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Charter Schools Fail the Math Test in Battleground Chicago

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Last year, the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof highlighted a fundamental inconsistency in the increasingly heated discussion about public education in America. In other walks of life, no one would challenge the notion that you get what you pay for. Kristof pointed out that it only made sense that if you wanted better educational outcomes in the US, you need to pay teachers more. But the public wants a pony: higher quality education while demonizing teachers and cutting their pay.

In the 1970, teacher starting pay in New York City was only $2000 below that of starting salaries at top law firms. But now, as the relative status and pay of public school teachers having declined, so too has educational achievement among teachers. A recent McKinsey study found that nearly half of the K-12 teachers in the US had graduated in the bottom third of their college classes. It recommended increasing starting teacher pay from an average of $39,000 to $65,000 in high needs classes in order to attract instructors who had graduated in the top third of their classes.

So why should we be surprised that charter schools, which pay teachers less than public school teachers in the same geographic area, are having trouble delivering the educational goods? And remember, charter schools do have a serious advantage over public schools: they don’t have to accept all comers. Parents apply, and the charters screen both the parents (for level of involvement) as well as the students. So you’d expect charter schools to report better outcomes simply by virtue of self-selection, by skimming off students and parents who are more serious about education.

In Chicago, where mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Tribune, among others, are promoting charter schools, the idea that you can get more by paying less is rationalized through the spectacle of the lazy, overpaid teacher sheltered by the union. Get rid of those freeloaders and you can improve performance with lower pay! That’s an interesting theory, particularly given that there is no tenure in Chicago schools these days.

So how are those charter schools actually doing? As Ben Jarovsky reports in Chicago Reader (hat tip Jan F):

…the foes of the teachers’ union declare that we should pay close attention to the all-important standardized test scores. So let’s take a look.

There are 541 elementary schools in Chicago. Based on the composite ISAT scores for 2011—the last full set available—none of the top ten are charters. None of the top 20, 30, or 40 either.

In fact, you’ve got to go to 41 to find a charter. Take a bow, CICS Irving Park!

Most of the 49 charters on the list are clustered near the great middle, alongside most of their unionized neighborhood schools.

The top scorers are public schools with unionized teachers who are members of the Chicago Teachers Union…

I had to look hard to find an UNO school [a charter school operator touted by Rahm] on the list…

The highest ranking UNO campus, Marquez, came in at 99. UNO’s Fuentes campus—the one the Tribune highlighted—ranks 128. That’s two positions behind Linne, the unionized public school in the neighborhood. I hope it’s not too late for the Tribune to rewrite that editorial.

For the record, Linne’s student body consists largely of low-income Hispanic kids, as does Fuentes’s. I mention that because charter supporters usually whine that it’s unfair to compare them with higher-scoring schools whose students come from wealthier families. Which is the exact argument they disdain when public school backers use it. “The soft bigotry of low expectations,” as the aforementioned President Bush put it.

When they’re calculating their rankings, the charter backers like to rule out comparisons with unionized middle-class neighborhood schools, magnet schools, selective enrollment schools, baccalaureate schools, and schools that don’t serve fish sticks for lunch. By the time they’re finished playing with the test scores, they somehow manage to have the charters ranked near the top. Using this logic, I am the world’s greatest basketball player…

Anyway, for all those keeping score back at home, the highest-ranking UNO school comes in at 99, the lowest at 407.

Quick—fire some teachers!

If I wanted to be a jerk, I’d say that the charter school teachers are to their unionized counterparts what the NFL’s replacement refs are to the real things—pawns being used in a larger game.

Actually, the worst is that the students are the real pawns, and the scores suggest that the charter experiment in “we can get more for less” is not panning out as promised. Quelle surprise!

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95 comments

  1. ZygmuntFraud

    Interesting. The top 10% schools by rank would be the top 54.1 schools, out of 541. The highest ranked charter school is at #41. So 40+ non-charter schools make up the top 10% by rank.

    Each block of 54 or 54.1 schools (1-54, 55-108, etc.) forms one decile or tenth part of 541. A histogram or bar chart can show the number of charter schools in decile #1 (top) #2, … #10 with a bar whose height is proportional to the number of charter schools in that decile.

    A second histogram for the 492 non-charters could show their profile in deciles #1, #2 to #10. Histograms are a good way to visualize frequency distributions, here each box would count charters (respectively non-charters) for each of the 10 deciles (analogous to quartiles and quintiles).

    On Wikipedia, with examples of histograms:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histogram

  2. BagHolder

    The premise of this article (that you get what you pay for) is false. I know several teachers in South Korea. They work for very little pay, and they work extremely long days… often 14 hours a day. Korean students perform much better than American students on standardized tests.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      1. Anecdote. “Several teachers”? Seriously? You use this to discount the findings across a series of school districts. That’s the best you can do? International studies show a pretty decent correlation between relative pay of teachers and educational attainment.

      2. “Make very little” relative to WHAT? The relevant metric is within that economy, not compared to hedgies who work in Mayfair. Ditto for hours. And what do they get in the way of pensions and bennies?

      3. Teachers are respected in S. Korea.

      1. Middle Seaman

        This comment tries to add to the two different points made above. Clearly, paying teachers more naturally attracts a larger pool of candidates out of which to select the best teacher. That, however, does not guarantee better teachers. For example, you may already have the best teachers. Not unlikely.

        Kristof point that “if you wanted better educational outcomes in the US, you need to pay teachers more.” Is far from a universal truth. Expensive products aren’t necessarily the best products. It’s very important that the buyer chooses intelligently.

        As an example, I grow up in a poor country with food rationing, schools were spartan, equipment meant chalk, etc. Teachers lived, like everybody else, with the minimum. They were respected. They had freedom to adapt the material to need and audience. They did not have discipline problems; most kids came eager to learn. My high school friends grow up to be teachers, physicians, lawyers, engineers and some successful academics like me.

        To me, societal values are way more important for schools than money. In other words, if war on teachers spread from parents to mayors and the to president, schools will not excel.

        1. lucky

          “To me, societal values are way more important for schools than money.”

          Societal values are reflected in the pay various professions command.

          In general, occupations that have to do with children pay poorly.

      2. BagHolder

        Yves, you prove yourself wrong in your response. You dismiss my claims as anecdotes, but in fact they are the general case in South Korea: Teachers work very long hours for little pay.

        > 3. Teachers are respected in S. Korea.

        Yes, teachers and education are respected in Korea and in Japan. That is my point! It is not because they are paid well. Teachers in Korea or Japan are not paid well (compared to other salaries in those countries).

        Your claim that “if you wanted better educational outcomes in the US, you need to pay teachers more” is provably false.

        1. Joe

          Au contraire. Your example of South Korea says nothing about the effect of pay on teacher quality in the US. It is possible that respect for ones profession plays a larger role there than here.

          Here in the frayed social fabric of the USA, paycheck garners more social status. So it is likely more pay will attract more talented teachers.

        2. Dirk77

          To use the word “prove” you must be a libertarian. Olay, here is a counterexample. I’d make a very good teacher, but I’m not because being one doesn’t pay much. People have bills to pay and lives to lead. And teachers are people too. QED.

  3. C

    A few comments:

    Firstly, I don’t think that it’s true that charters can drop students everywhere. Certainly most of the advocates for charters like Michell Rhee link “Choice” into the equation on the premise that parents can choose, which in practice means that the charters will be able to filter.

    Secondly, this may explain why some proponents of charters are loath to admit the same testing process. In Chicago, for example, the charter schools do not use the testing formula that Rham Emmanuel is pushing for the public schools meaning that the parents at private schools get less info than those at public schools. While in Louisiana Bobby Jindal originally pushed to have charters exempted from statewide testing and ultimately succeeded in exempting small, mostly religious, schools from the tests.

    Thirdly, as has been noted elsewhere the charter schools are in a bubble now as they receive influxes of cash from Race to the Top, private grants and shareholders that the public schools do not get. Indeed one of the sticking points of the recent strike was over the fact that as the charters are getting new buildings and the shiniest grants the existing public schools literally have no toilet paper or textbooks. This was an issue in the contract but, ironically, was not one the teachers can strike over because Illinois prohibits strikes over any subject but pay.

    Lastly, buried in all of this is the premise that charters will be better because they can innovate educationally. They can, in theory, try new curricula teaching styles, and so on. Yet all of this can be done in public schools too. Magnet schools can be done and have been around since the 70′s. There is no inherent rule against trying to teach differently its just that school boards, at least in my experience, rarely permit it because they are too busy freaking out over condoms to care about actual policy.

    Given all of this it is funny that the charters do worse on tests and only marginally better on subsequent college attendence. You would expect the top to be blown off. It is only in some cases.

    With that in mind it would seem that the only real reason to push for Charters is to a) kill unions; and b) make profits; since the charters are still given the same amount of money per head as the public schools but manage to pay teachers less.

    Just some thoughts.

    1. robert157

      Of course the idea is to make money, to turn public education into a for-profit enterprise like the oh-so-successful health care system while giving direct control over curriculum to corporate interests. “Accountability” and “innovation,” etc. Demonizing and discrediting public schools and teachers’ unions is part of the plan, and if kids’ educations get sacrificed in the meantime, so what. It’s a true crime against humanity perpetrated by Rahm, Bush, Obama, Duncan and the rest. Think of the long-term damage that has been done turning schools into buildings where kids spend all their time filling in bubbles on high-stakes tests, on practice tests, or preparing to take practice tests, and where teachers only test, prepare for tests, and go to meetings about tests, or go to meetings about meetings about tests. They’re not schools any more. In the elementary school where my wife works, the reading of books is actually discouraged. Everything which does not directly relate to the tests is discouraged. All part of the plan.

      Paying teachers more would be nice, but it’s more complicated than that.

      Teaching poor and special needs kids is incredibly difficult, frustrating work. The professionals who devote their lives to this work are not primarily motivated by money. If they were, they would be doing something else. If you replace them with people who are motivated by money that might not turn out so well for the kids.

      1. C

        I agree that higher pay won’t trivially lead to higher outcomes. Teaching is something that people should do for intrinsic motivations. That having been said the amount we pay for a job reflects how much we value it and if you pay too little then you don’t get the motivated you get the few. If teachers cannot afford to raise their own families on their salary, then they cannot afford to teach no matter how much they might want to do so. If we go further and tell them that: a) they have to bring in their own supplies of toilet paper because the budget has been cut; and b) what happens to the poor and special needs students is all their fault and they should be fired, then we won’t get any teachers at all. From the sounds of things your wife is not getting the environment she deserves.

        I have seen the same thing with my friends kids. In one case he no longer does science in his grade school science classes because they are, quite literally, too busy memorizing the content of last year’s tests and then drilling them to learn anything new. The last time he did any form of an experiment or other actual science activity was in second grade.

        He’s a bright kid of course so he’ll pass but I doubt very much he will actually understand science in any way once he does. Just as I doubt the kids in your wife’s school will actually be able to read, no fault of your wife of course, just the culture.

        A nation of test-takers is not a nation of innovators, leaders, or social changers. But then again, perhaps that is the goal.

        1. robert157

          Special Education. It would be a tough atmosphere in any case, with autistic kids, kids with severe behavior problems, kids who don’t know a word of English, etc., and a complicated federally-mandated protocol of paperwork and meetings already in place. These are the kids that the charter schools don’t have to take in or shuffle off when problems arise. The layers of useless time-wasting crap associated with the more recent effort to destroy public education have, naturally, made the prospect of providing these kids with basic education that much closer to impossible.

          She loves working with the kids. But she has less and less time to work with kids. Instead, she has to go to meetings about meetings about standardized tests, and fill out questionnaires about the new pay-for-performance program, “partner” with “stakeholders,” etc. This is what is meant by “reform” and “innovation.” The time gets carved out of teaching time. Kids suffer. Next week the principal is basically shutting down the whole school for a day, all the teachers are to get subs, and the staff will meet to discuss their strategy for the upcoming tests. This kind of thing happens all the time now.

          I have hope that people are beginning to see through this crap. Took em a while though. A lot of damage has been done.

          1. C

            Wow. She has all my sympathy. I’ve noticed that time has been taken from teaching but I had thought it had only been spent on pre-testing and post-testing BS. I hadn’t realized how fully the meet to schedule our pre-meeting meeting mentality had been brought into school reform as well.

            I’m also curious about what you say about the requirements. In my experience, at least in my hometown, it seemed that people have historically run for school board either to start their political careers or to censor some naughty books. Few of them, once they were in place, had the patience to say read a budget or listen to a teacher and their work product seemed to result largely in new requirements. It sounds like that might be at issue there as well.

            I hope your wife can win her fight against this. We sure as hell need dedicated teachers since we only have useless politicians.

  4. Corporate Serf

    OK, so pay teachers more and everything. But what is the exit condition? What do you do when a school does not educate? Or does that not happen, ever? Too big to fail, anyone?

    1. robert157

      You do the best you can with what you have, with an understanding that school performance has to do with many complicated factors, many of which are beyond the control of the school’s personnel. For instance, parents and home environment. Doing worse with what you have (i.e. closing the public school and opening up a charter school in its place) is not rationally defensible given available evidence.

      1. Corporate Serf

        Robert,

        Spoken like a true one-size-fits-aller. Of course, with vouchers, parents can make that call and switch, whether it is a public school, private school or a charter school. But, you don’t advocate that, right?

        1. citalopram

          Vouchers would bankrupt public schools and shovel the money over to private schools. There is no gaurantee that these vouchers would cover the full cost of education, or that costs wouldn’t rise, which they ALWAYS do when you have subsidies propping things up. Just look at healthcare and education (cheap, easy loan money).

    2. David Lentini

      You determine why the school has failed. You look at the teachers, the administration, the community. You replace bad administrator and teachers, and you provide what the childern need to succeed. Unlike failed chaters, which simply fold.

      Too big to fail? Better, too important to *let* fails.

      1. Corporate Serf

        Dude, give us parents in bad districts vouchers, and we will not worry about how much to pay teachers, we will simply ferry our children to the next district and pay up the difference in cost, if any, out of pocket.

        I pay 8000 a year in taxes in a bad school district and have to send my daughter (who tested as gifted in one of the NYC citywide exams; too bad we could not move to NYC on time) to a local religious school where at least they teach the 3 Rs, but charges 8000 more. There are plenty of parents in my position. We don’t care what the district pays the teachers or any of that. We can tell when a school is good or bad. We want the freedom to switch schools easily, for normal middle class people.

        The politics is disgusting. Democrats and left leaning places like our hostess, seem to be beholden to the teachers’ unions. The republicans seem to worry that with school choice/ vouchers, “their” schools will be overrun with black kids from the city.

        naked capitalism used to be a really good blog right around 2008-2009. Covering the laws and practices around the mortgage industry in a professional manner. The political bent was clear, but you got the sense that that did not cloud judgment. I can’t say the same now. Anyway, this blog now has enough eyeballs, that it doesn’t need non-partisan readers anymore; and in my case, personally, I find myself visiting it less and less; and browsing zerohedge more.

        1. skippy

          Zero Hedge[??] the neoliberal, gold is gawd, everyone for himself, buy more ammo, all government is bad, the market should rule the world by economic rationalism blog????

          skippy… the Ludwig von Mises Institute social media outlet for pre-schoolers ie day traders, beatings made me stronger as a kid, everyone just sucks the life out of ya, FREE MARKET Utopians. Seriously… do you let them do the thinking for you, hit the little hot buttons in your manufactured desire head? Sure read the financial analyses, but, the ideology is dog eat dog world shite arm chair thunkit.

        2. robert157

          You are sucking money from the public schools to send your kid to a religious school, and why should taxpayers have to help send your kid to a private religious school which can pick and choose its students and which poor people still wouldn’t be able to afford even with a voucher. Choice!

    3. jake chase

      Education is something you only get away from school. Time in school is largely time wasted. Everyone knows this when they are in school and promptly ignores it when they leave. Limit school to 3 hours a day; provide a hot lunch and two hours of class. Eliminate all subjects but science, math and English composition. This may not help but at least the kids interested in learning will have time for it.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        Well, what about day care? You want your 8 year old to have 5 hours of free time where both working parents have to figure out what to do?

        At the very least it’s good daycare.

        But I like your idea. Let’s cut the length of the book learning and then give them more activities to do.

        1. longtimereader

          Children should be raised by PARENTS! Our taxes are now so high we need both parents working – remember decades ago when families could prosper with just one worker, and the other could stay home with the children?

          If you really want to dump your kids off with a stranger, pay for it yourself. Don’t steal from me to subsidize your crappy parenting.

          Maybe if parents didn’t spend 1/3 to 1/2 the year paying of their taxes they would have more time for their children.

          1. citalopram

            I’m all for one parent staying home voluntarily. A reduced amount of people in the workforce might make jobs that less competitive. It would be nice to see a little deflation with prices coming down, but that won’t happen if The Bernanke keeps QE’ing us all into oblivion.

        2. J-Lib

          That would be called Montessori?

          Which, by the way, is a very popular choice of school among Chicago gov’t schoolteachers.

    4. Walter Wit Man

      How do schools “fail?” What does that even mean?

      Our society is failing.

      Sure, some schools will be filled with society’s losers, but that is by design. You are blaming the victims.

      Teachers are powerless to change this dynamic. It’s a huge trick that Michelle Rhee and Bill Gates can save the day. It’s a distraction to get you to ignore the fact this reality was planned. They planned these ghettos. They planned these attacks on black Americans and the middle and lower classes.

      Trying to fire our way out of these problems or using some other capitalist mind fucking technique is simply going to compound the problem. Which is what our psychopath capitalists want anyway and why their “solutions” involve simply beating a dead horse more vigorously.

      Nah. Pay the disgruntled teacher to sit there and babysit these broken kids from broken homes and a broken society. I would rather have them sit there and throw spit balls at each other than do what these murderous capitalist finks like Michelle Rhee are advocating. These slave masters are not done with their beatings. I would rather leave the slaves alone in their current conditions. It’s more humane.

      1. J-Lib

        Our society is failing…. blaming the victims.

        A huge accelerator in society’s failure is failing schools.

        By the way, I resent how the educrats and laborcrats blame the victim by blaming parents. It’s the parents, after all, who are guaranteed, implicitly or explicitly, that the state institution and the nice strangers will raise, feed and discipline their kids for half the day and more.

        Whatever you subsidize, you get more of. Econ 101.

        It’s a distraction to get you to ignore the fact this reality was planned. They planned these ghettos.

        Again, you cannot separate that from the planned mechanism of subjugation: state schooling. Ever read Ivan Illich? John Taylor Gatto? If you do, your notion of who is the “master” will change considerably.

  5. David Lentini

    Anyone interested in this subject should follow Diane Ravitch’s blog: http://dianeravitch.net/.

    Ravitch is a well-known historian of school reform and advocate for good public schools. Her book “Left Back” describes the near continous efforts to “reform” education over the past 120 years. What’s really interesting is how the original reformers, the newly installed managerial and business class and enabling higher academic elites, attacked public education much like today over a century ago. The basic organizaiton and operation of the public schools are the direct product of the Taylorims of the early 20th century.

    1. 2laneIA

      I agree. She is an incredible source of information on the “reform” movement, its cooking of data, and the harm it is causing.

      1. JTFaraday

        Please. You can’t “get the children out of them” because there is no outside to go to.

        That’s what systemic, or cultural, failure looks like.

      1. G3

        Agree. But because it is a 1-person operation not dedicated to it full-time. I sent something 3 weeks back, got ackowledgement but hasn’t been updated yet.

  6. seabos84

    On the Democratic side, those leaders pushing teacher bashing are cliques of elitist lying yuppie sell out scum. I was a teen on welfare in Holyoke MA in the 70′s, I cooked fine dining in Boston in the 80′s, I’ve been living in Seattle since ’89 when I was 29, I used cooking on fishing boat money to get a math b.a. at the u.w. seattle & then was a micro-serf in redmond for 5 years, and now I’ve been a high school math teacher for 7 years.
    I remember the yuppie scum of Boston swaggering through politics with their wool coats that cost 4 of my paychecks. I remember working for the same social cla$$ as a micro-serf. I see them at all events ed-deform in Seattle.
    “a legion of foul fiends environed about me and howled in mine ears such hideous cries” could apply to the Gate$ funded astro-turfs — LEV, SFC, PFL, CRPE, DFER, NCTQ, A4E, …
    a plague on all their houses.
    rmm.

  7. amateur socialist

    Looks like they did the DOD scammers one better; for all the insane graft around “defense contracting” at least GD and Lockheed paid union wages for machinists and engineers. Quite the coup.

  8. Middle Seaman

    The quality of our schools reflects, roughly, our financial societal wealth. The 400 richest families in the US are worth more than the bottom 180 million people in the country put together. That is an astonishing number. It also means that these 180 million people are served by schools that are way below average. A more equal society will have way better schools.

    In the discussions on failure, salaries, education as an industry with CEOs, the continued education and improvement of teachers and schools infrastructure were drop.

    Heavy money for continue education for teachers is a must. Material changes, the culture constantly moves and teachers, as we all, get rusty unless they are provided a bridge to walk on to join the current students and their needs. That’s not cheap, CEOs don’t want to pay; they are doing fine.

  9. Jim Haygood

    How about an example from right in our esteemed host’s back yard:

    While most of [Harlem's] charter schools perform relatively well on tests, a majority of Harlem’s students attend schools that do not. Among elementary schools in Harlem and East Harlem, only a few of the some 25 traditional neighborhood schools with students taking statewide tests had at least 50 percent of children reading at or above grade level.

    As a group the area’s new schools are performing better than their Harlem “peer schools,” or schools with similar demographics, that have been around longer, the department said.

    And as the number of charter schools grows — the Bloomberg administration spent years lobbying state lawmakers to allow more of them to open — the number of students waiting for seats has slowly dropped. In Districts 4 and 5, which encompass most of Harlem and East Harlem, out of an estimated 9,850 charter school applicants, 7,700 did not receive a seat this year, down about 3,000 from 2011, according to the New York City Charter School Center.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/03/education/new-charter-schools-thrive-in-harlem-but-some-parents-are-feeling-left-out.html?pagewanted=all

    For teachers’ unions, the consistent waiting list at charter schools is the toughest thing to refute.

    Why would people queue up to receive an inferior quality service? Unless parents in Harlem are badly misinformed, they wouldn’t.

    Public education was created to train industrial drones to do grunt work when they grow up, without complaining or questioning authority. Public education continues to excel in meeting this objective.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Did you miss the discussion in the post regarding self selection, that you’d expect charter schools to show better results as a result of sample bias? More motivated parents opt for charter schools, and in areas where there is limited charter school capacity, they can pick and choose students, which means they can keep all sorts of undesirables out, starting with discipline problems and also ones who are way behind educationally?

      And since the wealthy and upper classes have LONG sent their kids to private schools, real estate taxes in NYC are very low relative to what people in similar priced housing pay in the ‘burbs. Last I checked, it was less than a third. That’s a dirty secret most people who don’t live here don’t realize. The schools have long been starved because they (to be blunt) are mainly for people of color (I can see this when the public school about a 10 minute walk from my apartment in the Upper East side is done with its day).

  10. OMF

    Just so away with standardised testing of the pupils and make further professional development and learning a mandatory requirement for the teaching profession itself. Test and _train_ the teacher, continuously, to be a better educator. Give the profession support and you will see an increase in standards all around.

    A big part of the decline in professional standards in many fields has been the death of the idea of continued professional development, which is a result of expierience no longer being valued. Companies hire cheap, enthusiastic young people in preference to older employees, but of course those young people don’t really know how to work. Keep this up for 30 years, and you have entire professions hollowed out from the ground up.

    1. jake chase

      Continuing professional development? They’ve done that with lawyers. It’s a crock. Another profit opportunity for rip off artists selling “courses” that require practitioners to waste money and time. When I was graduating college you had “standards” for high school teachers that insured nobody with a decent education would become one. You needed “education courses” which were unavailable at any good academic institution. Meanwhile, they qualified a herd of dull normal teachers college graduates none of whom could have gained admission to the colleges from which its graduates were being excluded by the standards. Bureaucratic foolishness isn’t limited to government and corporations. It infects every area of economic opportunity.

      1. dan h

        ” Bureaucratic foolishness isn’t limited to government and corporations. It infects every area of economic opportunity.”

        Well said.

      2. J-Lib

        Bureaucratic foolishness isn’t limited to govt, but govt is definitely its birthplace. And note, in the example of education courses, all that is of course so heavily regulated by government and the connected “professional” cliques that it is practically an arm of government.

  11. ep3

    “Get rid of those freeloaders and you can improve performance with lower pay!”
    heck yeah Yves. If a teacher (or any profession) has a good salary that makes for a good lifestyle, there’s no incentive for them to work hard. Whereas, if the teacher is making minimum wage, and nearly bankrupt, drowning in credit card and student loan debt, then they will work hard knowing full well they have nothing to fall back on. The worker will be subservient to any adjustments in pay, curriculum, hours, etc., all to maximize profits. All for the children!

  12. EDL

    Yves, the LA Times did a better analysis of the performance of charters in LAUSD a while back and found no real improvement over their “peer Schools” … even with self selection, they don’t do better. Partly because they don’t take the profession of teaching seriously. They also don’t seem to care what the credentials of the managers of the charters are for education. What seems to be a common thread, however, is that the charter company can pay its executives quite lavishly.

    The comments section here shows just how little many Americans know about schools and the teaching profession. Perhaps, this is because you have a lot of childless men posting here who haven’t been in a school since they were teens. As an example, teachers are in fact highly trained and must log in professional development hours each year. They work in collaborative teams that seek to improve learning and do care deeply about the child’s learning and, of course, the administrative obsession with testing (although most administrators are innumerate and cannot interpret the tests results beyond know if the number went up or down.) The very idea that schools are failing (itself a canard) because of teachers’ poor training or abilities is simply absurd.

    Having said that, your readers will probably be surprised to learn that administration and management may have 0 professional training in education or some minimum amount (say 3 years in a classroom before failing and bailing up to an admin post). They are not required to receive continuous professional development and, in spite of not being unionized, receive lavish salaries and 0 accountability. So, it is always curious to me that the emphasis is placed on teachers and not administrators. That is until you adopt a political-economic perspective and realize whose interests feeds the propaganda.

    Charters and school reform are not about kids, never have been, they are about (1) closing the educational commons to extract rent from public services (2) destroying the collective political voice of millions of educators so the 400 wealthy families control all political discourse (3) lowering public expenditures to lower taxes and free up income to be rededicated to interest payments on private debt. It is the financialized political-economy from top to bottom. Think about where dear Rahm made his fortune … this is not rocket science people.

    1. PQS

      Amen and plus 1M.

      I have a degree in Secondary Ed., have many relatives teaching school, and have a daughter in public school. I do not work in education because I make more money in construction as a Project Manager. I also do not have to spend my own money on “continuing ed” to satisfy some “requirement” for professional development. I keep up my instructional skills by teaching continuing ed to my colleagues and getting paid for it.

      It always amazes me how many people populate the school districts, how many assistant principals, vice principals and support staff exist to fill out paperwork and file documents. Yet we don’t have enough money for musical instruments, art or PE and the starting salary for teachers is the LESS than the starting salary for teachers when I graduated in 1996.
      Somethis is clearly wrong here.

    2. Lambert Strether

      What you said:

      Charters and school reform are not about kids, never have been, they are about (1) closing the educational commons to extract rent from public services (2) destroying the collective political voice of millions of educators so the 400 wealthy families control all political discourse (3) lowering public expenditures to lower taxes and free up income to be rededicated to interest payments on private debt. It is the financialized political-economy from top to bottom. Think about where dear Rahm made his fortune … this is not rocket science people.

      Even a “childless man” like me can see that, so you might want to revise and extend your remarks on that point…

    3. J-Lib

      Charters and school reform are not about kids, never have been, they are about (1) closing the educational commons to extract rent from public services (2) destroying the collective political voice of millions of educators so the 400 wealthy families control all political discourse (3) lowering public expenditures to lower taxes and free up income to be rededicated to interest payments on private debt. It is the financialized political-economy from top to bottom.

      Funny, since I’m all about the genuine commons and against rent-extraction, but I completely disagree. Children’s minds are not in any way, shape or form “the commons.” Children belong to parents, not the state or society.

      I’d submit that government is the biggest rent extractor of all. It is now the center of gravity in society that warps everything else. There are loads of employees in government school systems, and throughout government in general, whose salaries and benefits cannot be justified by any value produced.

      Also, the current system subsidizes enormous “private” commercial concerns: contractors and vendors of every stripe, whose services might or might not be necessary and who may or may not be paid commensurate to their contribution to education.

      I don’t like cronyism/mercantilism, and charters are an example of that. But the fact indirect mono/oligopoly is bad, doesn’t somehow make the same, directly administered by the state, any better.

      I can tolerate government (at the most local level possible) administering things such as public infrastructure, since these are true public goods, i.e, natural monopolies that could not be provided any other way.

      However, none of this is true in services which in their nature are private and individual. It’s hard to think of anything more individual and private than the educational needs and interests of hundreds of thousands of growing human beings.

      Bottom line is, sooner or later, all decent people will see the need for full educational choice in the hands of parents (which BTW will expand employment choices for teachers). The competing cliques of “experts” have had more than ample time to get their act together, and they have failed the test.

  13. Gil Gamesh

    No tenure for CPS teachers? I understand that CPS system is not obliged to rehire laid-off tenured teachers. If Chicago teachers did in fact give up tenure, or lose it through legislation, can you provide the authority?

    1. charles edwards

      This the first time tenure has been mentioned. The dirty little secret behind awarding tenure to teachers is that it led to lower salaries. If there were no tenure teachers would demand higher salaries. In DC Rhee gave teachers who gave up tenure and consented to view a $25,000 salary increase.

  14. Minor Heretic

    Jim Haygood hits it out of the park: “Public education was created to train industrial drones to do grunt work when they grow up, without complaining or questioning authority. Public education continues to excel in meeting this objective”

    I remember an educational commentator saying,” People say our schools are doing a bad job. This is not true. They are doind a great job of training the farm kids of 1890 for the factory jobs of 1910.” It’s true. The whole concept of running from box to box at the sound of the bell, sitting in rows and performing repetitive make-work, isolation from the community, and grading, is just industrial prep. It also serves to filter out non-conformists and freethinkers, while filtering in sociopaths for management and technically skilled, manageable creatives for the R&D.

    That said, a couple of lateral ideas. Raise the minimum wage by a couple of bucks and gain a big chunk of parental involvement. On the extremely lateral front, renovate those cinder block boxes with natural daylighting. Schools have been seeing 15% jumps in test scores from just that. Just imagine, a school that feels less like a prison works better.

    And look at Finland, which used to have lousy schools. They did a national study and decided (among other things)that teaching should be a prestigious and high paying profession. Now they have high performing schools.

    Following on that, can we ditch the concept of property taxes, I mean, now that the connection between real estate value and income has been gone for 150 years? A major reason that teacher pay is such an issue is that it is financed by the most archaic and regressive tax we have.

    1. Gil Gamesh

      The “other things” Finland did were dog. You cited the tail. Ameliorating poverty, providing free child care, quality universal healthcare services, the Finnish version of Head Start programs. Finland decided to invest in their kids, whom they apparently love. How different here.

      Bottom line: the quality of public schools will only improve if and when Americans address poverty, racism, and our elites’ war on labor. Don’t hold your breath. The rest is arranging the deck chairs.

      1. longtimereader

        The quality of “public schools” will not improve until they are funded by voluntary, as opposed to coercive, means and are accountable to not just the parents, but the STUDENTS. Are children EVER asked what THEY want to learn?

        Nothing will change until you can see the gun in the room, let alone begin talking about putting it down.

        Voilence is never the answer.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          Parents still have the right to home school, right?

          I agree they should have this ‘right’ (as long as the child also agrees when he/she’s able to decide).

          Maybe there should be leeway on how this homeschooling takes place.

          Maybe children should be able to opt out of schooling entirely. They pretty much can at age 14 to 16 or so anyway, right?

          I would like a system that emphasizes personal rights and doesn’t force people to be educated.

          But it should be ‘paid for’ using public money.

          And just to throw you a bone, okay, we won’t tax you or even sell bonds to finance public education. But let’s just simply print Greenbacks or Continental and pay the teachers/administrators/staff that way.

          1. longtimereader

            “Parents still have the right to home school, right?”

            No. Parents are often forced by the guns of the state to provide curriculum, testing, etc. Additionally, they are stolen from to pay for schools and teachers, money that could much better (and more morally) be spent by the parents.

            “I agree they should have this ‘right’ (as long as the child also agrees when he/she’s able to decide).”

            Gee, you don’t think the state should get to point guns at parents and steal their children for over a decade, and then to add insult to injury force the parents (and everyone else) to pay for it? Maybe there’s hope for you yet…

            “Maybe there should be leeway on how this homeschooling takes place.

            Maybe children should be able to opt out of schooling entirely. They pretty much can at age 14 to 16 or so anyway, right?”

            Take it one step further; let me opt out of the government. Opt out of paying taxes for foreign wars, building state indoctrination prisons for children.. why is this extra step so hard for you?

            “I would like a system that emphasizes personal rights and doesn’t force people to be educated.

            But it should be ‘paid for’ using public money.

            And just to throw you a bone, okay, we won’t tax you or even sell bonds to finance public education. But let’s just simply print Greenbacks or Continental and pay the teachers/administrators/staff that way.”

            Ah yes, government printed fiat money. Splendid idea! I love hyperinflation. If you do that, the currency will lose value so fast that even the propagandized masses will reject it, which is why they are loathe to do it.

            “Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/10/charter-schools-fail-the-math-test-in-battleground-chicago.html?replytocom=842706#w4wkg8gqRoUk43V6.99

            Instead of using how students perform on government tests as a metric for success, how about we look at incarceration rates? Lifetime earnings? Happiness?

            Here’s a link for you exploring some of those metrics. I hope you check it out.

            Again, thank you for the thoughtful comments/questions.

        2. citalopram

          Coercion and violence are human nature. Look at human history and witness the millions upon millions who have died as a result of wars and violence. This is our nature, and this reality.

          Put down the anarcho crack pipe.

          1. longtimereader

            Oh really? How much coercion and violence do you experience in your personal life? How many people do you threaten with violence to get your way? How many of your friends and family do this?

            Even if you’re right – do you really think that giving an entity like the state ALL the guns and ALL the power won’t attract the very violent, coercive people that you claim we all are underneath? How does the state solve the (incorrect) issue of human ‘evilness’, rather than simply empower the worst of the worst?

            I don’t appreciate your ad-hominem attack, but I wonder – are you religious? The lie of “original sin” that was constantly shouted in your ear may be why you’re confused…

      2. Adam Eran

        Worth remembering: The Finnish schools the likes of Michelle Rhee admires do not follow the merit pay (without tenure), (union-busting) charter schools, and test ‘em ’til their eyeballs bleed strategy she promotes. Finnish teachers are tenured, well-paid, and respected.

        But the elephant in the room is not those strategies, none of which correlate with educational achievement. It’s childhood poverty, which *does* exactly parallel educational achievement. In Finland, childhood poverty is 2%. In the U.S. it’s 23%.

        The rest of this stuff is just a distraction. I’m disappointed that Yves fell for the “blame the teacher” paradigm….

    2. Walter Wit Man

      True. But hasn’t society changed irreversibly?

      What are these children going to do instead of going to school? Farming?

      Plus, isn’t school now one of the few forces in our culture that actually fosters a local community?

      Also, public schools could be used to serve social purposes. A state provided education takes workers out of the work force and gives people free day care, thus freeing up jobs for adults.

      If we lowered the retirement age from 65 (or 67) to 60, lowered the maximum work week from 40 hours to 30, doubled or tripled the minimum wage, and provided a free day care/education through college/trade school then the people that do work will be much better off. We would all be better off imho.

    3. curlydan

      Apparently a few of us here at N.C. got through public schools just fine and are doing a good job of questioning authority and not being total drones.

      Also, private education also seems quite adept at “train[ing] industrial drones to do grunt work when they grow up, without complaining or questioning authority”

  15. longtimereader

    Repeat after me:

    When you steal from people to pay for things, you get bad outcomes.

    When you steal from property owners to build schools and pay teachers, and then you point guns at parents and demand they turn over their children to state indoctrination centers, YOU GET BAD OUTCOMES.

    Yves’ continued defense for and advocation of violence against parents, against property owners, against CHILDREN, and against ME, is why she has zero moral credibility and should be taken with a big block of salt. She is stuck in the past, stuck in ignorance and violence and propaganda and self-worship. It’s time for the rest of us to move on.

    Oh, she censors comments too. Frequently. Thank god for Tor…

    1. Walter Wit Man

      So you’re an anarchist then?

      Do you believe in currency? Do you believe in any government or collective action at all?

      I’m guessing you’re a right-wing libertarian based on the selective nature of your outrage. Is the U.S. military involve theft as well? I don’t want to support it!

      I don’t want to support any of our economic rules which pick winners and losers, including the private currency, but I am forced to if I want to take part in this society without being put in jail or otherwise sidelined.

      Any collective action will involve sacrifice of certain individual decisions. The decision to come together and form a joint currency is one example. It requires force to impose this currency and some people are harmed by it.

      But there are also things that seem to be better served by collective action.

      Health care is one. Education is another. Defense is another . . . although obviously these things can all be abused . . . especially ‘defense.’

      We would all be better off with a universal public education system that is paid for using Greenbacks or Continentals. We would also be better off if this system was socialist rather than capitalist in regards to the way it is planned and operated. It would benefit more people to give teachers good work conditions rather than try to ‘manage’ the workforce to maximize education value.

      1. longtimereader

        “So you’re an anarchist then?”

        If you need to put me in a box so you can dismiss me with ad-hominem attacks, rather than responding to the arguments, then feel free to call me a “voluntarist”. I believe that ALL human interactions should be voluntary. You know, like we shouldn’t rape people, and we shouldn’t steal from people, and we shouldn’t aggress against people who are acting peacefully. ALWAYS. Thugs in blue costumes do not get an exception. Thugs in camouflage should not get an exception.

        “Do you believe in currency?”

        Um… do I believe it exists? Yes, of course. If you’re asking if I think currency is necessary, of COURSE we need currency, that is how we achieve the division of labor. Without money, we’d be reduced to barter, which is horribly inefficient (though still better than subsistence living). Money should be freely chosen by those who engage in voluntary market interactions. The history of freely-chosen currency is wonderfully varied and ingenious (precious metals, time banks, redeemable commodity scrip, etc.), whereas the history of fiat currency (currency imposed by the use of force) is 100% consistent in its eventual return to its true value: zero. See here:

        http://lewrockwell.com/orig11/clark-j29.1.html

        “Do you believe in any government or collective action at all?”

        Do I believe governments and collective actions exist? Well, governments don’t exist, other than in the propagandized heads of “citizens”. Do I believe they are moral or necessary? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Governments are merely a group of people who claim a monopoly on the use of force in a given geographical area. Period. Governments are the farmers, “citizens” are the livestock. Sure, we’re free range livestock, but livestock nonetheless.

        Collective action can absolutely be achieved morally when it is voluntary. People are free to get together and create products to trade voluntarily (“companies”), worship sky-ghosts (“religions”), or what have you. Where the morality ends is when that group of people points guns at a third party and start making demands, which is the epitome of what those who hold the guns of the state do.

        “I’m guessing you’re a right-wing libertarian based on the selective nature of your outrage.”

        What am I not being outraged about that I should be, the plight of those who are paid with stolen money? The world’s tiniest violin for those whose income is procured by violence.

        What does “right-wing” mean? Are you seriously still giving credence to the ridiculous, euphemism-filled world of the left/right paradigm? Please, please wake up to the massive false dichotomy that this mindset represents.

        “Is the U.S. military involve theft as well? I don’t want to support it!”

        The “US military” (paid mercenaries) is in the business of pointing guns at people (and often pulling the trigger) and making demands. Are they involved in theft? Are you kidding me? They are paid by theft and their job is murder. Do I really need to go any further?

        “I don’t want to support any of our economic rules which pick winners and losers, including the private currency, but I am forced to if I want to take part in this society without being put in jail or otherwise sidelined.”

        So you’re on my side then, unless I’m missing some intended irony, recognizing that all laws, including legal tender laws, are immoral. Laws are just opinions with guns, taxation is theft, soldiers are mercenaries, and the state is a farm. The pursuit of truth begins by eliminating euphemisms and calling a spade a spade.

        “Any collective action will involve sacrifice of certain individual decisions. The decision to come together and form a joint currency is one example. It requires force to impose this currency and some people are harmed by it.”

        How do people coming together to form a join currency require the use of force to impose it on others? If I want to sell my goods for a particular currency, I don’t need force behind it; I am not forcing you to do anything, I am merely requiring something that I value in exchange for my goods and services. That’s called freedom, which is the opposite of force.

        “But there are also things that seem to be better served by collective action.”

        This is true, but you’re focusing on the wrong thing! Collective action is fine, it is FORCE and COERCION that is immoral! See my previous comments on voluntary collective action for examples.

        “Health care is one.”

        Untrue. Health care was a wonderful, CHEAP, myriad of services and innovation before the guns of the state came in and cartelized the industry (see the AMA). Do you really think our health care system is a good example of effective collective action?!

        “Education is another.”

        Absolutely not. “Education” is a misnomer. Children have historically been “educated” primarily by their parents, but LIFE is the only education that kids need. See John Taylor Gatto, the Unschooling movement, etc. It’s hard to spend time raising and teaching your kids when you have to work all day to pay off your taxes, so your solution is to point guns at everyone, steal their money, and stick kids (involuntarily, I might add) in rows herded around to bells like livestock? See a previous comment about what schools are REALLY for – cranking out brain-dead slaves who do not – cannot – question authority.

        ” Defense is another . . . although obviously these things can all be abused . . . especially ‘defense.’”

        Again, are you serious?! You’re defending the pile of corpses in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Vietnam, Korea, and on and on and on and on and on. How many people did government “defense” murder in the last century? HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS. How many “private murders” were there? A tiny, tiny fraction of that.

        “We would all be better off with a universal public education system that is paid for using Greenbacks or Continentals. We would also be better off if this system was socialist rather than capitalist in regards to the way it is planned and operated. It would benefit more people to give teachers good work conditions rather than try to ‘manage’ the workforce to maximize education value.”

        This is just repeated propaganda that has absolutely no evidence behind it whatsoever. Besides, it misses the moral point, which is this: The initiation of the use of force is ALWAYS wrong. We all accept this in our personal lives, and yet we create this magical exception when it comes to the government.

        Thanks for the great questions, Walter. It’s a rare thing on this blog.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          I didn’t mean anarchist as a pejorative. Just trying to define our terms and clarify our thought.

          Your point is well taken on the “right” and “left” paradigm not being useful.

          And I agree with you that “defense” is a bad example for a U.S. citizen to be using in a pro government argument . . . . because of the reality of the millions of dead and suffering.

          I guess I was just focusing on human need. And it is a human need to defend oneself. Syria, for instance, is undergoing foreign attack and if I lived in Syria I would want to band together with my fellow citizens and use the power of the state if possible to try to defend ourselves against superior and less moral outside forces. So when I say my government should defend me I mean it should be a rare exception and we should clearly be under attack–not the abomination that is the U.S. death state. Then it helps to have your community supporting you.

          The idea of a limited state is sound . . . it should be limited in its ability to wage war.

          But there are many collective actions that will be beneficial for the vast majority of people, at least in the short term, until we can have a more anarchistic world :)

          1. Socialized Health Care for All / supplemented with some Single Payer. This would end the insurance industry and create more general docs, nurses, nurse practitioners, local clinics, etc. Your concerns about modern medicine are valid though . . . would be interesting to see if Cuba, for instance, has met some of your concerns better than America’s capitalist system.

          2. Socialized Education from day care to trade school and secondary school. End all supplemental state support for private colleges and private schools though–no more loan support.

          3. Worker Treatment. We need to band together and agree not to work so much. By force. Our masters are using our natural competitive urges against us to suppress us. We are powerless against their manipulations and have become wage slaves. We need what was first proposed almost a century ago if we are to have capitalist style jobs:

          30 hour work week
          60 year old mandatory retirement from firms
          $15-$25/hr. minimum wage

          4. Guaranteed Job. Every American that wants work can work and wants a gov. job can have one. Gov. would create street sweeper/park ranger jobs if it has to.

          5. Guaranteed Income. Every American should get $25,000 every year in Greenbacks or Continentals. This is using the people’s money for the people’s benefit. It’s a natural resetting of the people’s money every every year to benefit the people.

          6. Of course the end of the Federal Reserve and use of fiat Greenbacks or Continentals. Retire all bonds and issue no new bonds.

          7. End federal income tax except for progressive tax like this:

          $100,000 to $250,000 35%
          $250,000 to $5000,000 45%
          $500,000 to $1,000,000 %55
          $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 %65
          $2,000,000 and above, %75

          8. End payroll taxes. Set Soc. Sec. benefits the way they were originally promised with an a accurate cost of living adjustment.

          9. Free public transportation in top 50 regions in U.S. Major spending/investment.

          This would be a “big” but more benevolent state. We would have parks and public transport and positive service jobs (health care related, education related, transit related, etc.).

          I agree that tearing down much of the current state is necessary though. War, finance, and parasites is no way to run an economy.

          1. longtimereader

            Walter,

            I appreciate the civil discourse and the response to my post.

            I am not going to refute every one of your ideas on how stolen money should be spent. I would ask you these two questions though:

            1. How will any of your great ideas be paid for if not through theft? Do you not agree that theft is immoral?

            2. Don’t you see that pointing guns at people and making demands is wrong? Do you EVER resort to threats of physical violence to get what you want in your personal life? If you allow another entity to, i.e. the “state”, do you not see that the types of people that will be attracted to the reigns of this entity will be exactly the types of people who have no moral qualms with violent coercion? Do you not see that the very idea of the state is self-contradictory, in that you are automatically assuming that anyone who works for the state will share you benevolent goals, when exactly the opposite is true?

            You have to start with the morals and work from there. If you ignore the morality, you will ALWAYS end up with tyrants. See every country in the world today for evidence of this.

            I don’t create the truth, I simply accept it. I didn’t create morality, I simply accept it. I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, believing his lies about changing the system. Now I know better; I have shed the lies I believed like a snake sheds its skin, holding up truth and evidence as the only metric that matters.

            We can achieve a peaceful society that provides all of the services that you want WITHOUT violent coercion. We did it before, and it worked a hell of a lot better. People are actually really generous and compassionate and SELFLESS when you’re not busy pointing guns at them. Soup kitchens, pro-bono health care for those who could not afford it, charities… these are the way to solve the problems that you want solved, NOT the guns of the state.

          2. skippy

            “I am not going to refute every one of your ideas on how stolen money should be spent” – longtimereader

            Skip here… nothing is stolen, repeat, nothing is stolen, its not your money, its the peoples money. The state creates the exchange environment, with out it, your fish food, just one more little morsel for consumption.

            Now if you want to talk about whom is recognized as the preeminent – people – cough…. *citizens united* by the wholly owned government subsidy – of – corporate america see Super Pacs et al. Well that’s another subject.

            Skippy… The United Corporate States of America. Follow the money, follow the money, America is just one big City of London. You are the anti .001%, you by the decision of SCOTUS are .001% a citizen. So until the American citizens can reclaim their voting rights… their screwed. A hundred’ish years of corporate / wealth concentration social programming sure do stick…

          3. Walter Wit Man

            My hypothetical system isn’t using a gun.

            The individual is allowed to opt out of school in most circumstances in my world. I’m open to freedom of choice here.

            But the federal government would use its currency (like Greenbacks or Continentals) to provide a basic level of education for all Americans (and I know the practical difficulty that most public education in America is not federal but local). This is not putting a gun to anybody’s head anymore than other uses of currency. Even a gold standard currency regime would have to be established by government force and would thus be putting a gun to people’s head. Using currency for good is a much less obtrusive method than taxing people for good (and both are much better than doing bad either by fiat or tax).

            If people want to opt out for a private education–fine.

            If parents want to supplement by paying for extras, fine.

            Your argument that our basic necessities will be met if we go back to a natural more moral state does sound good to me . . . but I just don’t see how it happens in practice.

            For instance, health care. Sure, there may have been a good in our system 100 years ago, for instance. We probably had a lot more efficacious remedies for a much lower price. And maybe the welfare state created the motive for capitalists to develop a sick making process so that it could be paid to provide the remedy. But how do we bridge the gap of where we are and this vision of the past? How does your ideal system compare to Cuba, for instance? Maybe Cuba has adopted some cheap remedies from the past but has organized itself in an efficient manner.

            Plus, a lot of this has to do with basic organization. I don’t think the rules of how medicine was practiced 100 years ago could be applied today (a doctor moving to a small town may have a lot of potential customers and make it work–can he do that now? If we just dropped federal support he would be even worse off).

          4. longtimereader

            Skippy – I have literally no idea what you’re talking about.
            I’d love to respond to your points if I could figure out what there are.

            Walter – thanks for the reply.

            The problem with your system is that without the guns of the state to enforce the use of government-created currency (legal tender laws), you’d find that it would be quickly abandoned. The ONLY way unredeemable currency ever works is if people are forced by the guns of the state to use it.

            As far as the practicality of my ideas, I have two responses:

            1. It DOESN’T MATTER. The moral argument trumps the argument by effect. In other words, it is not a valid argument that we cannot end slavery because then who would pick the cotton? Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter. Slavery is WRONG, theft is WRONG, violence is WRONG, and THAT is how we make progress. Notice many slaves around these days? No, because we put forth, and we ACCEPTED, the argument that the morality trumped the practicality. But, even with that being the case..

            2. You’re wrong about the practicality. Check out this video for some history of the free market in medical care prior to the cartelization of the industry:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBFoC1gkExI&feature=plcp

            It is merely your opinion that outcomes would be worse; I assure you that history, evidence, and logic all agree that we would be much, much better off.

            Finally, you never answered my question: do you accept that taxation is theft? This is essential to understanding the morality of political action. I really hope you choose to educate yourself; Free Domain Radio is a great place to start, I highly recommend you check out the thousands of free podcasts, videos, books, etc.

            As always – thanks for the conversation!

          5. EconCCX

            The problem with your system is that without the guns of the state to enforce the use of government-created currency (legal tender laws), you’d find that it would be quickly abandoned. The ONLY way unredeemable currency ever works is if people are forced by the guns of the state to use it. @longtimereader

            Those who have debts in dollars must pay in dollars or lose their security. People use the US dollar all over the world, where it isn’t legal tender but a tradeable good.

          6. longtimereader

            “Those who have debts in dollars must pay in dollars or lose their security. People use the US dollar all over the world, where it isn’t legal tender but a tradeable good.”

            EconCCX,

            That’s a really, really good point. I would respond by saying that it’s all relative.

            Take a look at the hyperinflation in Zimbabwe. Their currency was depreciating so fast that the US dollar seemed positively rock-solid in comparison (it’s what they’re still using today). In truth, the US dollar has lost it’s value so gradually that most people haven’t really noticed. This cannot and will not last; now that the debts have grown so unsustainable, currency debasement is the only option left. The dollar has been untethered to physical commodities for only 40 years, which is the average lifespan of fiat currencies. It’s true that in that period, though it has drastically lost value, it has done so in a slow enough fashion that it hasn’t caused a flight into more tangible assets – yet. Well, at least for those outside the Freedom movement.

            Also keep in mind that the US is in a pretty unique situation. After the American revolution occurred, and the unprecedented experiment in freedom began, the massive amounts of wealth that was created (the inevitable result of freedom) was ultimately taxed and procured by the state, which allowed it to grow into the megalomaniacal killing machine we all know and loathe today, the largest government ever to exist.

            Gresham’s Law has something to say about this:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gresham's_law

            Also, this interview I think is relevant:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0Oz2BfE5zA&feature=plcp

            I’d be interested to know your thoughts? Thanks for the comment!

            Adding random text to circumvent my IP ban…

      2. Jim

        Charter schools pass the math test that counts: cost effectiveness.

        What proponents of the status quo have yet to understand is that wages have stagnated for over a decade.

        You want the public to support public school teachers?

        Come up with a progressive revenue stream to pay for them.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          I did.

          Greenbacks and Continentals.

          Just as Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, and Andrew Jackson recommended.

          No need for a progressive revenue stream.

  16. BondsOfSteel

    We don’t need to look at public vs chartered schools to see which ones will be most cost efficent. We have decades of data on private vs public colleges to see how outsourcing education works.

    Sure some private colleages, like Harvard, are awesome. They are also awesomely expensive. However, most private schools are private trade schools, which account for a majority of student load debt and have horriable graduation rates:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/business/14schools.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0

    In case your missing my point, this is once again, the public taxpayers (through loan gurantees) supporting private enterprise. The solution is easy… only have public loan gurantees for public institutions. I bet most private schools would fold if students could default on their debt.

    1. Jim

      Are you certain?

      My understanding is that charter schools, b/c of lower salaries and no defined benefit pensions, are FAR more cost effective than public schools.

      1. robert157

        Your understanding is incorrect.

        In a for-profit school sucking public funds, the professional teachers have been replaced by something resembling service workers. The money saved on teachers’ salaries and benefits goes into the bank accounts of the individuals running the charter school. That’s the whole idea behind charter schools — skimming kids’ educations for profits. Improving things for kids isn’t part of the deal.

  17. J-Lib

    It’s Ben Joravsky, not Jarovsky. I love the Reader and I’ve met Ben and he seems to be a stand-up guy. But he is capable of better and more objective journalism. On this issue, he is a union jingoist. Anything that opposes the labor monopoly org., is, in his mind, de facto evil. He buys into the rhetorical conflation of the interests of a labor monopoly organization with those of a) actual teachers, and b) children and their parents — an assumption not supportable by observation.

    The tragedy is, the debate over schooling is becoming the same old Hobson’s choice that politicians usually maneuver us into. Which colorful entertainment figure do you want steering your children’s future? Ronald McDonald? Or Karen Lewis?

    What kind of centrally mismanaged, top-down regime would you prefer to be forced to support? The present mess, mismanaged by CPS and its dependent, CTU? Or, government charter franchises handed out by cronies and donors to the Mayor; McMicroSchools(TM), with all the wonderful marketing and branding opportunities that they supply? (“Teacher, why are the classroom windows always getting stuck?” “They were donated by Bill Gates.” “Oh.”)

    I resent a bunch of politricksters putting us in this trick bag. I resent fake debates. I resent being condescended to like a child. I resent elitists — in unions, in bureaucracies, in universities, or in corporate boardrooms — fiddling around with the same old “reform” talk while our children’s future burns.

    Without a doubt, the slaves who lived in the big house with massa were better off than the field hands who lived in the mud-floor shack. But they were all still slaves.

    People deprived of choice are slaves.

    Why doesn’t the Reader — and indeed, every source claiming to be “liberal”or “pro-choice” — have someone asking why the two purported “sides” of this so-called debate oppose real parental empowerment and choice?

    Why does the system — pols, educrats and laborcrats alike — so despise parents, so distrust them to behave as adults?

    Why do both sides in the false paradigm still want to own other people’s children, and control the money and the political power? Why do they continue to insist, in 2012, that education must forever more be a government-managed and -delivered monopoly?

    There is distributive justice and there is managerial social engineering. Those are two different, and in many ways, conflicting goals. It’s one thing to support state-funded schooling as a means of opportunity redistribution. It is an entirely different thing to maintain that the state — and/or a board run by one guy over a city of 3 million — has to centrally micromanage it. (Let’s not even talk about all the federal meddling… I don’t have all day.)

    It’s also an entirely different argument to support the status quo as a permanent job entitlement, as political patronage, or as a way for enlightened elites in and around the state to bestow their purportedly superior wisdom and guidance upon the benighted lower classes.

    As far as the enlightened go, nearly forty percent of Chicago government schoolteachers place their own children in private schools. This is a nationwide reality: government teachers are twice as likely as the average parents to place their children in private schools. At least some recognize the inherent philosophical and moral contradiction in exercising choice for their own families while denying the same to poorer families.

    A former Chicago alderman and popular host on WVON-AM, Cliff Kelly, had to agree with a caller to one of his recent shows, who pointed out that food stamp recipients aren’t required to shop at a limited-selection government grocery store from a limited, generic government menu. They shop at the store of their choice and are responsible for managing their own budgetary and dietary choices.

    School principal and choice crusader Dr. Steve Perry makes similar points. He says education freedom is the next civil rights issue.

    “Liberals” or “progressives” should take care not to wind up as tragicomic, unintentional Orville Faubus figures of 2012, standing in the way of inner-city minority children to freedom of choice and a decent education.

    By the way, teachers too would benefit from the choice of a robust variety of schools. Little though they might recognize it, lack of competition typically produces not only crappy products but a crappy employee experience. Real choice is in the interests of teachers who just want to excel in a supportive environment, as much as it’s in the interests of students and parents.

        1. JTFaraday

          I’m not a teacher. But if I were, I would slit my own throat before I would teach any kid of yours how to spell f-u-n-d-a-m-e-n-t-a-l-i-s-t.

          So, it’s a good thing you’re a philosophical voluntarist.

  18. Septeus7

    Quote: “If you need to put me in a box so you can dismiss me with ad-hominem attacks, rather than responding to the arguments, then feel free to call me a “voluntarist”. I believe that ALL human interactions should be voluntary.”

    Yeah voluntary like blackmail, vote buying, child labor, coverture marriage, indentured servitude, and monoarchy!

    Quote: “Um… do I believe it exists? Yes, of course. If you’re asking if I think currency is necessary, of COURSE we need currency, that is how we achieve the division of labor. Without money, we’d be reduced to barter, which is horribly inefficient (though still better than subsistence living). Money should be freely chosen by those who engage in voluntary market interactions. The history of freely-chosen currency is wonderfully varied and ingenious (precious metals, time banks, redeemable commodity scrip, etc.), whereas the history of fiat currency (currency imposed by the use of force) is 100% consistent in its eventual return to its true value: zero”

    Sign…looks slavertarian troll doesn’t know the difference between money, credit and currency.

    I thought we where done with this money arose from barter nonsense. You cite a well know LewRockwell.com host of all sorts of racist cranks as if those hick morons knew anything at all about the history of money or economics.

    Quote: “Do I believe governments and collective actions exist? Well, governments don’t exist, other than in the propagandized heads of “citizens”.”

    Government’s don’t exist but the “free market is real.” Just how deluded are you?

    Quote: “Governments are merely a group of people who claim a monopoly on the use of force in a given geographical area.”

    No government claims a monopoly on the use of force. They claim a monopoly on decide what liabilities are
    legitimate.

    Quote: “Collective action can absolutely be achieved morally when it is voluntary. People are free to get together and create products to trade voluntarily (“companies”), worship sky-ghosts (“religions”), or what have you. Where the morality ends is when that group of people points guns at a third party and start making demands, which is the epitome of what those who hold the guns of the state do.”

    By companies I assume you private corporate enterprises but not unions cause that would be gun pointing against those poor poor capitalist bosses who have never picked up guns against folks like ever!

    Quote: “Collective action is fine, it is FORCE and COERCION that is immoral!”

    Unless “longtimenoread” is using it punish those folks who “using force” by stealing against some vast private feudal state in which case locking them up in a private prison is perfectly fine cause “longnotimeread” is the ultimate divine arbiter of using that kind of defensive force.

    Quote: “Health care was a wonderful, CHEAP, myriad of services and innovation before the guns of the state came in and cartelized the industry (see the AMA).”

    Yes 19th century medicine with cranks with snake oil was the bomb until those evil doctors got in the way with wacky ideas like science and public health. Give my dysentery or give death cause at least I’m dying shitting my free market guts all over the place free of big gov’mint socialism.

    Quote: “Absolutely not. “Education” is a misnomer. Children have historically been “educated” primarily by their parents, but LIFE is the only education that kids need.”

    Okay now you’ve pushing my buttons. I’m victim of the radical rightwing homeschooling which damages people here a good article exposing the truth of these scams http://www.alternet.org/story/154541/barely_literate_how_christian_fundamentalist_homeschooling_hurts_kids

    You’re argument is the kind used by southern male racists against blacks, against the poor, against women and represent the worst kind of class based repression. Wake up and smell the , sexist, classism and racism of the privatization and antischooling movements. Go back to Stormfront and LewRockwell you neoconfederate piece of shit I will fight you to the death on this. Education and Healthcare are rights.

    Quote: “How many “private murders” were there? A tiny, tiny fraction of that.”

    OMG! Guess no ever starved in Indian due to the policies of the East Indian Company? How many Chinese murdered during the “Free Trade” Opium warfare? How about the millions killed by big Pharma?

    First, I’m posting a link to this http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2495079/capitalism_has_killed_more_than_communism/

    Quote: “The initiation of the use of force is ALWAYS wrong. ”

    Except initiation of force against thieves, murderers, blackmailers, cheats, dead beat parents, etc… as determined his majesty longtimenoread cause it’s not there’s ever any sujectivity or ambiguity in the determination of “initiation of force, or debt” cause he’s a reichwing Slavertarian master of universe out to unleash “the will to power” of all those John Galts out there.

    Hail Master Koch! Frack me some More!

    1. longtimereader

      Septeus7,

      Normally I wouldn’t respond to a post that contained so many vicious personal attacks, and I know there’s not much chance that I’ll change your mind, but I’d like to respond to your points for the benefit of anyone else who may be reading this.

      “Quote: “If you need to put me in a box so you can dismiss me with ad-hominem attacks, rather than responding to the arguments, then feel free to call me a “voluntarist”. I believe that ALL human interactions should be voluntary.”

      Yeah voluntary like blackmail, vote buying, child labor, coverture marriage, indentured servitude, and monoarchy!”

      Most of these have to do with violent laws, and thus are not voluntary. Child labor is of course voluntary, children don’t belong in a separate class. If a child chooses to work, who are we to point a gun at him or her to stop them? Why should children not have the right to work, especially if it means the difference between eating and going hungry? Now if you’re talking about parents exploiting children – this of course is not voluntary.

      “Quote: “Um… do I believe it exists? Yes, of course. If you’re asking if I think currency is necessary, of COURSE we need currency, that is how we achieve the division of labor. Without money, we’d be reduced to barter, which is horribly inefficient (though still better than subsistence living). Money should be freely chosen by those who engage in voluntary market interactions. The history of freely-chosen currency is wonderfully varied and ingenious (precious metals, time banks, redeemable commodity scrip, etc.), whereas the history of fiat currency (currency imposed by the use of force) is 100% consistent in its eventual return to its true value: zero”

      Sign…looks slavertarian troll doesn’t know the difference between money, credit and currency.”

      So the ad-hominem attacks begin… I find these terms can vary drastically depending on the context and the understanding of the individual, perhaps you’d like to elaborate on your point and explain your understanding of the differences between the three terms? Here are a few interesting definitions that I found:

      From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

      Currency \Cur”ren*cy\ (k?r”r?n-c?), n.; pl. Currencies (-s?z).
      [Cf. LL. currentia a current, fr. L. currens, p. pr. of
      currere to run. See Current.]

      3. That which is in circulation, or is given and taken as
      having or representing value; as, the currency of a
      country; a specie currency; esp., government or bank notes
      circulating as a substitute for metallic money.
      [1913 Webster]

      Money \Mon”ey\, n.; pl. Moneys. [OE. moneie, OF. moneie, F.
      monnaie, fr. L. moneta. See Mint place where coin is made,
      Mind, and cf. Moidore, Monetary.]
      1. A piece of metal, as gold, silver, copper, etc., coined,
      or stamped, and issued by the sovereign authority as a
      medium of exchange in financial transactions between
      citizens and with government; also, any number of such
      pieces; coin.
      [1913 Webster]

      I’m guessing these are not the definitions that you’re thinking of…? So much easier to attack others than to actually try to make an argument…

      “I thought we where done with this money arose from barter nonsense. You cite a well know LewRockwell.com host of all sorts of racist cranks as if those hick morons knew anything at all about the history of money or economics.”

      Another ad-hominem attack, this time against an entire website, rather than responding to the argument. Care to cite any examples, or respond to the actual argument?

      “Quote: “Do I believe governments and collective actions exist? Well, governments don’t exist, other than in the propagandized heads of “citizens”.”

      Government’s don’t exist but the “free market is real.” Just how deluded are you?”

      Um.. free markets exist friend, do you even know what the term means? A free market is any voluntary transaction undertaken without the involvement of violent coercion (taxes, levies, regulations, etc.), an admittedly rare occurrence these days, though not so much in the past. A different way of looking at it is in the relationship market; did you and your spouse choose each other voluntarily? That’s a free market, friend! The opposite would be arranged marriages, or rape, certainly things we’ve tried historically but I think you’ll agree that the free market in human relationships is not only more moral, but it produces much better outcomes, as is ALWAYS the case with freedom.

      “Quote: “Governments are merely a group of people who claim a monopoly on the use of force in a given geographical area.”

      No government claims a monopoly on the use of force. They claim a monopoly on decide what liabilities are
      legitimate.”

      I have no idea what this means, perhaps you’d care to elaborate? Either way, you’re wrong on the first point. Put on a homemade badge and a blue costume and start pointing guns at people if you want to see the monopoly of force in action.

      “Quote: “Collective action can absolutely be achieved morally when it is voluntary. People are free to get together and create products to trade voluntarily (“companies”), worship sky-ghosts (“religions”), or what have you. Where the morality ends is when that group of people points guns at a third party and start making demands, which is the epitome of what those who hold the guns of the state do.”

      By companies I assume you private corporate enterprises but not unions cause that would be gun pointing against those poor poor capitalist bosses who have never picked up guns against folks like ever!”

      Private unions are perfectly moral, friend! Nothing wrong with a bunch of workers getting together to make demands from their employer as a group.

      “Public” unions are a different story, because the person footing the bill does not have a seat at the table. These people are paid with stolen money, and thus their demands for more theft from those who do the thieving are NOT moral. And no, Wal-Mart does not typically point guns at its employees, but some businesses do love to use the violence of the state to get their way. This, of course, it immoral.

      “Quote: “Collective action is fine, it is FORCE and COERCION that is immoral!”

      Unless “longtimenoread” is using it punish those folks who “using force” by stealing against some vast private feudal state in which case locking them up in a private prison is perfectly fine cause “longnotimeread” is the ultimate divine arbiter of using that kind of defensive force.”

      Another ad-hominem… other than that, this doesn’t seem to be a rational, or understandable, argument. Perhaps you’d care to clarify?

      “Quote: “Health care was a wonderful, CHEAP, myriad of services and innovation before the guns of the state came in and cartelized the industry (see the AMA).”

      Yes 19th century medicine with cranks with snake oil was the bomb until those evil doctors got in the way with wacky ideas like science and public health. Give my dysentery or give death cause at least I’m dying shitting my free market guts all over the place free of big gov’mint socialism.”

      I think you’re confusing the advancement of medical technology with the efficacy of a given system. See a link I posted above for more on this; it’s apples and oranges, my friend. That being said, your argument is really difficult to follow, again perhaps you could clarify?

      “Quote: “Absolutely not. “Education” is a misnomer. Children have historically been “educated” primarily by their parents, but LIFE is the only education that kids need.”

      Okay now you’ve pushing my buttons. I’m victim of the radical rightwing homeschooling which damages people here a good article exposing the truth of these scams http://www.alternet.org/story/154541/barely_literate_how_christian_fundamentalist_homeschooling_hurts_kids

      Ahh so now we’re getting somewhere, you were abused as a child. I am so, so sorry my friend. I agree that christian fundamentalist “homeschooling” is terrible. This is not what I’m talking about at all. Check this out:

      http://www.amazon.com/The-Unschooling-Handbook-Childs-Classroom/dp/0761512764/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349909866&sr=8-1&keywords=unschooling

      This concept is VERY different from what you experienced as a child, I hope you can differentiate the two.

      “You’re argument is the kind used by southern male racists against blacks, against the poor, against women and represent the worst kind of class based repression. Wake up and smell the , sexist, classism and racism of the privatization and antischooling movements. Go back to Stormfront and LewRockwell you neoconfederate piece of shit I will fight you to the death on this. Education and Healthcare are rights.”

      Again with the insults… I’ll chalk them up to a product of your childhood abuse, and not take them personally. I agree that the “southern male racists” make sophistic arguments that seem similar on the surface, but I assure you they are completely, 100% different. My arguments are rooted in the concept of the Non-Aggreession Principle, something that we ALL accept in our personal lives and yet create a magical exception when it comes to the goons of the state.

      Education is of course a right, you can educate yourself at any time! You can also care for your health however you like, but you don’t have a “right” to someone else’s time or resources without compensating them in the manner that they require.

      “Quote: “How many “private murders” were there? A tiny, tiny fraction of that.”

      OMG! Guess no ever starved in Indian due to the policies of the East Indian Company? How many Chinese murdered during the “Free Trade” Opium warfare? How about the millions killed by big Pharma?”

      The EIC was an appendage of the British empire, as were the opium wars. Our current pharma industry is also very much in bed with the state. You’re making my points for me, friend! The state is evil! You have to look at the relationships between companies and the state to understand this.

      “First, I’m posting a link to this http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2495079/capitalism_has_killed_more_than_communism/

      Quote: “The initiation of the use of force is ALWAYS wrong. ”

      Except initiation of force against thieves, murderers, blackmailers, cheats, dead beat parents, etc… as determined his majesty longtimenoread cause it’s not there’s ever any sujectivity or ambiguity in the determination of “initiation of force, or debt” cause he’s a reichwing Slavertarian master of universe out to unleash “the will to power” of all those John Galts out there.”

      There really isn’t much ambiguity regarding the non-aggression principle:

      “Aggression, for the purposes of the NAP, is defined as the initiation or threatening of violence against a person or legitimately owned property of another. Specifically, any unsolicited actions of others that physically affect an individual’s property or person (which may also be considered that person’s property), no matter if the result of those actions is damaging, beneficial, or neutral to the owner, are considered violent or aggressive when they are against the owner’s free will and interfere with his right to self-determination or the principle of self-ownership. Supporters of NAP often use it to demonstrate the immorality of theft, vandalism, assault, and fraud. In contrast to pacifism, the non-aggression principle does not preclude violence used in self-defense or defense of others.”

      Read more here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-aggression_principle

      “Hail Master Koch! Frack me some More!”

      The Koch brothers are notorious for using the guns of the state to turn a profit and crowd out competitors. I do not endorse them.

      I hope you clarify the points you made, or concede the arguments.

  19. El Guapo

    The destruction of the U.S public school system is high on the agenda of the Plutocrats. This is evidenced by the massive number of paid shllls and libertards that show up in the comments of any post that adresses the subject. This is no exception.

  20. skippy

    The Commodification, Monetization and Financialization of children’s minds like a manufactured desire… Barf…

    Search Korean Tiger moms, it all there…

    Skippy… Fear that your kid will be left behind… bastards…

  21. Stevedoc22

    Go to the CPS and Illinois school websites. The data do not support the conclusions of the author here. Also, teh author does not link to the actual data.

Comments are closed.