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Discussion: (126 comments)

  1. Despite the billions of reasons to have free markets provide education, this is the number one reason: the unions’ top priority is not child education.

    Don Boudreaux gives an excellent example to think about when thinking that education should be even be government provided, much less monopolized by government.

  2. remember, you’re talking of the communistic state of New York. It’s about indoctrination to become good robots (obots), I presume.
    Though retired now, I and my fellow teachers had the students’ education as our prime directive!

    1. I and my fellow teachers had the students’ education as our prime directive“…

      That was always my impression when I was in school…

      Just out of curiosity when do you think the attitude towards teaching started to shift towards one of paycheck and benefits preservation and teaching became more secondary?

      Or has it?

    2. Stevor, I think most teachers, like you, place their students’ education first and foremost. It’s the unions that pretend to represent teachers that have other priorities.

      1. JuniataKid

        If that’s true, why aren’t teachers working to change the unions?

        1. JuniataKid

          Hmm. Good question. Maybe it’s not true.

  3. Who’d a-thunk it? Student success is not ‘Priority No. 1′ for most unionized public school teachers?“…

    Could the situation be so scrambled, so out of control it could be like Germany?

  4. Seattle Sam

    One of the more obvious examples is the constant push to reduce class sizes, the only demonstrated beneficiaries of which are teachers and unions. I know in the State of Washington, there is absolutely no correlation between student performance and class size. But find a teacher who wouldn’t prefer to teach fewer students. Find a union that wouldn’t want more dues payers.

    1. Walt Greenway

      My college class sizes range from 6 students to 40 students. Anyone who says class size does not make a difference would have to believe the teacher does not make a difference, and if so, union or non-union is irrelevant.

      There is no possible way I can do as good of a job with 40 students as I can with a smaller class size (for example, just one question from each student in a class of 40 burns 80 minutes of a 220 minute class at 2 minutes per answer). Being non-union, I don’t think I am any better or worse than our union and/or tenured faculty :)

      1. Seattle Sam

        The teacher’s ability, by all means, makes a difference, but the number of students that teacher teaches apparently does not. See for instance http://nber.org/papers/w17632
        What the literature clearly suggests is that there is more leverage on increasing the quality to the teachers teaching than in decreasing the number of students that a teacher teaches.

        1. Walt Greenway

          “We find that traditionally collected input measures — class size, per pupil expenditure, the fraction of teachers with no certification, and the fraction of teachers with an advanced degree — are not correlated with school effectiveness. In stark contrast, we show that an index of five policies suggested by over forty years of qualitative research — frequent teacher feedback, the use of data to guide instruction, high-dosage tutoring, increased instructional time, and high expectations — explains approximately 50 percent of the variation in school effectiveness.”

          The quotation above has two sentences. Everything in the second sentence depends on having more time per student to implement. Fewer students = more possible time per student for individualized instruction. Anyone who says more students does not reduce learning potential needs to personally observe classes of different sizes.

          1. I have to side with Walt here. Anybody who has taught understands that teaching is like aerodynamics, it doesn’t scale up. Plus, it depends on what you’re teaching (language versus math versus science, etc.).

            Either way, I think you’re both talking around the real problem: who decides how big the class should be and who pays for it?

      2. Walt, if all 40 students in your class have a question every class period either you are not doing a very good job, the course is poorly designed, or you have a lot of students who aren’t qualified to be in that class. For whatever reason, they’re just not getting it.

        Or maybe you are just losing control of the class.

        That said, do you think that the there is better overall understanding after you handle 80 minutes of questions, or would it be better if you instead just plowed on with the class material? At the end of the class session, which of the two groups has learned more, assuming there was some way to compare?

        1. Walt Greenway

          Ron H., no two classes are the same. The days of the instructor just lecturing and students listening is old school (I probably talk about 25% of the time in most classes). Students are expected to actively engage in the learning process, so questions are not only encouraged they are required for anything above a “C” grade.

          I seem to lecture a lot on Carpe Diem because people seem to know a lot about unions without ever being in one and know a lot about teaching without ever having taught :) Feel free to ask me questions on either topic.

          1. Walt

            no two classes are the same. The days of the instructor just lecturing and students listening is old school (I probably talk about 25% of the time in most classes). Students are expected to actively engage in the learning process, so questions are not only encouraged they are required for anything above a “C” grade.

            Then your previous comment that 40 student questions would “burn” 80 minutes of class time is really a GOOD thing. A 40 student class learns more than a 6 student class where only 12 minutes is “burned” on questions.

            Gotcha. I misunderstood your meaning of the word “burn”.

            I seem to lecture a lot on Carpe Diem because people seem to know a lot about unions without ever being in one and know a lot about teaching without ever having taught.

            It’s possible to know a lot about a subject without being employed in some direct capacity. For instance, I know a lot about steaks without ever being a butcher.

            We can see the destructive influence of unions without belonging to one, and we can recognize successful teaching methods and effective education without being teachers. We can see what works and what doesn’t work. It’s called *learning*. Something you should be familiar with.

            Feel free to ask me questions on either topic.

            No thanks, it’s obvious from your previous comments that you have very narrow views of both. Participation apparently hasn’t given you any special insight.

          2. Walt Greenway

            Ron, yes, burn was not a good term to use. I’ve answered four emails tonight over an assignment that is due tomorrow because I did not have time to answer all the questions in class last week (and, yes, students procrastinate anyhow). I find any time I have more than 16-18 students, time constraints limit my effectiveness in a dynamic classroom. You can only do so much in a given amount of time.

            My narrow insights are usually the opposing viewpoints from the inside. Almost any issue has more than one side to it. I don’t think we need any more voices against labor unions here: do we? I don’t think we can completely disregard the value of decades of experience from the discussion even though I agree non-experienced people can add valuable viewpoints, too.

            I am a lot more conservative than what I show here because most of the topics are so one-sided to the point of personal attacks on anyone who does not agree 100% with whatever is written. I use my real name, so people can take or leave what I say, and I will own what I say.

          3. Hey Walt,

            I guess the workers at Volkswagen just didn’t have enough information, eh?

          4. Walt Greenway

            Paul, look for at least another vote at Volkswagen. What Senator Corker did was not unlike what the CEO at Boeing did a few years ago, and that turned into a colossal mess. Both had the power to make their words become reality, so their actions were taken very seriously by the NLRB and only through tough and expensive negotiations with the union was the case eventually settled. The NLRA is clear you cannot attempt to influence an election by intimidating the voters over work/job loss in case of a victory. I accept workers not wanting a union better here than most folks on the opposite side accepting those who want a union.

          5. Walt,

            It turned into a “colossal mess” because the NLRB goons declared the right to tell a private company where it could locate.

            The VW workers took a look at the UAW handiwork and said, “no thanks.”

          6. Walt Greenway

            It turned into a colossal mess because a CEO said something he should not have said. Those guys get paid a lot of money not to make mistakes like that. If I were a Boeing shareholder, which I probably am in one of my mutual funds, I would be pissed.

            We shall see if Senator Corker should have corked his mouth when another election try will probably be ordered by the NLRB at Volkswagen. You know, that same Senator did not talk the same way to the UAW/GM workers at the Spring Hill plant in Tennessee when he was wanting their votes as he did for the media at the certification election.

          7. Walt Greenway
          8. “These guys get paid a lot of money not to make mistakes like that give the NLRB thugs a chance to pounce.”

            Yeah, you’re a real conservative, Walt.

          9. Walt Greenway

            Paul, that’s one of you guys’ problems: you think everyone is either left or right on everything and everything is black and white and that’s not how it really works in real life. Life is messy with a lot of people who have different opinions you have to live with even if you don’t like it.

          10. Yeah, I know, Walt. You’ve shared your philosophy of how might makes right here on multiple occasions. Nobody disputes the “real world” that is our current thugocracy. It’s your unabashed endorsement of it that’s so repulsive.

          11. Walt

            The discussion has ranged far afield from the issue presented by the original post. Here’s something you haven’t addressed.

            “The 6,700 students at her 22 Success Academy Charter Schools are overwhelmingly from poor, minority families and scored in the top 1% in math and top 7% in English on the most recent state test. Citywide, four in five charters in New York outperformed comparable non-charter public schools.”

            Here’s something that is working well. Students are learning and excelling despite their demographics that usually means they attend crummy schools.

            If the goal of public education is to actually educate students, then we should expect something that appears to work would be expanded, but the unions – and the Mayor – are opposed to a charter school system that demonstrably provides a superior education.

            Why? Why would ANYONE oppose children getting a better education?

            I think I already know the answer, but I’m interested in hearing any other possible explanation.

          12. Walt Greenway

            Ron, as long as the Republicans keep trying to eliminate their biggest nemesis, labor unions, using any means possible, the Democrats will keep trying to hold onto one of their biggest supporters and their continued existence. Yes, everyone including these kids will be caught in that cross-fire. Hey, if the Republicans could eliminate labor unions by supporting public schools, they would do that, too.

            The two major political parties can either figure out how to deal with each other without eliminating each other, or we can go on with the mess we have now. The thread topic did not really range away from the charter school issue because politics is the hidden agenda behind the stalemate and the root cause of the problem.

          13. Che is dead

            Walt, who are the public workers unions organized against?

          14. Walt Greenway

            I recognize a leading question when I see one, Che. I suppose a public worker has a right to select a bargaining agent just like anyone else would have. It’s not a novel idea to pay someone else to do something you either don’t want to do or think they would do a better job. Much of the bargaining in the public unions go to impartial third-party arbitrators nowadays, so any collusion between elected officials and union officials should be eliminated (personally, I think arbitration should be the law for public unions)

          15. Che is dead

            “The NLRA is clear you cannot attempt to influence an election by intimidating the voters over work/job loss in case of a victory.

            But it’s alright to intimidate them through “Card Check”, right?

            One more question, would pointing out the UAW’s history of job destruction qualify as “intimidation” in Big Labor’s Orwellian world? Can one even utter the word “Detroit”?

          16. Walt Greenway

            Card check? Volkswagen wanted the union so they could operate more like their German model, but under U.S. labor law they were not allowed to support the union. It would have been very interesting if they had allowed the union without a vote through the legal method of card check.

            I support changing the NLRA to allow work councils such as Volkswagen wants, and I have written my representatives about my support. The NLRA in its present form is not acceptable for a competitive workforce in a 21st century country.

          17. Walt

            Ron, as long as the Republicans keep trying to eliminate their biggest nemesis, labor unions, using any means possible, the Democrats will keep trying to hold onto one of their biggest supporters and their continued existence. Yes, everyone including these kids will be caught in that cross-fire. Hey, if the Republicans could eliminate labor unions by supporting public schools, they would do that, too.

            Wow, Walt, talk about black and white thinking! wasn’t this you?

            “Paul, that’s one of you guys’ problems: you think everyone is either left or right on everything and everything is black and white and that’s not how it really works in real life.”

            And the kids are just unfortunate collateral damage in vicious political battles. Got it. Actually that was my guess, but it’s good to hear it from an “insider”.

            The thread topic did not really range away from the charter school issue because politics is the hidden agenda behind the stalemate and the root cause of the problem.

            Indeed – that’s the point. The teachers’ unions obviously value political power above the best interests of the students and their parents. It’s pretty disgusting.

            Note that I’m not condemning teachers, just the unions.

          18. Che is dead

            Workers at the Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., have been on the receiving end of an aggressive United Auto Workers organizing drive. And it’s getting help from company officials with ties to a powerful German union.

            Late Friday, the Center for Worker Freedom reported that some Chattanooga VW employees were alarmed that representatives from the Volkswagen Works Council had been granted permission to meet with workers on company property to spread pro-union propaganda.

            These concerned workers delivered a letter to upper management requesting equal access to company facilities to discuss alternatives to UAW representation.

            They also requested access to the same employee contact list the union will have in the event of an election, so that the workers could hear both sides.

            Both requests were denied. The workers were told that they could not have access to those facilities — which were paid for in part by tax dollars — and contacts because they are not an “entity.” — Washington Examiner

            Remind us all again, Walt, who was it that was intimidated?

          19. Che is dead

            The rejection of a key Democratic Party ally occurred despite President Barack Obama’s personal support for the unionization drive. Tennessee Republicans “are more concerned about German shareholders than American workers,” Obama said shortly before American workers shot down the unionization bid, according to the Detroit Free Press.

            “The workers at Volkswagen looked at the history of this union and made the best decision for themselves, their jobs and their community,” Patterson said in a statement. “In spite of the UAW’s multi-million dollar propaganda machine, and with company and government officials at Obama’s NLRB aiding the union in every possible way, workers learned the facts and were able to make an informed decision.”

            Union organizers and other supporters were granted access to the plant in the weeks leading up to the election, while VW rejected a petition from employees to allow union opponents to present their case.FreeBeacon

            Man, you can’t even give this UAW shit away. Obviously what is needed here is another vote. And another, and another, until these rubes get it right. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work, Walt?

          20. Che is dead

            Volkswagen wanted the union so they could operate more like their German model, but under U.S. labor law they were not allowed to support the union. — Walt

            Same link as above:

            “John Raudabaugh, a former member of the National Labor Relations Board, said that he had never seen a company work so closely to aid a union election.”

            Wrong. Under U.S. Labor law Volkswagen was not allowed to form a “works council”, giving their employees input into production, unless their employees were represented by a union.

            Mickey Kaus explains:

            “VW, which already has a powerful union back home in Europe, wanted to set up German-style “works councils,” where rank and file employees could have a say in production decisions. But, according to many U.S. labor lawyers, it needed a union partner — otherwise, under the Wagner Act the works councils would be considered an illegal “company union.” — Daily Caller

            I thought you were supposed to be our “go to” guy on all things union?

          21. Walt

            You know, that same Senator did not talk the same way to the UAW/GM workers at the Spring Hill plant in Tennessee when he was wanting their votes as he did for the media at the certification election.

            LOL Are you actually suggesting that a politician might be duplicitous? I’m shocked by such a notion.

          22. Walt

            Much of the bargaining in the public unions go to impartial third-party arbitrators nowadays, so any collusion between elected officials and union officials should be eliminated.

            That is truly naive.

            But why would public employees need a union when they typically help elect their own bosses, who then owe them favors, and who have no particular concern about holding down costs as they aren’t spending their own money?

            Incentives matter.

          23. Walt Greenway

            Ron, a union is a collective bargaining agent for a group of people. They often have power because they represent more than one person. Sometimes that power can equal the same power other people with a lot of money have. That’s one of the reason some people wish to destroy labor unions instead of working with them through necessary change.

            Why does anyone pay anyone else to do anything for them? Would you deny someone paying someone else to change their oil for them?

          24. And Walt skips over Ron’s point about how public unions elect their own stooges so they end up sitting at both sides of the table at bargaining time. John Corzine is a notorious example. Noticeably absent from the table at bargaining time: taxpayers whose wallets are being raped.

          25. Che,

            “Obviously what is needed here is another vote.”

            With a few “tweaks” courtesy of the NLRB, no doubt. To quote Obama’s favorite union thug Andy Stern, “We prefer to use the power of persuasion, but if that doesn’t work we use the persuasion of power.”

        2. Walt Greenway

          Typical class = 25% lecture, 25% individualized project on computers, 50% team projects (teams are usually 4 students per team).

          1. I am suprised that more folks don’t take the Kahn approach and move all lectures to video, devoting class time to questions and discussions. I.e homework becomes the lecture, and the class is spent on problems and the like. Note that they have found that the “lectures” should be 5-8 mins long not 60.
            In essence this takes turns a teacher into more of a coach.

          2. Walt Greenway

            Lyle, the most effective teaching learning process depends on the material to be learned, the student, and the teacher. There is no one-size-fits-all method. This semester I am teaching a basic HVAC class, a computerized heating and cooling analysis class, a manufacturing engineering class, and a human resource class.

        3. Labor unions are doing a pretty good job of eliminating themselves, wrecking whatever they touch only to be bailed out by their legal assaults on property right and access to the taxpayers’ wallets. Were it not for their corrupt circle jerk with the Democrat party, they would have mostly killed themselves off by now.

          1. Walt Greenway

            With all the friends the Republicans are making, I think Democrats and labor unions will be around for a while. It’s ashamed what they did to Mitt Romney in the presidential election. Governor Romney would have stood a chance because he was actually a centrist along the lines of Bill Clinton (people forget Clinton supported NAFTA).

          2. Exactly my point, Walt. Unions survive because they are part of the Democrat coalition of mouths to feed, using the money largely of the opposition.

            Oh, and give me a break regarding Romney. You still voted my wallet and pulled the lever for Obama.

  5. Benjamin Cole

    If we go to charter schols, can Muslims send children to madrassas at public expense? Why do Asians excel at old-fashioned public schools?

    1. Dirty secret with Asians is that the parents teach the kids what is lacking at home so even with awful teachers the kids learn what they need to learn.

      We had one daughter in public school and even on a “good” district had to do the same. When I went to school in the 1970s was the start when youbkinda had to watch out what the kids were learning. In my school it was still OK but the school I was suppose to attend was a mess – so my parents made sure I went to the right public school.

      As for your religious bigotry – goodness I thought that was suppose to be the domain of republicans – and is anyhow a non sequitur.

      1. marque, that’s just Benji mindlessly trolling for responses. Don’t waste your time.

        1. Benjamin Cole

          Not bigotry.

          As I understand it, a charter school still uses tax dollars.

          My tax dollars your tax dollars.

          So, can Muslims use tax dollars to send kids to madrassas? What if the madrassas teach hatred and bigotry?

          Okay, suppose we say “no” to that, you cannot open a madras and use tax dollars to teach kids to hate other religions.

          Then what is the line? Who gets to open a charter school, and who does not?

          These strike me as very sensible questions.

          1. Che is dead

            “What if the madrassas teach hatred and bigotry?”

            The Left would call that a “liberal arts” education.

          2. :) Good one ,Che.

    2. Che is dead

      If we go to charter schols, can Muslims send children to madrassas at public expense?

      What makes you think that a public education, in it’s current manifestation, isn’t religious in nature?

      1. Agreed. Even in my day we were learning new age Gaia stuff rather than hard subjects.

      2. Benjamin Cole

        Che–
        Yes, creationism is taught in somr public schools, but that is s long way from a madrassa-style indoctrination. The question remains: what if public charter schools inculcate students with unAmerican values?

        1. Tough question we should have foresaw in the 1960’s when the Democrats resumed mass immigration. Most of the terrorism on American soil in the past few decades, including 9/11, has been imported from countries hostile to the West.

          1. morganovich

            what if the current public schools indoctrinate children in un american values?

            (socialism, bad Keynesian economics, ideas like “the new deal worked”, and notions of democracy and leveling and affirmative action trumping rights?)

            the real question is “why should we have public schools st all”?

            i am all for making sure kids get educated and am even willing to accept it as a public good despite a somewhat fraught first principles basis for the argument.

            but from there, you have to let the market take over.

            the us spends what, $11k a student per year for public school?

            just give it to parents as an education voucher and let schools compete for kids.

            $220k per class of 20 is enough to buy a helluva education for a 9th grader.

            i would love to hear anyone try to argue otherwise.

            the system has LOADS of money, it just gets spent badly and run predominantly as local monopolies (unless you double pay and send kids to private school despite paying the taxes for public school).

            the answer seems simple:

            enable choice and let the market evolve and provide excellent service by having to compete.

            the us school system is run like the old soviet auto industry.

            is it any surprise that it lacks innovation and produces a low quality product?

          2. m-

            the real question is “why should we have public schools st all”?

            Bingo!

          3. Why should parents who don’t pay their share of the cost to educate their kids in the first place receive a voucher equal to those who do?
            Also, I pay more to live in a nice area in part so my kids will go to school without fear of being knifed in the hallway. Vouchers would allow budding young criminals to invade.

          4. Paul

            Why should parents who don’t pay their share of the cost to educate their kids in the first place receive a voucher equal to those who do?

            That’s just one of the many problems with public education. Of course one of your complaints is that “budding young criminals” are poor and uneducated. If you don’t help pay to educate them, how will they ever become productive?

            Of course in my view there should be no public education, so I’m not advocating here, it’s just an interesting question.

            Also, I pay more to live in a nice area in part so my kids will go to school without fear of being knifed in the hallway. Vouchers would allow budding young criminals to invade.

            Considering the quality of public education in general, why would you want your kids in public school in any area?

            Why would budding young criminals want to travel so far from home to go to school in unfamiliar surroundings rather than staying close to home where little is expected of them?

            Not all those from not-so-nice areas are budding young criminals. The Success Academy schools featured in the blog post are not in your neighborhood. When parents and students can choose a school, they overwhelmingly choose one that they feel will provide the best educational opportunities. This, of course, is anathema to the teachers unions. We can’t have actual results based on performance rearing it’s ugly head.

          5. Ron,

            I agree with you regarding public schools in general, though there are some very good ones in our area.

            It’s not my job to make sure the budding young criminals receive a quality education, and the truth is it will be wasted on most of them anyway because they have usually rolled snake eyes in the nature and nurture departments. We can thank the Left’s destructive agenda for that.

          6. Paul

            It’s not my job to make sure the budding young criminals receive a quality education..

            That’s absolutely right. But how about allowing them a choice if they ARE interested? I don’t think they will choose your neighborhood school. And if for some reason they do, perhaps they are interested in the same thing you are: A good education for their children.

            and the truth is it will be wasted on most of them anyway because they have usually rolled snake eyes in the nature and nurture departments.

            If that’s true, they won’t be interested in your neighborhood school. See above.

            We can thank the Left’s destructive agenda for that.

            Agreed. Let’s get rid of the welfare state. It seems to be causing a lot of problems.

          7. Ron,

            Typing on IPad…

            Regarding “they won’t come to your schools”

            How can we be sure? I’m not willing to risk my daughter being terrorized. It only takes one drop of shit to ruin a whole tub of ice cream.

            OTOH, I’d probably be open to to a modified voucher system with a vetting process similar to what I’d like for our immigration policy. Best and brightest are highly unlikely to rape and plunder.

          8. Paul

            How can we be sure?

            Paul, those who you don’t want in your local school aren’t very likely to want to go to your school, or any other school. You don’t need to worry about them invading your school district. Why would they bother?

            Those who might consider your school because it is a good school would choose it for the same reason you did. They want a safe environment and good education for their kids. Those kids didn’t roll the snake eyes. Their parents want the same thing you want for your daughter. A good education and a chance for a fulfilling and productive life.

            I’m not willing to risk my daughter being terrorized.

            Then you will have to home-school her & never let her go outside.

          9. morganovich

            paul-

            you raise some valid points (hence my earlier admission that the first principles argument for public schools is somewhat fraught), but i think you miss some and overstate a few.

            if we are going to talk about people paying their share, then what about those who have no kids? i have no children. why should i be paying for public schools i do not use? this seems to be at least as valid a distinction as neighborhood and income level.

            but if we accept education as a public good and that having masses of uneducated kids is a big net problem for us us while an educated, literate workforce would be a major economic benefit and crime reducer, then one can make an argument here from plausible self interest.

            i’m not claiming it’s iron clad, but its’ also not implausible.

            regarding your notions of school quality and safety, i think that is easily addressed by simply allowing all schools to act like private schools.

            they pick who they admit and have to the power to expel students at any time.

            this allows for a wide variety of rules, quality, sizes, and specialization.

            just because you have a voucher her does not allow you to “invade”.

            the school has to accept you and once you are there, has the right to expel you.

            thus, this notion of thugs invading seems implausible. if the school consents to such, then the other paying parents who want a safe environment can vote with their feet and possibly wipe the school out. this would seem to provide great incentive as well as ability to stop such things.

            i think you are still thinking in terms of a public school paradigm where the schools have little or no control over the kids they take.

            that would not be the case under vouchers.

            vouchers would also be valid for partial educations, so those parents could use them to defray part of the cost of an education whose price exceeds the value of the voucher, preventing the double payment those who send kids to private schools today face.

            you seem to be making the perfect the enemy of the good here.

            there is no perfect school solution.

            what would you propose to do that you think would be better than full blown voucher system with privatized schools?

          10. Morg,

            Good stuff. Agree no perfect solution. Agree unfair for childless to pay for other kids’ school.
            First thing should do is defang teachers’ unions. Also, kick out the troublemakers and much of the problem goes away. Saw this at Amer Thinker today:

            http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/02/a_conservative_cure_for_sick_schools.html

          11. m-

            thus, this notion of thugs invading seems implausible. if the school consents to such, then the other paying parents who want a safe environment can vote with their feet and possibly wipe the school out. this would seem to provide great incentive as well as ability to stop such things.

            Incentives matter. Imagine that. I suspect it’s something like this that minimizes invasions of thugs in grocery stores, restaurants, and shopping malls.

          12. morganovich

            ” I suspect it’s something like this that minimizes invasions of thugs in grocery stores, restaurants, and shopping malls.”

            alas, it could not keep rodney dangerfield out of bushwwod.

            -judge smails

          13. morganovich

            paul-

            the AT article is interesting, but mostly assumes its own premises (a form of logical fallacy).

            the fact that public schools CAN be good says nothing about whether privately run schools, exposed to market forces, would not be better still.

            it then builds it’s whole argument upon that flawed foundation, which makes most of its conclusions bad.

            further, most of the “good” public schools are either privately run charters, or school in good neighborhoods where parents place a high emphasis on education and basic civility is a given, not a fight.

            this is not a valid sample set to use to extrapolate to compton high.

            it also ignores that fantastic benefits of specialization.

            one of the problems with public schools is they have to cover everyhting.

            would not many students be better off at a sciences academy if that is their bent? or perhaps performing arts, or other more specialized disciplines (including trades)?

            public schools also have to aim for a middle ground in terms of ability. this is hard on high and low achievers alike.

            if schools could be more remedial in pace or targeted specifically at high achievers to let them move at their more accelerated pace, it would seem to benefit everyone.

            sure, in a small town, such things might not be available, but in even small urban areas, they likely would be, and many in small towns go a few towns over to hit private schools now.

            i think what we need to shoot for is a flourishing, dynamic, market driven system.

            retaining a public monopoly and dictating where kids go does not achieve that.

          14. Paul

            From your reference:

            I wish I could state without qualification that a voucher system would be superior to our long-established public education system, but I believe it would be no more successful than government boondoggles of the left.

            He doesn’t believe that allowing customer choice would force schools to compete and improve their products as happens in every other area of our lives?

            Schellenbaum is essentially recommending a government solution to the problems of public education, rather than a market solution. A different one than the Left proposes, but nonetheless a government solution.

          15. alas, it could not keep rodney dangerfield out of bushwwod.

            -judge smails

            Heh!

            I don’t think Paul is concerned about obnoxious rich kids in his local school…are you Paul?

          16. Morg,

            “thus, this notion of thugs invading seems implausible. if the school consents to such, then the other paying parents who want a safe environment can vote with their feet and possibly wipe the school out. this would seem to provide great incentive as well as ability to stop such things.”

            What if there’s nowhere to go because the thugs have invaded all the schools given that they have these fancy vouchers that allows them to roam anywhere? And let’s say the parents do pull all their kids out and the school goes under. Well, the thugs will just follow them to the next school to repeat the process.

            I’m not completely against vouchers in the final analysis for a lot of the reasons you and Ron point out. But I’d need safeguards before I bought in completely. There’d need to be a vetting process along with the voucher.

          17. morganovich

            “What if there’s nowhere to go because the thugs have invaded all the schools given that they have these fancy vouchers that allows them to roam anywhere?”

            1. schools are not required to admit or keep such thugs. a voucher works like money. no one is forced to accept one.

            2. in the unlikely event that they do, it creates a very attractive opportunity for someone to open a school next door that does not admit thugs.

            that is the beauty of the market. if people want things (like thug free schools) then the market will provide them and existing schools will have to shape up or be driven out of business.

            you seem to be making the assumption that a voucher allows students to “invade” against the wishes of a school and those who support it. this is simply not so.

            no one can make a private school take you as a student.

            what might happen is that a group of kids emerges that no one will take. they are known to be violent, to not do work, be extremely disruptive, etc.

            this then creates 2 possibilities: either the market will provide schools specializing in such kids or they will drop out, as many do now.

        2. Ron,

          Incentives matter. Imagine that. I suspect it’s something like this that minimizes invasions of thugs in grocery stores, restaurants, and shopping malls.

          Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but grocery stroes, restaurants, shopping malls, schools, neighborhoods, and even cities have been wiped out by invasions of thugs.

          Back to vouchers, there’s a true market solution if someone wants to send their kid to the schools in my area. They can do it the same way I did: move. Then they can pay the same property tax and other expenses as the rest of us. Else, you’re just giving them another handout in the form of a voucher.

          1. morganovich

            paul-

            clearly, many have used the “move where the schools are good” approach, but such an approach has a great deal of limitations.

            good schools and proximity to jobs do not always align. if you work in new york or san francisco, what is one to do?

            you can move to greenwich, but that commute is a killer.

            my parents moved to a town with good schools when i was going into 1st grade. as a result, my dad wound up with a 50 minute commute to work that was hard on him and i had to move away from my friends. it would have been nice to have another alternative (we could not afford private school at that point).

            further, not all people who want a good education for their kids and have bright, motivated kids that would participate in and benefit from good schools can afford to move to good neighborhoods.

            but the real killer is “what do we do about the bad schools”?

            to improve them, we need competition and to get that, we need choice.

            why not make ALL the schools better?

            choice is not going to hurt the good ones.

            it will likely even make them better.

          2. Paul

            Else, you’re just giving them another handout in the form of a voucher.

            They already have the handout. Universal free K-12 education. I’m only advocating choice.

            There’s no direct correlation between money spent per student and quality of the school. DC schools are among the highest $/per student in the country, with some of the worst performance, as are other inner city schools.

            Your local school isn’t better because it spends more of your tax money per student, but because it’s in a neighborhood where people are concerned, as you are, with quality education and a safe learning environment. Kids in your neighborhood learn the values necessary for successful education from their parents. It’s not the dollars spent on the school.

            Many people who can’t afford to live in your neighborhood want exactly the same thing. I doubt that their crummy neighborhood school costs much less than yours. One of the results of choice, is that the market can supply a demand for education where that demand exists. Charter schools such as Success Academy opened in poor neighborhoods because that’s where the demand is.

          3. Paul

            Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but grocery stroes, restaurants, shopping malls, schools, neighborhoods, and even cities have been wiped out by invasions of thugs.

            Private businesses have an incentive to protect their customers, and will toss out or arrest miscreants. schools need to do the same.

            I agree that gangs of thugs can discourage paying customers and will drive them away. In that case businesses can fail if they are unable to control their property, and customers will go somewhere else. If your neighborhood school has such problems you’re stuck. too bad. That’s your school, and that’s where your kids will go. Choices would be nice, no?

            What if there’s nowhere to go because the thugs have invaded all the schools given that they have these fancy vouchers that allows them to roam anywhere? And let’s say the parents do pull all their kids out and the school goes under. Well, the thugs will just follow them to the next school to repeat the process.

            The next school will be a private or charter school that doesn’t tolerate thuggish behavior.

            You are mis-characterizing vouchers. They allow a school to receive state funding when they enroll a student. There must be an opening available. They aren’t like a bus pass that allows unlimited transfers.

          4. morganovich

            sorry, this got nested improperly.

            “What if there’s nowhere to go because the thugs have invaded all the schools given that they have these fancy vouchers that allows them to roam anywhere?”

            1. schools are not required to admit or keep such thugs. a voucher works like money. no one is forced to accept one.

            2. in the unlikely event that they do, it creates a very attractive opportunity for someone to open a school next door that does not admit thugs.

            that is the beauty of the market. if people want things (like thug free schools) then the market will provide them and existing schools will have to shape up or be driven out of business.

            you seem to be making the assumption that a voucher allows students to “invade” against the wishes of a school and those who support it. this is simply not so.

            no one can make a private school take you as a student.

            what might happen is that a group of kids emerges that no one will take. they are known to be violent, to not do work, be extremely disruptive, etc.

            this then creates 2 possibilities: either the market will provide schools specializing in such kids or they will drop out, as many do now.

    3. Actually this was tried when catholics were the equivalent of moslems today in the 1840s the archbishop of New York asked New York state to do as much of Canada and Europe do and financially support the catholic schools. The answer from Albany came back no (he was concerned that the schools taught the protestant point of view to irish children in NYC). As a result the US did not adopt the sectarian model used in Canada and other places.

      1. Che is dead

        “Actually this was tried when catholics were the equivalent of moslems today …”

        Slither back under your rock.

        1. Consider that in the 1920 in In the KKK existed primarily against catholics. Also in the 1840-1850 period in NYC Catholic=Irish and of course no irish need apply. Yes it was a long time ago, but it did happen, also recall the popular name for the American Party in the 1850s the Anti Catholic Know Nothing party. (Of course this is only glossed over in history because it does not fit the desired story)

          1. Che is dead

            Don’t comment on things you know nothing about.

    4. If we go to charter schols, can Muslims send children to madrassas at public expense?“…

      Yeah, Saudi Arabia is a good place to put those damn madrassas…

    1. Its simply to high a price to pay“…

      Good one gadfly, thanks for putting the link out here…

  6. Che is dead

    “Ms. Moskowitz and other reformers are looking to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for help … The lobbying efforts have intensified. According to a tally by the online educational journal Chalkbeat, backers of Ms. Moskowitz’s Success Academy schools have donated nearly $400,000 to the Cuomo re-election campaign. Ms. Moskowitz’s political-action committee, Great Public Schools, has given $65,000 since 2011, according to Chalkbeat.

    What a fucking racket the Democrats are running. They get money from the unions and money from the unions opponents.

    If the charters win the unions will no doubt double down. And if the kids lose, no big deal, they will end up either in prison or on the dole. Either way they will be clients of the state and looking to the Democrats for their “salvation”.

    Where did I put that cyanide capsule?

  7. Citizen Buddy

    “A progressive Democrat should be embracing charters, not rejecting them,” she says. “It’s just wacky.”

    If there is a Great Stagnation, it is in most K-12 public education.

    1. Che is dead

      What’s truly “wacky”, is the notion that progressives care about anything other than their own power.

      1. Citizen Buddy
        1. Che is dead

          That’s right, people are dying in the streets in the Ukraine and Venezuela in opposition to communism, while the American Left has managed to make it the curriculum at publically funded schools in the U.S..

          1. Citizen Buddy

            Yep, and de Blasio is probably to far to the left to be mayor of Caracas, as Venezuela realizes leftist power is smothering.

          2. American are just better at everything – even things that are wrong..

          3. CB,

            I don’t know if that’s true even now. Chavez and his successor Maduro were elected multiple times. The left is rewarded by its own failure by driving out, corrupting, or breaking the demonized productive class who vote against them, and by creating a dependence on government for most of the rest.

            It’s called the Curley effect, named after a mayor of Boston from the early 20th century who used the tactic to win elections by ever increasing margins even as he did great damage to the city.

          4. Paul

            Chavez and his successor Maduro were elected multiple times.

            Should we understand “elected” to mean in the same way Saddam Hussein was “elected” so many times with 98% of the vote?

          5. Ron,

            No doubt there were was some vote stealing but it’s disputable whether it was enough to tip the balance. Chavez never ran up 98% vote margins, though Obama managed it in Detroit and some other violent hellholes in the US.

  8. Che is dead

    “… liberal elites will be mostly untouched by the rotten medical care to which they are consigning the rest of us. Note how Democrats’ friends, such as government unions, immediately received waivers from Obamacare. Rich or connected liberals, such as George Soros, Warren Buffett, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, will always have access to the best doctors, just as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez do. It is similar to the way that Democrats, who refuse to pass school choice, always seem to bypass the disastrous public schools for their own children, who end up at Sidwell Friends or St. Albans.” — Ann Coulter

    1. Che,

      Check out this piece by Daniel Greenfield on this very subject. It’s superb.

      http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-inequality-of-access.html#comment-form

      1. Che is dead

        One of the best blogs on the web. The guy is a true genius.

  9. There are now 280,000 California Public School teachers. Over the past ten years only 19 have been dismissed for incompetence. A lawsuit is now in the court to find out if this has hurt students. (Duh, what do you think?) NYC has to be in the same mess.

    1. Even worse – teachers with criminal convictions aren’t even fired too tough. The school district just makes them show up in a reading room at headquarters during the week so they don’t interact with children.

    2. Seattle Sam

      Take any profession. Any one of your choice. What are the odds that only 19 out of every 280,000 should be dismissed???? Even Congress turns over more.

      1. Walt Greenway

        I can speak from experience about union workers who are fired. Very few would make it through to the point of being fired for incompetence. Most would be fired for missing time, other progressive discipline offenses, or quit before that ever happened. You need to look at the employee turnover rate if you want to get a better picture of what is happening.

      2. Typically 0.5 – 1.0% are dismissed for poor performance per year and a 3% churn rate overall in an professional industry.

        There should be about 140 teachers dismissed every year of those 280K.

        1. Seattle Sam

          You shouldn’t be turning out just the people who are incompetent. Most high performance companies actively seek to fire the bottom 5-10% of their workforce every year. It would be a rare organization that couldn’t replace those people with better performing new hires. Talk to anyone who does turnarounds. It’s one of the first pieces of discipline they put in place. Of course, you have to have a desire to be a high performance organization in the first place.

          1. Sam

            Of course, you have to have a desire to be a high performance organization in the first place.

            I think that requires serious concern for the bottom line. That’s doesn’t apply to public schools.

    3. Walt Greenway

      I can’t see California spending the money that it would take to fire a teacher for incompetence. They should cut their losses by offering to let the teacher resign and spending the thousands of dollars they would save on the students instead. Sometimes making your point is just too damn expensive.

      1. Or, you know, they could just make it easier to fire incompetent teachers.

      2. I’m sure school district are interested in getting rid of an incompetent teacher as quickly and cheaply as possible. If one would agree to resign, that’s what would happen. I suspect incompetent teachers prefer to hang on at full pay as long as they can, which can be a very long time.

        One thing that happens to problem teachers is that they get transferred when there are too many complaints about them. Eventually they end up in inner city schools where there are few complaints. A double whammy for those poor kids.

        1. Walt Greenway

          Ron, I think you have to question any hiring process that hires very many incompetent workers. If you hire good people in the first place and give them the support system they need to do their jobs, I think you will see fewer problems.

          I know from industrial labor union experience most workers there self-destruct, are encourage to leave through how they are treated or job assignments, are forced out other ways, or are allowed to resign/quit before being fired for incompetence. Turnover rate and retention are better indicators of employee incompetence and dissatisfaction than counting people who are fired because they can’t or won’t do their jobs.

        2. Walt Greenway

          I think if we want excellent teachers to enter the field, we are going to have to treat them much better than we have been lately. I would not encourage any bright student who could be anything he or she wanted to be to be a K-12 teacher (my sister is a 2nd grade teacher, and she is leaving as soon as she can).

          1. morganovich

            walt-

            1. the best way to treat teachers better and to attract the best and brightest is to pay for merit and results, not seniority. this is how any sane industry works. it’s why tech and wall street get such good people, and the unionized public sector cannot.

            if you are one of the best and brightest, why work in an industry that only pays for seniority? that sort of structure attracts chair fillers and time servers, not movers and shakers. based on that, the talent pool for teacher hires is going to be seriously diminished. private schools often pay less than public schools for teacher, but have little trouble attracting high quality instructors.

            2. an industry that cannot fire dies. teachers unions have made it virtually impossible to fire a teacher. thus, dead wood just pules up and keeps getting tenure based salary bumps. you are looking at this the wrong way.

            the whole system is set up to guarantee bad results.

            it pre screens applicants to weed out the talented and then protects the incompetent indefinitely while paying them ever more and refusing to pay based on results or quality.

            such a system will inevitably get worse and worse.

            you weed out not the poor performers, but the frustrated good ones.

          2. givemefreedom

            Walt,

            What we have is a monopoly (government) forcibily taking your tax dollars and handing it over to another monopoly (public school board), who then runs the school system with labor that is supplied by another monopoly (teachers union). It is absolutely no surprise at all that the quality of the product produced (education) is of very low quality. There is no chance for good quality to come out of this arrangement.

            And your response Walt is that better teachers should be hired or that teachers should be treated better? Are you serious? You are too involved in unions and have been for way too long to be able to see the forest for the the trees.

          3. Walt Greenway

            My response is if you are having to fire very many workers, you are doing something wrong unless you examine the reasons why. I know many places that do not have to fire workers, and they don’t seem to have bad employees: why is that?

            My opinion is it simply costs too much to operate using a hire-and-fire method. Are you saying that someone hires bad employees or that good employees after they are hired just wake up one day and say I think I will be a bad employee from now on?

          4. morganovich

            to amplify gmf’s point:

            we currently spend about $11k a year per pupil on public school education.

            that’s $220k per class of 20.

            there is simply no plausible way that this is not enough resources.

            thus, the problem MUST lie in the way they are used.

            how could one argue this is not enough money to find, attract, and retain excellent teaching talent?

            the best way to “treat teachers better” is to free them of unions and allow pay for performance.

            get the unions off their necks, slash the horrific administrative and organized labor bloat, and reward good performance, not ability to stay in a chair.

            better still, let teachers and schools compete for kids and money.

            THAT is the best way to treat them well.

            let them act like other successful organizations and let the nest rise tot he top of a market.

            monopolies (particularly absurd triple monopolies as gmf points out) provide lousy service because they have no incentive to provide good service.

          5. givemefreedom

            Walt: My response is if you are having to fire very many workers, you are doing something wrong unless you examine the reasons why. I know many places that do not have to fire workers, and they don’t seem to have bad employees: why is that?

            You still are not seeing the forest Walt, spending too much time looking at the trees. Even if you could fill the system with the best possible teachers, the whole structure is set up with no incentives in place to produce a good product (education). Worse still, the incentives that are in place produce a bad product.

          6. givemefreedom

            Btw Walt, do not take my comments personally. I see that you are a good person, one who cares about his students and takes pride in your profession.

            You are a good tree. There are many good trees in the education forest. But it is a crappy forest and it makes all the trees worse than they could be. So no, I don’t think that you have to fire all the teachers. Some need to go for sure, but others would be much better and much happier teachers in a system with the right incentives. The best teachers would have a much bigger impact on the system than they do now, making the whole system better in the process.

            That is how companies in the private sector work. The incentives are to get better, produce a better product/service. The best performers become the role models, they set the standards that other employees strive for. These best practices become part of the culture of successful organizations and pull everyone along, making the whole organization better. People who cannot adapt to this are let go but many who were average or below average become better and are kept on by the organization.

            With the school system the opposite happens. The ones at the bottom are not forced to adapt or grow at all and are kept on, spoiling the work environment for the rest. The best are not allowed to set the standard or be the role models, the union does not allow that. Instead a seniority system is put in place to direct advancement. The average or below average stay that way or worse yet, become even poorer teachers over time due to the bad environment they are in.

            Without the discipline of competition to force schools and teachers to be better through incentives we end up with poor quality students. It is very simple to see if you stop looking at the trees.

          7. Walt

            My opinion is it simply costs too much to operate using a hire-and-fire method. Are you saying that someone hires bad employees or that good employees after they are hired just wake up one day and say I think I will be a bad employee from now on?

            You answered your own question when you wrote:

            “I know from industrial labor union experience most workers there self-destruct, are encourage to leave through how they are treated or job assignments, are forced out other ways, or are allowed to resign/quit before being fired for incompetence.”

            And that’s exactly what happens to teachers who are transferred repeatedly until they end up in poor performing schools where there are few complaints.

            Your suggestion to hire only good people in the first place means you must have the ability to see into the future. How would you know which newly minted teachers will actually become good over time and which won’t? Like any other business, a school will have an amount of turnover that can’t be entirely avoided by the hiring process. At least allow the firing process to work.

          8. GMF

            Without the discipline of competition to force schools and teachers to be better through incentives we end up with poor quality students

            Bingo! You said the magic word. Customer choice promotes…..*competition*.

          9. morganovich

            “My opinion is it simply costs too much to operate using a hire-and-fire method.”

            this seems the height of absurdity.

            it is far cheaper to fire bad employees and hire new, competent ones, than to keep paying the unproductive year after year.

            and you seem to be assuming your premise here walt.

            the reason ti is so “expensive” to fire teachers is BECAUSE of unions. they make it damn near impossible to do it.

            but that IS the problem.

            break that totalitarian hammerlock, and he rest takes care of itself.

            you do not hire an employee hoping to fire them, but sometimes, you need to.

            hell, some of the most successful organizations in tech are BASED on it.

            oracle fires the bottom 10-20% of its sales force every year as a matter of policy.

            only the very strong survive.

            clearly, that is an extreme example, but to fire 3% or so of employees a year is pretty normal and healthy.

            to fire less than 1/10 of 1% of 1% (like California) is preposterous.

            NO ONE is that good at hiring. no one.

            arguing that schools make good choices because firing teachers is too expensive and then ignoring the union hammerlock that makes it so misses the whole point here.

            your argument boils down to unions being ok because they make it too expensive or impossible for organizations to make good choices.

          10. Walt

            Are you saying that someone hires bad employees or that good employees after they are hired just wake up one day and say I think I will be a bad employee from now on?

            He’s saying that good teachers wake up one day and realize that they have no reason to work any harder than the slacker in the next class, because they will never get paid more or recognized for their superior performance. Incentives matter.

            They may leave for better opportunities elsewhere, leaving only the slackers, and those with stars in their eyes who haven’t realized yet that their superior efforts aren’t valued by their employer.

        3. Ron,

          Perhaps some schools get rid of their incompetent teachers by promoting them:

          http://nypost.com/2014/01/13/school-official-finally-investigates-nys-worst-elementary/

          I bet she’s a member in good standing of the local teachers union.

          1. Paul

            No doubt about it.

            Apparently school officials get feedback on the performance of schools and school personnel by reading the NY Post. Therein lies some of the problem. Nobody is accountable.

            “The allegations in the paper were deeply troubling, and we’re not going to see our children not get the finest education,” Mayor de Blasio said. “Every school has to provide the best possible education.”

            And that quote from the article is exactly why I never listen to politicians speak.

          2. My wife is a second grade teacher who has had to work for 5 years with a total incompetent on her grade level. This buffoon finally told the grade level chair in an email that ” he couldn’t do the job and everyone else knew he couldn’t.” This finally got him removed from the classroom but in the world of union teachers, not fired. Instead he was moved to the county school administration building for some make work. That was 2 years ago, my wife just found out that he has now taken one of the very coveted Reading Specialist positions. Many, probably most, of the exceptional teachers who apply for these Reading specialist jobs never get them in spite of applying annually. As you might imagine my wife and her coworkers are a little demoralized.

      3. Walt

        I can’t see California spending the money that it would take to fire a teacher for incompetence.

        That’s exactly the problem. It shouldn’t cost much to fire an incompetent teacher.

  10. David Karr

    What an odd thing to do by the mayor. I can only presume his motivations, and those of his fellow Democrats are 1) to do what the union bosses say to do in order to keep the money flowing from the unions to their campaign coffers and 2) to keep the poor people from being educated such that they will never learn and/or see that the union Godzilla only lives to enrich its leaders, at the expense of children, their parents, and entire industries and communities (see: Detroit). What a shame this setup isn’t as transparent to everyone as it is to me.

  11. Benjamin Cole

    Do any unionized school teachers qualify gor full, lifetime pension after just 20 years of service? And complete medical? The VA plan, in other words?

  12. Benjamin Cole

    Hey I got an idea:

    We open up a charter school, where we rebate half the money back to parents.

    We give the kids great reading lists, and learn ‘em hard on reading and writing, and citizenship.

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