Schooled.

We’re having some strange-bedfellows moments where I live, as the governor and a supportive legislature enact various planks of his education-reform package. In large part, they’re cut and pasted from the white-paper library of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which probably exists, in some form and under a different name, in your state, too — (Name of state) + (policy) + (institute/review/consortium). The Mackinac Center is “non-partisan,” the Indiana Policy Review (for which I once did some work) seeks to “marshall the best thought on governmental, economic and educational issues,” but down the line they’re pretty much doctrinaire Republican, and take their cues from the big boys higher up the food chain, the Hudsons and Hoovers and the like.

(I shouldn’t say they’re doctrinaire Republican, as the relationship is the other way around — the Republicans are doctrinaire free-minds-free-markets think-tank policy photocopiers. Beats workin’.)

Anyway, the governor is pushing his education agenda through a compliant legislature, and it’s ruffling feathers big-time here in this very Republican area. At its heart is the strongly held belief that public education is a shambles, that a big part of the problem is fat, overpaid teachers, and “market solutions” like charter schools are the answer to all our problems.

An early proposal was to make all Michigan schools open to all Michigan students, which sounds very egalitarian and progressive and a whole lot of no-big-deal, as 80 percent of Michigan schools have already voted to make themselves so-called schools of choice. As funding is determined on a per-pupil basis, kids simply arrive with a backpack full of cash and take their seat. This was a lead-balloon idea in Grosse Pointe, however, for a number of reasons. We’re not a schools-of-choice district, and never have been. We already pay higher taxes here, in order to keep our per-pupil spending at a higher level than the state allows, and no one accounted for that in the bill — how would these new arrivals make up the difference? Perhaps by magic. There’s also a strong sense of community and parental involvement in the schools, a shared belief that money alone doesn’t make a school excellent, but rather buy-in by all. And finally, unlike lots of high-quality suburban districts, we are not in exurbia, but hard by, literally across the street from, the worst-performing district in the state. The fear was that open enrollment would mean an influx of badly prepared Detroit students who would need disproportionate teacher attention, etc. And because race is the bass note to every single issue here, some of this fear was based in racism, and I’d never deny that for even a second. But that’s not the whole part of it. I don’t favor schools of choice, either, at least not without a lot of carefully considered conditions that would ameliorate the obvious problems. (Those who think we’re walled in by stacks of money are invited to peruse real-estate listings here, which are extremely affordable — ahem — of late. We also offer a range of rental housing. You can get into our district for well under $1,000 a month in housing costs.)

But I don’t want to get into a detailed discussion of Michigan education policy for you folks, most of whom don’t live here. Rather, I want to think a little about public education, including the foundation of this reform movement — that it’s a bloody mess.

Obviously, it’s not a mess in Grosse Pointe, and it’s not a mess in Carmel, Ind., and it’s not a mess in any number of well-to-do suburban districts. It’s also not a mess in urban schools where an engaged parent base demands excellence, and gets it. (Shoutout to LAMary here.) It’s not even a mess in a place like Fort Wayne, which has a student body across the economic spectrum, and generally does a good job with them. It can be admittedly difficult to navigate in many cities — you have to know which schools are the ones you want, and know the teachers down to a dossier level — but when we talk about failing public education, we’re mainly talking about a handful of dysfunctional, chaotic big-city districts like Detroit, Chicago and the like. And I’m not even sure it’s failing there. Rather, I think the schools are simply where we’re seeing the manifestations of a decimated middle and working class.

I think a lot about what I’m paying for here in Grosse Pointe. What does my education dollar buy? A huge chunk, at least half, buys an engaged public, period — parents who value education and support it with their behavior and lifestyles. They read books, feed nutritious meals, use correct grammar and tell their children from an early age that college isn’t an option. Another big chunk is for excellent teachers. We just had back-to-school night, and I was impressed by nearly all of Kate’s teachers this term, from geometry to gym. Since enrolling her in second grade, I can count the clinkers on one hand, no, three fingers. And even they were only clinkers in the sense that they were merely competent, falling short of talented. I don’t begrudge any of them a dime of their salaries; teaching is an exhausting job. I think the next-largest chunk is for the physical plant — pleasant schools, current textbooks, contemporary technology, bathrooms with toilet paper. (And may I just say? Anyone who says throwing money at the problem doesn’t improve education hasn’t been in an affluent public school lately, where so much money is thrown around great wads of cash blow down the halls like tumbleweeds. SMART boards, new computers — and you haven’t even stuck your head in the auditorium yet.)

The rest is spent in dribs and drabs, but by and large, I feel like I’m getting full value for my education tax dollar. Detroit, on the other hand, is feeling the effects of all the social chaos that plagues the city — poverty, single parenthood, substance abuse. I volunteered for a year in an after-school program a while back, and saw with my own eyes the kids who struggled with simple arithmetic, with the difference between a noun and a pronoun, with finding a clean shirt and stick of deodorant in the morning. One night I was asked to drop off a trio of siblings at home, as yet another crisis in their crisis-ridden lives had derailed transportation that day. The eldest directed me down a typical Detroit street — streetlights out, half the houses gone and half of the remaining ones abandoned — until I got to a bungalow so dark I hesitated to let them out of the car. “It’s fine,” the kid said, and walked onto the porch, where he pulled open the door and let out the light inside. They were living behind plywood. Of course.

And the answer to this, the various public-policy think tanks tell us, is? Charter schools! Market solutions! Choice!

By the way, Detroit is already riddled with charter schools; the idea parents have no choice in alternatives to the building on the corner — or several corners away, depending on what’s closed lately — is a joke.

Here’s another: The governor, a wealthy man, sends his children to private schools. I am done listening to his ideas for public education. The charter-school movement is yet another flavor of the month designed to neuter teachers’ unions and transfer public resources into private hands. That the people pushing it think we’re too stupid to see this makes me wonder where they went to school.

OK, enough rant. I have to go meet with my own students, and I have work to do. Bloggage:

Like all Michiganders, I look forward to my new sense of safety and freedom, now that I will be allowed to carry a concealed Taser.

Detroitblogger John — I wish he’d just use his regular name, now that he’s been outed as John Carlisle — on the people who beg in Detroit. What works, what doesn’t.

For me, it’s breakfast time. Happy Wednesday, all.

Posted at 9:33 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' |
 

52 responses to “Schooled.”

  1. Deggjr said on October 5, 2011 at 10:16 am

    I believe Fareed Zakaria wrote in ‘The Post-American World’ that the best American schools are the best in the world. I’ll bet those schools are filled with unionized teachers. As you say it is the urban schools that don’t perform. The Chicago high school admission process is like the college admission process (yay parental choice!)and there many charter schools filled with non unionized teachers that can be fired without cause, yet reality still doesn’t match the theory. Imagine that.

  2. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 5, 2011 at 10:21 am

    None of that takes into account the huge costs associated with post-1980s/post-1996 special education and “least restrictive environment.” And those are kids who generally don’t “move” across borders, and tend to cluster in lower income areas, magnifying the impact. There’s no conservative or liberal way to talk about these kids, which is why politicians don’t mention them, and school board candidates generally don’t because there’s no way to talk about this issue on a local level without sounding like you’re blaming the special needs/developmentally disabled kids and their families, which isn’t the point, but it’s easier to just avoid it.

    One of the most discreditable things that are done by candidates of all sorts running “from the right” (although liberal candidates occasionally take a gratuitous swing at the pinata), and needs an honest GOP conversation that’s not gonna happen anytime soon, is the demonization not of “fat and happy teachers” (which does not happen much, in my range), but of “bloated administration.” Those numbers have largely gone up because of federally mandated programs and needed management for these special needs kids back into “least restrictive environments” and are not “asst. superintendent for diversity affairs” as the easy canard of the right usually has it.

    Admin costs for urban and low income districts should be *higher* than they are, because we need the counselors and school nurses and aides and care co-ordinators. Meanwhile, charters almost WITHOUT exception get exempted from even having to THINK about accepting special needs kids, so all their students can navigate stairs, standard textbooks, and gym periods in a room with some cornhole goals and a basketball hoop on one wall. They DON’T need as many admin personnel, and they get rewarded for that. High achieving vs. low achieving is not the challenge, it’s the now 10 to 20% of kids with IATs and IEPs who are the cost/budget battleground between charters, high test score schools, and local districts who get the kids they have, with all their wheelchairs, catheters, psychoactive drugs, and interval ABA, and they won’t move to another district or shift to a charter.

    Add in the roiling autism debate, which pumps oxygen into the LRE fire, plus the questions around ABA, who pays for it, and how delivered (and I haven’t even gotten into mandated school payment for preschool where a diagnosis is present for deficit/delay, which many parents know nothing about as they shake their heads over graphs of school costs from 1980 to 2010). Both parties were pleased to pass all these mandates, well before the testing/attendance expectations went to 95% success required along with everyone being better than average on standardized measures, and now they have nothing to say about education funding.

  3. Connie said on October 5, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Dexter posted this earlier today at the end of comments for the previous post: In the wake of the N!66#rhead painted rock story, Moo Yoo weighs in with this charming story.
    http://www.detnews.com/article/20111005/SCHOOLS/110050357/Rash-of-racial-slurs-hits-MSU

    I’m an MSU grad and I went to read the article and made the mistake of reading the comments. I should know better. Talk about racism.

    When we moved to Elkhart just in time for 7th grade we didn’t have a clue about school districts. I have always been thankful that we bought a house in the Concord District rather than Elkhart Public Schools.

  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 5, 2011 at 10:27 am

    By the way, those “amazing” schools with better test scores in other countries? All cr4p. Those countries all are scrupulous to filter out slow, let alone disabled kids, lower achieving kids, and non-native language students. Our numbers include all the (ahem) recent arrivals with minimal English if they’re in a standard classroom, and all but the most disabled. It’s like why our infant mortality numbers look worse than Europe’s — they factor out recent immigrant mothers, and you have to survive 24 to 48 hours before then a death is called infant mortality, while the US counts every infant death from 24-26 weeks viability and doesn’t pull undocumented arrival mothers from the stats. Count them the same way, and we look incredible — so would our schools. The recent Shanghai “scandal” of math & science achievement is valid only if you compare the Seattle upscale suburban school district test numbers to to those in the Shanghai certified school district results, on which we (surprise!) actually do better. But to compare the national average to one set of selected schools is special pleading and pandering to xenophobic fears.

    Oh, do I have opinions on schools.

  5. Peter said on October 5, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Well, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

    I think about my uncle – he’s a retired high school teacher, and over the years he was stabbed three times in class.

    What inner city school district did he teach in? Paris.

  6. nancy said on October 5, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Jeff, all excellent points. The special-ed burden is only getting bigger. One of the supe candidates pointed out during his interviews that babies are surviving preemie births that measure them in ounces, not pounds, and very few of them grow to school age without some profound challenges to learning. I think our district is at 12 percent, with the state/national average a bit higher — 15, maybe? (That encompasses everyone from kids who need reading help to the severely developmentally disabled, however.)

    And what you said about testing is exactly right. When you only test the cream of the crop — routine in other countries — you generally score better. Duh.

  7. Suzanne said on October 5, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Parochial schools consistantly get better scores on standardized tests simply because they lack a large population of special needs students. Many parochial schools have no special ed program whatsoever, or one that is minimal at best. They know they can always send the kids with “issues” to the public school, or just tell them that they’ve done all they can. Public schools don’t have that option.

    Don’t even get me started on the new trend in Indiana which is to tie a teacher’s job security to test scores when, for example, a realtive of mine teaches 80% of the special needs kids for his grade level. How is a kid who can barely write his or her name supposed to pass the standardized test the state gives? But the fact that they can’t counts against the teacher.

  8. Maggie Jochild said on October 5, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Excellent article by DetroitJohn. Back when I could get out and around, I always gave what I could to streetcorner supplicants, even if it emptied my own pockets — at least a dollar. One day I had my 4-year-old middle-class godson with me, and he was shocked when I pulled down my window and handed a woman three bucks. He whispered “Those are drug addicts, momma says.” “Drug addicts are people who need to eat” I replied, thinking about his parents who drank far too much imported beer every night. His face registered comprehension, then excitement. After that, when we were out, he scanned the area for beggars and pointed them out, asking to be the one who handed over the money with a sunny “God bless you”. Occasionally we bought extra sandwiches or taco and handed those out as well.

    Now I hear from my attendant (an African-American woman) that she always hands out money to any beggars she sees. Glad to hear my impression of who gives verified by DetroitJohn.

    My beloved little brother waas homeless for a year, when I lived in California. His terror of returning to it drove him the rest of his life and played a role in his eventual demise. And it scares me. We are all on the edge.

  9. Deborah said on October 5, 2011 at 11:18 am

    When I was in Finland a couple of years ago I kept hearing about thier excellent schools. Here’s a good article about how they do it http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Why-Are-Finlands-Schools-Successful.html?c=y&page=1

  10. alex said on October 5, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I’ll check out the Finland link in a sec, but I’m guessing it may be similar to what my dad says about his European education: You don’t need fancy facilities. What you need is a crummy small room with no distractions and a student/teacher ratio of 10:1 or less. By the time you’re twelve years old you’ll be multilingual and proficient in physics and well ahead of any American high school graduate.

  11. brian stouder said on October 5, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Madam speaker, I would ask for unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks (later tonight).

    (short version: regarding FWCS – HUZZAH!! And to the naysayers I informally encounter from time to time – I will always [politely] take exception)

  12. Jeff Borden said on October 5, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I’m sure there are incompetent teachers out there (just as there are incompetent investment bankers, dentists, mechanics, etc.), but I fall into the camp that the largest factor in the downward spiral of public education in America remains the lack of parental and/or family involvement. I honestly have no idea how this can be addressed.

    How can we impel parents to prepare their children for a lifetime of learning by reading to them, giving them time and encouragement, games and puzzles and learning toys, making sure they are doing homework before they hit the TV or the video games?

    I agree that charter schools are not the answer. Unfortunately, I don’t know what the answer is and believe that even the wisest and most insightful researchers on the topic don’t either.

  13. Julie Robinson said on October 5, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    In the low-rent part of West Palm Beach where my sister lives, scarcely a corner is without a cardboard sign holder, even in 100 degree heat. Misery.

    Our church started a free meal program a couple years ago, and we are constantly treading the fine line between compassion and enabling. A few of our guests took advantage of the former and asked for money, repeatedly. As an alternative we started a no-panhandling policy but also instituted a Samaritan fund. Congregants give to the fund and our pastor takes requests for aid. He’s pretty savvy and makes sure it goes directly towards paying rent or utilities, not in cash to the requester.

    Some of our guests complain about the quantity/quality of food and try to game the system. Some ask how they can help, some attend all three services/week*, and one has kicked his drug addiction. It seems to be how we can help on our little corner.

    *Unlike the local Rescue Mission, we don’t force anyone to go to church. There is one gentle invitation.

    It has been a joy to see the improvement in FWCS over the last 25 years. It was a long time coming.

  14. Catherine said on October 5, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Jeff B, some researchers are working on the very thing you identify: engaging parents of every background in their children’s education. There’s an interesting new book about an effort in a low-income area of Chicago (Logansport?), called Cord of Three Strands, by Soo Hong (available at amazon thru the KBL). I haven’t read it, but it seems the gist is, ahem, community organizing and empowerment.

  15. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 5, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Cousin Jeff, agreed, but we DO know that measurement contorts program in any setting (NYPD beat cops, factory floor output quotas, body counts in Vietnam), and in education, we know that what we claim to be measuring is hooey, yet we keep doubling down on it. Standardized test measurements are like asking front line combat units to measure success, and 2nd looeys to buck for promotion, by body counts, and then being “amazed” that body counts go up.

    What are we measuring, and why are we measuring it? How about looking at student quality of life ten years after graduation? Oh, but everyone, wherever their hat is hung on the political spectrum, realizes (when you put it that way) students from higher income areas are likely to have better outcomes than from lower income young adults. Yeah, duh. But isn’t that, and some sense of relative improvement, what we really want to measure? Or do we want the quickest bang for the buck so we can trumpet a quick bump and move on to another position, whether administrative or political, and not look at actual building related value-added elements over time.

    I love the Hobart Shakespeareans, but with teachers as with clergy, you have to have a system that does not presuppose that EACH and every front-line professional has a superhuman capacity for energy and attention and adaptability. It’s a lovely thought, and it’s utterly unrealistic. You actually have to have a system of education (or congregational life) that has systemic resilience built into it that allows for the occasional low-motivation, non-spectacular teacher (pastor) to pass through it. If the whole structure falls to pieces if the professional in the lead can’t juggle flaming bowling balls, then it’s a bad structure.

    Parental involvement — I have not a clue. It’s a local culture thing, and I know how to nurture it, but have not seen good ways to create it when it’s not already present. That book would sells lots of copies if anyone can write it.

    EDIT: Catherine, just saw yr note, and took a look — http://www.amazon.com/Cord-Three-Strands-Approach-Engagement/dp/1934742546 — dang, it’s pricey; I went ready to order (by way of KBL, natch). I’d like to see a five year outcome measure, just because I’ve grown mightily weary of three year starbursts from grant funding that completely vaporize in year four when the grant dollars vanish and somehow the numbers that popped during the expenditure period also drop back to the initial value (yes, I’m a grant skeptic, even as I spend many hours trolling for them).

  16. caliban said on October 5, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Anyone up for a pool to pick date of earliest “self-tased me, bro” moment from these yayhoos?

  17. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 5, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Catherine, is this the one you meant? http://www.amazon.com/Match-Dry-Grass-Community-Organizing/dp/0199793581/

  18. nancy said on October 5, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Sandra Tsing Loh’s book on enrolling her daughters in an L.A. public school is called “Mother on Fire.” Interesting how often flames are invoked as a metaphor here.

  19. alex said on October 5, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Deborah, thanks for the link to the Smithsonian article. I see my dad’s prescription isn’t far off the mark.

    Obviously it’s impossible to make all parents take an active role in their children’s education, but the Finnish reforms suggest parental involvement isn’t particularly necessary when you’ve got the right people teaching and the right environment for learning.

  20. moe99 said on October 5, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    http://moesmisadventures.blogspot.com/2010/05/how-time-changes-things.html

    My parental involvement in Seattle public schools–grade school level.

  21. Catherine said on October 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Jeff tmmo, it’s the first one. Yes, pricey — I think it’s an academic press so not interested in discounting on amazon. That second one looks good, too. Have you a review?

    I share your scepticism about the grant-funded short-term fireworks. It is really, really hard to build in sustainability (and I’m going to have to borrow your turn of phrase about personality-driven leadership and juggling flaming bowling balls). The Jr. League (of all people) in my city, Pasadena, funded a community center approach with an elementary school in a low-income/Hispanic neighborhood, which seems to have grown some long-term legs.

    I think I’ve plugged “Mother on Fire” here before so will shut up about that, except to say that there are consultants with *thriving* businesses that you can hire to teach/help you game the LA public school admissions system.

  22. beb said on October 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Back in the day when The New Republic still a respectable, liberal magazine it ran an article on comparing US education with the rest of the world. Much of what it said has been repeated already by Jeff and Jeff. Foreign educational systems weed out underperforming students before testing, and that when you de-aggregate test results you find that most US schools in fact do very well compared to Europe, but that the averages are pulled down by the really terrible failing of high-poverty inner-city schools. If we want to raise stuident scores we need to work hard in those districts but that will never happen because too many people are opposed to spending “their” money on “those” people.

    In addition to free lunch programs (sand even free breakfast programs) for the poor I think what help these high-poverty school of for the welfare and health departments to open up offices in every school so the children — and their parents — can have a one-stop place for help. But again that costs money.

    Oh, and Freakonomics pointed how that when teacher’s pay become dependent on test outcomes there is a tremendous inducement to cheat on the tests.

  23. Maggie Jochild said on October 5, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Re what Alex said: “What you need is a crummy small room with no distractions and a student/teacher ratio of 10:1 or less. By the time you’re twelve years old you’ll be multilingual and proficient in physics and well ahead of any American high school graduate.” Well, it’s more complicated than that.

    I went to high school in exactly that environment, but ass-end rural North Texas, right on the Okie border. My graduating class was 8. I won first in state in essay-writing my senior year and got scholarship offers from all over the country based on my SATs and other scores. There were two excellent teachers in that high school and some abysmal ones. Of my graduating class, two others went on to college and one of those is now a teacher/coach, the other committed suicide. Yet another is dead from drugs. At least two more are living in the same poverty their parents did, plus deep alcoholism. One (the other out queer) survived the AIDS plague years and is successful without a degree. And I think our class did better than most out of that system. Yet when I look at the TAAS scores for the school online, it says they are doing well. I am not convinced.

    I think the difference between urban and rural schools is profound and not addressed in most reform theories. Plus: In the post-war decade or two, there was a strong belief in education as a route to embetterment. The lip service remains but is deliberately undermined by (a) the Christian Right, who does not want a free-thinking populace; (b) the general illogic of voters who do not want to pay for what they get; and (c) a working class which has stopped believing in the mythical “American dream” (not really theirs to have ever, except for anectodal exceptions) and instead uses ridicule and violence to ensure their children do not shine brightly enough to leave the community. Because their only safety net appears to be that community, and very often, they are right.

  24. Julie said on October 5, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Here are some numbers regarding Jeff’s special ed point. Here in Fort Wayne Community Schools we have about 600 severe and profound students for which we get $5K per student and an additional $8K special education grant. That is $7.8 million for 600 students, students who often have 1-to-1 adult supervision. These are students who, as has been stated, will never attend a charter or private school. We at FWCS are very proud of what we have accomplished in the past few years but with Indiana’s adoption of private school vouchers and additional charter authorizers it seems as though with every accomplishment the state punches another hole in the dam we have to plug.
    The Republican agenda seems to be a future where urban public schools are warehouses for special education students, English language learners and students left with no adult to advocate for them. Oh, yes, they will be taught by Teach for America college grads who spend a couple of years teaching, work extraordinary hours for little pay, pad their resume then move on to their real career.

  25. Julie Robinson said on October 5, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    The hubs and I went to public schools but we sent our kids to parochial school because the public schools were abysmal in the era when our daughter started. The superintendent was bragging about spending a million dollars on legal fees fighting desegregation. Aside from the shamefulness of that statement, there were 40 kids in the kindergarten class I visited, and the teacher spent her time just trying to hold them in line. Although it was late spring they were still working on learning their letters.

    In contrast, the school we ended up going to had 12 kids in kindergarten. The classroom functioned like a well-oiled machine, and the kids were reading fluently. In other words, a crummy small room with no distractions and an (almost) 10:1 ratio.

    Today I am amazed at the education a friend’s kids are getting at a public school. Had that been available 25 years ago it would have been our choice.

  26. Bitter Scribe said on October 5, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I agree that the let-anyone-go-to-any-school idea is impractical, but part of me wants to put it into practice anyway, for this reason: I’d love to see the reactions from the voucher advocates, who care so much about poor kids, once those poor kids start showing up at Voucher Advocate Elementary.

  27. LAMary said on October 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Catherine, I gamed the LAUSD system like crazy and it can be done without some consultant. You need to start in kindergarten, though, and unless some benevolent person tells you that, you’re sort of screwed. The PTA at my kids’ elementary school had a nice guide put together by one of the mothers who worked the system herself and shared her experience. Connie R., you are a saint.
    Even getting my kids into good schools I’ve had some teachers who were jerks. Two who appeared to hate little boys. Son Pete’s second grade teacher especially. Then there was the eighth grade history teacher son Tom had, who devoted the remainder of the school year to evangelizing about Ronald Reagan after he died. My son was bullied into silence by this teacher for mentioning the term Iran Contra which he had learned from his evil lefty mom.

  28. Marc G said on October 5, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Gail Collins had an excellent column about school privatization in the Times. I think that Nancy hit the nail on the head “The charter-school movement is yet another flavor of the month designed to neuter teachers’ unions and transfer public resources into private hands.” Where we grew up we were lucky to have lived in a community that valued education, and unless you were an unruly unmanageable child, or a Catholic, public school was the only option available.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/12/opinion/12collins.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

  29. caliban said on October 5, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Vouchers were always a scam, amounting to nothing but a upper middle subsidy, since voucher values were always less than what pooor parents could augment with their own funds to make tuition, fees and costs. Charter schools are just voucher programs in sheep’s clothing. All of this is based on separate but equal sorts of thinking going back to the extablishment of (anti)Christian Schools to avoid sharing educational resources with Blappeople. The main philosophical development over the years is that the conservoracists now expect taxpayers to pay for segregationism and their war on the middle class.

    Financing both sides of civil hostilities is really despicable, even for a necrophagous oil company. Somebody should nationalize these assholes wherever they operate.

  30. MarkH said on October 5, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Your link doesn’t work, Cali. Takes us right back to Nancy’s post today.

  31. Sherri said on October 5, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    In a throwaway line in an article about something else recently, Charles Pierce said that school reform attracts the well intentioned and the evil and venal in equal measure. That rang pretty true to me.

    Charter schools, even those that accept students by lottery, do a pretty good job of attriting out kids who “don’t fit.” Even so, they’re not doing any better than public schools, despite being freed from those evil teachers unions and all those restrictive burdens of public schools. As well as generally having substantial extra funding from foundations. Diane Ravitch’s The Death and Life of the Great American School System is a good look at school reform and charter schools and the major foundations funding most of it: Gates, Broad, Walton.

  32. coozledad said on October 5, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Contemptible arse-crawler and constipation inducing food-putty mogul Herman Cain says “So what if the banks stole your money in 2008? You are poor because you are lazy!”
    I wonder when Godfather’s Pizza is going to start offering Ho cakes.

  33. caliban said on October 5, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Mark, Try this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/03/shell-accused-of-fuelling-nigeria-conflict

    God knows how I managed to do that.

  34. moe99 said on October 5, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2011/09/omaima_aree_nelson_murder_paro.php

    Combining murder and good eating……

  35. Suzanne said on October 5, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Julie@25. I went to a parochial school for the same reason you mention; bad public schools. I went in the first years of integration, so there was some bad stuff going on at the local public school. My parents sent me to a parochial high school, which, in the mid-70s was ok; full of average, middle class kids and sports teams we mostly made fun of. Now, that same school is about 10 times more expensive and full of snobs. There is no way I would have sent my kids there. The only good thing about the Indiana vouchers is that now those parochial schools won’t have to pretend to give need based financial aid to good athletes. The state will take care of that for them.

  36. adrianne said on October 5, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    My son, with Asperger’s that didn’t get diagnosed until he was 9, was drummed out of the parochial school here in second grade, enrolled in a charter that was shut down five years later because of its abysmal performance, and finally landed in a decent suburban public school district with, for the most part, competent teachers and administrators who believed that he could succeed. He’s now in his first year of community college. Neither parochial nor charter schools have any interest in dealing with kids with disabilities. And they don’t have to. Public schools take whoever comes in the door, and with some notable exceptions, do a fairly good job of educating students.

  37. MarkH said on October 5, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Much better, Caliban, thanks. Good reading, too.

  38. Jeff Borden said on October 5, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    At the risk of dislocating my elbow by patting myself on the back, I would like to remind the denizens of NN.C that I predicted a long, long time ago that SheWho would not seek the presidency and, in fact, would never again pursue elective office. And, as predicted, Mooselini did just that tonight, saying that family comes first but she will continue to weigh in on behalf of those candidates she supports.

    This is the perfect solution for a lazy ignoramus. She’ll continue to draw her Faux News paycheck, churn out the occasional ghostwritten tome and take the occasional six-figure speaking engagement without ever having to do any hard work.

    I wonder how the marks who sent her money in recent days will feel now. Badly, I would think, but then, I have never understood how anyone could take this shrill, shallow and altogether mediocre human being seriously.

  39. alex said on October 5, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Sad news.

  40. baldheadeddork said on October 5, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    And cue Mitch in five, four, three…

  41. coozledad said on October 5, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Jeff Borden:
    They ceased to be a political party a long time ago. It’s a top down organization with criminal intent. I suspect the international actors who have a vested monetary interest in the success of the Republicans (Saudis, PRC, Russia) were pretty pissed when Sarah turned out to be an unmedicated manic depressive. I guess the vetting process was not targeted to separate that particular mental disorder from the crucial pathologies that distinguish an ideal Republican candidate. She apparently oscillated unpredictably between voracious attention whore and dishrag. They were planning to clothesline her if they won.
    Bunch of hideous authoritarian freaks.

    Well, first let me just say that the novel is by no means meant to build a case against Sarah Palin. However, to the extent that the people around [the fictional vice president] Tara watched in this troubled state of confusion, despair and helplessness as she flailed around — that was something I experienced. Palin vacillated between extraordinary highs on the campaign stage — she ignited more enthusiasm than our side had seen at any other point — to debilitating lows. She was often withdrawn, uncommunicative and incapable of performing even the most basic tasks required of her job as McCain’s running mate.

    The decision to relocate debate prep from the campaign trail, which is where McCain did his prep, to Sedona, was to isolate her and help her overcome the shock of becoming an overnight celebrity. There certainly were discussions — not for long because of the arc the campaign took — but certainly there were discussions about whether, if they were to win, it would be appropriate for her to be sworn in.

  42. coozledad said on October 5, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Baldheadeddork: Borden’s been right about this one all along. It’s Romney, and it was always going to be Romney. The only question was which surface lure they were going to use to pull the core of racists and Christian identity gun nuts back into the fold. Rick Perry has demonstrated his determination to put his head all the way down to the bottom of the turdbucket in order to accomplish the desired end, and he has 17 million to show for it.
    As others have said so eloquently, the early beginning to the campaign was to give extra time to convince the base that Jesus was the first white dude in America, and that polygamy was a necessity in the Wild West (or at the very least that Mormonism is no freakier than David Vitter).

  43. Deborah said on October 5, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Alex thanks for the tip, I hadn’t heard that Jobs died. Sad.

  44. caliban said on October 5, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Listen to this song:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ2GVe3z2do

    Beyond gorgeous. You will sleep better.

        Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
        Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
        Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
        Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
        That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
        Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
        The clouds methought would open and show riches
        Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
        I cried to dream again.

    I believe it’s the best thing Shakese ever wrote. And he meant what he said. He was talking about everything. We really don;t have a good idea about what we’re navigating. Why not just enjoy it as it exposes itself?

  45. caliban said on October 5, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Cooz, try to do better than that. Well, not likely. I’m going to buy some books, and I guess Nancy Nall, that writes the best blog on the net, might make a little swag.

    Cooz, when my brother Chris and I were doing baseball by clipping the Dodgers and Yanks boxscores from the Free Press, we kept our own boxscores. We pitched righty and lefty, and there were a lot of B on B. All wiffle-ballWe were also good athletes and could whale the ball off-handed, because we batted lefty-righty as they turned up in the box-scores. You would have liked it. We had a gigantic lawn in Bloomfield Hills, like Nancy’s Grosses, and we were obscenely competitive, but the rules were the rules. We loved the Lions at the time, though Chris was the Johnny U man, through and through. We never figured out a way to do football without somebody getting hurt. But our baseball games and our boxscores were perfect, pitch and bat right and left, and there is no way to replace how much fun we had. Kinda like the greatest baseball book ever written. J. Henry Waugh. I know you’ve read this book. If you haven’t, why not?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Universal_Baseball_Association,_Inc.,_J._Henry_Waugh,_Prop.

    Greatest sports book ever written.

    I know from everything you’ve written you played sports. Please acknowledge. You must have played football. Football was just fun, baseball was serious. Cooz, you strike me as the behemoth that had a chaw in his jaw when my scrawny ass was trying to break a doube play and you levelled my lights out, but I was safe anyway and my coach took us off the field because y’all were grown men and we were kids, and you all were beating the shit out of us. We played teams like that frequently. We could confound them in football, but in baseball, they just kicked our asses with avoidupois. No shit., Cooz, you were some bully little leaguer, with a heart of gold. Like Sloth. Were you gigantic? In the ends of games, I always played linebacker, and I went low on the behemoth, who would beat me on the back because he couldn’t block me. Then I’d nail the QB.

    Who’s to say? There is no way to consider what I might think. It’s ridiculous in the first place. Whatever I think, that’s what I think. Whatever. y’all think. Fuck you.

  46. caliban said on October 6, 2011 at 12:23 am

    What can anybod say?
    The abject failure to educate young Americans has to do with the outright campaign to make them stupid. GOPers want dumb as grunt voting in highest numbers possible. They want dumbasses that believe science is a guess rather than a more or less sure thing. Which part of carbon dating do these shitheels not understand? There are assholes, and there are people that understand science,nand there are voters so fucking dumb they don’t understand science. What the hell is wrong with people? How is anybody this bone simple? We are talking about morons. Wnat the hey? How is it possible anybody is that fucking dumb?

  47. Crazycatlady said on October 6, 2011 at 1:04 am

    Detroit is where my child was born and raised. I did NOT trust the Detroit Public Schools to teach her. I knew the drop out rates were tragic, and classes were too big and there were never enough teachers. I went the Parochial route. For 6 years I dutifully paid the ‘fee’ of money and time. Then I decided I’d had it up to my eyeballs with that school and it’s religion. I went the charter school route, complete with cool classes and a good reputation. It was 15 miles away in Warren, MI. She graduated High School. She had the wonderful opportunity to earn 21 credits dually enrolled in a community college. At that time, I’m sure Detroit had not many opportunities to offer. I, myself, had a very good education in the DPS back in the day. But I know things change, and not always for the better.

  48. coozledad said on October 6, 2011 at 8:23 am

    A couple of Fox reporters get a taste of their own shit:
    http://gawker.com/5847172/heres-video-of-a-senior-nypd-officer-beating-protesters-with-his-billy-club
    Imagine if they’d clubbed one of the Depends militias like this when they showed up at the townhalls with guns.

  49. brian stouder said on October 6, 2011 at 8:34 am

    So now the questions are:

    How often will the word “iconic” come up, in summations of the life and work of Steve Jobs?

    And –

    Which genius do we compare him to?

    I keep hearing matter-of-fact references to Thomas Edison; but my vote would be more for, say, Henry Ford.

  50. baldheadeddork said on October 6, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Cooz – I’m not moving my chips. Romney’s negatives among Republican voters are sky high and I don’t think he has a prayer of winning anything beyond New Hampshire. He is to the GOP what Lieberman is to the Democrats. All of the party leaders and DC press corps may think he’s the only choice but he’s permanently pissed off huge swaths of his own party. The Republican base may have moved from Palin to Bachmann to Perry and now to Cain, but they’re not going to Romney.

  51. coozledad said on October 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Baldheadeddork: I hope you’re right. That puts them in a hole at this point. Anything to the right of what they’ve already tried will be toxic.
    Who knows? Maybe they’ll dig up another member of the Bush clan and just have the Court appoint them president, after they’ve cleared rehab.

  52. Dave said on November 2, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    I actually prefer “Detroitblogger John” to “John Carlisle,” for a couple of reasons. The good reason is that the handle liberates him from the usual author/journalist/expert categories that yield little these days except bland talk-show segments. Maybe Carlisle doesn’t write this stuff, or write it as well, if he’s wearing his “serious” journalist hat instead of self-publishing without mediation like an everyday citizen. When journalism got respectable, it starting getting in its own way. The guise works.

    The other reason is purely romantic. I like Manly Wade Wellman’s “John the Balladeer” stories, about a rustic wanderer singing songs as he confronts supernatural threats in the Carolina mountains. The idea of a Detroit folk hero giving the little guy some attention is comforting, if still insufficient to solve the city’s problems.