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17 July 2011

Chickens Coming Home to Roost, With a Vengeance

Charter School Battle Shifts to Affluent Suburbs. Yet another neo-con policy disaster. Neo-conservativism is all about pursuing liberal goals with "conservative" policies. Starting out with the unshakable premise that performance in urban/minority schools has to be equal to those in white suburbs because - well, it just has to be, the neocons correctly observed that liberal polices - free breakfast, free lunch, culturally-sensitive curricula, gobs of money redistributed from those suburban districts - have failed to make a dent. But re-thinking they're basic assumptions is not an option - so clearly, liberals have simply mis-diagnosed the problem. The problem clearly is that these schools and the teachers in them simply suck. And how could it be that every single urban school sucks? Well they just do.

Well, look how well private enterprise and the free-market have succeeded in creating our amazing modern economy? So there you go - the solution to "failing" schools is more competition! That'll make those lousy teachers in those sucky schools sit up and take notice.

Part of their proposed solution worked - yet again it was proven that if someone's handing out money, someone will step in to grab it, and so the charter school industry was born - and boy did they figure out how to work the angles. Suppose you have a Jewish population living in an urban area where the parents are not too keen on sending their kids to the local - uh, failing - schools. Well, they're pretty much limited to private schools, right? Not anymore - you now can send them to the Hebrew Language Academy Charter School - on the taxpayers dime!

Despite all the redistribution of school money, there's still money to be made in the suburbs - and like any business, the charter school business is sure not going to leave money on the table. People in wealthy school districts still spend very serious bucks on private schools, despite all the nice, "good" schools in their own neighborhoods. So of course charter schools are looking to set up shop there. In the Times article linked above, the charter school is a "Mandarin-infusion" school. That's playing off another neocon trope - the "our schools must be globally competitive" mantra that explains why our enlightened free-trade policy has produced nothing but massive current-account deficits and a shrinking work force. It's important that our pre-school children learn Chinese now so that in 20 years the little dears can so much more effectively negotiate the transfer of American jobs overseas. Of course by then it will be Vietnamese that will be needed after the Chinese will have priced themselves out of the market - but the neocons will be on top of it, I'm sure.


Anonymous Handle said...

But I'd like to have have Charter Schools available just so I have some options when it comes to getting away from PC / Multiculturalism and obatain the traditional / classical curriculum and emphasis on ethics and the building of character. I'm not trying to subsidize my religion, and I'm not trying to score a few bucks towards some elite private school, which I couldn't afford anyway.

I just want some real options with the money they already take from me instead of being a captive audience. And I don't care about the scores (though it'd be nice if they had a nice track record of getting kids into top colleges, obviously).

At the very least, I'd like to have that portion of property taxes I'm forced to give to "the schools" refunded so I can allocate it to these other schools. Charles Murray mirrors my opinion in this short post.

As for the "Neocons", well, I'm far from one, I can assure you, and I harbor no illusions insofar as magical, wishful thinking about the amelioration of test scores among urban public school student.

However, if that's the only argument that works politically to let parents like me decide how to allocate their education-tax-dollars (and, so far as I can tell, it absolutely is), then I don't have to believe that nonsense, or repeat it, but I can allow it to work its magic and I guess I'll hold my nose and dirty my hands when I enjoy the results.

In fact, there's kind of a delicious irony to it if you think about it. The Blue Orthodoxy has always been that anything at all is justified so lost as it has any potential to cure "The Gap". Live by the sword, die by the sword - I let the "Neocons" sing the siren's song of "The Gap" and suddenly the impossible becomes possible.

I mean, it's almost as if these claims began as opportunistic ploys in the first place to accomplish ulterior motives, and as such, aren't supposed to be taken literally or seriously by politically-savvy people.

July 17, 2011 10:09 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

I have a feeling that the type of charter that will concentrate on basic, fundamental education will be rather rare. More likely are those that appeal to ethnic specialties or trendy topics. And would a charter school be allowed to ignore legislated mandates - like teaching "gay achievement" or whatever other special-interest requirements that might prevail?

Even so, a model that worked quite well for American families for well over 100 years is one where you move into a neighborhood and your kids go to the local public school. Sure, this has been subject to various degrees of debasement, but I think this is worth fighting for.

The neocons have thrown in the towel and are willing to throw it all away for some new, untested model for little more than the hope that it might makes some marginal progress in narrowing "the gap."

July 18, 2011 6:38 PM  
Blogger gcochran said...

"gay achievement" = Roy Cohn.

July 19, 2011 2:07 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

ha! Maybe red-hunting will become respectable again!

July 19, 2011 6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gcochran said,
"gay achievment = Roy Cohn"

Nope, not unless those history texts portray Cohn as a hero. The law just signed by Guv Moonbeam, the one that mandates the public schools teach "gay history," also forbids (no lie) that the history of gays be portrayed in any "negative light."

What that means is that for now at least, no textbook can tell the kids just what an asshole Cohn was if they also mention he was gay.

Only straights are allowed to be portrayed as assholes.

What does one expect from the Democratic controlled CA Senate and Assembly and Guv Gay Moonbeam? (Yes, Jer's gay, just in the closet all these years, for what it's worth.)

July 28, 2011 2:00 AM  
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