membah how I made Reihan want to quit blogging?
    I don’t want people to quit blogging. I want them to quit lying.
    I used to be one of your biggest fans when you were a liberal, membah?
    No any more.
    You got no sass.

  72. 72
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Corey:

    if the current model for funding and delivering education doesn’t work in certain contexts (poorer areas, mostly), how else can you experiment with alternatives but charter schools and/or vouchers?

    Haven’t you ever heard of magnet schools? There are ways to keep education public but still diversify. When most people think “charter school,” they’re really thinking of something more like a magnet school.

  73. 73
    Paul in KY says:

    @Freddie deBoer: Thank you for answering. The America I live in, there’s no chance private schools would be abolished or legislated out of existance. It is good, however, to acknowledge that they are basically unnecessary (like a hotel for dogs, liked that one).

  74. 74
    Paul in KY says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Probably would be against the constitution. Agree they are here to stay.

    A guy can dream though, can’t he?

  75. 75
    Zifnab says:

    So here’s my gripe. What do you do with the town with two schools – the good public school and the bad public school – when the town forces your kid to go to the bad public school?

    That’s at the heart of “school choice” appeal. Everyone wants to send their kids to the good school, but the good school can’t (or won’t) accommodate all the kids and the bad school never seems to improve.

    This is the core frustration in the American education system today. I’m not suggesting vouchers as a panacea, but it’s definitely not a solution looking for a problem. The problem is clear as day.

  76. 76
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Freddie deBoer:

    seems out of tune with American democracy

    but more rights for the rich is not contra american democracy?

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    say that banning private schools would violate the freedom of association part of the First Amendment

    that would be a great discussion.
    but why would it be fascism?

  77. 77
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Freddie deBoer:

    I’m not a libertarian; most people call me a soc1al1st

    i thought you just said you were a civil libertarian. You are not a soc1al1st. A soc1al1st would be all for abolishing private schools.

    For now, there’s this thing called money, and people who earn it (and are taxed at “appropriate, progressive” rates) can spend it

    Aye, theres the rub. I disagree about your rate theory. But you ARE a libertarian. That is PURE libertarian boilerplate right out of my Unified Field Theory of Libertarianism.

    You know what my deal is Freddie?
    I hate liars.
    Membah how I made Reihan want to quit blogging?
    I don’t want people to quit blogging. I want them to quit lying.
    I used to be one of your biggest fans when you were a liberal, membah?
    Not any more.
    You got no sass.

  78. 78
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Freddie deBoer:

    The question is whether they constitute such a challenge to the public good that they need to be regulated away.

    My argument is that they do.
    Private shools are unamerican, and eliminating them would solve a lot of problems in the public schools. If there is no need for them, and public education would improve, why not outlaw them?

    Because Distributed Jesusland would have a meltdown is why.
    So my plan is to headfake outlawing public schools for the poutrage and push Heckman preschools as a stealth compromise.

  79. 79
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    One of these days, you’ll finally understand that “libertarian” and “civil libertarian” are not actually the same thing, and you’ll know why we all laugh at you every time you conflate them.

  80. 80
    Fester Bestertester says:

    Simply put, vouchers are what the rich people who send their kids to private schools want to use to get the portion of their real estate taxes that go to the town’s schools back. After all, why should they pay to send someone else’s kid to school? It’s all part of the conservative mindset – i got mine, screw you.

    Same thing with social security. The amount of money they will have in retirement significantly exceeds any amount they will collect in social security, so they’d rather simply eliminate it and keep their social security taxes and invest it themselves. Again, why should I subsidize someone else who didn’t plan ahead like I did?

  81. 81
    cyntax says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    but more rights for the rich is not contra american democracy?

    Oh come on GA, it really seems to me that you’re being intentionally disingenuous. Money = more choices.

    Unless you’re proposing some kind of workers’ paradise where everyone has equal access to everything, how do you propose to make money meaningless? Because that really seems to be at the heart of what you’re talking about.

  82. 82
    Phoebe says:

    First off: I give up on this block quote thing. Sorry.

    @Walker:

    @rufflesinc:
    A better solution is to simply dissolve school zones and let students go whereever they want.

    Except that this is so tightly wound up with property taxes and housing values, so it is unclear how we make such a change without a massive revolt.

    I know. There would be a massive revolt. Same as there was with integration. Segregation wasn’t fair in the obvious ways, but then some people thought, “suddenly forcing my child to go to school with negroes isn’t fair.” And if you define “fair” to be maintaining someone’s relied upon expectations, then we shouldn’t change anything ever. But what if those relied upon expectations were for something that wasn’t fair this whole time?

    Anyway, I don’t think it would even hurt that much; if suddenly, one day, each school got the same amount of money (per pupil), regardless of where it sat (as post offices seem to), then the fancy school where my nephew goes (School A) would still be more way more desirable than the school nearest my (childless) house (School B). Why? Because the children of ambitious and privileged people — people who paid a lot extra for their dwellings because of the school district — go School A, and School B has fights in the hallways every day. If you gave B more money, it would probably help a lot, particularly if they used it on lowering the student/teacher ratio. If you took some from A, well, it might not have a rock climbing wall, or a one million dollar sculpture in front of the entrance, but those kids would still get edumacated just fine.

    Again, it all boils down to what you consider public duty.

  83. 83
    Ash Can says:

    @Zifnab: What do you do? You get involved. Parent and community involvement en masse — through fundraising, volunteering in the classroom, dialogue with the principal and teachers, involvement in the PTA and local school councils, setting up after-school activities, etc. — can change a school from bad to adequate to good. It’s a lot of work, but local governments won’t make changes overnight, and involvement almost literally will.

  84. 84
    jcgrim says:

    If anyone thinks vouchers and charters are about improving education for poor kids, think again. No independent research supports their efficacy. The voucher and charter movement has been adopted by republicans and democrats (Obama’s Race to the Top is worse than Bush’s NCLB) to funnel the last vestige of public money to private investors, Wall Street, Hedge Funds, and real estate investors. Public schools have to fail to crack open the egg to give these financiers access to the $700 billion education budget.

    For example, KIPP’s (and corporate charters in general) “miracles” are manufactured by PR and media stupidity. The KIPP bump is a lie based on exclusion, discrimination and powerful,wealthy donors:

    With the help of Fisher, Walton, Gates, Broad, and an impressive list of donors and investors from Wall Street, the KIPP empire been born. All cash given, of course, is matched by a tax credit. Here is a list of Whales from the KIPP website

    http://www.schoolsmatter.info/.....-more.html

    It’s time to stop arguing over who does what better and follow the money in this debate:

    In April, 1999, the Wall Street financiers at Merrill Lynch published a 193 page “In-depth Report” titled “The Book of Knowledge, Investing in the Growing Education and Training Industry.” Early in the report they noted: “The K-12 market is the largest segment of the education industry with approximately $360 billion spent annually or over $6,500 per year per child. Despite the size, the K-12 market is the most problematic to invest in today. Entrenched bureaucracies and personal and political interests contribute to the challenges facing this sector.”

    http://ksdcitizens.org/2010/12.....uperfraud/

  85. 85
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    “That’s at the heart of “school choice” appeal. Everyone wants to send their kids to the good school, but the good school can’t (or won’t) accommodate all the kids and the bad school never seems to improve.”

    There’s a couple of things that can be done. Firstly, if you have the funding follow the kid and enough slack capacity, the loss of money from unpopular schools can force change by making a “change or die” situation.

    In San Francisco and other districts with high immigrant population, they’ve changed a liability (lots of non-English speakers needing instruction in a different language until they become fluent in English) into a liability (change the bilingual programs to language immersion programs, where you teach English and non-English speakers together so the kids learn each others language). Schools that five years ago were considered hispanic ghetto schools are now slap-on-the-back-how’d-you-get-lucky-enough-to-get-in-there schools amongst the granola set.

    There are double standards, though, between how the private and public sectors are judged. In San Francisco, the more exclusive a private school is and the higher the kill ratio, the more desirable it’s seen to be.
    However, if the school district can’t squeeze all 1,000 parents who want to go to a flagship school into it’s 60 slots is taken as a bad thing, rather than “the district has created an amazingly popular program that lots of people want”.

  86. 86
    Linnaeus says:

    @The Tragically Flip:

    Elite private schools may be somewhat better at the objective tasks of teaching students knowledge and skills, but that’s not really why the rich like them. The real reason they’re valuable is because they give you a ticket to better things in life just by virtue of having gone there. This is the real reason they have to cost so much, to keep out the riff-raff.

    Very true, and it’s even more applicable to post-secondary education. elite schools are what’s known as “positional goods”, i.e., their value lies in the fact that you can go to them and someone else cannot.

  87. 87
    Phoebe says:

    @Paul in KY:

    A guy can dream though, can’t he?

    Yeah. My dream? Vasectomies for every 15 year old boy, reversible upon application for a license at age 30. Also, invisible time travel for me, with ability to fly and to turn sense of smell off/on at will.

  88. 88
    eyelessgame says:

    One other thing missed about charter/magnet schools is another way way they degrade the public schools: they pull out the most involved parents. Any student who moves to a charter school brings his parents with him, and generally speaking the students who move to charter schools do so because their parents are, compared with the median, more heavily invested in their educations. Which means that they tend to be the parents who will volunteer, chaperone, donate, and in general support the school. You pull away the most involved 5% of the parents, the school degrades by way more than 5%.

  89. 89
    JustMe says:

    Why is Michelle Rhee a rising star for conservatives? Because she’s working to undermine what has been on balance a very successful and righteous public program.

    Not in DC it wasn’t!

    (someone brought up the fact that pundits associate “public schools” with “Washington, DC public schools,” and this distorts their perspective on the real issues)

  90. 90
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Mnemosyne: That is why im developing the Unified Field Theory of Libertarianism.
    So I can get the taxonomy correct.
    And I do not think either Freddie or Reihan are laffing.
    More likely people are laffing at you for falling for that libertarian grifter scam again.
    ;)

  91. 91
    Feudalism Now! says:

    The property tax issue is a huge hurdle for Public education. New York state is going through it’s purge of new and old teachers to balance school budgets. One northern NY school district was forced to choose to cut the art department or the music department. Meanwhile, 30 miles away another district had a referendum to put in artificial turf for their football team which passed and a slight budget increase which also passed. The inequality is inherent in how we fund our public schools. Segregation is alive and well in 2011, it just meant upping the price of property and the rent.

  92. 92
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @cyntax: only a little.
    But I think this is a valid question. If private schools add nothing (hotels for dogs) and eliminating them would improve public schools largely through reallocation of resources, why not do eet?
    People that were determined to give their children religious educations could home-school.
    As long as they didn’t try to grow the home-school into a private school.
    It would be better for young americans from all aspects.

    But i don’t think it can be done until the demographic timer sets us free from Distributed Jesusland.

    That is why I’d like to use the issue to sneakily burn out NCLB and RttT and reallocate that funding to Heckman preschools.
    Heckman preschools would grow our base in the long run.
    ;)

  93. 93
    Surly Duff says:

    private schools add nothing (hotels for dogs) and eliminating them would improve public schools largely through reallocation of resources, why not do eet?

    I am confused about your argument. Re-allocate what resources? The resources that private scholls receive from the tuition collected from its students? Are you suggesting that we take the money that is paid to privately educate children place it in public education?

  94. 94
    Rusty says:

    Freddie, nice to see you participating on this great blog. It will become even better if you’re a regular contributor.

  95. 95
    JustMe says:

    Ghanima, not all private schools are religious schools. In the case of religious schools, some people want religion taught alongside the curriculum. For secular schools, some parents want access to a certain curriculum, smaller class size, or other opportunities not available in public schools.

    “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” You take public money, then the government tells you how to run things. You don’t want the school and staffing decisions to be micromanaged by the government, then you pay your own way for the product of your own choosing. I don’t see why you’re being so obtuse here.

  96. 96
    Daulnay says:

    Why don’t we have graduated real estate taxes, the same way we have graduated income taxes? Seems like they would help with excessive tax burdens on the middle class, while enabling better school finance.

  97. 97
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Surly Duff: lol no. If all american children go to public school, public schools will automatically become better, because the rich will be invested in public schools.
    They won’t all want to send their kids to boarding school in the UK.

  98. 98
    cyntax says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    First, you’re conflating private schools with religious private schools. There are tons of secular private schools.

    Second, I’m not sure private schools add nothing. Suppose as a parent you’re opposed to using grades to rank students, and you want to send your child to a school that doesn’t use grades, outside of UCSB (which little Johnny isn’t ready for yet), that’s pretty much going to be a private school. Under what model of individual liberty can you justify denying the parent the right to do this?

    Now it’s going to be easier for the parent to do this if they have the money for the tuition, but many private schools offer scholarships, so you can’t say that only people with the money for the tuition can avail themselves of these schools. And as far as vouchers, as long as there aren’t vouchers for private schools, the reallocation of resources is less of an issue, though as eyelessgame (@85) points out, that’s not the only resource.

  99. 99
    JustMe says:

    @eyelessgame: Involved parents and smart students are not your personal resources to be exploited for “the greater good.” If you don’t want them to leave for someplace that better serves their needs, give them a reason to stay. Likely the reason they’re leaving is because they realize that it’s a fool’s game to stay involved in the face of a school that doesn’t do much for them.

  100. 100
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @JustMe: secular or parochial doesn’t matter. Private schools are both uneccessary and unamerican because MONEY/SES is the criteria for admission.
    Like AWS said the interesting thing would be if banning private schools would violate the freedom of association part of the First Amendment.

  101. 101
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @cyntax:

    First, you’re conflating private schools with religious private schools. There are tons of secular private schools.

    No im not. Since parochial schools cannot refuse students on religion they are all the same. No private school in america can refuse admittance based on race or religion. Private schools refuse admittance to the poor.

    Is that American?

    Just get rid of them. Hotels for dogs.
    ;)

  102. 102
    cyntax says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    Just cause you don’t like them doesn’t mean that they can be chucked.

  103. 103
    JustMe says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: secular or parochial doesn’t matter. Private schools are both uneccessary and unamerican because MONEY/SES is the criteria for admission.

    That makes no sense at all and isn’t a logical statement. The point of school is to learn stuff. You can pay money for the service of learning stuff in the environment that fulfills your requirements.

    As with cars and kitchens, I believe that paying extra money for something “fancy” should not confer any tangible benefits others than some basic psychic satisfaction: the ideal is that everyone has access to a free excellent education and that if you want to pay more money for something, that’s your choice, but it won’t be as if you get something more out of it, in the same way that a Honda and a BMW both seat 5 and get you to work on time.

    Did your mother tell you that you couldn’t go to a private school you really wanted to attend because she couldn’t afford it, causing you to nurse a grievance for the rest of your life?

  104. 104
    Lurking Canadian says:

    Private schools are both uneccessary and unamerican because MONEY/SES is the criteria for admission.

    It seems to me that discrimination based on money is quintessentially American. Indeed the idea that we should discriminate based on money, rather than genetics, was arguably an American innovation in the first place. (You could buy your way to “Gentleman” status in the UK, too, but I think it was harder and I’m not sure which side of the pond got there first.)

    Do you also think First Class seats on airlines should be illegal, Comrade?

  105. 105
    Corey says:

    @Mnemosyne: Right, but a magnet school is a place for smarter and/or more motivated kids; things you learn about the educational process in a magnet school might not be applicable to the broader school system.

    I know that charter students are not representative of their districts but clearly they’re closer than magnet students…

  106. 106

    @Lurking Canadian:

    Do you also think First Class seats on airlines should be illegal, Comrade?

    I am not necessarily opposed to first class seats, but first class restrooms, yes. most definitely yes.

  107. 107
    The Tragically Flip says:

    @Linnaeus: “positional goods”

    Thanks, I was searching for that term and couldn’t remember it.

  108. 108
    saucy says:

    Vouchers are a disaster. Let’s start there. That said, some (not all) private schools have a place in a healthy educational system.

    There are plenty of private schools here in the DC area that serve students who the public system doesn’t help well, students with severe anxiety, learning differences, various social and emotional problems, etc. These are mostly small schools people haven’t heard of. They are not Sidwell, not St. Alban’s. They survive through tuition alone.

    If your goal is the best possible education for every student, private schools like these can play a role. They fill a niche that public schools don’t do well, because public schools are not funded well enough to educate these students properly. I’m not saying that public schools can’t, just that many currently don’t, mostly due to funding.

    In my perfect world, public schools would be funded to the extent that they can effectively educate all students. In our world, this sort of private schools play a crucial role. Please don’t lump all private schools into the “elite” or “Catholic” boxes; the issue isn’t that simple.

  109. 109
    rickstersherpa says:

    Where is the impetus for school privatization coming from but the usual suspects on the right. Service to poorly informed customers is not the goal.

    1. Politically, to eviscerate public employee unions (note Joe Klein’s slasher job on Randi Weingarten and the New York City teacher unions in theAtlantic this month.) Reduce both labor and money inputs to Democrats competing for election

    2. Create a another huge crony capitalist revenue stream to private sector companies who can obtain these service contracts without any restraint on their ability to influence the political process. (See prision privatization and homeland and DoD security service contractors for the model).

    3. Use donations to elect more Conservative Republicans! Cut more taxes for rich people! Then complain that the lower classes are lazy, stupid, and violent.

  110. 110
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Corey:

    But that’s how charter schools have been sold, at least here in Los Angeles — they’re specialized schools that cater to specific students, not general-use public schools. And if that’s the purpose of a charter school, I don’t understand what the added value is of having it be a private enterprise instead of folding it under the public school system as a magnet school.

  111. 111
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @JustMe: actually i went to a private catholic girls school and my parents spent enough money on graduated sized imported welsh ponies to build a girls school in afghanistan and staff it for 20 years.
    An american public school education is not a car or a kitchen.
    Like universal healthcare, I think a quality education is the RIGHT of ALL American children.
    @cyntax:

    Just cause you don’t like them doesn’t mean that they can be chucked.

    its not that i dislike them. I dont see a purpose for them…no value-added.
    Where is the value-added, cyntax?

  112. 112
    Paul in KY says:

    @Phoebe: Well, that sounds like a killer LSD trip, rather than a dream ;-)

  113. 113
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @saucy:

    private schools like these can play a role

    but in general, they don’t.
    Why not just get rid of private schools?
    Fold those schools into the public education system.

  114. 114
    jcgrim says:

    Another for-profit charter school chain coming to save poor kids from the evils of public schools is YES Prep. Their for profit Donor pipeline is the oil industry.

    From Tamara Shepherd:
    http://www.knoxviews.com/node/16343

    Curious to learn more about the YES Prep charter school business model, I came across on the net this May 2009 financial “prospectus” detailing for prospective “investors” the school’s $38 million “growth capital offering,” which the non-profit then needed to open 13 more YES Prep campuses.Some of those oil and gas companies jumped off the page—like Halliburton, Shell Oil, Marathon Oil, MultiFuels, KiwiEnergy, and Spectra Energy. I also knew Schlumberger as the tech company to have pioneered “pay-at-the-pump” technology for the oil industry.

    I quickly learned that Alta Resources is a “leader in the development of shale gas resources,” Noble Corporation is an offshore drilling contractor, and Vitol is an energy trading company.

    Similarly, it turns out that Houston’s Baker Botts LLP is “one of the city’s leading law firms with connections to key international energy markets in Asia, Europe and the Middle East” and Haynes & Boone LLP touts an “energy practice more than 75 lawyers strong”

  115. 115
    JustMe says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: Like universal healthcare, I think a quality education is the RIGHT of ALL American children.

    And I agree. But in an ideal universal healthcare system, if I want to pony up more money so a doctor can make housecalls, it’s no big deal, given the fact that I’ll just end up with the same health outcomes anyway. People spend money on all sorts of stuff because it makes them happier.

    its not that i dislike them. I dont see a purpose for them.

    The nature of paying fees for services is that certain people have a preferences for services that are different than our own preferences and are willing to pay money for stuff that we don’t see the use for.

    I realize part of your rants are a bit of a rhetorical post to make a point, but the rest of us would like to hear an argument that makes sense.

  116. 116
    jcgrim says:

    Another for-profit charter school chain coming to save poor kids from the evils of public schools is YES Prep. Their for profit donor pipeline is the oil and gas industry.

    From Tamara Shepherd:
    http://www.knoxviews.com/node/16343

    Curious to learn more about the YES Prep charter school business model, I came across on the net this May 2009 financial “prospectus” detailing for prospective “investors” the school’s $38 million “growth capital offering,” which the non-profit then needed to open 13 more YES Prep campuses.Some of those oil and gas companies jumped off the page—like Halliburton, Shell Oil, Marathon Oil, MultiFuels, KiwiEnergy, and Spectra Energy. I also knew Schlumberger as the tech company to have pioneered “pay-at-the-pump” technology for the oil industry.

    I quickly learned that Alta Resources is a “leader in the development of shale gas resources,” Noble Corporation is an offshore drilling contractor, and Vitol is an energy trading company.

    Similarly, it turns out that Houston’s Baker Botts LLP is “one of the city’s leading law firms with connections to key international energy markets in Asia, Europe and the Middle East” and Haynes & Boone LLP touts an “energy practice more than 75 lawyers strong”

  117. 117
    Paul in KY says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: What are: ‘graduated sized imported welsh ponies’? Especially the ‘graduated sized’ part?

    They do sound tasty.

  118. 118
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Lurking Canadian: if there were first class and second seats for children only, then yes.
    I’m a social justice liberal. In case you didnt know this, we are the sworn enemies of libertarians everywhere.
    ;)

  119. 119
    The Tragically Flip says:

    Education is not like air travel. First class air travel is a luxury. You don’t arrive at your destination with some great lasting advantage over the other passengers, other than perhaps sleeping better during the flight.

    A “first class” education yields lifelong benefits compared to the kids learning in “coach.” An Ivy League degree gets you all sorts of employment perks, and going to the Ivy League equivalent high and grade schools helps you get into Harvard and Yale. It doesn’t hurt that your school will have state-of-the-art computers, microscopes, musical instruments and gym equipment too. These confer material advantage to the children privileged to make use of them in learning.

    I’m not convinced it is legitimate to ban private schools, but I do think it serves a legitimate state aim, that of ensuring equality of opportunity and the meritocracy.

    Liberals are concerned with blunting the social advantages that money confers so to avoid the establishment of an aristocracy. Maybe there’s better ways to go about this, but I sympathize with the intent.

  120. 120
    moops says:

    @Zifnab:

    Is this some kind of intelligence test?

    The solution is to fix the crappy school. Do whatever it takes. It is the only solution actually. All other solutions will fail.

    It really is that simple. The mountains of discussion that avoid this conclusion are idiotic.

  121. 121
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Paul in KY: ponie sizes.

    small 11.2 hands to under 12.2 hands
    medium 12.2 hands to under 13.2 hands
    large 13.2 hands to 14.2 hands

  122. 122
    JustMe says:

    @The Tragically Flip: There are a multitude of private schools that cater simply to families who have a lot of money and allow their kids to associate with family friends. Or private schools that are parochial, or have no grades or whatever. Only a few private schools are actually elite and confer strong educational advantages. The thing we should be doing is figure out how to provide these advantages/assets within the public school framework. The average Richie McRicherson is just going to send his averaged-intellect kids to some private school you’ve never heard of where he will go on to attend USC and then get set up with a nice job. The social advantages in play aren’t going to come through the quality of the education.

  123. 123
    alwhite says:

    @rufflesinc:

    Not sure the topic you are interested in but I’ll see what I can do.

    For the sports thing the most often commented case is Hopkins Boys Basketball. But they never come out and accuse anyone of anything, it is just mentioned that 3-4 of their starting 5 just happen to be “open enrolled” as they roll to yet another State championship. I happen to be a hockey fan & this years State Tourney program shows none of the best teams were geographically ‘correct’. My daughter played for South Saint Paul, who won 4 out of 5 years I believe & always had a few “open enrollies”.

    As for the white flight I can give you an anecdotal: Wifie is a spec ed admin in a 1st ring suburb & we get 2 types from the city. White flight & kids expelled who can’t go back.

    As for the lack of impact on test scores etc? Well that is never mentioned but an ambitious guy could review scores over the last decade (I keep an eye on them but not records) to verify my guess that they are pretty much no change.

  124. 124
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @JustMe: i just wanna know what value-added function private schools bring.
    Stop with the innovation of the market and consumer choice crapology. That is fake-value-added, or value-added at the expense of the underclass.

    If having private schools go away would make public schools better, and there is no value added for private schools, why not do that?
    At the very least liberals can use this argument to crush vouchers and other libertarian/conservative solutions like I just crushed Freddie the civil libertarian above..

  125. 125
    moops says:

    Whenever I debate a libertarian about public school reform, I always ask: in your ideal world, would public education exists at all? If they say that they would prefer a pure voucher system where public money finances nothing but private schools, I stop listening. I don’t take opinions about reforming institutions seriously when the person expressing the opinion actually wants to destroy the institution. I’m crazy like that.

    The Scorpion and the Frog has never been truer. The person’s true goals will come out at some point in this partnership. At some point, when the schools are weak enough and unpopular enough they will just pivot and sting and kill them.

    Public schools are one of the great successes of the last several centuries, and they are an entirely liberal invention.

    They do not care if public schools are good or bad. Their very existence is the problem for them. Portraying them as failures is part of portraying liberalism as a failure.

  126. 126
    sublime33 says:

    Banning private schools? Seriously? Are posters trying to give fodder to the Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Beck’s of the world and make them look like they have a valid argument?

    I have no problem with the existance of private schools, and I am married to a public school teacher. What I greatly object to is being asked as a taxpayer to subsidize someone who is already willing to pay full price for a private school education. I also think there should be more tax equalization on a regional basis to balance out funding discrepancies.

  127. 127
    Paul in KY says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: So as you got older, the ponies got bigger…Nice!

    I bet you are an accomplished equestrian. Or to put it in your lingo: A bitchyn equesgrrrl (note the ‘y’ in place of an ‘i’, do I have it down or what)!

  128. 128
    alwhite says:

    @jl:

    Yeah, popular culture teaches us that education is actually a bad thing! Movies, TV and certainly politics reinforce the idea that smart people are the problem, that they all think they are too good for us and are actually pretty stupid.

    As a society, we select for great athletes but against ‘nerds’ ‘four-eyes’ ‘Einsteins’ ‘Poindexters’ and ‘ivory-tower elites’. Then wonder why we can win Olympic medals while 3rd world countries are kicking our ass at math and science.

  129. 129
    Paul in KY says:

    @sublime33: We’re just fantasizing. Probably can’t ban them, legally.

  130. 130
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Paul in KY: i can stay on.
    that is what the real riders say.
    ;)

  131. 131
    JustMe says:

    @moops: The solution is to fix the crappy school.

    This inevitably involves offering better and more challenging classes in the crappy school, which many parents will feel is draining resources in the crappy school (or elsewhere in the town) away from them in service to the parents who would otherwise do whatever they can to get their kids in to the “good” school. Improving the “crappy” school takes money, and money spent to make the “crappy” school more acceptable to “involved” parents is inevitably going to take money away from other parents, either from the schools or other local programs that have their own interest groups behind them.

    That and the fact that over the course of 4 years, things aren’t going to ever get better at the crappy school, so no matter what parents do, if their child starts out at the crappy school, the school will still be crappy when the student graduates.

  132. 132
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Paul in KY: yeah, im not a constitutional scholar but AWS prolly has a first amendment point.
    I think it would be interesting to run it up the flagpole though.
    Look at poor freddie.
    Scared him out of week’s growth i bet..he took off like a scalded cat.
    Maybe its worth it just see libertarian heads explode.
    ;)

  133. 133
    JustMe says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: i just wanna know what value-added function private schools bring.

    The advantage that a BMW provides over a Honda? Or the advantage a custom suit gives over an off-the-rack suit? Or the advantage that you get from paying for your own room in a hospital over a shared one? Maybe some kind of personal preference, or a desire to have a school that does things in the way the parent wants it done? The ability to find a school not controlled by bullies? (ie, personal preferences/happiness, even though test scores might be the same) I kind of see what you’re saying in that you like the idea of all schools being charter schools, which are formed by parents and funded by the government. As I said, I realize that you’re engaging in a rhetorical pose/thought experiment, but your arguments have to make actual sense, first. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean we should get rid of them.

  134. 134
    Annamal says:

    The whole idea of setting schools in competition with each-other also destroys any chance you might have had to leverage one school’s strengths to help another (and vice versa).

    My dad teaches IT and computer programming at an inner city(well OK NZ inner city which would be small-town in any other country) high-school but he also spends part of his week video-conferencing with students out in some of the really rural high-schools so that they can take programming as well.

    If all these schools were in rigid competition with each-other then a number of genuinely talented kids would lose out on a huge opportunity (especially since one of the things my dad coaches kids towards is an IT scholarship exam at the local university which could see their first year of tuition paid).

  135. 135
    Paul in KY says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: I like betting on horses & watching them run. Don’t really enjoy being right next to a big one. As you know, they can go off on you for reasons unknown to non-horses.

  136. 136
    JustMe says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: Look at poor freddie.
    Scared him out of week’s growth i bet..he took off like a scalded cat.
    Maybe its worth it just see libertarian heads explode.

    Freddie isn’t a libertarian, and neither are most people who simply shrug and think, “eh, if it works for them!” about the existence of private schools. Private gyms exist alongside community centers. Private parking spots exist alongside street parking. Accepting the existence of either is not a libertarian position.

  137. 137

    […] have to quietly boil, as I have sworn not engage on that platform, but rather I can post this and feel confident that it sums up my feelings without any swearing. Leave a Comment […]

  138. 138
    Paul in KY says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: Let’s see if we can convert him. Don’t run him off right away.

  139. 139
    The Tragically Flip says:

    @JustMe: No, and I said something to that affect above regarding education as a positional good. However, it remains that there will be material educational advantages to any private school that caters to the wealthy and buys equipment/resources accordingly. The quality of the instructors may not actually be better, but it’s hard to learn to play saxaphone if your school only has clarinets.

    You can’t really seperate the social and material advantages, and though I have no great solution for Richie McRicherson’s average kids succeeding in life by virtue of being smart enough to pick rich parents, I at least want to acknowledge this is a problem to be considered. Not only is it unfair, it is societally counterproductive – we want our actual best and brightest to be in the jobs needing the best and brightest.

  140. 140
    MattR says:

    @JustMe:

    As I said, I realize that you’re engaging in a rhetorical pose/thought experiment, but your arguments have to make actual sense, first.

    Good luck with that.

    Freddie isn’t a libertarian, and neither are most people who simply shrug and think, “eh, if it works for them!” about the existence of private schools.

    And this too.

    You will soon discover that you are talking to a wall.

  141. 141
    dollared says:

    @Freddie deBoer: GA, if you really want a socialist society, start small. Reinstate the draft as National SErvice. Even France and Germany have private schools.

  142. 142
    Kyle M.B. says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: Private schools do not hurt the system at all. Our investment in them comes from tax dollars. Rich people still invest in public schools with their high property taxes, it is indeed their choice to pay doubly to send their child elsewhere.
    I almost consider the right to private education within the scope of the first amendment. You can’t ban them or any other assembly, be it a religious school or group of rich people who flush money down the toilet for sport.

  143. 143
    eemom says:

    If all american children go to public school, public schools will automatically become better, because the rich will be invested in public schools.

    I hereby admit that I have made this same argument myself.

    I don’t like private schools either.

    However, given the direction this clusterfucked plutocracy of a country is moving in, we’re talking unicorns and ponies again.

  144. 144
    eemom says:

    It’s everyone’s right to send their children off to private school for whatever reason they see fit, and many do so for exclusively enlightened motives.

    haven’t read all the comments, so apologize if this has been asked and answered — but WTF is an “enlightened motive”?

  145. 145
    moops says:

    @JustMe:

    …and yet it must be done. Other approaches are the start of the end of public schools. This is the one option conservatives fight against so hard, both politically and financially and rhetorically, because it is the only one that ends with viable and strong public schools, and they do not want that outcome.

    So, now that it is understood what must be done, it is better to stop making excuses and find a better strategy to do what must be done a success.

  146. 146
    Tonal Crow says:

    I agree with the essay except for this point:

    We apply voucher logic to literally no other service provided by government

    We provide tax credits or deductions — which amount to vouchers — to encourage various activities, such as buying a home, giving to nonprofits, going to college, or encouraging employers to provide health insurance for their employees. Your argument needs to account for these “vouchers” and distinguish them from primary-education vouchers. The latter part of your essay about teaching children how to become citizens of the nation is the key. I’d like you to expand on that.

  147. 147
    JITC says:

    School choice is stupid. What it directly implies is that there are bad schools and will always be bad schools, but people should be able to choose the good schools instead. But not everyone can get into/afford the tuition balance of a good school. So it means some unfortunate people will be stuck in the bad schools.

    School choice just means “I don’t want to have to go to school with ‘those people'” where ‘those people’ are either poor people, minorities, non-Christians, etc. or a combination of any number of factors that are “not like me.”

    It fixes NOTHING. It doesn’t change one bad school one iota. It’s not even a band-aid solution.

    It should be obvious that every school, in every neighborhood type, should be a good school. Period. That should be the agreed upon goal, even if the ways of getting there differ.

    School choice advocates DO NOT agree that all schools should be good. They don’t care. They just want the ability to avoid the bad ones and do nothing to improve them.

  148. 148
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @MattR:
    Freddie say

    I’m a civil libertarian,

    freddie say

    I’m not a libertarian

    sooo…a civil libertarian is not a libertarian? what is an uncivil libertarian?
    This is why im working on my Unified Theory of Libertarianism.
    So we can tell WTF these guys are bulshytt-talking about.
    ;)

  149. 149
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Kyle M.B.:

    Private schools do not hurt the system at all

    but they dont add value either. I think you might be right about the first amendment, but I want to use the issue to ward off libertarian bulshytt talkers like Freddie.
    It makes their heads assplode.

    What i really want is Heckman preschools.

  150. 150
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: As someone who speaks and reads English, Freddie is clear enough to me. He subscribes to the social sides of libertarianism, but not the economic sides. I would think that anybody with literary skills and a basic understanding of ideology would be able to come to the same conclusion in approximately four seconds.

  151. 151
    Alex says:

    For the final time, Ghanima Atreides/matoko chan is a crypto-facist and an illiterate mongrel who should not be addressed on this forum. This has long been quite obvious. In an ideal world, he/she would have been dragged out into the back and put out of their misery a long time ago.

  152. 152
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @JustMe: like i said, i dont dislike them. i just dont see the value added. you dont either, do you?

  153. 153
    Surly Duff says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    If having private schools go away would make public schools better, and there is no value added for private schools, why not do that?

    This is a wonderful supposition, but the act of doing away with private schools will not automatically make public schools better. Mismanagement of public schools, uproblems with funding distribution among differing school systems, inadequate infrastructure,etc, will not be remedied solely by banning private schools.

  154. 154
    Josh says:

    I once told my Commie Dad that Chandler Davis was a Luxemburgian soshalist, and I was surprised by the contempt with which he said, “You mean he’s for civil liberties.”

  155. 155
    MattR says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    sooo…a civil libertarian is not a libertarian?

    As many have told you repeatedly, civil libertarians and libertarians are two completely different animals. Civil libertarians are concerned with (wait for it) civil liberties which are generally the rights guaranteed by our bill of rights and which have absolutely nothing to do with any sort of economic model.

  156. 156
    Alex says:

    Take note, BJ readers and front-pagers: when sloppily smear the label “libertarian” such that it becomes synonymous in your lexicon with “evil,” you empower and encourage ignorant scum like Ghanima Atreides/matoko chan. Could a more thoroughly totalitarian idea be promoted than that the State is somehow empowered to eliminate or collectivize private schools? Anyone with even a passing attachment to the First Amendment should be revolted by it. It is positively evil.

  157. 157
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @MattR: She doesn’t understand this because she chooses not to understand this.

  158. 158
    opie jeanne says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Agreed.

    I raised three kids and the oldest had trouble with the large classrooms common in the late 70s. It was an experiment, put two classrooms of 30 children side by side, complete with the two teachers, and a sliding wall between them. This was in use for grades K – 3. He thrashed around for those years, only learning to read when he barely qualified for a Title… I think it was Title 9 program. He got small group tutoring and his reading took off. The teachers sat down with us to figure out what had changed for him and we all realized that the huge classroom was too distracting for him.
    We sent him to private school for 3 years, then back to public school for the rest of his education.

    That private school was run by a group of retired teachers who rented the Sunday School rooms from a Methodist church but it was not a religious school. The only slightly weak point in the curriculum was math, but he caught up quickly in the public schools. There were 20 kids in a classroom and they didn’t put up with trouble-makers. Public schools do not have either luxury.

    The private school was an escape valve for our son, providing the structure and small classrooms that he needed to get started. Once he had matured a little he was fine in the public schools, so my view is that both serve a purpose, but I am opposed to the voucher system.

  159. 159

    @Ghanima Atreides:
    You seem to be real busy making a fool of yourself. Civil libertarian has not spit to do with Libertarianism other than some spelling.

    You do not seem to be able to make out the difference between Communism and Socialism, at least one of which is that Communism does involve Dictatorship which is how you manage to get around the 1st A in your little screed about banning. I don’t think we need private schools and there isn’t the least doubt that such things help promote the stability of wealth.

    You get to say things, right along with the KKK, that are inconvenient because of civil libertarians. Civil libertarians push back against tax supported private schools while libertarians back them to the hilt.

    I’m real unsure what the problem is with your education, but given your interest in politics it would be rather handy for you to know what systems of thought in that area are and the names for them.

  160. 160

    @Ghanima Atreides:
    You seem to be real busy making a fool of yourself. Civil libertarian has not spit to do with Libertarianism other than some spelling.

    You do not seem to be able to make out the difference between Communism and So*ialism, at least one of which is that Communism does involve Dictatorship which is how you manage to get around the 1st A in your little screed about banning. I don’t think we need private schools and there isn’t the least doubt that such things help promote the stability of wealth.

    You get to say things, right along with the KKK, that are inconvenient because of civil libertarians. Civil libertarians push back against tax supported private schools while libertarians back them to the hilt.

    I’m real unsure what the problem is with your education, but given your interest in politics it would be rather handy for you to know what systems of thought in that area are and the names for them.

    (it would help if I remembered that I type fuck but not the name of an economic system)

  161. 161
    eemom says:

    @Surly Duff:

    This is a wonderful supposition, but the act of doing away with private schools will not automatically make public schools better. Mismanagement of public schools, uproblems with funding distribution among differing school systems, inadequate infrastructure,etc, will not be remedied solely by banning private schools.

    No, but the point is it would be a good start, because it would — ugh, I hate this word but I guess I’ll use it — “incentivize” the commitment of resources to the improvement of public schools as an institution, rather than what we have now, which “incentivizes” (ugh) the use of resources AGAINST that goal.

  162. 162
    eemom says:

    @opie jeanne:

    Once he had matured a little he was fine in the public schools, so my view is that both serve a purpose, but I am opposed to the voucher system.

    Not arguing with your experience or your conclusion — but the theory behind no private schools is that an improved public school would have been able to accomodate your son’s needs. For example, investing more resources in public schools would mean the classes aren’t as big.

    Also, in my county here in NoVA which is renowned for the excellence of its public schools, there are programs in place to help LD students, like the small group tutoring you mentioned.

  163. 163

    @eemom:
    Ah jeeze eemom,
    the horseshit about vouchers is a real problem but the existance of private schools doesn’t have a lot to do with funding inequality and mismanagement. If you want to do something about funding you start with universal equal support rather than having local property values crush one system and lavish funds on another.

    In the end, parents are probably the biggest issue followed by peers. You can throw the best teachers and books at kids with bad parents and peers and get bad results reliably.

    I’m nothing like enough of a social scientist to propose fixes for that.

  164. 164
    Surly Duff says:

    @eemom:

    No, but the point is it would be a good start, because it would—ugh, I hate this word but I guess I’ll use it—“incentivize” the commitment of resources to the improvement of public schools as an institution, rather than what we have now, which “incentivizes” (ugh) the use of resources AGAINST that goal.

    I get the point, I don’t think that is a realistic outcome of getting rid of private schools. Get rid of Sidwell and Georgetown Prep, and parents in D.C. will not be “incentivized” (I’ll go ahead and use your word) to improve D.C. schools; those parents will move to your

    county here in NoVA which is renowned for the excellence of its public schools

    and the other one in Maryland.

  165. 165
    JustMe says:

    but the theory behind no private schools is that an improved public school would have been able to accomodate your son’s needs.

    Only if the capability of addressing the son’s needs attracted sufficient political support within a short enough time horizon to do help. Returning to an earlier point you made, I’ve become horribly, horribly cynical about having better schools, at least partially because what seems like a good school to me might not be what the other people in the school system want. In an all-public-schools system, the schools only serve the interests of those whom the dominant political interest group agree to serve and change only occurs when a new interest group takes control for long enough to steer the ship in a different direction.

  166. 166
    eemom says:

    @Surly Duff:

    No no! “Incentivize” is not MY word, I hate it. I’ve just given up and gone with the language bastardizing flow.

    As for the substance of your point, I’m not so sure. Anyone who has kids who lives in DC really wants to live there, otherwise they’d already be in the ‘burbs.

  167. 167
    eemom says:

    @JustMe:

    I dunno, that’s a little too vague of an objection for me. There are certain generally agreed upon commonalities of a quality education that aren’t particularly susceptible to the agendas of political interest groups — e.g., smaller class size, special programs for both LD and GT children, good teaching materials etc.

    Political controversy in the context of public education, afaik, usually arises in wingnutopia with shit like teaching “creative design,” abstinence, etc. That’s really a different issue.

  168. 168
    Surly Duff says:

    @eemom:
    I know it isn’t a word you created, but since you started it in this thread, I am going to make you own it.

    It would be interesting to see what would happen because any change, even if private schools were closed immediately, would take time. I think there would be significant number of people unwilling to force their children to be the ones to bear the years where the changes were ongoing. There are plenty of people in the DC area now that choose to move out of D.C. because they cannot or will not pay for private schools and are not willing to participate in the “improvement” of the DC school system.

    Several friends that fully supported Michele Rhee and her program (pogrom?), and extolled the virtues of such radical changes that would finally make DC public schools acceptable and success, would in the next breath state that they would never, ever put their child in a DC public school.

  169. 169
    eemom says:

    @Surly Duff:

    No argument with any of that.

    As noted above, I don’t think it’s REALISTIC to wish for an end to private schools– in fact it’s downright insane to think it could ever happen in this country.

    OTOH, back in the 1970s, Jimmy Carter sent his daughter Amy to a DC public school.

    Even the Clintons and Obamas purportedly considered it, though I don’t know
    how sincere that was.

  170. 170
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Chuck Butcher: lool.
    I just dont see much difference between civil libertarians and libertarians.
    Its not based on my education, but on emipirical data.
    I’m actually workin’ on a Unified Field Theory of libertarianism.
    ;)
    sorry if you are a libertarian, but i fail see to a nanowafer of difference.
    If you are a libertarian or a civil libertarian why are you not commenting at the LoOG?

  171. 171
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @MattR:

    Civil libertarians are concerned with (wait for it) civil liberties which are generally the rights guaranteed by our bill of rights and which have absolutely nothing to do with any sort of economic model

    . then why do both sorts of libertarian jerk off to free markets?
    haha, they have a common denominator. that is why they call themselves LIBERTARIANS.

  172. 172
    Monala says:

    @eemom: Did Amy Carter remain in public school for her father’s whole term? IIRC, wasn’t part of the decision for both the Clintons and Obamas the greater challenge of secret service protection in public schools?

  173. 173
    Phoebe says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    If having private schools go away would make public schools better, and there is no value added for private schools, why not do that?

    I don’t think you’ve established either one of those “if”s, plus you never responded to somebody’s question about what if a parent wants to send his kid to a hippie school with no grades or homework? I went to that kind of school and loved loved loved it. Public school is not that, and I am not going to assume that the standardized McDonalds style school system is going to offer that, even if we abolish private schools.

  174. 174
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Alex: no its not. Its raw pragmatism and logic. If private schools have no value-added (hotels for dogs) why not just fold private schools into the public schools system? I can see a lot of benefits accruing for public schools. diversity for one thing. The only admissons criteria for public schools is SES now. I think that is unamerican. Do the rich have more rights than the poor?

    And its not “smearing”.
    When I publish my treatise on the Unified Field of Libertarianism all will be made clear.
    ;)
    and really, do mail Cole and tell him how much i upset you.
    ;)

  175. 175

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    why are you not commenting at the LoOG?

    For the same reason I virtually never have anything to say to you, willful ignorance and intellectual masturbation are pointless to address.

    I just dont see much difference between civil libertarians and libertarians.

    As a demonstration of willful ignorance I give you that.

    There is no more point having a discussion with you than the “fuckyouIgotmine” crowd. Since words have no meaning in your universe it becomes impossible to use them with you any more than with that bunch.

  176. 176
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Sentient Puddle: then why did freddie run away like a scalded cat?
    @Phoebe: im sorry, i didnt see your post. special needs schools and magnet schools could still be public schools.
    If there were no private schools that is what would happen.
    Because rich people have special needs kids too, and gifted kids too.
    I want social justice in our education system.
    im sick of freemarket bulshytt-talkers (aka libertarians).

  177. 177
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Chuck Butcher: well explain to me the difference.
    Use examples. Empirically I see civil libertarians believing in “the liberty of the empowered market”.
    Otherwise they call themselves liberals.
    ;)

  178. 178
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Alex:

    For the final time, Ghanima Atreides/matoko chan is a crypto-facist and an illiterate mongrel who should not be addressed on this forum. This has long been quite obvious. In an ideal world, he/she would have been dragged out into the back and put out of their misery a long time ago.

    I think you should mail Cole and tell him that.

  179. 179

    @Ghanima Atreides:
    No you complete … ignoramous. Despite the Libertarians there is not a single thing in the Constitution or BOR that addresses a “free market” whatever that is supposed to mean. Maybe you haven’t read the documents or don’t know history, but what they are in fact is the establishment of limitations on government’s power over its citizenry for virtually the first time and concerning elements which governments had always considered their right and that were in fact dangerous to the well-being of government.

    Sometimes civil liberties collide with some liberals, like say the 2nd Amendment. Well, there you are. Some civil libertarians, like ACLU get around such inconvenience by simply ignoring it and handing it off, unfortunately, to folks like the NRA.

  180. 180
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Chuck Butcher: then why don’t they call themselves something else?
    You are greatly helpful in the formation of my Unified Field Theory of Libertarianism.
    Would you like to see the corrollaries and axioms i have developed thus far?
    It is my understanding that liberty in the marketplace translated to resistance to government regulation.
    ;)

  181. 181

    @Ghanima Atreides:
    Jayzus cripes,
    civil liberties adherent = civil libertarian. BTW that other bunch are late comers as some sort of organized thinking (loosely speaking).

    Would like to see the corrollaries and axioms i have developed thus far?

    If it goes beyond “fuckyouIgotmine”, why?
    Oh cripe, if it will encourage you to behave in a comunicative manner, click on my name and figure it out from there. It’s easy.

  182. 182
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    then why don’t they call themselves something else?

    Why did the Nazis have the word “Sociali$t” in their name even though they were completely opposed to sociali$m and Communism?

    Hint: marketing. And only idiots like you and Jonah Goldberg are fooled into thinking that the people who borrowed the name are the actual originators.

  183. 183

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    liberty in the marketplace translated to resistance to government regulation

    Eeek, the Constitution does not set up an economic model nor does the BOR. There is a recognition of property which would kind of rule out Marx’ Communism along with the other limitations on governmental power to establish a dictatorship.

  184. 184
    opie jeanne says:

    @eemom: Oh, I know we needed smaller classrooms, but this was California in the late 70s. The classroom he was in was an experiment to see if it would improve learning by giving the kids access to two teachers at once.

    But.

    We had no time to wait for them to realize that this didn’t work, which they did eventually, and this is why I still see some private schools as a safety valve.
    Classroom size in the public schools was reduced for a while in California but the Republicans have pushed the schools back to crowded classrooms while they sneer at the very idea of a smaller classroom as a means to improve education.

    What would you have parents like me do to help our children when the schools tell us there is nothing they can do for our kids? And this is an exact quote we got when we asked (once we knew what the problem was). There was no recourse, there was no other public school that would allow us to transfer in that still had the “smaller” classes of 30 children per.

    I was one of those involved parents mentioned above. I was a classroom volunteer from the time he was in kindergarten until the last kid was out of elementary school, 19 years later. Nearly 14 years between oldest and youngest. We went to every pta meeting, every open house, every parent/teacher conference, every Back to School night from 1975 to 2001, and I served on PTA boards and was appointed to citizen boards to meet with the school district during a bit of particularly ridiculous and cynical behavior on the board’s part.

    What I’m saying is that I passionately believe in public schools and improving them so that there is no temptation to send kids to private schools, but as long as the schools are at the mercy of politics I think we still need that safety valve of the private schools.

  185. 185
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Chuck Butcher: So? I have observed people that claim to be libertarians endorsing the theory that the “freed” market will deliver social justice and “eat the rich”. Throwing off the chains of government regulation will supposedly set the market free.
    This is WHAT THEY SAY.

  186. 186
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @opie jeanne:

    that safety valve of the private schools.

    and how do poor people access that safety valve?

  187. 187
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Mnemosyne: i hear what they say, Mnem.
    Don’t you?
    They SAY they are libertarians. They ACT like libertarians.

    when someone shows you who they are, believe them….the first time.

  188. 188
    MattR says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    @Sentient Puddle: then why did freddie run away like a scalded cat?

    Perhaps he got tired of repeating the same things over and over while you willfully ignore what he means.

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    then why do both sorts of libertarian jerk off to free markets?

    They don’t. Of course there are civil libertarians who don’t believe in big government and therefore are also regular libertarians as well. But there are also civil libertarians who believe that government should have a significant role in the marketplace. There is no direct correlation between the two.

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    It is my understanding that liberty in the marketplace translated to resistance to government regulation.

    Once again, civil libertarians don’t give a crap about liberty in the marketplace.

  189. 189
    eemom says:

    @opie jeanne:

    No argument there either. Nobody needs to convince me that one’s own children come first.

    As I said above, when I talk about there being no private schools, I RECOGNIZE I’m visiting a dream world. : (

  190. 190
    Ozymandias, King of Ants says:

    On the difference between civil libertarians and Libertarians:

    Civil libertarians contribute to the American Civil Liberties Union if they can afford it.

    Libertarians contribute to the Cato Institute if they can afford it.

    ACLU vs. Cato. Simple as that.

  191. 191
    eemom says:

    Also too: let the record reflect that although I agree as an idealistic matter with toko’s argument about private schools, this libertarian/civil libertarian madness has nothing to do with the topic of the thread and is just that, madness.

    Toko, child — I’ve developed a fondness for you despite your insanity. You obviously are not a stupid person. Open your ears and LISTEN.

  192. 192
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @MattR: Perhaps he got tired of repeating the same things over and over while you willfully ignore what he means.

    he agreed with me.

    Freddie deBoer – May 18, 2011 | 12:42 pm · Link
    __
    @Paul in KY: I don’t think we need them, just like we don’t need hotels for dogs. The question is whether they constitute such a challenge to the public good that they need to be regulated away. I’m happy to hear that case, but in general, I have to say no. Trust me—I have said a lot of intemperate things about private school, nasty things. Some I’m not proud of. But to advocate forcing their closure, even while I acknowledge some of the pernicious effects of private schooling, seems out of tune with American democracy.

    Then he was unable to answer my next question, that wasnt more rights for the rich than the poor unamerican?

    And then he ran away.

  193. 193
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @eemom: i AM listening.
    They say they are libertarians.
    Look. Here the soi disant “civil libertarians” at the LoOG are having a discussion fapping session of whether democracy is slavery.

    When do we call a slave a slave? The question came up recently when Rand and Ron Paul described a right to health care as leading, ultimately, to slavery

    Here the same people are having a discussion fapping session on “freed” markets.
    How do you tell the difference, eemom?
    I honestly can’t.

  194. 194
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Ozymandias, King of Ants: i think….civil libertarians only pretend to contribute to the ACLU while secretly cutting checks to Cato and discussing Ron and Rand Paul.
    Because they don’t want people to think they are racists.
    ;)

  195. 195
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @MattR: Freddie is the originator of the private schools are as necessary as hotels for dogs statement.
    I think that is epic.
    ;)

    lets look at it again.

    Freddie: I don’t think we need them, just like we don’t need hotels for dogs.

    nice.

  196. 196

    Oh, look. another thread with m_c/hgw/ga trolling long after everyone else has left.

  197. 197
    MattR says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: Civil libertarianism is not an all encompassing philosophy and civil libertarians cross most political boundaries. As a result, you can’t take an article that has very little to do with civil liberties and assign all the other beliefs to all civil libertarians. Of the three demands in the “democracy is slavery” piece, only one has anything to do with civil liberties (that we have certain inalienable rights that the gov’t is never permitted to infringe on, even if the vast majority of the people would allow it). The other two are purely libertarian fare.

    @Ghanima Atreides: So if you polled the contributors to the American Civil Liberties Union and asked them “Do you consider yourself a civil libertarian?”, what percentage do you think would say “yes”? I think it is solidly over 50%.

  198. 198
    ovaut says:

    Conservatives don’t believe in the public interest or public goods: they believe in the morality of winning, and, ipso facto, that of the winners.

  199. 199
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: hehe
    i won this thread, dude. its mine.

    Freddie: I don’t think we need them, just like we don’t need hotels for dogs.

    @MattR: truly idc.
    libertarians all look sound the same to me.

    bon nuit

  200. 200
    MattR says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    @arguingwithsignposts: hehe
    i won this thread, dude. its mine.

    And there are millions of Fox viewers who thought Bill O’Reilly owned Jon Stewart earlier this week. I can see how you used to be a conservative.

  201. 201
    eemom says:

    I wish this hadn’t gotten mixed up with “hotels for dogs.” WTF does THAT mean either? I mean of COURSE dogs need decent accomodations while their people are out of town; and there need to be hotels where people can take their doggies with them when they go out of town.

    Private schools: bad.
    Dog hotels (under either of the foregoing definitions): GOOD.

    What am I missing?

  202. 202

    @eemom:

    Why oh why did I hit that ‘Reply’ button?

  203. 203
    iriedc says:

    Vouchers for private school are the education equivalent of Paul Ryan’s VoucherCare proposal to dismantle Medicare. DC pols who support it using their “liberal” bonafides make me crazy [sez this DC Charter school parent]. And yet another reason I’ll never forgive myself for my past support of Rhee.

  204. 204
    opie jeanne says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    I really believe that every child should have access to excellent public school education. Period. I believe in public schools, passionately. But I also love my children, passionately, and I believe that if the public schools won’t give them the help they need then it’s my duty as their parent to find them the help they need. For us it was 3 years in a private school for one child.

    Would you take that away from me? From my son?

    How about your own child if the need arises and the public schools can not or will not give him/her what they need?

  205. 205
    opie jeanne says:

    @eemom: @eemom: I know, I saw that.

    We can argue for an ideal that will probably never exist, but we still have to live in the real world.

  206. 206
    Ija says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    then why do both sorts of libertarian jerk off to free markets?

    Say what you want about GG, I don’t think he ever jerked off to free markets. Shorthand for you:

    Civil libertarian – think GG
    Economic libertarian (sometimes referred to as just libertarian) – think Reason and the Koch brothers

    That should be clear enough. Freddie is almost-but-not-quite a socialist in his economic views. I don’t understand how anyone can call him an economic libertarian. For heaven’s sake, he wrote a series of posts castigating other leftist bloggers for not being leftist enough for his taste (i.e not supporting labor enough) on economic issues.

  207. 207
    Ija says:

    And are people seriously discussing banning private schools? What the hell? I’m all in favor of banning vouchers to pay for private schools, but banning private schools? What is this, a fascist country? What could possibly be the justification for that?

  208. 208
    b-psycho says:

    @Ija: I dunno…pie maybe?

  209. 209

    […] Shorter Freddie deBoer, apparently a part-time Balloon Juicer now: “Without public government schools, kids wouldn’t, like, learn how to get along an’ shit”. […]

  210. 210
    niknik says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: OMYGOD! How obtuse are you??!!!

    There is an ocean of difference between the two, just as there is an ocean of difference between a soc_ialist and a national soc_ialist. Get a freaking life and stop making pointless arguments based on semantics.

    Sheesh already!

  211. 211
    Paul in KY says:

    @Alex: Hoping another poster dies is sorta dick, don’t you think?

    Also, if you think she doesn’t bring anything to the table or her ideas are nonsensical, then debate her. Use your great powers of logic to shame her into leaving & never, ever coming back.

    I wouldn’t hold my breath, though.

  212. 212
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @opie jeanne: oh quit with the bathos opie jean. IFF private schools were outlawed they would not be CLOSED. Their function would be folded into the public school system.
    The POINT of my comment is that the ONLY reason we have private schools is that they are a legacy of the brit education system.
    In contemporary America after desegregation, freedom of speech and freedom of religion, private schools only exist to exclude poor students.
    Like Freddie said, hotels for dogs.
    I personally think more rights for the rich than the poor is unamerican. Freddie declined to speak on that. That is why I believe I believe I can classify him as a libertarian in my evolving taxonomy.
    Private schools bring no value-added that I can see for the american education system, and public schools would get better if there were no private schools.
    That doesnt make me a fascist.

    And if civil libertarians are not a subset of libertarians, as they seem to be empirically on my observation, why don’t they call themselves something else?

  213. 213
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    And I think of education as a right for American children. It is not the same as Joe Sixpack choosing a car or Jill Sixpack choosing a kitchen.

    The new arms race is human capitial.
    America is already way behind.
    That is one reason why we are falling behind in science and math.
    Globally we have fewer smart kids. There are more children in the top quartile of IQ in India than there are american children all together.

    We need the best possible school system we can get and we need it yesterday.
    And if private schools only exist to prop the rich, and bring no value-added to education, why have them?

  214. 214

    This whole ‘school choice’ issue really is dog whistle Christianism talk for HOME SCHOOL or PRIVATE RELIGIOUS SCHOOL. The Christian Dominionists (Sarah Palin, etc.) don’t want their kids being taught evolution. It’s really that simple. They would also like their kids to learn religion (fundamentalist Christianity) in school. They do as much home school and private religious schooling as they can afford already. They’re just looking for public money to advance their movement.

    The topic of education in America has to do with just about every subject OTHER than actually educating children.

    Enjoy.

  215. 215
    JustMe says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: You’re just repeating yourself over and over again and not actually dealing with everyone’s arguments. You are either too obtuse to understand, or you’re being obtuse on purpose.

  216. 216
    Fe E says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    And you are the person who while being a complete and total hipster, utterly despises hipsters? Semanitcs are there for a reason.

    I have long described myself as being a “civil libertarian environmentalist who believes in a strong social safety net.” This is mainly to separate myself from the Ben Nelson style democrats.

    In other words I don’t think consensual activity should be criminal (If one person wants to pay another for sex and there is no coercion it should be A-OK, same thing for drugs and gambling and what have you. See Peter McWilliams’ book “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” for a fuller take on civil liberties.

    But I have no truck whatsoever with Ayn Rand’s bullshit. I like to think I’m a civil libertarian because I hate moralizing busybodies.

    And oddly enough on a different forum, under a differnt name I started a fairly scorching flame war when I posted about my distaste for private colleges, so on some level I do lean in your direction–but that isn’t to say that I think you are a useful advocate.

  217. 217
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @JustMe: i DEALT with your arguments
    I SAID

    And I think of education as a right for American children. It is not the same as Joe Sixpack choosing a car or Jill Sixpack choosing a kitchen.

  218. 218
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Fe E:

    I have long described myself as being a “civil libertarian environmentalist who believes in a strong social safety net

    again my same question, while do you call yourself any kind of libertarian?
    words have meaning.

    you are the person who while being a complete and total hipster

    one more time, modern hipsters are defined in part by their taste in music.
    I loathe contemporary hipster music, like the Decemberists. You could say my musical tastes are anti-hipster, because I like protest rap and hiphop, electronic, industrial, ghetto rap, techno, screamo, trance, house, j-pop and noise.
    Music hipsters Do. Not. Like.

  219. 219
    opie jeanne says:

    @The Tim Channel: TIM!!! Long time no see. Are you in Germany these days?

  220. 220
    opie jeanne says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: It’s bathos unless it’s your ox being gored.

  221. 221
    Bill says:

    @GA

    Does your argument boil down to: “Anyone who uses the word Libertarian in any way to describe their views on anything must love Ron Paul?”

  222. 222
    Fe E says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    again my same question, while do you call yourself any kind of libertarian?
    words have meaning

    Because I’ve been around longer than you, and the and the meaning of civil libertarian is not what you think it means, and so I don’t feel any need to change my personal descrtiption to fit your conceptions.

    How many paens of love to the ACLU have you seen over at Reason?

    The fact that the word “libertarian” shows up in more than one place is purely coincidental and insignificant. Going back in time, would you have voted for Reagan over Carter because Carter was a Democrat and East Germany called itself Democratic? Words have meaning, as do distinctions. You are wrong in your view on Civil Libertarian and need to revise your opinion.

    And if it looks like a duck, quacks like duck, and passes brutal judgement over other people’s musical tastes and cites obscure or up and coming bands as being their absolute favoritest stuff EVAH I’m calling it like I see it: hipster–even if the lyrics do rhyme and they show up at protests.

  223. 223
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    but in general, they don’t.
    Why not just get rid of private schools?

    Why not ban candy bars? They serve no constructive purpose and make people less healthy.

  224. 224

    […]    A Whisper In The Wind »“Sing Louder!”B Psycho has contributed 18 articles.Shorter Freddie deBoer, apparently a part-time Balloon Juicer now: “Without public government schools, kids wouldn’t, […]

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