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Author Topic: Taking back the schools
ColTakashi
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The only way to take control of education will be to take funding away from the public school establishment and give parents control over their children's education. I mean that, in addition to vouchers for education at any private school, parents who home school should ALSO be given education funding, since they are bearing the burden that the State is supposed to carry for education.

Giving "public education money" to anyone other than "public schools" is considered heresy. But the intended beneficiaries of public education are the STUDENTS not the TEACHERS and ADMINISTRATORS. The public schools have become a monopoly whose only excuse for poor performance is that it doesn't collect MORE money in taxes. Indeed, since POOR performance in education leads to MORE funding, the incentive for public schools is to NOT provide GOOD EDUCATION.

The only way to give public schools a real incentive to provide good education is to divert education funds to the competition, and give parents the power to allocate their own children's share of those funds.

Professional educators say that parents are not competent to educate their own children, or to choose a school for them. Yet most of those parents were educated in the PUBLIC SCHOOLS! If the parents are not educated enough to recognize a good school it is another FAILURE by the public schools!

In fact, parents choose the DOCTORS for their children. They choose the CHURCHES for their children. They choose the HOMES for their children. They choose the CITIES where their children will live. When the children finish high school, they choose the COLLEGES for their children. There is nothing about picking a K-12 school that is inherently more difficult than all the other choices parents must make every day.

What is the actual intelligence of parents? All public school teachers have at least a Bachelor's degree in education. That means they are more educated than most parents who are blue collar workers. But people who have a BS in education generally had the lowest SAT and ACT scores of their contemporaries. On average, almost all of the people who graduated with a degree in almost any other major had higher test scores and a more challenging curriculum than those with education degrees.

Shouldn't parents who have as much real education as a typical teacher get to pick their children's schools? Certainly that is true for a medical doctor, an attorney, a scientist or engineer. What about someone with an education in political science or business management? How about someone with a degree in agricultural science, who runs a farm?

A BS degree represents at most four years of formal education past high school. Yet anyone who has lived to age 30 and earned a living and kept their eyes open and participated in their community has learned a lot about reality, too. And in light of the baloney that is taught in so many "education" courses in college, the actual educaitonal content of a BS in education can be discounted too. In terms of learning to make rational decisions, and articulate their thoughts, many people with only one or two years of college have as much formal education as most public school teachers.

Additionally, parents who choose a school for their kids are not acting on their own. They can compare different options. They can use rating services. They can talk to parents whose kids were in the school the year before. They can even enroll their kids on a trial basis, pulling them out if they aren't benefiting from the educxation offered. The choice of ALL parents in a marketplace, including the ones with MD, JD, and PhD degrees, will inform the decision of each new parent about which private schools are best. Thus, the collective judgment of ALL parents will be very good, on average, and the better private schools--and better public schools--with thrive, while the worse schools, public or private, will die from lack of patronage.

Teacher unions don't like private schools because they can't easily unionize them, and as private schools grow, the jobs in public schools shrink, as do the union dues paid by public school teachers.

Public school boards don't like private schools because they lose control over funding. They no longer have a monopoly and must be accountable for performance.

Taking control of public schools requires getting a political majority before even small changes can be made. But if funds are put under control of parents, every parent can vote with his feet to defund schools that don't work.

Another benefit of privatized funding will be to allow mothers with two or more kids to home school in lieu of taking a job outside the home. In many states, over $10,000 a year is spent on educating each child. If a mother of 3 got half that--$15,000--as non-taxable funding for education, she could stay home and skip working outside the home, and her kids could get exemplary educational materials--books, videos, field trips, telescopes, microscopes, etc.--since there is no cost for real estate and utilities. There will be less gasoline spent taking kids to school and mom to work, reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions! PLUS, public schools can retain the other half of the funds and enhance the schools for the rest of the kids.

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TommySama
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"So a conservative takeover of the schools and universities would find me attacking them as vigorously as I am now fighting Leftist control of education. There is no room in a republic for a monopoly of thought."

LOL. I was getting annoyed at all the ridiculous rhetoric and bull**** he was spouting off until I read that and had a hearty chuckle.

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PSRT
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OSC's column is a laughing stock of a column. I hope you didn't take it seriously, takashi?
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kenmeer livermaile
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Let us take control of education. Control, I say, control!
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Pyrtolin
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I think there needs to be a sstronger push toward support for charter schools; they use the existing infrastructure but at the same time allow for much more local involvement and influence. (And that includes virtual charter schools, which help combine aspects of homeschooling and public resources)

Also, in general, we need to move away from the property tax based system of funding schools. It basically serves to ensure that schools in affluent areas have an abundance of funding, even though they have fewer students and challenges to overcome, while those that are in poor areas have to not only deal with more students, but many additional educational hurdles. More uniform funding across states at the very least would go a long way to shoring up the worst or the problem areas.

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Colin JM0397
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Funding, at least the local Charlotte NC city schools, is not the problem. The failing schools get more money than the successful schools. Was reading the rundown the other day. Average for the affluent schools is around $7,000/student/year, vs. around $11,000/student/year in the poor/failing schools.

I'm sure that'll cause a fair amount of cognitive dissonance in those who think the almighty dollar is the only thing that matters, but it is what it is. If it’s not the dollars, what then? If not through reallocation of tax dollars, what then?

Charter schools are a good idea/start.

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Wayward Son
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quote:
I'm sure that'll cause a fair amount of cognitive dissonance in those who think the almighty dollar is the only thing that matters, but it is what it is.
I believe very few, if anyone, believes that more money alone will solve all problems with schools. This is a typical conservative strawman.

Rather, lack of money will cause all sorts of problems. It's like food. More food won't necessarily make someone healthier. Not enough food, however, is guaranteed to make someone worse.

So when there is a constant call to provide less money for schools, one is always worried that there will be too little to provide the services needed.

quote:
The failing schools get more money than the successful schools. Was reading the rundown the other day. Average for the affluent schools is around $7,000/student/year, vs. around $11,000/student/year in the poor/failing schools.
Does this take into account all funding that the schools receive, or only government funding? Many affluent schools get private donations that provide additional funds for programs and such.

Of course, poor/failing schools often have additional problems that affluent schools often do not, such as higher rates of theft and vandalism, or higher percentages of children with additional needs (special needs children, ESL, etc.)

Raw numbers do not tell the whole story.

[ February 25, 2010, 05:47 PM: Message edited by: Wayward Son ]

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PSRT
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quote:
I think there needs to be a sstronger push toward support for charter schools
One of the things Massachusetts is finding is that Charter Schools are increasing the achievement gap between wealthy and poor students, so I'm not sure they're really a fix for very much other than making people feel like they are fixing schools.
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hobsen
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California has tried charter schools also, with the idea that parents who find their public schools inadequate could band together to set up more effective ones. What I have heard of the results is that a few have proved very good, but the majority seem below average compared to the public schools in their cities, with some being notably worse. Of course the studies suggesting this may be manipulated by advocates of public school education, but it is what I should have expected to happen when enthusiastic amateurs and aspiring crooks try to set up new schools. Even assuming those setting up new schools are competent and honest, they have a more difficult task than those carrying on the mission of a school established for years, so their educational methods would have to be notably better to achieve the same success.

But saying charter schools increase the gap between wealthy and poor students does not seem a valid criticism. If a school enrolled only wealthy students, and somehow educated all of them so they equalled the average Nobel Prize winner, that would indeed increase the gap between rich and poor. But schools are supposed to increase the differences between those who are enrolled and learn, and those who do not, regardless of whether this inceases and exacerbates differences of this type. Making schools for the rich worse so the poor have more opportunity seems to me a bad solution.

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TommySama
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Texas has done something similar to what OSC is claiming, except with conservative aims, I guess. The article is not as ridiculous and hyperbolic as OSC's, but not by much.
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BackBlast
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
quote:
I'm sure that'll cause a fair amount of cognitive dissonance in those who think the almighty dollar is the only thing that matters, but it is what it is.
I believe very few, if anyone, believes that more money alone will solve all problems with schools. This is a typical conservative strawman.
Unfortunately, this is logic used election after election. It would be a strawman if it were not so true cycle after cycle. Besides, there is nothing really "conservative" about it really. It's true that the left generally controls the educational organs (there are some few exceptions here and there), but republicans are pretty split themselves on the issue themselves. At least around here.

Liberal/Progressive Europe does a better job in this instance of having more choice and giving control to parents than does America...

quote:
Rather, lack of money will cause all sorts of problems. It's like food. More food won't necessarily make someone healthier. Not enough food, however, is guaranteed to make someone worse.
And what happens with a "lack" of money? 300:1 student:teacher ratio? I had college courses that were run that way and it worked. Obviously there are much much deeper problems or more influential variables here.

When I look at schools, I see the very finest in buildings on large well groomed tracks of land and not modest budget minded structures. A reasonable budget trimming isn't going to hurt anything seriously in any place I've seen.

quote:
So when there is a constant call to provide less money for schools, one is always worried that there will be too little to provide the services needed.
I think less money would be required if we would fix the fundamental problems with the educational system.

Parental involvement, and it's corollary, parental control. People tend to tune out what they can't control. Parents have almost no control over education, problem teacher that hates your child? SOL. Problem environment for your child? SOL. Terrible or objectionable curriculum? SOL.

Yes, occasionally you are given some very minor recourse, but that is the rare exception.

Give the parents CONTROL, and some of the strategies to do this (charter schools, school vouchers, home schooling vouchers) have been mentioned and would offer much superior performance for the dollar.

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