Virginia is # 1: The Importance of States

Quality Counts ranked Virginia first among the states in giving its children the chance for success. My state also ranks first in the best states for business lists. We do less well on entrepreneur friendliness, but still well above average. My point IS to brag about Virginia, but I have a second point. It goes to show the importance of states as the laboratories of democracy.

If you look at the best states for kids and compare them to the best states for business, besides Virginia (which pretty much has it all) few states rank consistently high or low on different lists. Most of the time states are good at some things and less good at others. That is the great thing about having states and the wisdom of the tenth amendment. When a state does something well, others may copy. When it does something poorly, the problem does not spread. And you get to choose which you like best.

The U.S. enjoys both the scale benefit of being big and the innovation benefits of being small. It is another of those things that is not fair, but is really good. We can easily see the effects of different policies. Maryland and Virginia are right next to each other, but they have very different policies and you can assess the costs and benefits. Want to compare tax regimes? Cross a border from New Hampshire to Massachusetts or South Dakota to Minnesota. Unlike international statistics, a comparison between states, especially ones in the same region, can isolate the variables of government policies w/o all the noise of different culture, history etc. Differences you notice when you cross a state border are probably the result of politics.

Most people are less aware of this than you would guess, but businesses pay a lot of attention. Toyota is planning to open another American plant. Where will it be? Not the North East or Michigan for sure. Their decision is not driven by the weather or even the location of markets as much as local political conditions.

Choice is usually good. In America you can make many choices and still stay be in America. What a country.

Posted by Jack at January 4, 2007 5:01 PM
Comments
Comment #201499

Forbes ranks Iowa as #1 for Quality of Life.

Posted by: phx8 at January 4, 2007 5:21 PM
Comment #201501

Phx8

That is the beauty of it. Every state is probably ranked high on something. The American people can “vote with their feet” as well as at the ballot box. We can copy good ideas & ignore the bad ones. It give us a practical place to try things out.

Posted by: Jack at January 4, 2007 5:29 PM
Comment #201506

Jack, what they rated that number one status on from your link:

family income, parental education, employment trends, test scores, preschool participation and graduation rates.

How much you want to bet that the first two were the most important reasons that Virginia garnered the number one status for the rest of the things on that list?

Posted by: Adrienne at January 4, 2007 5:46 PM
Comment #201508

Hey I live in Michigan and are ranked #1 with highest unemployment. Wow what a honor

Posted by: KT at January 4, 2007 5:48 PM
Comment #201511

Jack,

“My state also ranks first in the best states for business lists.”

Ok, but the traffic sucks.

Posted by: Rocky at January 4, 2007 6:04 PM
Comment #201512

Adrienne

Yes. We are smart and rich, but not arrogant. Of course all these things affect the others. Incomes rise with education. When you are smart, you tend to make better choices, relationships are more stable etc, which leads to better outcomes for your kids, which lead to … But it is sometimes difficult to determine the direction of causality. Are you smart because you are rich (money helps buy education) or are you rich because you are smart (being smart helps you earn money)?

The survey is skewed by buying power, however. Some places incomes are high and so are costs. It seems that richer places did better, as you say, and that might be a function of living costs, not real incomes.

Rocky

Traffic is bad most places where there is any activity. Arizona is not as bad as many other places I know.

Posted by: Jack at January 4, 2007 6:16 PM
Comment #201514

The flaw in your argument with favoring states rights as laboratories over federalism is that when a state succeeds, there is no federalism to apply it to all other states. The disconnect is blatant.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 4, 2007 6:29 PM
Comment #201519

David

Other states can copy it IF they think it is good. We do not have to compel a response. And maybe it just seems good or is good for those local conditions. We need to have some freedom to choose.

I live in Virginia. Many of my friends live in Maryland. I have lived in both states and like Virginia much better. When I came back to the U.S., I didn’t even look in Maryland to buy a house. Some of my friends feel exactly the opposite. I do not want Virginia to be like Maryland and they do not want Maryland to be like Virginia. We all get the freedom to choose. Why impose some mediocrity that satisfies nobody?

Posted by: Jack at January 4, 2007 6:37 PM
Comment #201520
We are smart and rich, but not arrogant.

Huh? Does this strike anyone else?

I sat here and laughed.

Posted by: womanmarine at January 4, 2007 6:47 PM
Comment #201521

Jack:
“Are you smart because you are rich (money helps buy education) or are you rich because you are smart (being smart helps you earn money)?”

Obviously it can work both ways. But I think it’s important to remember that being rich and well-connected can buy people all kinds of things. Not only the best education, and the best employment opportunities, but it can also purchase test scores, specialized tutors, and yes, even graduation where others would automatically fail for not making the grade. Look at our president (and a good many other politicians), it’s not like they all rose to their positions because this country follows a code of strict and unbending meritocracy! :^)

Posted by: Adrienne at January 4, 2007 6:48 PM
Comment #201522

womanmarine, me too! Hilarious.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 4, 2007 6:49 PM
Comment #201523

Woman and Adrienne

I was supposed to be a funny. Glad you like it.

Self deprecating humor becomes one such as I.

The things you mention are mutually reinforcing. But they do require each other.

I knew many kids people who were rich and dumb. I am not saying that they suffer the same fate as poor and dumb kids, but they really do not usually get ahead just on daddy’s money. Their foibles are almost legendary, a part of literature. Money can usually last only three generations if the inheritors lack smarts or talent.

Re meritocracy, I addressed that before. A pure meritocracy is unattainable and perhaps undesirable. If you COULD eliminate all outside influences as well as random chance, you would be left with a society based strictly on genetic talent and intelligence. This tends to be distributed as least as “unfairly” as money, it tends to run in families and would be even more self perpetuating. At least a rich smart woman might marry a dumb guy and produce dumber offspring. If you segregate by intelligence I do not know what the result would be.

Posted by: Jack at January 4, 2007 7:02 PM
Comment #201524

Oatmeal was ranked #1 as a healthy food.

Oatmeal is smart and rich, but not arrogant.

Christ, how I love oatmeal.

Posted by: Balboa at January 4, 2007 7:02 PM
Comment #201525

womanmarine:

Me three! Reminds me of something a guy once said to me in college. “I’m not conceited. Conceit is a fault!”

Posted by: Martian at January 4, 2007 7:13 PM
Comment #201526

Mediocrity is something I never discussed or proposed, Jack. Successful strategies are what I propose for national adoption. School curriculum, standards of passing, and successful teaching strategies and abilities uniformly applied would serve the net result of our educational system far better than this hodge podge of thousands of differing standards and practices we have today.

There will always be room for innovation and experimentation under objective evaluative oversight. Far too many substandard schools have motives other than educating students, effectively keeping them substandard - like real estate values and taxes and development exemptions.

D.C. spends more per student than another school system and achieves far lower educational results. No question, capital investment in D.C. is some of the highest for schools, choking off funds for their most primary need, security, and their second most primary need, high quality teachers.

A national educational system could and would target specific local needs and aid in funding to bring their results up to par with other school systems. Some areas like LA need a dual school system, reform schools focused on the needs of troubled students, and regular schools; and intense security features in all. Such a system is beyond the reach of property owners tax base now that so many residents are Republican and have joined the no new taxes bandwagon.

Interesting how the snake consumes itself beginning with its tail.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 4, 2007 7:14 PM
Comment #201527

Jack,

“Are you smart because you are rich (money helps buy education) or are you rich because you are smart (being smart helps you earn money)?”

You can’t fix stupid.

A child from a rich family may have an initial advantage due to his/her family’s wealth, however the drive to succeed must come from within.

No amount of money will buy that drive.

Posted by: Rocky at January 4, 2007 7:20 PM
Comment #201530

David,

So are you in favor of chunking Federalism and replacing it with a Commonweatlh styled democracy?

Re: oversight, there is always the Hiesenberg principal to deal with. Oversight usually devolves to much more than oversight. It will include consulting practices, etc. that won’t be available when the result is more generally applied.

Then you also have the problem of determining the universe that would be will suited by the practices. You have mentioned L.A. and D.C., they certainly have different needs than Des Moines, Grand Rapids, and Fargo. One size fits all cures, usually aren’t.

Posted by: Rob at January 4, 2007 7:40 PM
Comment #201532

Jack
More likely smart poor women marry rich dumb guys

You hear a lot from the rights about states rights until states adopt policies they do not like. Examples: CA.medicinal pot; Oregon assisted suicide;Mass.gay marriage. The Shiavo case another example. Theres plenty more.

Posted by: BillS at January 4, 2007 7:46 PM
Comment #201536
…but I have a second point. It goes to show the importance of states as the laboratories of democracy.

Spoken like a true “states rights” Democrat, Jack. :)

I can’t wait until the rest of the country follows Massachusetts’ lead and implements an affordable health care plan that covers everyone. And the sooner the couuntry follows California’s lead with a CO2 cap & trade system the better we’ll all be.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 4, 2007 7:59 PM
Comment #201538

Jack
Take a look at the wage comparisons between states. It is no coicidence that the Forbes list of business friendly states are all low wage states,most with anti-union laws like “right to work’(for less).This might be just ducky for you business owners but the rest of us do not think it is so hot. Why does this matter in a federal system? Because us residents of high wage states,doner states, are getting a little tired of picking up the tab for all those “experiments in democracy” like Alabama and Mississippi that keep working people from earning decent pay.You know as well as I that Toyota is locating in these states because they can pay people less than they can in Japan. This is not a good thing.

Posted by: BillS at January 4, 2007 8:27 PM
Comment #201545

AP,

I’m all for those experiments as a Republican. They are done in the locality and funded locally for the most part. The states that make those decisions are able to weigh costs and benefits and allocate resources accordingly. Plus most states have balanced budget mandates that prevents them from losing focus on the issues that matter most to them.

BillS,

“You hear a lot from the rights about states rights until states adopt policies they do not like.”

Same is true for both sides of the fence on that. As a conservative, I’m more than willing to give up control on medicinal pot from the Federal level in exchange for the ability to do things like school voucher programs. As I have said above, the States can fight the issue out locally and then decide what is right for them.

“You know as well as I that Toyota is locating in these states because they can pay people less than they can in Japan. This is not a good thing.”

My home town is 15 miles from where GM built the Saturn plant in TN. They built it there in part because it was a right to work state. The people working in that plant now may be making less than they would have in Michigan, but they are making a whole hell of a lot more than they would have been without the plant. It had the added advantage of driving up wages throughout both counties that the plant straddles with all of the other businesses that can now survive because there is housing for thousands of people where farms used to be.

Posted by: Rob at January 4, 2007 9:05 PM
Comment #201547

David

You would throw resources at DC, which already misuses them?

If you truly could copy the best, it might work. But you know in the real world it would be hijacked by unions, diversity folks etc. You also have the biggest variable - parents - left out.


BillS

That is what I was planning to write, but I did not want to antagonize the PC crowd. There is just no way to avoid that. My point is just that rich people do not always produce smart kids. Intelligence is a more reliable indicator of success.

I would let the states have much more freedom. I do not care about pot, suicide etc. locally. You do have a bigger problem with something like gay marriage because of the mutual recognition aspect. I was married in Wisconsin. All other states recognize this. SO if one state has gay marriage, it is a wedge to open it in all states. BTW - I support gay marriage, but I prefer it to go through legislatures, not courts.

Re taxes

There is no such thing as donor state. Federal taxes are paid by individuals. If you are richer than I am, you are a donor relative to me. Otherwise not, and your sources of income may also not be in the state of your residence. And you may not have recieved your training in the state you live. In America, however, we feel individuals own the state not that the state owns the individual.

We have the interstate commerce principle to protect you from those people from other states and them from you. If you prefer to buy a Detroit made Ford rather than a Toyota made in the south, it is your business.

AP

Fine with me.

There are some things the states can do and some things the Feds need to take care of. I do not want states to be like independent countries, but I give the benefit of the doubt to local control.

Posted by: Jack at January 4, 2007 9:12 PM
Comment #201551

by God, finally a conservative post from jack… welcome back, jack. perhaps there is hope for you yet (though i shan’t hold my breath).

“A national educational system could and would target specific local needs and aid in funding to bring their results up to par with other school systems.”

… oh it would? and when will it start to? … cuz i have yet to see it happen… still waiting…

“So are you in favor of chunking Federalism and replacing it with a Commonweatlh styled democracy”

here and i thought we already had.

Posted by: Diogenes at January 4, 2007 9:44 PM
Comment #201554

“You hear a lot from the rights about states rights until states adopt policies they do not like. Examples: CA.medicinal pot; Oregon assisted suicide;Mass.gay marriage. The Shiavo case another example. Theres plenty more.”

these are the travails of political opportunists, not conservatives. they co-opted the republican party, and used their new found power to force their morality down the throats of the liberals - turnabout is fair play, no? still, it should be a lesson to us all… and yet i fear that few have learned it.

it is unconstitutional to infringe upon the sovereign rights reserved to each state respectively - whether or not you approve of how a given state chooses to wield said rights… so long as they do so within widely recogonized constitutional boundaries.

despite the ongoing trend, we are still indeed a federalist nation. it is high time we (and particularly those who comprise our federal government) remembered that solemn fact… and showed a little deference to the will of the states, and the peoples thereof.

Posted by: Diogenes at January 4, 2007 10:18 PM
Comment #201560

Jack, the Parents in D.C. know that they need repair crumbling infrastructure of their schools and they know all too well that security is mandatory for teachers to teach. But, with real estate and construction and material costs highly inflated over other communities in the country and the exemption base for taxes of all that government bureaucracy and real estate combined with low wages, their tax base can barely support building new schools to accomodate the population growth.

It is not that the funds are misappropriated, it is that the real cost of schools in D.C. is so much higher than in most other districts in the country.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 4, 2007 11:05 PM
Comment #201566

Jack
A doner state is one that pays more in federal taxes than the state recieves in federal benefits. One legitimate reason is that a state like Montana may not have the tax base to put in a federal highway for example but the biggest reason is that working people in the low wage states simply pay less in taxes based on income.

Rob
So you wish to make states rights conditional? You believe the Feds should be able to blackmail CA. into accepting an unworkable poison pill for public education in exchange for not haveing to deny sick people their medicine?
Trouble with your arguement about Toyota is that they can and do pay higher wages in states where they have too. CA is one of them. Thats where my truck was union made,by the way.

Posted by: BillS at January 4, 2007 11:28 PM
Comment #201569


I would love to brag about all the important catagories that my state leads the nation in. However, after nearly two decades of Republican rule, my once great state of Ohio ranks at or near the bottom in almost every catagory.

Posted by: jlw at January 4, 2007 11:42 PM
Comment #201573

Jack
Your point about gay marriage having to recognized by other states could lead to a very amuzing outcome. Lets say some poor state wanted to boost tourism so they legalized gay marriage. That would attract lots of couples of course. In retaliation or protection (point of view)a federal law is passed not requireing that other states recognize each others marriage laws. The first state then says fine,we won’t recognize yours either. Talk about a tourist boom. Devorce? why bother just move to the great state of———. Adultry laws?Alimony? I don’t think so. Not in this state. Whats a prenup without a nup. Just wacky enough to actually happen in this crazy beloved country of ours.My guess would be an island chain.
There are some more serious concerns in the same vein. Individual states charter corporations. Terms of the charters vary from state and companies shop for the most agreeable terms. That means that they can operate in all fifty states under terms granted by only one. National standards would solve this and give the residents of every state at least some input into the behavior of very powerful entities operating where they live.To some extent this goes for bank charters also.

Posted by: Jack at January 5, 2007 12:00 AM
Comment #201574

Jack and all
SORRY SORRY
I poasted the above. BillS

Posted by: BillS at January 5, 2007 12:03 AM
Comment #201590

Jack:
“My point is just that rich people do not always produce smart kids. Intelligence is a more reliable indicator of success.”

No Jack, you’re dead wrong. The clout and power thrown around due to the earnings and previous success of the parents in those states has a much greater impact than you’d clearly like to admit, but is nonetheless a very prominent and unmistakable feature.

Here’s the list of the top seven states ranked for educational excellence in that new report, and just next to it, I’ve listed their ranking according to per capita income which was reported in the last census report:

Virginia — #6
Connecticut — #1
Minnesota — #10
New Jersey — #2
Maryland — #4
Massachusetts — #3
New Hampshire — #7

Now, here’s the states that ranked lowest in that report on education, and their corresponding per capita state income numbers according to the census report:

Alabama —# 38
Mississippi — # 50
Tennesee — #35
Texas — # 32
Arizona — # 29
Louisiana — # 47
New Mexico — # 45

It’s as plain as can be that money is an extremely significant aspect to all of this. Not only do wealthier states produce children who for many and various reasons benefit from growing up in those regions, but intelligence is clearly NOT a reliable indicator of later success.
And let me be perfectly clear in what I mean here — I do not for one second believe there isn’t an amazing amount of intelligence and potential going wasted and neglected in those poorer states. The problem can only lie with a lack of leadership, a lack of funds, and with the lack of clout that makes things happen for those particular children of ours.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 5, 2007 4:20 AM
Comment #201592

Diogenes,

Generally good post, but it goes both ways. For example, I have a concealed carry permit for my home state (PA, which we all know to be the best state). My driver’s lisence is recognized in NY, but if I take my gun to NY, especially the city, and have it concealed on me, I’ll be going to jail. In a similar fashion, if Massachuttes wants to recognize gay marriage that’s thier affair. I simply wouldn’t choose to live there, or in California for a variety of reasons. Both sides engage in some double talk and hypocrisy on this issue. For my part, I think each state has the right to decide for itself what is allowed, so long as they don’t defy the Constitution or federal legislation. By the same token, states should have some discretion in what they recognize. It would seem to me that the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution requires all states to recognize both a gay marriage performed in Massachuttes and my concealed carry permit. I guess that’s why we have federal laws as well.

Adrienne,

You make a valid point about family wealth, but Jack is right. I’ve read a few different reports back in college (4 years ago, don’t know if any new research disproves this) that stated exactly what Jack said; IQ is a better predictor of success than race, class, family history etc. Your numbers might also bear out part of what Jack said about intelligence. From what I’ve read, intelligence, at least as measured by IQ, is mostly genetic. If this is the case, than it would make sense that intelligent children would be coming out of wealthy households, their wealth being an indication of the intelligence of their parents. That’s a bit convoluted, but I think you get what I’m saying.

Intelligence itself is a weird thing anyways and can make for interesting controversy. For example, I read a study once that concluded that most women think of their husband/boyfriend as being more intelligent than them. Feminists were predictably outraged, but these results make sense. After all, intelligence in a man is a far more desirable and sought after trait in men for women than in women for men. I think everybody here can relate, either with fondness or jealous rage, to the girl who was dumb as a hammer but excessively buxom who had all the boys in school chasing after her.

Intelligence is also somewhat situational. For instance, Stephen Hawking is probably the most intelligent man alive today. But his intelligence is trapped in a body crippled by disease. If you were to trade him out with Tom Hank’s character in “Castaway,” poor Dr. Hawking would almost certainly perish within days were a person of mediocre intelligence might live long enough to go insane and talk to a volleyball.

All in all, intelligence is, from everything I’ve read, the most reliable indicator of future success, but it must be nourished within an environment where it can achieve all its capable of. In this sense, your arguemt is correct, we don’t really know how many brilliant children are left to wither on the vine of academic failure due to issues with schools etc. We should be doing all we can to help people, but bear in mind that some just either cannot or will not be taught or put any effort into bettering themselves.

Posted by: 1LT B at January 5, 2007 7:58 AM
Comment #201595

Actually, I’ve read articles about studies that claim that self-discipline and emotional intelligence are better predictors of success than traditional IQ tests, which heavily favor the mathematical/verbal/analytical types of intelligence. Given that the IQ of posters here must be significantly higher than the national average, that’s perhaps not good news for many ;)

Having said that, the educational and economic advantages to children from wealthier parents seems obvious. An educational advantage doesn’t have to mean that a student actually learns more. If because of legacy issues or the ability to pay, a student gets into an Ivy League school, that doesn’t mean that student will learn more than a motivated student at a university with less prestige. But the Ivy League student does have a much better chance of getting a high-paying job because of the reputation of his alma mater. At any rate, the whole thing is problematic. My undergraduate degree was from a third tier school, but certain departments, such as business or music, have extremely good reputations. If you are a student of jazz, you can’t do better than UNT.

These discussions often annoy me and I think it’s because of the simplified definition of success that is used. In my own case, I’ve passed up several high-paying jobs because I didn’t like the work or because I didn’t respect the people with whom I’d have to work. Further, I place a very high value on leisure time. If I had a job that consumed me after work hours, I wouldn’t be able to do many of the things I value, such as pursuing my interest in ancient history. This self study will never translate into greater economic success, but it’s essential to my quality of life. What is success? Purely economic criteria are silly.

Posted by: Trent at January 5, 2007 9:13 AM
Comment #201602

Trent,

I think I’ve heard of what you refer to and I think its called EQ, or Emotional Quotient. I would imagine that high scores on both would probably be a good indicator of future success as well.

I agree that wealthy parents can add to the chances of their children’s success, but some of it has to come from the children themselves. I also think the example that parents set, especially with regards to the value of hard work, honesty, and discipline, go further than any dollar amount can. I agree that there are some problems with this, but I’m not a fan of egalitarianism, even as a theory. To me, that system fails to reward good behavior and choices and fails to penalize bad behavior and choices. A pure meritocracy has problems of its own, but I would prefer something like that over an egalitarian system any day of the week.

Good point on the measures of success. I think economic success is used as a measure because its easily quantifiable. There are a lot of other things that go into it though. For example, most captains in the Army stay beyond their 4 year requirement in the hopes of picking up a command. Any command in the military has a lot more responsibility and risk than any job in the private sector and for a lot less pay, but I have yet to meet a captain who didn’t think company command was the best thing in the world.

Posted by: 1LT B at January 5, 2007 10:27 AM
Comment #201603

Jack,

The reason Virginia ranks so high is that it has excellent state sponsored education. I agree it should be the case in every state.

Posted by: Max at January 5, 2007 10:35 AM
Comment #201610

1lt,

this is why the public policy exception is crucial to the full faith and credit clause, as the supreme court so judiciously ruled. you may carry your concealed weapon in your state (and mine), but not others - and rightly so. you may marry whomsoever you wish, as prescribed by the laws in your state - however, if you have a need to be recognized as lawfully wed (something i have oft questioned), then best that you remain in the states which already do so - rather than move to a different state and expect that everyone in said state assimilate, rather than you, yourself.

if every state were required to uphold the law of every other, always as superordinate to their own, then essentially each state would only design the laws by which all others (save themselves) would live by - as in every instance, states would be forced to implement the laws of all others before their own. this is simply nonsensical and impracticable, and would necessitate an overarching federal constabulary simply in order to even attempt to make sense of the ensuing chaos.

basically, such a practice (unnecessarily butting into the affairs of other states) would likely lead to the devolving of our federalist system into that of a unitary one… hmm.

Posted by: Diogenes at January 5, 2007 12:26 PM
Comment #201619

BillS

We are not dividing into states in that way. What if I pay a fair amount of tax to the Feds and my next door neighbor pays nothing. We live in the same state. Some of my Federal tax dollars go to Montana to build roads. I am okay with that because it ties our country together. Does my non-bill paying neighbor have any right to claim he is a donor?

Besides, consider your example of the highway. I - 90 runs through the north plains, connecting Boston with Seattle. Who benefits from that Interstate? Don’t the people of Boston get cheaper food etc? Obviously when a highway runs through a sparsely populated region, there were be more highway per capita, but it does not follow that each of those people is benefiting that much more.

David

Many parents in DC are good. When they want to be really good parents, they move to Fairfax or Montgomery County. You have a vicious circle. DC is a great place to live, but parents of school age children generally will not opt to live there unless they want to send their kids to private schools. But the bottom line is that you have a highly politicized school system that sucks in a lot of money and gives really poor results.

A system like DC probably SHOULD be taken over by somebody else. But who? On the other hand, we have some very successful school systems that are run well. Some are rich; many are not. Nobody has ever been able to find a correlation between money spent per pupil and results. That is the great unmentioned educational open secret.

Adrienne

You still do not know which way the causality is going. Beyond that, educational excellence is a difficult category. Many times we have an autocorrelation BECAUSE those measuring excellence use such things as expenditures etc as proxies. It is much the same as your valid objection about income and the outcomes study.

There is also the fact that educational excellence is not closely related to success, except in education itself.

You also have to deal with diversity. Look carefully at the states you list in both categories and consider what other sorts of correlations you might find.

Trent, Adrienne, 1LT

This is the other problem. Intelligence is difficult to define. It is related to education, but not synonymous. Smart people tend to do well in school, but plenty of smart people dropped out of college and I have met a large number of educated fools.

Intelligence is more than book learning or the ability to pass tests. Trent, you are right re emotional intelligence. 1LT, you are right about native intelligence, Adrienne, you are right about money. We are all right, but incomplete.

We face a significant challenge in our society brought about by meritocracy. As merit become more important, it sorts people into ability groups much better. A century ago, intelligence was probably distributed fairly regularly in the population. The smartest unskilled worker might be doing what everybody else did due to lack of opportunity. Society was less mobile.Today it is very unlikely that an American born poor & unskilled worked has much in the way of native intelligence. IF he did, he would not stay unskilled or poor. We tend to meet and marry those like us (smart, rich, educated people marry other like them and do do the dumb, poor & dropped out), so it is passed to next generations and exacerbated as each generation builds on or sinks below the work of the previous.

Success comes from a combination or money, native intelligence, discipline, good habits, stable family and luck. Of these only luck is something you could not reasonably get from your parents. So no matter what the cause, we have them all working together.

What does this say for the future of equality?

Posted by: Jack at January 5, 2007 1:15 PM
Comment #201622

BillS,

I’m completely stumped by this statement:
“So you wish to make states rights conditional? You believe the Feds should be able to blackmail CA. into accepting an unworkable poison pill for public education in exchange for not haveing to deny sick people their medicine?”

I have no idea what it means in relationship to what I said, can you elaborate?

In regards to this statement, “Trouble with your arguement about Toyota is that they can and do pay higher wages in states where they have too. CA is one of them. Thats where my truck was union made,by the way.”

That’s the way business works. The price of labor or goods is always set by what you have to pay. If you can put your plant where it doesn’t cost as much, then you do so.

Btw, the Saturn’s rolling off the GM lines in Spring Hill, TN are union made as well. The workers in a right to work state do not lose their ability to organize. However, the worker makes the choice whether to join the union or not, he is not mandated to.

Regardless of the union status, the labor is cheaper because the cost of living is less. The average price of a house in the two counties where the plant workers live is still less than $300k. (One of the counties is also filled with McMansions that are inhabited by the farmers that sold their land for the new developments, executives from Nashville, singer/ songwriters, and NFL players. Most of the new houses built are going for close to $1M to over $7M, ~$200 sq/foot, and most well over 3,000 sq/feet. However, there are pleanty of existing houses that can be had for closer to $100 sq/foot and are under 2,500 sq feet. In the other county the latter situation is closer to the norm.)

With the lower cost of living, the lower wages can buy more than they do in CA or MI.

Posted by: Rob at January 5, 2007 1:48 PM
Comment #201627

Jack,

We also have a system that needs low-wage earners. The argument commonly used against raising the minimum wage is that it would drive employers out of business. That’s debatable, of course, but it does illustrate that much of our economy depends on employers employing people at low wages. Without these low wage earners, could we get such bargains at Wal-Mart or buy unhealthy McFood at current prices?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but one of the reasons I’m a critic of capitalism is that it requires the poor to function. That doesn’t mean I advocate socialism in the European sense — who wants the 10 percent unemployment of Germany, for instance. But when I hear people complaining about welfare or concluding that all the poor are just lazy bums — I have to shake my head. It’s too much like old retribution theology, which is a marvelous way for those well off to pat themselves on the back while sneering at others. The very system that allows many of us to do well also requires that others do poorly.

Some of this comes down to what is truly important, which of course is very subjective. Food, shelter, some leisure time, good books, good friends — what else do we truly need? To some degree, poverty is often just a state of mind. I fear that statement will get me jumped on by my liberal brethern, so let me hasten to add I realize that many truly are suffering. But many others just think they are poor and don’t realize the riches all around them.

There are many pitfalls regardless of native intelligence, educational accomplishments, etc. It’s not only morons who become drug addicts or suddenly face illnesses that wipe out their savings.

What can we do? Try to make available good education to everyone and have a safety net for starters. Understand that success in helping the poor shouldn’t be measured merely in progress in eliminating the poor but in the fact that the hungry are fed. (I get tired of the arguments that Social Security is a failure when in fact it has helped millions face their final years with some dignity.)

I used to be against school uniforms because they limited student expression, but now I think they are useful ways to help minimize differences in socioeconomic standing, at least for a few hours everyday in the classroom.

Jack, you assume that the poor are stupid because of genetics — if they parents were poor and stupid then their children are likely to be too. I won’t claim that even in a generation or two that the genetic component of intelligence can’t be demonstrated, but I would say that there is a enough genetic variation across generations that the actual effect may not be as large as you assume. Regardless, I am wary of these arguments even if they contain some degree of truth because we humans look for easy explanations of complicated phenomenon. We know that young girls, who generally outperform young males academically, lose ground when they become adolescents. Much of the reason seems to be cultural. If a young girl realizes that she is acknowledged more for the size of her breasts than the capacity of her mind, well — cultural influences are hard to shake, no matter how bright you are. But they are not death sentences. Some girls do continue to perform well. Likewise, if teachers and the peers of the poor students just assume they are going to be dumber than average, then we have detrimental cultural expectations. One can preserve the truth while still emphasizing the potential of any particular individual. We know that students do better when they are expected to do better.

Posted by: Trent at January 5, 2007 2:06 PM
Comment #201634

I find it interesting how, after so many years of republican oversight of our economy/ foreign policy/ military, that there is so little commentary from conservatives on the many accomplishments coming out of six years of a republican presidency, six years of a republican senate and twelve years of a republican house. Instead it is all reduced to proclamations on what a great state virginia is (they did vote maccaca out, i guess that is a minor plus), how old episodes of twilight zone bind us together and numerous references to how lousy the clinton years were. It’s so nice to have a man in office who is not playing around with the staff in private. Of course, Merkel needs to keep an eye on the new guy, but no major story there.
So . . . . Come on conservatives!!! It’s time to brag!!! Look were we were! Look at where we are! Look at where we are going! It’s not a time to be modest. The BEST of all possible worlds has been created, FOR US! Let’s enjoy it ‘till those damn democrats take over again.

Posted by: Charles Ross at January 5, 2007 2:57 PM
Comment #201639

Jack said: “Nobody has ever been able to find a correlation between money spent per pupil and results. That is the great unmentioned educational open secret.”

And that is a crock of conservative bullpucky, Jack. Just because YOU haven’t sought out research to support such a correlation does not mean many are not out there. There is in fact, quite logically, a correlation between dollars spent and educational results. No money at all means no education beyond what parents can provide in their private homes. Money for schools mean a far better education for students than they would receive at the hands of their parents at home.

So, there is a direct correlation, Jack. You appear to not want to acknowledge it due to your philosophy that folks should be on their own and not expect others to chip in to social infrastructural projects.

Once money is raised by taxpayers to fund a school system, a myriad of other factors come into play that determine how efficient and how much education can be afforded per student. Land and building costs are a huge factor. For the same $5 million dollar bond issue, the school system in rural Texas can afford to build more school square footage per student than in Wa. D.C. where both land and building costs are dramatically higher. Hence on the same budget, D.C. schools get less educational resources for the same dollar.

The same is true for teachers. D.C. teachers cost of living in or near D.C. is substantially higher than in a small town in Texas. Therefore, Texas can offer either higher pay per teacher attracting better quality teachers, or more teachers per student ratio which also attracts better teachers.

Then there are security issues for teachers in classrooms, and the amount of educational support students in particular region get from parents compared to other communities.

But, to say there is no correlation is to deny the truth, that in fact there is a wealth of research and information supporting the correlation. OK, OK, you likely won’t bother researching it because the facts interfere with your philosophy. But, I won’t allow ignorance of facts to prattle on in support of a philosophy that disregards reality.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 5, 2007 3:31 PM
Comment #201641

Trent

My point was not that we should punish the poor and I didn’t make any statement re what we should do about it.

I am simply voicing a concern that the very policies that make our society fairer may create greater stratification.

Nothing guarantees success, but if you cover family influence, genetics, education, motivation and culture, you have many of the variables covered. I see our society increasingly sorted by these variables. A poor smart guy has more of a chance to become not poor. Educated people congregate with other educated people, etc.

In our opportunity rich environment, talented, smart and disciplined people increasingly end up getting more and more of the prizes.

My analogy is a fast new car and an old one that does not run well. If you drive them through a crowded city, with lots of traffic and lots of stop signs, you may not be able to see the difference. The more you remove the obstacles, the farther ahead the fast car can get.

Charles

The economy has broadly been very good since 1982. In the more particular case, it has been good since 2003. We have become so accustomed to good economies since Ronald Reagan, that some people consider unemployment under 5% a problem or economic growth under 2-3% a downturn. U.S. EMPLOYERS ADDED 167,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls in December. I brag about those things a lot. There is no point anymore.

Our environment is cleaner than ever before in all the pollutants we measure (NOx, CO, SO2 etc) with the exception of CO2.

People are living longer. They are healthier. I do not credit presidents or congress with most of these things. The U.S. people and firms are the ones that create wealth, but in general we have a lot to be proud of.

BTW - U.S. household net worth is at an all time high, so we have created a lot of wealth.

PS - Bill Clinton was a good steward of the economy, as is Bush. We have been well served for about 30 years, which is one reason we are doing so well. The last ones who caused serious disruptions by really dumb policies were Nixon and Carter, and of course Johnson’s great society debacle.

Posted by: Jack at January 5, 2007 3:39 PM
Comment #201644

David

I have never been able to find a coorelation and nobody has ever been able to show me one. If you have such data, please share it. I have found the per pupil spending has a weak or no corelation with achievement.

Many of the worst systems spend the most. In my own region there is no clear pattern.

BTW - Fairfax County has one of the best school systems in the country. DC has one of the worst. They spend about the same per pupil. Cost of livng in Fairfax is not low. You can certainly find a cheaper place in DC.

Posted by: Jack at January 5, 2007 3:52 PM
Comment #201653

Virginia is a real interesting state, especially when it comes to politics. Northern Virginia is tipping the state blue because of its large — and growing — immigrant population. A parallelism with red states out in the Mountain West now going blue.

Posted by: Mike Tate at January 5, 2007 5:11 PM
Comment #201657

Mike

I depends on what kind of immigrants. I agree with your general assessment. I have canvassed neighborhood in NoVA. But it is not immigrants from outside the U.S. who are tipping the balance. We have a lot of diversity among them. What is happening in NoVa is increase in incomes. As the incomes increase, so does the blueness of the neighborhood. It is interesting in that this is almost the complete opposite of the convential wisdom on the subject. My experience is that Dems get the high incomes and the low incomes and Republican get the middle.

It also depends on what people do. We have many highly paid government bureaucrats. They are several shades bluer than purple as a group.

The immigrants that are changing NoVA are the “gentifiers” There are important life style variants. Expensive condos are very blue. Neighborhoods with lots of kids tend to be red.

I am not disagreeing with you and I know I am just throwing out observations. They are based on many hours of actual contact work instead of an academic survey, so they are a little disjointed.

Returning to immigrants, my guess is that immigrants from S. & E. Asia will trend Republican. Hispanics trend Dem, at least in the 1st generation. The intersting group are Muslims. Absent the war on terror, they would trend Republican. I wonder how they will go after Bush. Foreign immigration will not change the political balance so much. Immigration of higher income people from other parts of the U.S. is what is driving the change.

The saying is that Virginia now begins at the Rappahannock. I do not really believe that, but there is some truth to it.

Posted by: Jack at January 5, 2007 6:03 PM
Comment #201663

Here’s what appears to be a well-supported argument that there is a strong correlation between expenditure and student performance.

Here’s an interesting excerpt that claims the disadvantages of a poor socioeconomic background can be overcome by effective teaching:

By high school, students in districts with the high-scoring teachers scored remarkably higher—1.7 standard deviations—than their peers with low-scoring, less-qualified teachers. Regardless of the initial scores of students in the lower grades, students’ long-term achievement was linked with a high degree of statistical significance to the quality of teachers to which they were exposed, as measured by certification test scores. Ferguson’s results are consistent with similar findings from studies of teacher effectiveness in Tennessee, Dallas, and Boston. Even Eric Hanushek, the leading academic proponent of the view that money doesn’t matter, acknowledged based on his own recent research that “having a high quality teacher throughout elementary school can substantially offset or even eliminate the disadvantage of low socio-economic background.”

You need competitive salaries to attract the best teachers, of course. I think it highly likely the notion that money doesn’t matter is just a myth.

Posted by: Trent at January 5, 2007 6:36 PM
Comment #201664

Here’s what appears to be a well-supported argument that there is a strong correlation between expenditure and student performance.

Here’s an interesting excerpt that claims the disadvantages of a poor socioeconomic background can be overcome by effective teaching:

By high school, students in districts with the high-scoring teachers scored remarkably higher—1.7 standard deviations—than their peers with low-scoring, less-qualified teachers. Regardless of the initial scores of students in the lower grades, students’ long-term achievement was linked with a high degree of statistical significance to the quality of teachers to which they were exposed, as measured by certification test scores. Ferguson’s results are consistent with similar findings from studies of teacher effectiveness in Tennessee, Dallas, and Boston. Even Eric Hanushek, the leading academic proponent of the view that money doesn’t matter, acknowledged based on his own recent research that “having a high quality teacher throughout elementary school can substantially offset or even eliminate the disadvantage of low socio-economic background.”

You need competitive salaries to attract the best teachers, of course. I think it highly likely the notion that money doesn’t matter is just a myth.

Posted by: Trent at January 5, 2007 6:36 PM
Comment #201665

Damn. Jack or any other editor, feel free to remove my double posting and, to avoid confusion, this one too.

Posted by: Trent at January 5, 2007 6:37 PM
Comment #201669

Trent,

Is there a cite to anything less partisan that you could provide. This was as bad in the other direction as the top 10 hits that I got on Yahoo when I searched for “Education spending and achievenment correlation”.

What I got were mostly partisan campaign materials saying the correlation was not there. All the papers were like this one, pseudoscientific in support of their position. (By pseudoscientific, I mean that they cheery pick the evidence for their case, and wrap politicized words around it; this paper does the same).

Posted by: Rob at January 5, 2007 6:48 PM
Comment #201671

Rob,

Could you be more specific? The paper seemed to support its claims that teacher effectiveness and class size are important, and both those factors are dependent upon money, of course. For those who didn’t read the linked article, please don’t take my comments here as a complete summary of the paper; they are not.

I’m not an expert on this issue. Because of that, I qualified my endorsement of the paper. I’m serious when I say I’d like to know why you think the paper cheery picked evidence. I admit I didn’t look up the sources it cited.

Posted by: Trent at January 5, 2007 7:01 PM
Comment #201688

Trent

This is an advocacy paper. I looked through it. It is argument not data. There are some points where I think it is misleading.

I have no doubt that a properly applied program CAN work. It is like comparing athletes who work out more effectively with those who do not. It approaches tautology. The comparison, however, is money spent and money spent. DC and Fairfax spend about the same money per pupil. DC obviously wastes much of that money. IF they spent the money as well, the results would be similar.

So the question is not the particular program, but whether more money can make that happen. More money is not necessary, as Fairfax/DC shows. If you gave MORE money to the failing schools, might they not just waste it faster?

That brings me to the competition/voucher solution. It is clear that many (I am sure not all) failing schools have enough money. They just spend that money poorly. Giving more money is unlikely to make them better stewards of the public money. Competition might.

One more thing on that study. Small class size is not particularly related to acheivment. What you might be seeing in this study is the Hawthorn effect, i.e. when you pay special attention to something it improves regardless of the effectiveness of the underlying activity.

Posted by: Jack at January 5, 2007 9:30 PM
Comment #201698

“My point IS to brag about Virginia”

Jack,

Because of that I’m not going to give you too much hell, but after googling “quality counts” I found some really arbitrary results.

I mean it’s like saying that wine drinkers have a lower risk of heart disease. I honestly remember a few years ago that a government funded study showed that Kansas really was “flatter than a pancake”.

All else aside, cograts on achieving star status. Especially regarding education. I think most of us appreciate the benefits of a great education.

Education is truly “job #1”.

Posted by: KansasDem at January 5, 2007 11:30 PM
Comment #201701

It always seems to be “advocacy” and “argument, not data” when you don’t agree with something, Jack.
Well, here are few other links you’ll likely discount as worthless, but maybe Trent and David will find them interesting:
It Takes More Than Schools to Close the Achievement Gap

Exceptional Returns
Economic, Fiscal, and Social Benefits of Investment in Early Childhood Development

The Need For Adequate Resources For At-Risk Children

FYI, those links from Economic Policy Institute, a non profit and non partisan think tank.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 6, 2007 12:05 AM
Comment #201703

Ending the Blame Game on Educational Inequity

You’ll note that this link is from the Education Policy Studies Laboratory, which is the same source that Jack used to show us that Virginia had ranked #1.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 6, 2007 12:07 AM
Comment #201708

Adrienne

I AM an advocate. That is why I advocate. Notice noun and verb are the same because that is what I am and do. I never write things I know to be untrue, but I rarely tell the whole truth. If you expected something else, you were misinformed.

Let me be clear about money. Having more resources can improve anything in theory. The problem is one of management and politics. Many school systems are poorly managed. If you give them more money, they just waste it.

Public education is a very interesting operation. Where else do you reward incompetence with even more money (yes, government. besides that)?

What we should do with failing school systems is put them under different management.

If you take your car to the mechanic who cannot fix it, do you keep on giving him more money? If you go to a restaurant with bad food, do you keep on going there? Move on.

Kansas

Thanks. I was just looking to brag about it. I admit that the methodology is flawed.

In all candor, however, Virginia is a really nice place to live. I have lived in Maryland, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Washington State, California & Virginia, as well as Norway, Poland & Brazil. Every place has its charms, but Virginia is certainly among the best in places to live. But I think I have liked every place I ever lived. I suppose most people do, or else they would move.

Posted by: Jack at January 6, 2007 1:03 AM
Comment #201711

“In all candor, however, Virginia is a really nice place to live.”

Jack,

As is Kansas. As much as I curse my fellow Kansan’s here in rural Kansas we try like hell to provide the best possible education. My oldest grandson had struggled with reading since day one. When he moved here he got some “one on one” help and he’s now reading at his age level.

Good people and good deeds come from folks of all stripes and colors. Most people around here find it hard to believe that I’m agnostic due to my charitable nature.

At the end of the day most of us are Americans first, with all it’s assets and liabilities, and anything else second, whether religious, ideological, political, etc.

Feel free to bask in the glory of your success. You deserve it. Be loud and be proud.

Posted by: KansasDem at January 6, 2007 2:08 AM
Comment #201714
This is an advocacy paper. I looked through it. It is argument not data. There are some points where I think it is misleading.

Jack,

It is an argument supported by data. Calling an argument an argument does not invalidate it. If you have something specific to criticize about it, then do so. If not, re-consider before you post a link to a Heritage article.

It is as silly to say that money has nothing to do with the quality of education as it is to say that simply dumping money on schools will ensure quality education. It’s about how the money is spent. In some schools, additional funding may not give as big a bang for the buck as it would in others.

Small class size is not particularly related to acheivment. What you might be seeing in this study is the Hawthorn effect, i.e. when you pay special attention to something it improves regardless of the effectiveness of the underlying activity.

In other words, Jack, any improvement seen by having smaller classes can’t be attributable to the fact the classes are smaller? I’d like so see some support for your assertions.

Posted by: Trent at January 6, 2007 2:29 AM
Comment #201728

I AM an advocate. That is why I advocate. Notice noun and verb are the same because that is what I am and do. I never write things I know to be untrue, but I rarely tell the whole truth.

Jack,

That’s called “lying by ommission.” We have entirely different goals in discussion. You wish to push a certain point of view using arguments that you yourself know may be misleading while I am interested in the quality of the arguments themselves. That’s why when I comment on blue column articles I am often critical.

Advocacy as you define it is not much different from advertising.

Posted by: Trent at January 6, 2007 11:07 AM
Comment #201750

Trent

I do not think the data supports arguments. The paper correctly points out that IF a successful program in place, then it improves performance. The question is whether throwing more money at the problem makes this happen. Most of the problems with education are related to bad management. As long as we leave the bad management structures in place, additional money will provide little help and may actually cause harm to the extent it perpetuates bad management.

The same goes for smaller class sizes. It depends on how it is managed. My kids go to a good school in a good school system. They have good teacher student ratio, but whether or not it works depends on the teachers. In my sons science class there are two teachers. One teaches, the other just sits in the back of the room and says “listen up”. I have hated that kind of teacher since I had to put with it. We complained; things changed. Here you see the other variable: parents. More money would have done nothing.

Re advocacy

Let me explain. I tell my side of the story and tell the story the way I think is true. Every way of understanding the world is based on a mental model. This model by its nature includes some things and leave more things out. I believe my models and frames are accurate, but I recognize that they do not represent the whole truth. I am not trying to mislead, but I am also not trying to be just an information broker. I am interpreting the data in the way that makes sense to me and advocating it as a way for others too.

Let me try to give an example. I do not believe in equality of outcomes. I think it is a bad goal. You will not see me considering that side of any argument because I believe it is stupid. You could argue that I should consider all sides each time, but nobody can do that. I think I am just honest with myself and others in telling them where I am coming from.

Posted by: Jack at January 6, 2007 2:02 PM
Comment #201757

Jack,

As with so many other things, complicated issues get sloganized when we talk about funding education. That these types of discussions get reduced to “more/less money” arguments is unfortunate. Obviously good management and good teachers are crucial. The real problem is how to achieve those ends. In some cases, additional funds may be necessary; in others, better use of available funds is required. No disagreement there. I object to assumption that money is irrelevant because, well, it’s not. It depends on the circumstances. I think NCLB is probably a good example of good intentions poorly executed.

Re: advocacy. Of course what you just said is true, and I would never deny it. When I was younger I strove for a forceful writing style in which I rarely qualifed statements. I was taught, as I imagine you were, that qualifying statements was a sign of weakness. Over time I came to value what I perhaps self-servingly consider intellectual integrity. Because of that, I find that I tend to qualify my statements far more than I used to. That leads to wordier sentences, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay.

To the extent possible, I think we should let the strength of arguments determine conclusions. That can be extremely difficult. It forces us to re-consider what we believe to be true and to examine why we believe them to be true. Here’s an example. In general, I believe gun control necessary, but when several years ago I examined Second Amendment issues, I was forced to conclude that the courts are misinterpreting the Second Amendement (as you know, in general, the courts do not affirm an individual right to bear arms). I think that is wrong though it leads to results I desire. In that case, I am forced to acknowledge that the NRA is largely correct. I can not do otherwise because I value so greatly the Constitution in general. (By the same token, I object to any president subverting the Constitution. It is just a coincidence that at the moment the president in question is also one I oppose on other grounds.)

In argument, often our greatest opponents are ourselves. I find myself slipping sometimes. I use someone else’s lack of information against him or her and make arguments more forcefully than the evidence permits because I know my opponent may not be able to marshal the evidence or reasoning to persuasively object. But everything important is a struggle, and that includes ethical discourse.

Posted by: Trent at January 6, 2007 2:48 PM
Comment #201759

“Most of the problems with education are related to bad management”

Jack as a Middle/High School teacher I must disagree. The basic problem with education is that the majority of students and parents do not value education and/or are not held accountable by the parent for what they do and do not learn. In our society if a student does not learn it is the teachers fault. I have seen it again and again. Parents who blame me because their child is not learning, does not study, won’t do homework. I provide a service if the child does not care to take advantage of the sevice, there really is not much I can do about it. I sit at my desk every afternoon waiting for students to come in for extra help. Very rarely do the students who need it come in. It is almost always the students who are already doing well that ask question and take the initiative to learn. Also on the topic of money, some one must explain to me why my district will spend a million bucks on a new football stadium while my students sit at desks that wobble in chairs that do the same thing.As well, Jack I have to beg students to join Science Olympiad but the Baseball team has to cut players. Who do you suppose taught the students those values? It wasn’t me.

“In my sons science class there are two teachers. One teaches, the other just sits in the back of the room and says “listen up”.

Jack why does anyone have to tell the kids to “listen up” Who taught these kids their manors?

Posted by: yep its me at January 6, 2007 3:12 PM
Comment #201762

Jack:
“I believe my models and frames are accurate, but I recognize that they do not represent the whole truth. I am not trying to mislead, but I am also not trying to be just an information broker.”

The problem I see is that when you are presented with arguments that may prove your models and frames woefully inaccurate and uncover truths that you are completely unwilling to recognise, you are very quick to discount them (and all the gathered data they are based upon). Now, I realize that it’s very inconvienient for you that there is a veritable mountain of information that has been gathered over the years which bolsters the arguments that Trent and David and I have been making in this thread, and I also know that this is why you claim you don’t want to be an “information broker” — but it does make it tiresome to try to engage you in an honest debate.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 6, 2007 3:54 PM
Comment #201765

yep,

I usually don’t do make the kind of comment I’m making now partially because when writing in haste I often make slips myself, but your post contains so many grammatical errors, some very serious, that it’s hard for me to think they are not just slips. That’s scary because you are a high school teacher.

Posted by: Trent at January 6, 2007 4:10 PM
Comment #201768

I know they are there and they are mostly structural not grammatical. I didn’t have time to correct them. I was in a hurry. Care to comment on the substance? P.S. You left out a period yourself!

Posted by: yep its me at January 6, 2007 5:00 PM
Comment #201769

oops I mean a comma

Posted by: yep at January 6, 2007 5:03 PM
Comment #201776

yep,

I largely agree with your post. I have no criticisms of its content.

I must disagree with you about the nature of the errors in it. They are grammatical, not structural, and include comma splices, not using commas to set off adverb clauses before main clauses, not using apostrophes to indicate the possessive case, etc. At any rate, we all make errors when writing in haste; I should have kept my mouth shut.

But I am curious. Where did I fail to use a comma?

Posted by: Trent at January 6, 2007 5:28 PM
Comment #201778

It’s a matter of taste. But, if I were to put three comma in one sentence, I would have added one between haste and I. But hey I teach science, never could diagram a sentence. Care to debate the importance of grammar in communication?

Posted by: yep at January 6, 2007 5:42 PM
Comment #201780

Yep,

You can make a case for a comma between “haste” and “I” but only if you put a comma after “because” to set off the clause. Anyway, this is getting pedantic.

Maybe some other time we can debate the importance of grammar in written communication. I fear I’ve gotten this thread off topic.

Posted by: Trent at January 6, 2007 6:00 PM
Comment #201787

Yep

Certainly parents are a big part of the problem too, but that is another thing more money will not solve. I mentioned that as an important variable.

I just do not like the “listen up” thing.

Re management, public education is such an interesting management situation. My kids go to public school. My daughter goes to public university. I went to public school and public university. I think public schools CAN work well and many do. The ones the work poorly should be reorganized and the poor mangers should not be rewarded with more money.

I agree with you about sports. It is much overdone.

We also have a problem with the kids, as you say. Half of all kids are below the median, but every parent figures his/her kid should be top of the class.

Adrienne

The problem is that there is not a mountain of evidence. On the contrary, most of the evidence indicates that money is not main issue.

I addressed the nuances what Trent posted. Nobody has been able to demonstrate a correlation between amount spent per pupil and outcomes when comparing districts. Nobody. Do you have ANY data that shows such a relationship?

You need to assess what the sources actually say, not what the authors purport. Much of the “evidence” people cite is merely advocacy too. That is why you always have to go to the data appendices. The data very often does not support the conclusions.

You just cannot accept what they say in the executive summary.

Maybe you guys should reconsider your models before you throw money at problem that is not primarily caused by a lack of money.

And try to look at data, not assertions.

Yep & Trent

Let’s not do too much grammar policing.

Posted by: Jack at January 6, 2007 7:24 PM
Comment #201829

Jack:
“The problem is that there is not a mountain of evidence.”

Perhaps it’s just that way out there in Rightwing Blogistan you can’t see it?

“On the contrary, most of the evidence indicates that money is not main issue.”

Yeah well, that’s probably the way it seems when the only sources for information on the subject you choose to trust are from the likes of The American Enterprise Institute, or The Heritage Foundation.

“Nobody has been able to demonstrate a correlation between amount spent per pupil and outcomes when comparing districts. Nobody. Do you have ANY data that shows such a relationship?”

You’re joking, right? People have been documenting that correlation for YEARS. Just go look at those links I listed above, or for further proof, go to the main page of the Economic Policy Institute and look at some of the topics that are listed there.
Children in disadvantaged areas need a lot more money per pupil, because they automatically start out at a much greater disadvantage in almost everyway you could name, and thus, need funding for programs that will address their special needs so that they’ll have even half a chance of catching up to children who are born with many more advantages. Moreover, as David mentioned in his post, the economic realities of different regions also play an enormous role when we talk about needs in education funding.
But as we all know, your “models and frames” can’t allow for an honest discussion that will include those kinds of factors. Which is why, for me anyway, there can be no point in continuing this discussion.
Thanks for replying anyway, though.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 7, 2007 12:37 AM
Comment #201832

Here’s a link to a paper in progress by an economics professors. It contains some interesting observations and calcuations made on raw data. The calculations are shown, though some of the charts indicated in the text are not there yet.

Interestingly, it finds a positive correlation between local funding and student performance and a generally weak correlation between federal funding and student performance. The reason seems to be that federal funding goes mainly for programs for disadvantaged students who tend to score lower on tests. (I don’t really understand why unless these programs are not academic in nature.)

At any rate, the professor claims, “The (null) hypothesis that NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress] performance is not improved by additional per-pupil funding of public schools is clearly rejected.”

Now, this is just a working paper, but it appears to me to contain some good insights into the complexity of the issue.

Posted by: Trent at January 7, 2007 12:56 AM
Comment #201839

Adrienne

My argument is very simple. There is no correlation between money spend and student achievement. That is true and very easy to check. You can simply look at what states and localities spend per pupil. If you can find a significant correlation between money spent and achievement measured in any logical way, you would be the first.

You have drifted into a different argument. You now say that poor kids need MORE money than rich ones. That may be true, but it is not the same thing.

NONE of your sources addressed the correlation of funding with achievement. Did you read them? They all just advocate more funding and point to possible successes. I do not dispute this possibility, but it is not something you are getting.

I will repeat again, it is a management problem. You are saying that IF we applied money well, everything being equal more resources would produce better results. I suppose that is true. BUT failing schools are often very poorly managed. That is one of the problems.

You should also read the link Trent supplied, but look at it critically (see below). Read the intro. He admits that nobody has been able to show a correlation between money spent and achievement. He admits that most of the data show NO and actually a negative corelation between spending and results. He then goes through an alternative analysis, which ends up not proving his point. See what I wrote to Trent.

Trent

What does he say. He says there is a weak (actually negative, but he explains it) link between extra Federal money and performance. He also says that local funding is what provides positive results. But why would it be the case that local funding produces good results while Federal funding produces a slight negative result and state is not as effective? Money should be money.

You have actually provided a counter argument to more funding. The difference between local funding and Federal funding is local management. Local funding works BECAUSE management is better. So the throwing money at the problem solution still does not look good.

One more thing about that data. If you look at his scatter graphs in figure 4&5 you see that the correlation is weak, even when he adjusts.

I also do not think his adjustment is justified. Midwesterners do not take the SAT as often because they take the ACT. His lower emphasis on the Midwest and Mountain West allows him to eliminate the evidence the most contradicts his conclusions. SAT and ACT are not directly compatible, but he would be better off trying to account for that.

Posted by: Jack at January 7, 2007 2:03 AM
Comment #201841

Jack,

Believe it or not, I’m not arguing anything. I’m trying to learn the facts and what the good arguments are. As I understood the argument, local funding produces better results because school districts have more control on how that it is spent. The federal money tends to be earmarked to programs aimed at the disadvantaged. Presumably without federal money, more local money would have to go to those programs, or the programs would not be funded. Perhaps some shouldn’t. Of course good management is crucial. With some of the federal money, persumably local management is less of a factor because the fed mandates how the money is spent.

The author admits that the SAT data is not good because high performing states tend to have less students taking the SAT, thus skewing the results. It is possible, apparently, to compensate somewhat for that, but the author states that NERP testing (which all students are required to undergone in the fourth and eighth grades) provides much better data. His mathematical analysis shows a positive correlation between funding per pupil and NERP results based on local money. (I gather it is easy to factor out the federal money because that money is earmarked to specific programs.) If you want to argue that these programs are not effective, I would be willing to discuss that with you after we’ve learned more specifics about these programs.

At any rate, I would think his analysis offers support for local control of how money is spent. That would be an argument against NCLB, presumably, and other programs. This is not the same as saying more money does not produce better results. His analysis says the opposite. What matters, apparently, is who controls how that money is spent.

Jack, I do not claim to be an expert here. But let me use a hypothetical. Say some of that federal money goes to provide breakfast to disadvantaged children. Say there is no strong correlation between providing breakfast and test results. Is that an argument to eliminate the breakfasts?

We still need more facts.

Posted by: Trent at January 7, 2007 3:11 AM
Comment #201856

Jack,

I want to see if we can push this discussion a bit further. I’m going to try to summarize the analysis of the last paper in as neutral a way as I can.

Increased local funding correlates with stronger student performance on NEAP tests. It is not a one-to-one correlation; doubling spending obviously does not double student performance. But the correlation exists. State and fed funding produce weak or no correlation. The author concludes that communities have a vested interested local funding and thus encourage wise spending of the money. The author claims that we are under-investing in education, but he does not promote increased state or federal spending; he, essentially, is arguing for increased local spending, for increased higher property taxes. He admits this is a coarse analysis that does not attempt to incorporate other variables besides source of funding and test performance.

Is that a fair summary of the paper?

Now, here is what I find puzzling. In general, the paper concludes, there is correlation between increased student funding and student performance. Why, though, can this correlation not be seen with state and federal funding? As you say, money is money. You say it comes down to how well the schools are managed. But if that were the case, then we should see a positive correlation with state and federal funding, should we not? If there is a positive correlation in general, why would the source matter? Can it be the case that a school district will wisely spend locally produced money, but then turn around and foolishly spend the state and federal components of their funding? There must be something else going on.

My guess at this point is that it comes down to control. School districts have a freer hand with local money; their hands are tied when the money comes from other sources. I don’t know. The puzzle seems to be missing some pieces.

Posted by: Trent at January 7, 2007 11:07 AM
Comment #201863

Jack:
“My argument is very simple. There is no correlation between money spend and student achievement.”

You’re argument is TOO simple, because it ignores too many other factors, And the thing that gets me about it is that you are doing so on purpose, in order to make everything fit neatly within your rightwing “frames and models.”

Where’s the Money Gone?
Changes in the Level and Composition of Education Spending

Where’s the Money Going?
Changes in the Level and Composition of Education Spending, 1991-96


Market-based Reforms in Urban Education

Posted by: Adrienne at January 7, 2007 12:23 PM
Comment #201867

Trent

I do not oppose higher spending if it works, but clearly money is not the key. The local spending implies local priorities, local control and a local community willing to put up the money.

Take an analogy with exercising at Gold’s Gym. Members are probably in better condition than the general community. Is it because they pay the money? If Gold Gym was free, would all the fat guys suddenly get in good condition? Those willing to pay for it are also willing to work out.

Now if you take the fat guy and just give him money to work out, you may just be subsidizing his donut habit.

Adrienne

You are still using arguments about effective use of the money. That is not the argument. My argument is that additional money is NOT used effectively. When you toss more money into poorly managed schools, you get lots of things that do not do much, lots of raising self esteem and not so much learning. You sometimes subsidize failure.

Maybe we can agree on this. Find the systems that work and copy them. We can find high, low and medium spenders among the successful. Find the best among the medium spenders and remake the failures in their image. Cut all the fluffy things.

Posted by: Jack at January 7, 2007 12:51 PM
Comment #201874
Find the systems that work and copy them.

We can agree on that. Let’s not forget that federal funding accounts for about 10 percent of school expenditures. Some of that 10 percent goes for food; some I believe goes to afterschool programs to keep youths at risk off the street; some goes to Head Start.

One problem with crude analyses, including the last one I cited, is that we take total federal spending on education and try to correlate it all with student improvement. But some of these programs may have other useful societal goals. Each of these programs needs to be justified by their effectiveness in achieving their stated goals (and the goals themselves, of course, are open to debate).

One thing I’ve learned from this thread and the bit of research on my part is inspired is how very difficult it is to aduequately frame the issue.

Posted by: Trent at January 7, 2007 1:23 PM
Comment #201886

Trent,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I questioned the conclusions for the same reason that you questioned Jack above. The writing-style was completely devoid of qualifications. As you said above to Jack:

“When I was younger I strove for a forceful writing style in which I rarely qualifed statements. I was taught, as I imagine you were, that qualifying statements was a sign of weakness. Over time I came to value what I perhaps self-servingly consider intellectual integrity. Because of that, I find that I tend to qualify my statements far more than I used to. That leads to wordier sentences, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay.

The paper that you posted made no such allowances. I’m used to scientific papers where the authors are careful to define not only their interpretation of the data but also alternative conclusions and defending why they felt their’s was the best. I found the same problem with the following articles that make the case for no correlation:

http://www.edreform.com/index.cfm?fuseAction=document&documentID=665#The%20Relationship%20Between%20Spending%20and%20Achievement

http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=18917

http://www.ncpa.org/pi/edu/pd042301f.html

I found the links that Adrienne posted to be more in line with what you describe as intellectually honest posting. The last three talk most directly to the topic, but they aren’t much fun for debaters though because they are at their root devoid of a conclusion as to whether more or less money works.

From the Executive Summary of “Where’s the Money Gone?,”:

“We do not claim that further spending increases will generate outcome improvements, nor do we argue that school reform is not important. Our findings suggest only that reforms are not likely to be well-designed if reformers, failing to examine the varied rates of spending growth in education’s many programs, assume an unproven collapse in school productivity.”

From the Executive Summary of “Where’s the money going?”:

“Because the state of knowledge regarding measurement of outcomes may be even more primitive than that regarding expenditure accounting, this may be an impossible question to answer with existing data. Neither the claim of inefficiency nor its opposite can be made with confidence.”

From the Executive Summary of “Market Based Reforms…”:

“Overall, the evidence suggests that the economic model of markets does not translate easily into the provision of compulsory education. Nonetheless, many of the concepts underlying education markets, such as consumer choice, flexibility for schools, and incentives for them to raise the quality of education, are worth pursuing. The challenge for urban policy makers is to find ways to introduce these ideas while at the same time promoting the public interest that, ultimately, provides the rationale for a publicly funded and compulsory education system.”

On the whole though, I liked these articles becasue they remind us that the topic is more than a bit complicated and that it can’t be reduced to arguments like, “more money doesn’t work,” or “more money does work.”

Adrienne,

The first three links you posted were interesting, but somewhat tangential to the topic of money and schools. I think they did make a convincing statement though that I think very few would disagree that the schools can not alone be responsible for increasing achievement. Rather, they seem to indicate that factors outside of the school seem to be better indicators for increasing achievement.

Perhaps if we need to put the tax payers hard earned money at work, we should look at those alternative programs rather than increasing funding for schools.

Posted by: Rob at January 7, 2007 2:16 PM
Comment #201887

Trent

I think we have a framing issue in general between spenders and cutters.

I come with some of a management background. I have turned around some (small) organizations.

The problem never was money. It was management. Until you correct management, money is not much use and can actually be negative.

The irony is that AFTER management is corrected THEN additional money is beneficial.

In other words, a well managed organization can handle the money and a poorly managed one will just waste it.

So you and Adriene are right about money, BUT only when invested in a well managed operation. We have well run schools where money helps and poorly run ones where it does not.

Posted by: Jack at January 7, 2007 2:16 PM
Comment #201892

Trent,

You said, “Each of these programs needs to be justified by their effectiveness in achieving their stated goals (and the goals themselves, of course, are open to debate).”

Getting back to the original State’s Right’s nature of the debate, I hope the role of the Feds in providing the funding and accompanying regulations is open to debate as well.

Posted by: Rob at January 7, 2007 3:06 PM
Comment #201898

Jack,

Fair enough.

Rob,

Nice comments. I think there was a recent discussion here (in the middle column, perhaps) about the Constitutional issues of fed educational funding. The position I held was that while it is true that the states have the responsibility to educate their citizens, that didn’t preclude the fed from making money available to those states that abided by the fed’s requirements. I’m open to that debate.

Posted by: Trent at January 7, 2007 4:09 PM
Comment #201912

Trent,

Thanks for the compliment.

The main problem that I have with the Federal Government is not being precluded argument is that is it counteracts the original intent of the Constitution which was to preclude the Fed’s from engaging in activities that were reserved to the States.

The tenth ammendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved for the States respectively, or to the people.”

This has been bastardized in large part due to the increased portion of tax revenues that the Federal government has taken in the last 60 years over the States. The federal government should not be able to afford the luxury of dipping into those powers that are reserved to the States. I believe that State tax revenues should be closer proportionately to those that the Federal government has, and that they should come together through a rise in State and Local rates and a reduction in Federal rates.

I realized that it is more complicated than what I can get down in two to three paragraphs, but it seems that a big part of the spending problem going on in Washington is that Congress is spending money outside of their perscribed powers.

Posted by: Rob at January 7, 2007 4:46 PM
Comment #201928

Rob, I could kiss you! In fact, I will: :^x
Thanks for actually reading those links I put up. I agree they are much more intellectually honest. Indeed, that’s what I tried to look for — something that wasn’t obviously mere ideological/partisan driven nonsense. Sorry Jack, but this is exactly what is so wrong so many of your arguments on this subject. They’re completely one dimentional. Yet this happens to be an incredibly complex subject — and one that doesn’t benefit one iota from your Neocon free-market-is-the-only-answer approach.

Rob, you wrote:
“The first three links you posted were interesting, but somewhat tangential to the topic of money and schools. I think they did make a convincing statement though that I think very few would disagree that the schools can not alone be responsible for increasing achievement.”

I don’t think they are tangential at all. Money is clearly an extremely significant factor when looking at increased scholastic achievement, but the point I was making with my first three links is that it’s not just taxpayer dollars spent on schools that are going to bring about increased achievement in every state in America. Socioeconomic factors also play an enormous role — always.
When we talk about the states doing well in educational achievement, it’s clear that the income of the parents, and the community, and the parental level of education matters a great deal — because those are people who automatically value education, and fully understand what it will bring to their childrens lives. This is very obviously reflected in the post I put up towards the beginning of this thread — the glaring fact that many of the highest per capita income states had the highest levels of achievement, while the lowest per capita has the lowest levels of achievement. That’s no coinicidence. Where there is wealth, their is higher levels of success, where there is more poverty, lower levels of success — it just couldn’t be any plainer.
In my opinion if America wants to see major achievement, the best thing it could do is make college cheap and available to everyone, because we’ll then end up with a higher ratio of kids who will scholastically achieve.

Now, Jack would like to make us all believe that failure in the schools that aren’t producing high achievers is most likely due to poor management. While I’m sure that may be true in some cases, I don’t buy that concept wholesale — even though I’m more than willing to admit that poor management wherever it exists deserves looking into and being recitified. But Jack’s argument overlooks and chooses to ignore too many other factors that contribute to poor educational achievement.
To give a few examples: States and communities with higher numbers of immigrant children who need to focus their funding into English language programs. States and communities with larger numbers of poor and disadvantaged children who end up needing larger numbers of special education, and various other programs aimed at those who are starting far behind those who are born with more advantages.

Jack’s view as reflected in the ‘Where’s the Money Gone’ link:

“assumes that all school spending aims for a single outcome-improved academic achievement of regular students. But schools actually seek a variety of additional outcomes as well: training of the disabled, student health and nutrition, vocational education, assimilation of the non-English speaking, etc. Rather than looking only at test scores, evaluation of the effectiveness of schools should match the growth of spending “inputs” in clearly distinguished school programs to the outcomes each of these programs is attempting to improve.

From ‘Where’s the Money Going’:

the resources (per pupil spending) against which the efficiency of these improvements is normally measured are devoted to a wide range of programs, academic instruction being only one. Schools also provide special education for the disabled, vocational education, lunch programs, and special instruction for at-risk youth and for economically disadvantaged students. Comparing the combined expenditures for all these programs to the outcomes of only one of them (academic achievement of regular students) provides a misleading picture.

This mismeasurement is difficult to correct because schools do not report their expenditures by program. Instead, districts, states, and the federal government report education expenditures by “function” (administration, instruction, etc.) or by “object” (salaries, benefits, supplies, etc.). These categories cut across varied school programs, making it difficult to discern the efficiency of spending on regular, special, or vocational education or on noninstructional programs like health or nutrition. Because school finance is normally concerned with “function” and “object,” not programs, there are no conventionally accepted definitions of programmatic categories or their components.

So you see, I’m not one to rejoice in the fact that students who come from wealthier areas are doing just fine, although it’s wonderful that they are doing so well (and btw, I grew up in New Jersey and benefitted enormously from living in such a wealthy area myself). The way I see it, the state ratings in Jack’s first link are telling us what is already obvious: that wealth equals achievement and later success. But the real solutions to growing educational achievement and success in America all across the board aren’t even being addressed. If and when they ever are, we’ll all know that it’s working when the kids in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennesee, Texas, Arizona, Louisiana and New Mexico are also rating high levels of academic achievement.

Thanks again for your great post, Rob.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 7, 2007 7:20 PM
Comment #201934

Adrienne,

Yes, you emphasized much better than I the various purposes for which school funding is used. It would appear to me that any analysis of funding as related to performance must take that into account. We can debate the merits of specific programs, of course.

Having said that, I find it axiomatic that good management is also crucial, and the importance of the various factors you mention must be acknowledged.

I really think this is an issue in which involvement from both major parties is crucial. Ideally conservatives can keep liberals from throwing good money after bad and can emphasize management and performance, and liberals can continue to emphasize the social justice aspects of the issue. We need each other.

Posted by: Trent at January 7, 2007 7:58 PM
Comment #201940

Adrienne

It still does not take away from the main point that money itself doesn’t seem to be related to achievement.

You didn’t mention Utah, Wyoming and others that have the lowest per capita spending but still do all right.

I would like to make things better all around, but you cannot do that until you improve management.

I live near DC. I see how bad those schools are and how much money they spend, steal and waste. It is bad that the kids suffer. That is why we should give them vouchers for the app $12000 they spend on each of them and let them find good schools.

Posted by: Jack at January 7, 2007 8:32 PM
Comment #202002

Trent:
“Yes, you emphasized much better than I the various purposes for which school funding is used. It would appear to me that any analysis of funding as related to performance must take that into account.”

Exactly — something that isn’t being done presently. Now if you ask me, there is a glaring example of poor management. If we were taking this into account, along with a ranking and rating map that shows us that states with the most wealth naturally produce the highest achievers, we’d see a similar rating and ranking map telling us which of them were doing the best job of helping their children increase their achievement levels — in spite of the all the challenges and obstacles they face in their regions.

“We can debate the merits of specific programs, of course.”

Of course. But it would be helpful if we could first see what is already working before we scrap any existing programs. And to do that, we need careful studies of what is working where (outcome) as compared to what the actual expenditures are for each of those programs (input).

“Having said that, I find it axiomatic that good management is also crucial, and the importance of the various factors you mention must be acknowledged.”

America should attempt to support whatever works for the most children, while keeping a close eye on expenditures and waste. In this way, we could improve public education using standard business methods.

“I really think this is an issue in which involvement from both major parties is crucial. Ideally conservatives can keep liberals from throwing good money after bad and can emphasize management and performance, and liberals can continue to emphasize the social justice aspects of the issue.”

Personally, I have to admit that I’m rather sick of the implication that management and performance are skills that should be automatically relegated as the province of the conservatives. Liberals are often concerned with both things. I know I am. Just as I’m sure that many conservatives are far from blind and unfeeling when it comes to social justice issues.

“We need each other.”

We do. Left, Right and Center, we all need each other, and we all need to pull together to make our public education system work to the best of its ability on behalf of all of our children. That being said, and strictly in my opinion, nobody needs the Neocons. Nobody. The reason I feel this way is because they take little to no interest in social justice, have proved themselves to be extremely poor managers, and clearly don’t even believe in the idea of public education. Instead they want to dismantle it and privatize everything. For this reason, I can’t see a reason to put any trust in Neocon concepts of education reform.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 8, 2007 10:36 AM
Comment #202021

Adrienne,

You said, ” If and when they ever are, we’ll all know that it’s working when the kids in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennesee, Texas, Arizona, Louisiana and New Mexico are also rating high levels of academic achievement.”

This to me is Lake Wobegonian to some extent. All states can’t be above average. However, I understand your point.

My counterpoint is that you can find areas in each of those States that also produce well educated students. I had this discussion in another thread late last year. I think one of our mistakes as a country has been making education a “National Priority” or classifying it as a “National Problem.” The reality is that there are thousands of local school districts that perform at different levels for differt reasons. Some are plaqued by mismanagement (or vestiges of it). Others are plagued by socio-economic conditions that make success that much more difficult. For instance, I grew up in TN, and the school system for my county sent more than half of their graduates to college.

By trying to craft one size fits all solutions at the Federal level, we mis- or underdiagnose the root causes of the problems.

Shifting gears into funding, in the several states that I’ve lived that have local funding as thier primary mechanism, I’ve found, anecdotally, that the wealth of a school district is not nearly as good as a predictor of whether levies will pass to increase funding as the average age is. Communities that are getting younger are more likely to increase funding than those that are getting older.

And as for privitizing education, I think that some aspects as mentioned in the article that you cited, are well worth exploring. Providing choice to those who cannot afford it, I think, is only fair. I’m not sure why those on the left disagree with this principal do vehemently.

Posted by: Rob at January 8, 2007 12:40 PM
Comment #202052

I wrote:
“If and when they ever are, we’ll all know that it’s working when the kids in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennesee, Texas, Arizona, Louisiana and New Mexico are also rating high levels of academic achievement.”

Rob:
“This to me is Lake Wobegonian to some extent. All states can’t be above average. However, I understand your point.”

Rob, did you look at the ‘Chance for Success’ pdf in Jack’s link? There are twenty five states in this nation that that scored minuses in the ‘total points awarded’ column rather than pluses based on all those factors. That’s way too many states failing to meet the requirements they used to measure for academic achievement and success. America can and should do better than that.
No doubt those states would be able to improve dramatically if we could begin systematically figuring out what public education programs have been working well, what’s working best according to region, and what the costs of those programs actually are, so that we can study when and where waste is occurring. Right now, we don’t know those things, but we’ve got a lot of rightwingers like Jack making sweeping claims that public schools are failing mostly due to mismanagement. I don’t buy it — I think we need more detailed information before we should make that kind of claim.

“My counterpoint is that you can find areas in each of those States that also produce well educated students.”

Sure, but the question remains: why? Is this due to a more prosperous economy in those areas? And/or more highly educated parents? Or is it because they have lower rates of kids struggling to learn English first, so more funds are being spent on standard education needs? Or have lower rates of kids who come from disadvantaged homes and so have to spend less on programs geared specifically toward them? Or is it because the administrators and teachers are doing something uniquely different than they are elsewhere?

“I think one of our mistakes as a country has been making education a “National Priority” or classifying it as a “National Problem.””

I think states should be able to make their own choices, but first they’ve got to have the kind of information that will help them make sound, logical decisions. Information regarding effective educational programs for special needs children should be gathered, studied and compared by the federal government. And when it comes to where tax dollars are being spent with federal funding, I think it IS a national priority to make sure they aren’t being wasted, as well as a national problem if too many of America’s children aren’t doing well with basic scholastic achievement that will lead to decent jobs and careers.

“The reality is that there are thousands of local school districts that perform at different levels for differt reasons. Some are plaqued by mismanagement (or vestiges of it). Others are plagued by socio-economic conditions that make success that much more difficult.”

Which is why we need to study public education in depth on the local, state and federal levels, and reform it wherever necessary.

“For instance, I grew up in TN, and the school system for my county sent more than half of their graduates to college.”

Terrific. But what happened to the other half? Or aren’t we supposed to care? And what about their kids? What percentage of those who didn’t go to college or get some sort of secondary education are making sure their children have a chance to succeed in life?

“By trying to craft one size fits all solutions at the Federal level, we mis- or underdiagnose the root causes of the problems.”

I agree. No Child Left Behind was a one-size-fits-all type of solution and it was obviously a bad one. I’d be much more interested in seeing our government help states develop regional plans that would give them a variety of solutions they could use to address what they see as their specific problems and needs. Seems to me that this might be one sure way the government could keep tabs on how much special funding for programs the states actually need to receive.

“as for privitizing education, I think that some aspects as mentioned in the article that you cited, are well worth exploring. Providing choice to those who cannot afford it, I think, is only fair. I’m not sure why those on the left disagree with this principal do vehemently.”

Because most of us don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We’ve already sunk an enormous amount of tax dollars into public education — we should try our best to improve what we’ve got, rather than than scrap the entire idea.
Additonally, I’m not convinced that privitizing schools will actually improve education for America’s children all across the board. As it is now, private schools aren’t made to meet any of the same requirements as public schools are (NCLB testing, for instance), and there was that National Center for Education Statistics recent study that determined that public school children are doing as well or better than those in private schools.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 8, 2007 3:10 PM
Comment #202102

Adrienne,

I can’t find the link to “Chance for Succss” anywhere. I apologize, could you post the comment number? I’ll review and respond once I can find it.

Information regarding effective educational programs for special needs children should be gathered, studied and compared by the federal government.

Why? There are many, many MEd, and PhD’s being granted in education every year. What can’t those instituions be gathering that data for the States and localities to analyze. Why must the Fed’s do it? They are not the only ones capable, are they?

Terrific. But what happened to the other half? Or aren’t we supposed to care? And what about their kids? What percentage of those who didn’t go to college or get some sort of secondary education are making sure their children have a chance to succeed in life?

It was probably more than 50% now that I think back on it. But to your point, there is a thriving construction industry. Lots of plumbers and electricians are needed. There are lots of cars so there are lots of mechanics needed as well. We have to divorce college as a measure of educational success. Because we haven’t, we are further devaluing the high school diploma.

Because most of us don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We’ve already sunk an enormous amount of tax dollars into public education — we should try our best to improve what we’ve got, rather than than scrap the entire idea.

I think that there is a difference between privitizing and vouchers. The former provides for no public education. The latter provides for choice to those that have none in most aspects in their lives, and all but ensures that the social conditions which you hate continues. I think a compelling argument could also be made that vouchers could improve public schools not make them worse.

Additonally, I’m not convinced that privitizing schools will actually improve education for America’s children all across the board. As it is now, private schools aren’t made to meet any of the same requirements as public schools are (NCLB testing, for instance), and there was that National Center for Education Statistics recent study that determined that public school children are doing as well or better than those in private schools.

Doing better is not the only standard of success as you have mentioned before. Children in private schools on vouchers are there by choice, giving their families some control of their lives that they usually don’t have. That to me has to a worthy social goal on par with ensuring that recent immigrants are brought up to speed on English.

Posted by: Rob at January 8, 2007 7:14 PM
Comment #202127

Rob,
Here is the link: Chance For Success
It was contained within Jack’s very first link at the top of his article.

“There are many, many MEd, and PhD’s being granted in education every year. What can’t those instituions be gathering that data for the States and localities to analyze. Why must the Fed’s do it? They are not the only ones capable, are they?”

What, and allow the GOP to then claim that all the data and statistics were skewed by the “ivory-tower liberal elites?” :^)
No, I think this should be undertaken by the U.S. Dept. of Education. And maybe some Congressional bipartisan input on such a large endeavor would be a good idea, too. That might come from the standing committee that deals with Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, possibly.
Besides, I don’t think it shouldn’t be up to each of the states to have to conduct that kind of research for analysis since we’re talking about the need to determine what education funding needs to come from the fed.
It would probably be a large undertaking, but it’s obviously necessary since the way they’re currently determining expenditures per pupil isn’t reflecting the reality. And it’d be well worth the cost if we ended up with a real accounting of all the facts that could then be used to alter or eliminate programs that aren’t working, and figure out which of them are wasting too many of our tax dollars when compared with their outcomes.

“But to your point, there is a thriving construction industry. Lots of plumbers and electricians are needed. There are lots of cars so there are lots of mechanics needed as well.”

Those are all careers that require vocational (payed for by public schools) or secondary education programs elsewhere. Btw I’d never look down my nose at these sorts of jobs — in fact, my own husband is a union carpenter. And those jobs usually make good money, but for every person with that kind of career, there is someone working at a low paying job with little or no prospects. The kind of job that teenagers used to do before moving on to a real job are often what many adults are now regularly doing for a living. Again, this gets right back to our need to address widespread socioeconomic conditions in many regions of this country.

“We have to divorce college as a measure of educational success. Because we haven’t, we are further devaluing the high school diploma.”

I’m not devaluing it, but the reality is that a high school diploma alone often doesn’t get many people a decent paying job these days — especially if they’re trying to raise a family. Because of this, and as I said previously, I think the chance to go to college should be a cheap and accessible possibility for everyone in America who wants one.

“I think that there is a difference between privitizing and vouchers.”

I don’t see much of a difference between those two. It’s only a way to make people fight like dogs trying to compete for something everyone used to believe all American’s needed and deserved: a decent education leading to a high school diploma.

“Doing better is not the only standard of success as you have mentioned before.”

What is working better is the only standard we should be looking at when were discussing what should be done over the question of tax payer funded education. Since public schools are doing better than private schools, I see no reason why we should start privitizing or issuing vouchers to people for schools that haven’t been held to the same standards and requirements that we’ve been demanding from public schools to measure achievement, and which aren’t doing as well according to the latest studies.
Just my opinion.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 9, 2007 12:05 AM
Comment #202312

“What is working better is the only standard we should be looking at when were discussing what should be done over the question of tax payer funded education.”

As Trent mentioned above, what if a school lunch program is not leading to any gains in educational achievement? What if the mainstreaming of Down’s kids is not leading to any gains in educational achievement? What if a volunteerism program is not leading to any gains in educational achievement? Should funding be reappropriated?

“Since public schools are doing better than private schools, I see no reason why we should start privitizing or issuing vouchers to people for schools that haven’t been held to the same standards and requirements that we’ve been demanding from public schools to measure achievement, and which aren’t doing as well according to the latest studies.
Just my opinion.”

I think that this claim falls victim to the same critique that you have made of Jack’s arguments, that they are one dimensional. My guess is that those studies would also not past muster with a much closer scrutiny. Have they controlled for the same challenges that public schools faced in “Where’s the money gone?” Do they control for only those students that are using the vouchers? Do they remove private schools that are basically reform schools for the rich? Do they remove those schools that have a different educational goal that straight educational achievement (arts or sports based programs for instance)?

“I’m not devaluing it, but the reality is that a high school diploma alone often doesn’t get many people a decent paying job these days — especially if they’re trying to raise a family.?I’m not devaluing it, but the reality is that a high school diploma alone often doesn’t get many people a decent paying job these days — especially if they’re trying to raise a family.”

This mutually reinforcing logic. When enough of America says that a high school diploma is not good enough, the perception reflects reality. Do we really need book keepers and receptionists to have post-secondary education? My guess it that most do these days.

Posted by: Rob at January 10, 2007 11:17 AM
Comment #202350

Rob, I agree that Trent made an excellent point about how some things are vitally necessary, such as lunch and special education programs. All I am suggesting is that we allow that information to separated out when we talk about how much federal funds are being spent per pupil in the states, or even on the local level. Since these things aren’t being separated out currently, people like Jack try to make sweeping claims about how equal amounts are being spent per pupil when comparing one state or district to another, when this is clearly not the case.

“I think that this claim falls victim to the same critique that you have made of Jack’s arguments, that they are one dimensional. My guess is that those studies would also not past muster with a much closer scrutiny.”

My suggestion is far from one dimentional and I honestly don’t see how you can accuse me of this. What I’ve been saying is that since we’ve already spent so much money on public education, we should try to save it if we can, therefore, our government should be automatically entailed to make a much closer scrutiny of many things before declaring that vouchers are the only answer to improving public education. This is especially true since the studies that have been done haven’t been showing all that much difference between achievement levels of public and private schools. In every way we choose to look at this subject, it’s clear we need a lot more detailed information before we can make wise decisions and needed reforms. There is nothing simplistic or one dimentional about realizing that.

“When enough of America says that a high school diploma is not good enough, the perception reflects reality.”

Sad, but true. But I wasn’t the one who decided this is how it should be, I’m only one who is observing that more education is expected everywhere these days.

“Do we really need book keepers and receptionists to have post-secondary education? My guess it that most do these days.”

I think you’d guess right, and I agree that it is absurd that this is expected in jobs where people could be easily and more effectively trained on the job. The way I see it, the business world has become so impatient with people in general, and so ridiculously obsessed with cost efficiency in a “penny wise, dollar foolish” sense that making an employee spend out of pocket for what is merely basic job training has become the norm practically everywhere.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 10, 2007 2:00 PM
Comment #202387

Adrienne,

“My suggestion is far from one dimentional and I honestly don’t see how you can accuse me of this. What I’ve been saying is that since we’ve already spent so much money on public education, we should try to save it if we can, therefore, our government should be automatically entailed to make a much closer scrutiny of many things before declaring that vouchers are the only answer to improving public education. This is especially true since the studies that have been done haven’t been showing all that much difference between achievement levels of public and private schools. In every way we choose to look at this subject, it’s clear we need a lot more detailed information before we can make wise decisions and needed reforms. There is nothing simplistic or one dimentional about realizing that. “

I (and I doubt many) are arguing that vouchers are the only way to deal with public education. However, many of us do wonder why it was ok for Clinton to send his daughter to private school while saying at the same time that the poor should not have the same option.

“What I’ve been saying is that since we’ve already spent so much money on public education, we should try to save it if we can…”

By the way, this debate needs the notion of sunk costs to be included for some reality. Huge sums of money have been spent on education in D.C. over the past 25 years mostly to disasterous results. That money is never coming back. Spending more now to try to save it will never return any investment on the money already spent. Each dollar added now should be considered a new choice that we get to make, not one to “save” something.

“All I am suggesting is that we allow that information to separated out when we talk about how much federal funds are being spent per pupil in the states, or even on the local level.”

I agree with this point, but it seems to be in direct contradiction to this state you made above as an argument against the social justice benefits that may be derived from a voucher program:
“What is working better is the only standard we should be looking at when were discussing what should be done over the question of tax payer funded education.”

“The way I see it, the business world has become so impatient with people in general, and so ridiculously obsessed with cost efficiency in a “penny wise, dollar foolish” sense that making an employee spend out of pocket for what is merely basic job training has become the norm practically everywhere. “

The business world may be partially at fault, but these applicants are coming with post-secondary education on their resumes. I think the national debate on education has said to many that “if you don’t have a college education, you will be a failure.” This has been pushed by both those on the left and on the right.

Posted by: Rob at January 10, 2007 4:59 PM
Comment #202417

Rob,

You just had to bring up Clinton, didn’t you?
“However, many of us do wonder why it was ok for Clinton to send his daughter to private school while saying at the same time that the poor should not have the same option.”

Please. Don’t be naive, Rob. Do you actually think for one minute that the wealthy would ever risk their children being around the poor? What you might not understand is that these people often look at their kids as another commodity they deal in. Therefore, health risks such as head lice or scabies, and bad influences in habits and manners which might rub off on their valuable spawn from close proximity to poor children will never be allowed.
No, what the Neoconservatives who have been preaching the gospel of vouchers and privitization of Americas public schools are trying to do here is create just another new market, and they of course want to do away with anything labeled “public” in this country. So they are selling this idea to the American people as “school choice” and “academic options.”
It’s just more Neocon-speak. Another set of feel good names for a dirty and greedy trick.

Without any of the facts people need to make an informed decision about public school reform, they’re claiming it’s a complete failure. If they get their way by convincing everyone that this is true, they’ll be able to create this new market and when there are enough people getting vouchers for private schools, there won’t be enough private schools to fill the demand. So, more and more new private schools will then be created (which being privately owned, don’t have to meet any sort of real standards and requirements). The end goal is to phase out and ultimately destroy the concept of public education in this country entirely, and make a fortune in the bargain, of course.
Most liberals understand that this is what the cons are trying to do. Give it a little thought — maybe you’ll begin to see it the same way too.

“it seems to be in direct contradiction to this state you made above as an argument against the social justice benefits that may be derived from a voucher program:
“What is working better is the only standard we should be looking at when were discussing what should be done over the question of tax payer funded education.””

No, I’ve made no contradictions here. I’m a strong social liberal who also believes in fiscal responsibility. That means that social justice, optimizing efficiency in public schools to reach the goal of good academic achievement for all of Americas children, and cutting down on the waste of tax payer dollars wherever it occurs are all things I advocate for, and would truly like to see.

Now, since the dreaded name Clinton has actually been injected into this discussion, and because I think I’ve said all I want to say, I’ll end my comments here.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and allowing me to articulate mine.
Cheers,
Adrienne

Posted by: Adrienne at January 10, 2007 7:32 PM
Comment #202505

Adrienne,

Forgiving me for using Clinton. I guess I could have used Gore or any other variety of Democrats who feel that it is ok to send their children to private schools while at the same time arguing that the poor should not have the same choice. Clinton just came to mind because I remembered the details more clearly, and I didn’t want to research just to spare tender feelings.

This was not a broad indictment of Clinton rather it was a well-known fact that could illustrate the difference between their policy arguments and their personal actions. One that if I recall correctly was well documented in the media.

It was not a choice that I begrudge Clinton for making. I fully understand the challenges that would have faced the security team with a public school and the failures of the D.C. school system were even more abject at the time. To send Chelsea to a failing public school for a political point would not have made good sense for the family. My one and only point was I wondered why he would not allow others without the means to make the same choice.

“No, I’ve made no contradictions here.” My point was that there were social justice reasons to consider a voucher plan. You never engaged that argument one way or another. Instead, you said that argument should not be considered, only efficiancy in gains should be.

“the Neoconservatives who have been preaching the gospel of vouchers and privitization of Americas public schools are trying to do here is create just another new market, and they of course want to do away with anything labeled “public” in this country.”

This is not a simple “neocon” argument that you can throw labels at and make it go away. Those in the minority communities on the left have driven some of the more popular movements to vouchers (reference D.C. for one). If you are going to resort to this kind of labeling, then you should not be surprised nor offended when the opposition starts chiming in on, “the liberal media.”

“The end goal is to phase out and ultimately destroy the concept of public education in this country entirely, and make a fortune in the bargain, of course.”

This statement may represent what some supporters want, but I think when painted toward all supporters of voucher programs, this is patently false. I think that voucher programs structured well could improve public education. If nothing else they could provide funding relief that would allow the public school systems to better stratify their programs to better serve the different populations. Furthermore, there are many public school systems that do such an exemplary job, that a voucher program would never make inroads in those communities. I live in the innercity of Columbus, Ohio. The school district that I live in is on the verge of failing, certainly a poor performer. In the suburbs surrounding us, there are at least 3 school districts that I think provide an education that is far superior to what many private schools provide. Vouchers to allow children from the innercity access even to just those public school systems would go a long way to improving their situation.

“Now, since the dreaded name Clinton has actually been injected into this discussion, and because I think I’ve said all I want to say, I’ll end my comments here.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and allowing me to articulate mine.”

Having had your last word, I’ll hope you’ll do be the courtesy of reading mine. Though we clearly disagree, I think that we are not as far apart on the issue as you might imagine.
Once you start labelling people, you lose the common ground.

Posted by: Rob at January 11, 2007 9:55 AM
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