Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Vouchers

I'm willing to give Megan McCardle a chance on an issue until she gets unreasonable, and on the subject of vouchers she has become not only unreasonable but insulting and, as I said on an 11D thread, kind of creepy. I've basically written off reading anything she has to say on the vouchers issue, but a series of links to her screeds encouraged me to click just one more time on a follow-up post. And I found this:

How many educated people who:

a) Oppose vouchers
b) Have children who do not attend inner city public schools

would still oppose vouchers if they were the only way to get their child out of an inner city public school? How many of them would accept that their child had to be left in that school because the systemic effects of allowing their child to exit that repulsive school would be dreadful?

Respectfully, I believe the answer is "null set".


Respectfully? Ha. MM hasn't typed a single word on this issue with respect for anyone.

OK, let's start with this: the whole POINT is that the "educated" class will *never* be in a situation where vouchers would be the only way to get kids out of failing inner city public schools. (Note: FAILING. Not all inner city, non-magnet schools are failing, for what it's worth.)

This reminds me of the (badly retold by me) joke about the physicist, the chemist and the economist cast away on a deserted island with nothing else. Starving, they are thrilled when a single can of beans washes up on the shore. They have to figure out a way to open the can, so the physicist says, "If we climb to the top of the tree and throw down the can onto a rock, the force of the fall combined with the opposing force of the solid rock will open the can." The chemist says, "We can use the salinity of the sea water mixed with the sand to create a chemical reaction that will bore a hole through the metal of the can." And the economist says, "OK, let's say we had a can opener...."

Second, I could tell her that yes, under this wildly improbable scenario, I would still oppose vouchers, but she wouldn't believe me. Really. I don't think she would. And we would have no way to test the situation because IT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN.

Third, were my kids, in this wildly improbably situation, in a failing inner city school, you can bet damned sure that I would do everything in my power to MAKE SURE THE SCHOOL IMPROVED.

For the record, John Edwards, whom I consider to be the foremost advocate of the poor right now among the presidential candidates, opposes vouchers because they would increase the inequities in K12 education.

And all of his kids - rich as Edwards was - went to public schools. In fact, I was Googling to remind myself about Raleigh public schools (I lived there for 3 years), and his two older kids went to Broughton, which is not even as well respected as Enloe.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Education Discussion

Over on 11D, a bunch of us have been talking about education. My stand:
1. I don't want public funding of religious schools. Period.
2. I hate it when teachers are trashed.

You can go over here to check out the history of the discussion.

I just wanted to take some of the heat off Laura and post two potentially discussable links:

One:
Parent angry about reading assignment in public high school. The parent is upset by the profanity and bestiality in the essay. The principal allowed the student to opt out of the class. However, there are two issues: first, there is no other reading class available to the opted-out student, and second, the parent wants the essay to be removed from the curriculum. So far, the school district is holding firm and keeping the essay in the curriculum.

I say good for them. We have a hard enough time getting students to read. The book this essay is in seems to be an attempt to get students reading about issues that interest them (i.e., people their age). Somewhere down the line, these kids will mature a bit and be interested in something beyond the solipsism of teenagers. Until then, if we keep them in the *habit* of reading, that is a Good Thing.

Two:
Dropout factories make up 1 of 10 high schools.

Of course I'm interested in how these dropout factories mostly comprise black and minority populations.

My question is: how do vouchers help someone like this?

A GED classmate of Singletary's is 23-year-old Dontike Miller, who attended and left two D.C. high schools on the dropout factory list. Miller was brought up by a single mother who used drugs, and he says teachers and counselors seemed oblivious to what was going on in his life.

He would have liked for someone to sit him down and say, "'You really need to go to class. We're going to work with you. We're going to help you'," Miller said. Instead,"I had nobody."

Answer: they don't.

Off to look up schools that are considered "dropout factories."